The Grenville Phillips Column – The Four Horsemen
The Barbados Economic Recovery Team is administering their bitter medicine in small doses. They appear to have learnt from Guyana’s experience with the IMF, where the Guyanese politicians used a big spoon. Since the result will be the same, it is less messy and less socially disruptive to slowly boil the frog.
But, why must the frog be boiled at all? We do not. But it is the only method that the Barbados Economic Recovery Team (BERT) understands or received their training, so they appear stubbornly unwilling to review any other solution.
There are no boundaries warning of danger that they will not cross, no promises so sacred that they will not break, and no cases deserving of compassion that they will not ignore. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, they are pursuing a singular focus – severe austerity to all who are not at or near the trough.
We should not be surprised since this austerity was foreseen. For the uninformed, first, they will reduce our salaries with high taxation. Then they will reduce our savings by ensuring that our salaries cannot pay for our normal monthly expenses, so we will be forced to use our savings.
Then they will reduce our pensions through debt restructuring, which is a method of breaking sacred promises made to investors, including to our pensioners. Then, they will facilitate the reduction in the asset value of our houses when homeowners are unable to pay their monthly mortgage payments and the banks foreclose, which will over-supply the housing market.
Finally, they will orchestrate the brain-drain of competent professionals from Barbados by exclusively rewarding their most incompetent and most partisan yardfowl supporters, and frustrating the most competent among us. This makes the country’s local businesses internationally uncompetitive , which is the ultimate aim of international financiers who entice irresponsible short-sighted politicians to get their nations into unsustainable debts.
Our dollar does not need to devalue for us to arrive at the same place – which is the devaluation of our salaries, savings, pensions, assets, professionals, and local businesses. We are just taking the scenic route down.
There have been several tour-guides employed along the way, to encourage us that our suffering is essential to Barbados’ economic recovery. They have been dispatched to tell us that we must patriotically bear the pain, while they gorge on spillage as their masters feed.
Let me clarify that if severe austerity was the only path out of our economic problems, then I would join the partisan yardfowls, not at the trough, but in encouraging all Barbadians to bear the suffering for the sake of the next generation. However, there are at least 4 non-austerity plans on the table. Yet BERT is on a mission that will make us suffer, and they will neither be dissuaded by us, nor restrained by the BLP administration, from their singular purpose.
The last administration followed the same economic plan. It was not called BERT, but multiple variations of a medium-term economic strategy that continually failed to meet its targets. This time the plan is the same, but the actors are different.
Former Prime Minister Stuart gave the former Minister of Finance a long leash to inflict measured austerity. The current Prime Minister has unleashed what seems like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to inflict severe austerity, and a rodeo clown to keep us distractedly entertained.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com