Submitted by Looking Glass
In terms of statistics we are fed false stories about the economy and in doing so delude the people. The economy already in deep distress it leaves one to wonder about the knowledge, understanding and competence of some of our caretakers. Among other things it reflects a shortage or absence of investigative journalism. Debt will continue to rise. In order to restore ‘restore’ and or the economy we need to look beyond our optimism and thinking to reality. Does it take a study to tell us that oil (and other) prices will rise in an all importing country?
We were told the tourism industry never had more than 2.7% growth since 1974 but will surpass this limit (Advocate4/11/2011). Really? We had 700,000 visitors between last January and June with 58900 in the last month and 38600 by cruise ships (Advocate8/11/2011), much more than low costCubawho set a new record for tourist arrivals in 2011. This in the height of a global recession when tourism in other places declined is truly an improvised record. Am I to understand we had more than 500,000 visitors a year in the last few years? If that were the case so many hotels would not have closed.
Visitors need to be defined UK and North American flights toBarbadosare mainly weekend ones with hardly more 100 passengers per flight. Bringing 58900 visitors in a month would require more than 100 flights. They are few direct flights from the UK and North America to Guyana, St Vincent and Grenada etc. Visitors (in transits) to them and vice-versa pass through Barbados and in the process contribute very little by way of spending. Are they included?
At least one cruise liner per week for 24 weeks with about 1600 visitors would have arrived. Few visiting ships have that capacity so how many cruise ships actually called? Passenger spending at least by implication is exaggerated. We were told that ship passengers spend on average $75 per day. But not all passengers do not come ashore and spend. People servicing the industry tell a different story.
Now we are exploring viable initiatives inLatin AmericaandAsiaand existing partnerships with a few airlines (advocate1/11/2012). Do we really expect much fromChinaorAsia? It suggests inability to understand, promote and market tourism. Air Canada has announced direct flights to Grenada and Turks and Caicos, KLM to Cuba and Aruba, West Jet weekly flights to Puerto Rica, Copa airline from Panama to Nassau and Jamaica, BA new flights to Antigua and Barbuda, Virgin Airline to Cancun, American Eagle to the Dominican Republic. And the outlook for 2012 is said to be encouraging once the international economy settles down (Advocate1/18/2012). Expect more improvised statistics.
The debt story is more outrageous. In 1994 a former Central Bank officer pegged the national debt (the sum total of all budget loan guarantees and contingencies) at $26bn. In fact the debt exceeded $100bn. The sale of the Port in 1995 reduced the national debt to about $82bn in 2000. We were told that debt doubled from 2.5bn in 1994 to almost 5.5bn in 2000 (Nation7/19/06). In Barbados Is Bankrupt (4/22/06) debt rose from 2bn to 4bn under the BLP; this at a time when the entire public service debt reached 110% of GDP (Nation4/22/06) then doubled from 2bn to 5n. Later we were told debt had narrowed to 6% of GDP by 2006. If that was indeed the case then ‘Sustainability’ would not have been a problem. No wonder the IMF (2006) noted the weaknesses of statistical information coverage and transparency of data projected debt at 75% of GDP by 2011 and recommended an “ambitious plan for adjustment and structural reform.”
In 2011 the total national debt was about $64bn, the current DLP share 3-4bn. Very little of our debt is held locally. True the debt did not originate with the BLP but exploded under it. Had they not sell (privatize) the Port in 1995, the airport in 2001, the National Bank (BNB), Gems and the St Lucy hospital among other things the debt today would have exceeded $100bn.
Even more disturbing are the comments and observations of some ‘prominent’ economists, politicians and some with access to the facts. According to a former Central Bank Governor “the island’s financial system and overall economy were not in crisis, and even though 2009 will be a challenging year the system had certain buffers to safeguard the island’s economic fortunes. That the buffers remain a mystery leaves one to suspect the sale of ‘commercial assets’ recently suggested by the former PM. Dr Alleyne told us that debt was not a problem, “much of what was being said critically about the local economy is really a failing of intellect” (Nation 11/28/2006). This at a time when at least one in every three dollars spent was borrowed. And one Blackman had the temerity to announce that the “effect of the crash (global recession) should be minimal inBarbados(Nation3/5/09). This at a time when the IMF projected the volume of goods, services and trade to fall by 12% in 2009.
Now we are said to be asset rich but cash strapped and that “some of government Commercial Assets should be privatized on the undertaking that the proceeds should be entirely used to pare down the public debt” (Advocate25/11/2011). According to the 1991 PSIGeneva conference 83 governments had taken steps to privatize at least one industry by 1988. However no one sold their scarce assets like banks, ports or airports. Exactly what does he mean by commercial assets? About the only ones left are land and water.
Economic and debt management require cutbacks in spending, structural adjustment and accumulation enough hard currency to service debt. The sale of scarce government assets may temporarily reduce debt burden, but it will not promote ‘development’ and will surely increase the cost of living. In our case it has already resulted in social and environmental degradation (sale of land and homes). The St Lucy hospital wants or wanted work permits for a 100 or more foreign workers. Consider the socio-economic implications of an increased foreign workforce. Given the state of the economy it is unlikely debt will be retired in 20 years. We are already looking at a large mass sitting on the edge of serfdom.
To those who accused governments of creating poverty for future generations you are responsible. You are the economy. That government has or should have the where-with-all to supply the ingredients for a grand, conspicuous lifestyle to which we have a divine right is delusional. Contrary to belief governments do not create employment. Champagne taste with bread and fish coppers generates poverty.Barbados has not the where-with-all to support lavish lifestyle for all and no country has obligation to facilitate the lifestyle you desire. We import everything and produce nothing. Recently some Bajan visitors wanted to know where to get Pudding and Souse and a Bajan girl asked “what is that.” Locally grown food like yam, eddoes, breadfruit etc have been replaced by foreign foods and with it an increase in breast cancer and declining health. Time to soil the hand, grow some food and adjust your lifestyle or return to servitude.