An Election-Oriented Budget: WATCH OUT!

George C. Brathwaite

Next week bears an awful foreboding for Barbadians from all walks of life and all sectors contributing to the national economy. There is further predictable gloom on the economic horizon; this fact is based upon two significant things. For starters, the global economy remains as volatile and uncertain as it has been since 2007; the UK, USA, and Europe as whole are fighting stubbornly to bring about some stability in the context that their economies are still courting a double-dip recession, unable to kick-start employment, and are battling a series of corruption and other forms infelicitous charges regarding the public purse.

The second factor speaks to the lack or insufficiency of innovative economic mechanisms by government to deal with the shocks and turbulence impacting on Barbados given its peculiarities of a very low manufacturing base, a weak export climate, a restricted services economy, a fixed exchange rate regime, and an ever increasing import bill that far surpasses the capacity of the country’s production and consumption. Together these things make the job of Minister of Finance a perplexing one especially considering his ‘greenness’ to the profession notwithstanding his enthusiasm and/or other attributes.

From recent memory, perhaps the only Barbadian that I may say who would cherish and not envy the current Minister’s position is the Leader of the Opposition despite his acknowledgement of the tremendous task and acumen that is necessarily required for a return of Barbados to relative economic success. In my opinion, even with Mr. Arthur the difficulties would not disappear despite he may offer some confidence in the economy and inspire the local private sector based upon his track record. This is likely to be the case since in all fairness to potential leaders and economists, very few if any public statements made in the past year have suggested new economic paths for the country. Yet there is little dispute about the country’s economic accomplishments under his leadership.

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0 thoughts on “An Election-Oriented Budget: WATCH OUT!

  1. @David

    Do you believe that it is possible for me to speak first and foremost as a Barbadian citizen? Nevertheless, for the records I am a member of the Barbados Labour Party although I hold no positions, offices, or any thing close to suggesting that I am any where closer to the leadership than the ordinary member. However, I have held positions in the past and I will be returning home in October and sometime after that I shall consider all possibilities. To be certain, I have no intentions of party-hopping for valid or personal reasons. I believe that the BLP has a history that I am proud of and it has mechanisms through which I can make a contribution for the greater good of all Barbadians; I see absolutely nothing that threatens its strong social philosophical base. In the same light, I have a respect for the DLP that is merited based upon that party’s contributions to the national development of Barbados. Indeed, if there is one unfortunate statement that I would like to see Barbadians eradicate from their vocabulary is that “the political parties, one or the other depending on where one’s membership lies, has not done anything for Barbados.It is one of those statements that says to me that we are yet to rid the colonial shackles wherein we think ourselves our worse enemies.
    The two parties obviously differ in some fundamental areas but at the end of the day, I believe that more persons must get involved if they truly want to make a difference. I have absolutely no apology or hint of defiance in acknowledging my membership and continual support for the BLP.
    The final thing that I would want to emphasise is that by dint of sacrifice and hard work, I may be labelled an academic. Seeing myself as an academic, I hold to the high standards of expected of me. I shall in no way compromise my personal positions nor taint my academic integrity. Forward ever for the BLP and long live Barbados!

    • @George

      This brings me to my final point in this pre-budget article. Can Barbados at this time afford the niceties of an election-oriented budget that may be set around a similar meeting of minds when political ambition got the better over economic prudence in 1991?

      The answer is no of course but doesn’t political expediency trump commonsense every time?

  2. It would be foolhardy for the DLP to come with an election budget as we know it, with goodies like Santa Claus. The days for that is over, bajans are a lot more intelligent than that. Most level thinking bajans realise things are looking quite dicey and serious steps has to be taken to obtain some recovery to this fiscal crisis that has hit Barbados. Yes, bold and decisive steps has to be taken, thise government HAS to level with bajans, the most of whom will accept the harsh measures needed for a recovery. However, if this government comes with a “fastfood” budget and even won the next general elections, they would be putting themselves and the entire country in bigger problems. If they lose, the winning party will have to accept the problems left behind, just like this government had to accept theirs. However, the voters would not be fooled into complacency

  3. @David

    You are spot on. The DLP is aware of it, Sinckler is aware of it, the population is aware of it. Now one would see and balance the political skills versus the economic prudence. Plus as I have stated, and you have figured as much in another forum, the leadership implications are not settled even with the endorsement as FS as the President of the Dems. I have stated and I think that I am bold enough to predict that the PM will call an election before the 2012 DLP annual conference; it is political manoeuvring to safeguard his leadership that is more than likely to come under scrutiny. CS is a good political student, he would recognise this and will walk the tight rope in so far that it raises his political stocks. Look out Barbados, it will not be an overtly orchestrated election budget, but it will be one in real and concrete terms. Barbadians may be in for a tough ride if human nature and as you suggest “political expediency trump commonsense.”

  4. BTW Calypsonian De Announcer released a calypso this season called de Chris Sinckler plan.

    Is it true what we have been hearing the the song was penned by Vic Fernandes?

    Would like confirmation of this please.

  5. Can’t wait to see tthe latest poll…
    Owen Arthur should do the most decent thing of resigning as the Opposition Leader before Mottley assumes Chairmanship at the AGM. I thought he would have been up-beat to have been returned to the post but he is even more silent than Freundel. So Freundel aint saying a word and Arthur aint whispering a letter. People just need teh BLP to settle the leadership issue and move on with winning the election. Mottley as Opposition leader with her economic team of Owen and Clyde is what we want.

  6. Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball
    Capitalism is dead, but we still dance with the corpse

    by Joe Bageant


    When the U.S., and then the world’s money economy started to crumble, the first thing capitalist economists could think of to do was to monkey with the paper. That’s all they knew how to do. It was unthinkable that the tertiary virtual economy, that great backroom fraud of debt manipulation and fiat money, might have finally reached the limits of the material earth to support. That the money economy’s gaming of workers and Mother Nature might itself might be the problem never occurred to the world’s economic movers and shakers. It still hasn’t. (Except for Chavez, Morales, Castro and Lula). Jobs disappeared, homes went to foreclosure, and personal debt was at staggering all time highs. America’s working folks were taking it square in the face. Not that economists or financial kingpins cared much one way or the other. In the capitalist financial world, everything is an opportunity. Cancer? Build cancer hospital chains. Pollution? Sell pollution credits. The country gone bankrupt?

    “Nothing to do,” cried the mad hatters of finance, “but print more money, and give gobs of cash to the banks! Yes, yes, yes! Borrow astronomical amounts of the stuff and bribe every fat cat financial corporation up and down The Street!” All of which came down to creating more debt for the common people to work off. They seem willing enough to do it too — if only they had jobs.

    Along with the EU, Japan and the rest of the industrial world, the US continues to flood the market with cheap credit. That would be hunky dory, if was actually wealth for anybody but a banker. The real problems are debt and fraud, and tripling the debt in order to cover up the fraud. And pretending there no natural costs of our actions, that we do not have to rob the natural world to crank up the money world through debt.

    No matter what economists tell us abut getting the credit industry moving again, papering over debt with more debt will not pollinate our food crops when the last honeybee is dead. I suggest that we put the economists out there in the fields, hand-pollinating crops like they do in China. They seem to know all about the subject, and have placed a monetary value of $12 billion on the pollination accomplished by bees in the US. Can you imagine the fucking arrogance? All bees do is make our fruit and vegetable supply possible. Anyway, if we cannot use the economists for pollinators (odds are they are too damned whacked to do that job), we could also stuff them down the blowhole of the Deepwater Horizon spill. For the first time in history, economists would be visibly useful.

    Speaking of China: Since there is no way to pick up the turd of American capitalism by the clean end, much less polish it, American economists have pointed east, and set up a yow-yow about China as “the emerging giant.” The “next global industrial superpower.” Many Chinese are willing to ride their bicycles 10 miles to work through poisonous yellow-green air, and others in the “emerging middle class” are willing to wade into debt up to their nipples; this is offered as evidence of the viability of industrial capitalism. All it proves is that governments and economists never learn. In the quest of getting something for nothing, China follows the previous fools right into the smog and off the cliff.

    • Here is what Cedric Murrell the head of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) wants to see in the budget next week:

      a return to reasonable wage and salary increases in the public sector over the next two years

      one can wonder if our leaders are living on planet earth.

  7. “return to reasonable wage and salary increases in the public sector over the next two years”

    Crazy say “madness is gladness.”

    Economy in deep doo doo and the man talking about wage increases.

  8. If only our leaders were up front, honest and reasonably transparent with us then we’d be more prepared to accept the bitter medicine that could heal us in the long run. Alas these traits no longer exist among our political leadership (on either side) and to make matters worse they continue to arrogantly rub their weight gain (both lbs and $) in our faces while deceitfully pretending to care about the average man. London was a wake up call, Jamaica gives an extreme example, the recent local crime spike may be only the tip of the iceberg. People and families can only bear so much for so long without adequate communication, leadership and vision.

  9. @Observing

    You wrote: “People and families can only bear so much for so long without adequate communication, leadership and vision.”

    I concur and in doing so, it appears the lesser of two evils or the better option regardless of which stand point one takes with the political parties that the BLP ought to form the next government in Barbados. The statement may be contentious, but this resolution appears more lucid in the manner that the DLP sets out to deal with the people’s business given all the change they promised pre-2008 general elections. As the old people often said to me, ‘a bad boy is better than no boy at all’. I would think the BLP may be better matched with the first and the DLP with the latter.

  10. @David and BU

    I was just looking at the Nation Newspape online. Am I reading correctly that after asking or certainly reporting what various stakeholders in the economy are asking of the budget, it is only the hotels that can genuinely advance a case on something concrete? It seems that everyone is either running scared or that bajans do not know what they want. Maybe a change in leadership and government?

  11. Observing
    You are sooooo right, our leaders are living large while the poor is getting porer. It may sound stupid for Murrell to be asking for a wages/salaries raise at this time. For the well-to-do, it will sound out of place but when you’re in the shoes of the average and below average barbadian, many are at wit’s end to make ends meet. Everyday the cost of living is going up, things are getting worse, but our political leaders are making us believe, things are improving, while we can see things are getting harder. Yes, the budget HAS to be in the interest of the entire country, and bajans can do better but the lewaders MUST come with the truth and stop sugar-coating a bitter economy.

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