The Stupidity Of Our Leaders~Shut-up And Swim!

Barbados’ domestic price level seems broadly consistent with its level of development, suggesting no evidence of misalignment. Recent tourism developments also confirm Barbados’ competitiveness: its share of Caribbean tourist arrivals has remained flat, while its tourism receipts have actually risen relative to others, reflecting its successes at the higher-end segment.
Source: Barbados: 2007 Article IV Consultation

Prime Minister, O$Anlynch.jpg

There has been insufficient analysis of the IMF 2007 Article IV Consultation report. Don’t we get the feeling that for an intelligent nation we are just happy to read what is reported hook line and sinker? Isn’t it rather boring that although we are touted to be an educated society, we are always inclined to be divided on serious issues based on our political persuasion? We hear the Prime Minister talking how his government is proud of the social capital of Barbados — we are too Mr. Prime Minister but not so fast! What about the continued upward trend of HIV and AIDS? Doesn’t this indicator compromise the quality of our human capital and by extension our national productivity (GDP)? What about the physical infrastructure of Barbados – its roads, hospital, obsolete systems which support our civil establishment? We could go on. The point we want to make to Prime Minister Arthur is: how can he talk about the strong social capital of Barbados when there are signs all around that we are struggling with physical and human capital development. Let’s not forgot the undisciplined students in our schools, and the next generation! Don’t worry Mr. Arthur, it is common for economists to forget the social well being of countries they manage in their economic planning.

We have a concern which rests with the statement quoted above. What is the significance especially for Barbados of the intra-regional travel and of the regional integration movement? CARICOM has been trying to sell the idea of the importance of CSME and describing it as “one economic space”; but how can our confused public understand that on one hand, there is the need to travel around the Caribbean but on the other, the price to do so is prohibitive? We have heard people like Peter Wickham and Maxine McClean who sell their services throughout the region complaining about the cost of air travel, as well as the inefficiency of the regional airlines. It is a no-brainer to the BU household that the implementation of an efficient regional transportation system should have been a prerequisite to opening the doors to CSME. Sometimes we wonder, when our leaders attended school what is it that they did with their time there.

At BU, we will leave the intellectualizing of politics and the related issues to Mascoll. We will just offer commentary based on simple common sense. We have no reason to doubt the information included in the IMF report. A commonsense conclusion which we can make is: there must be some relationship between the inefficient regional air carriers and the disinterest which Caribbean people are demonstrating about flying in recent times. Therefore, we have the laughable situation of our Prime Minister singing the praises of CSME, while Caribbean people cutting back on travel to one of the jewels in the Caribbean; except the Guyanese but they are a different story.

BU did not rely on the IMF report alone, but through other sources, we have been able to confirm that arrivals from the Caribbean have fallen dramatically for 2007, and is currently of deep concern to stakeholders in the tourism industry. Without boasting, Barbadians can say that we have one of the more attractive destinations in the region, so we reject any argument that there is no product to sell. Quoting the IMF report, its share of Caribbean tourist arrivals has remained flat, while its tourism receipts have actually risen relative to others, reflecting its successes at the higher-end segment.” Our government, through its vocal advocate Barney Lynch, has pursued strategies which has seen a shift to allocating tourist dollars to the high end tourism segments: West Coast Development, tourism condominiums, etc. We are surprise at the ability of our regional brothers and sisters to travel to Barbados now that our lack of a strategy for regional air travel has been exposed.

The obvious question is where do we go from here? The current crop of policymakers do not inspire any confidence that there is a solution in sight. The rhetoric coming from our CARICOM leaders over the years is not taken seriously any longer. So it looks like for the foreseeable future, Barbados will see a policy which moves it full steam ahead to implement CSME policies but as an afterthought. If Lynch can find the time away from the golf course, our government of 13 years will try to find a solution to our intra-regional travel woes.

9 thoughts on “The Stupidity Of Our Leaders~Shut-up And Swim!

  1. the imf r a bunch of liars we in barbados r not interested in any thing they say they only want to come destroy barbados like they done to other contries IMF R WICKED BUNCH OF PEOPLE and futhermore they being around now is nothing new they have had an office ibn barbados for over a decade now just ignore them

  2. David, this is an interesting comment, which correctly examines the implications that problems with regional (air) transportation present to the development of the CSME. Your concern with the ability to maintain and improve its social capital is justified when one examines the uncertain results to contain endemic diseases, and to instill a culture or responsibility in the youth. Obviously, both of these problems are interrelated.

    While agreeing that Barbadians could benefit from a more careful analysis of documents, such as those prepared by the IMF, which is not predicated on a desire to score political points, I have a distinct feeling that you have misinterpreted the paragraph of the 2007 Art.4 Consultation Report that you quoted. I have read it myself, a number of times, and from the context of the discussion of the competitiveness of Barbados, the reference to the share in Caribbean tourist arrivals seem to me to be to visitors to the Caribbean, rather than to intra-Caribbean visitor movements.

  3. The reality is that as long as the Barbados economy remains relatively healthy it will be easy to “manage” the international financial institutions like World Bank and International Fund. However if our economy starts to fail they cannot be so easily ignored. Remember that as a small country we rely on international credit ratings from S&P etc to operate in the capital markets. So we can “manage” the relationship against this background.

  4. Linchh~we accept your correction. However the premise of our argument stands because another source confirmed that there has been a dip in tourist traffic from the Caribbean.

  5. David, the irony of the situation is that frequently our politicians recognise the logic of the arguments of the staff of the international institutions, since their main purpose is to point out inconsistencies in policy choices.

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