Submitted by Douglas
It is worth repeating- Sandiford’s structural adjustment programme of the 90s right-sized the public service of Barbados. It is worth stating that the Owen Arthur administration from 1994 started the process of inflating the ranks of the public service of Barbados. Growing the government; to the detriment of the private sector of Barbados – an unsustainable economic policy. He failed to take the advice at the turn of the century to reduce the size of the civil service by 10,000 spread over 10 years. The warning signs were there. But he failed to take the corrective measures.
Owen Arthur would not want anything to do with Mia Mottley’s eminent persons group. He knows that such a group would point fingers at him for failing to continue the restructuring of the Barbados economy which he had inherited from Sandiford. Like the prodigal son, for 14 years he partied, feasted, and feted spending the surplus revenue from the VAT and money borrowed for a rainy day, wasting billions of dollars on dead-end projects (Greenlands, Dodds Prison, Highway Expansion, Kensington, Crab Hill Police Station, and Eastry House). He also presided over decisions which left us with very little space to manoeuvre: the sale of the national bank, the insurance company and selling off the private sector of Barbados to foreign interest. Not to mention the first three downgrades of Barbados’ credit rating.
When you are managing an economy in good times you are expected to make provision and savings for hard times. Arthur did not do this. This was his greatest failure as a leader. He did not have the vision or foresight to adequately prepare for the future.
In 2008, the Barbados Labour Party was voted out for their mismanagement of public funds. Do we remember the cost overrun bill which stood at over a billion dollars? That was money which was wasted, spent and not saved. What a difference it would make today if the Owen Arthur administration had been able to save that money for a rainy day! One of the things which make the Singapore economy great is that they actually save their surplus budget and set it aside for a rainy day. The Arthur administration, which had the opportunity, never did it. When Ms. Mottley advised him as the Minister with responsibility for Economic Affairs she too did not have the foresight to suggest such. What a difference it would make to civil servants if those rainy day savings were available now.
Not only did Arthur fail to save, he failed to invest in projects which would put the Barbados economy on a sustainable growth path. Why is it that we have to wait until now in 2014 for the Sanitation Service Authority to invest millions to construct a Waste-to-Energy plant? Why didn’t Arthur invest the millions spent on Greenland on such a project?
Why is it that we have to wait until 2014 to invest millions of dollars in the construction of a purpose built designated cruise pier to expand Barbados’ potential in cruise tourism and also create a hub for the expansion and development of our cultural industries in Barbados?
Why is it that we had to wait until 2013 to revolutionise our energy generation capacity in Barbados by passing legislation and creating a suite of investment incentives to grow the renewable energy sector in Barbados?
Why is it that we had to wait until 2014 to put serious plans in place to revitalize the sugar industry in Barbados? By building a multipurpose plant capable of producing a number of by products from sugar cane we will be developing a sugar cane industry.
Why is it that we had to wait until 2013 for the Sandals brand to join the Barbados tourism product helping the country to boost airlift from the Canadian and UK markets? Soon, Sandals will be investing over US$65 million into the economy creating over 1000 jobs in construction during the “sandalisation” of Sandals Casuarina.
Why is it that we had to wait until 2008 to recognise that NHC was wasting millions of dollars trying to build office complexes and could do a better job of building housing accommodations for Barbadians?
The answer to those questions – the Owen Arthur administration lacked vision. They did not know then how to restructure the economy of Barbados and they cannot offer today a solution to the economic challenges which the economy is presently facing. That is why Owen wants nothing to do with the eminent persons group. That is why in his opinion Mia was just about political gimmicks. He knows that the only thing that comes from her mouth is, “march!” Marching does not solve economic or financial crisis.
To all Barbadians we are making sacrifices to put the Barbados economy back on track. It is our hope that the sacrifices which are being made now will be brief. The Barbados economy will revive and you can help it to grow. We encourage you to grasp the opportunity for training and re-tooling during this time. Sharpen your skills and help us to build a stronger and more sustainable economy and society. We need to put our minds and talents to creative uses. We need to produce, we need to be creative, and we need to be innovative.