We are living in difficult times. One of my more-.perceptive friends recently described our Island as a “motorized ghetto”, where the smell of diesel and gasoline fumes, and the ever-present vehicular pollution add a peculiar resonance to the ambience of this Rock that we call home. We have become so smug in our belief that Barbados is on a continuing upward path of so-called development, that we seem to have forgotten that we live on a very small island with a fragile ecosystem. Our current political leaders, in the belief that repetition is reputation have been trumpetting claims to such achievements, as an unprecedented eight years of uninterrupted economic growth, the lowest level of open unemployment on record, and the highest level of net foreign reserves ever accumulated, thereby encouraging us to forget that our Island faces an uncertain future.
Excerpt from Dr.George Reid’s: WHAT KIND OF DEVELOPMENT? A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION IN BARBADOS
The issue of the rising cost of living will no doubt remain firmly at the top of the national agenda in the coming weeks and months ahead. The pundits seem to agree that the current configuration of our economy places a skewed reliance on imports which lends itself to imported inflation. When this unfortunate reality is studied against the recent report issued by the National Productivity Council of zero growth in national productivity in the last two years, the affinity by Barbadians to behaviours which engage in high consumption expenditure, and the relatively high debt burden which Barbados has to manage, we absolutely don’t envy Prime Minister David Thompson.
Let us not forget that Prime Minister David Thompson came to government on a campaign promise to reduce the cost of living. How quickly the reality of managing a small open economy in a volatile global market can loom.
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- Barbados Light & Power Ready To Work With Government To Develop Viable Alternative Energy Solutions
- Barbados Needs National Energy Policy, NOW!
- Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) Currently Reviewing Rate Structure
- Prime Minister David Thompson’s Day Of Reckoning On The Horizon
The blogs, talk shows, office corridors and other popular places where Barbadians meet to discuss the cost of living, we have observed that no one has summoned the courage to address the white elephant. As always Barbados Underground continue to be fearless when dealing with the controversial. As the current economic situation worsens in Barbados, merchants will suffer increase in the cost of operations and margins will get narrower. This sad state will lead to the inevitable, LAY-OFFS! We hope we are wrong but we believe that it is a logical consequence based on the current economic landscape.
Despite the white elephant being present we must ask the question: What can we do? Should the private sector as part of its corporate responsibility be made to sacrifice part of their ‘mark-up’ to attempt to maintain stability in the country? We are not sure how the economics of it all would apply. Perhaps there is the opportunity for the Social Partnership via the Prices and Income Protocol to play a more significant role. Maybe, just maybe Barbados can be a model country again for the world to gawk at, where the government, private sector and union can collaborate like never before to minimize the shock of rising prices affecting Barbadians. We know that all the players are intelligent enough to appreciate that if same old tired economic measures of the past are used, the people who will suffer the most will be those at the bottom.
The other issue to debate will be how public opinion treats the administration of Prime Minister David Thompson. Most governments perish in the aftermath of a major crisis in the economy. If the Thompson administration is to survive they need to come-up with solutions out of the box, quickly. Barbadians seem not to have grasp up to now that the fat cat behaviour needs to stop!
Barbados Underground have written a few blogs with the help of Chief Marketing Manager Stephen Worme of the Barbados Light & Power which highlighted the importance of developing alternative sources of energy. We concluded that it must be a medium to long term strategy to protect our little country from the economic and social morass which is destine to affect Barbados if we continue to buffet under the impact of the global turbulence. The current government no doubt will pursue the strategy of the former government to explore for oil. Even if we are fortunate to discover oil, we believe that it would be myopic to ignore the advantage to retrofitting our energy systems given the abundance of sun, sea and wind at our disposal. Al Gore might suggests that forward thinking countries should adopt policies which are environmentally friendly.
We agree with social commentators and John Public who have lambasted government and other stakeholders for the lazy and recalcitrant behaviour being exercised in the effort to develop alternative sources of energy. At the risk of being labeled a prophet of doom and gloom, the clock is ticking if we are to avoid the economic disaster which we have masterly avoided up to now.