In the wake of the unusual event of the former Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell resorting to the Courts of Barbados to prevent Minister of Finance (MoF) Chris Sinckler from sacking him, the BU household eagerly looked forward to the MoF’s press conference. High on the agenda for Sinckler should have been to quell understandable concerns at home and abroad given the imbroglio between Worrell and Sinckler. Instead we were treated with a regurgitation of economic spiel heavily laced with political rhetoric.
It has become obvious to the BU household that minister of finance Chris Sinckler lacks the ability to infuse confidence in the market with his monotonous interventions. How many times have we had to listen to the finance minister raise expectations of Barbadians concerning projects in the pipeline only to be disappointed? As a Barbadian we continue to kindle the hope that Sinckler will deliver at this eleventh hour.
BU would have wanted to hear Sinckler explain why forex reserves have been trending down in recent years. Especially against the background of a rebound in tourism performance by arrivals. It is obvious there is a systemic issue to explain about the quality of sector spend and foreign direct investment contribution. And the bigger issue of the robustness of the fundamentals which support the local economy. To quote BU commenter Bernard Codrington, “Unless the success of an industrial sector translates to the success of the nation it is dysfunctional/ counterproductive”. After listening to Sinckler there is no brimming confidence felt by Barbadians that receipts from projects promised is a sustainable approach even IF they should eventually materialize.
The MoF cursorily addressed the problem of the nagging fiscal deficit. The junior pool of reporters present let slip the opportunity to press the MoF on the plan to rationalise state enterprises. The MoF promised Barbadians many moons ago that statutory corporations will be rationalized. Wasn’t a committee headed by Dr. Justin Robinson established to chart a roadmap to execute the Sinckler Plan. A year from the next general elections and the government continues to dither on its implementation. Clearly the project to rationalize statutory corporations is integral to reducing the fiscal deficit. At this late stage in its second term It is difficult to see how this DLP government will aggressively pursue rationalization if it plans to win the general election.
Minister Sinckler is no Janet Yellen. Stating in his most deliberate voice that there will be no devaluation of the Barbados dollar will not make onlookers believers. Barbadians and foreign investors alike will evaluate how effective government policy has been to support conclusions. They will study documents created by the Caribbean Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and take note of the mouthings of government’s own minister of agriculture David Estwick. All have been uncomplimentary about government’s economic performance to date.
Another opportunity missed by the junior reporting pool was to quiz the MoF about Barbados’ waste management strategy post-Cahill. The island’s inability to efficiently treat its sewage and garbage has the potential to undermine the favourable forecast of the MoF. Surely it was not the time to quiz the MoF about late tax returns?
Why was the MOF flanked by the MoC at the press conference?