It is obvious the governance system of Barbados serves to frustrate citizens clamouring for change as a result of eight years of declining economic performance. We should add that the social landscape has been changing as well be it crime, road rage and other unbajanlike behaviours. The recent public falling out between former Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler clearly highlights the dire state of affairs. What message does it sent to the domestic and international arenas? With a general election on the horizon it is difficult to fathom where the government will find the political and financial capital to efficiently implement required and immediate policy changes to lead the economic recovery.
For many the economic and social fortune of the country eight years after the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was handed the government has not improved. The government and the international financial and credit agencies appear to be at odds. Do we have the confidence that home based strategy is working out?
The recent downgrade by S&P Global to CCC+/C on Limited Financing Alternatives and Low International Reserves suggest the government will struggle to access funds on the international capital markets for the foreseeable future. And when in the few cases the opportunity exist to borrow, lenders will attach severe conditions as is the case with the Credit Suisse loan. The flipside to the challenge of being tagged with a poor credit rating is that Barbados becomes unattractive to foreign investors. This is important because the planks upon which the Barbados economy is supported requires inflows from tourism AND foreign direct investment. Post 2008 Barbados has had to resort to selling profitable state assets- BLP a strategic asset -to supplement to revenues. One does not have to be read in economics to appreciate that selling profitable state assets is an unsustainable approach to tackling the structural economic problems of Barbados. It also will eventually scare the identity of a nation by leaking assets to others what a people by dint of hard work have been able to acquire.
The protracted economic problems Barbadians have had to suffer has caused our mojo to disappear. No longer is Barbados regarded in the region as the model economy and country. Has the government achieved their mantra of building a society not an economy?
Whether at a personal or state level confidence is required to generate ideas, create projects from the ideas and to efficiently implement read timely. Clearly Barbados continues to suffer from what is commonly described as implementation deficit. Our inability to rollout project after project has affected economic recovery. Without being prolix there is enough evidence to legitimately question the performance of the government. It is important however to register that the structural economic problems of the country existed before 2008 when the DLP took office. It explains why they were booted from office. Successive governments have procrastinated to address the fault lines in the economy. Instead we have lived the easy live on the back of easy access to credit.
The question sensible Barbadians have been asking is how do we forcefully communicate to the political class the need for better representation to address the acute problems facing Barbados. Having to wait for five years to mark an X is not an efficient way to participate in a governance system. It seems ironic that ordinary citizens should have to ask the private sector; the chamber of commerce and other private sector agencies, to join the people to say to the government enough is enough. It is an admission that those with money control the decision making above those with economic authority. We are at that point where the business class must step up if the so called democratic system is to facilitate the change we require.
Anyone who listened to the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler deliver a presentation at the DLP’s mid term conference were not inspired –at all. The lack of inspiration has nothing to do with the fact the recording was done with a hand held mobile phone.
Can we survive until the next general election? Will important stakeholders be able to save this once proud nation from sinking to a DDD credit rating? Will the Cabinet of Barbados agree to position country over politics? Will the social partnership for once grow teeth? Will ordinary Barbadians see the wisdom to become immerse in the many activities that are designed to drive our system of government?
The late BU contributor Looking Glass wrote to BU many years ago to ask local UWI, Cave Hill and local academics to come together and in one voice communicate to the country what was required to negotiate a path from the economic. He wanted them to project an independent voice to reflect the high level of investment in education by Barbados. BU acted on his request by emailing a well known Cave Hill academic . We leave it to the BU community to evaluate if his request was acted out in the years since his death .