The climate developing countries have to manage affairs of state appears to be very challenging at this time. Barbados the former colony can no longer expect to hide or be protected by England. There was a time we benefited from preferential trade treatment which seemed fair in a dog eat dog world where the ‘strongest’ always has the best chance to navigate challenges.
In a post 54th independence period sensible Barbadians are forced to reflect and to ask – where do we go from here?
Some debate whether the decline of the Barbados economy (and society) started in the 70s, what is for certain is that the decline accelerated after the 2008 global recession. The structure of our economy with an over reliance on services made us extremely vulnerable to significant slowdown in the world economy. Unfortunately we have been unable to patch the vulnerability which has been exposed again by the Covid 19 pandemic.
Reading many comments on BU and listening to commentary elsewhere, it has become painfully obvious despite the dark challenges facing Barbados there are unrealistic expectations the leadership of the country has not address. Barbadians for many years have enjoyed a reasonable standard of living supported by deficit financing in the post Barrow period. There is nothing wrong with spending more than you earn but it is a practice which cannot be sustained. Successive governments in the last four decades have borrowed heavily to pursue national budget objects. We can continue to quibble about who to blame and see where that get us.
The blogmaster is palpably aware from walking among Barbadians on a daily basis that many are suffering from a form of ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’. At a household level commonsense would dictate that supporting a lifestyle of spending more than one earns will lead eventually to a problem. Why do Barbadians expect a different outcome if successive governments continue to engage in reckless financial management? We have spent billions on education, should citizens possess the awareness to translate it to a strident lobby against the establishment to ensure realistic policy decisions are implemented? What about other key stakeholders in civil society like media houses/practitioners and NGO groups?
In the 54 Not Out blog there is a cursory discussion about local media. We have a David Ellis who has been the standout media person in Barbados over the years but a single journalist will not do it. Also we do not have the columnists of the past who provoked deep thought in the population the likes of Oliver Jackman, Gladstone Holder, Leonard Shorey to name only three. Active NGO groups are important as well because interest can be more forcefully represented in numbers. We are at a place in Barbados all problems must be solved by the government. To move forward we must implement a fit for purpose governance model. The reactionary approach to managing our affairs will not deliver meaningful long term results. We fail to plan, we plan to fail.
This morning as the blogmaster sips from a cup of peppermint tea alone with his thoughts, it is clear the country is suffering from a ‘fatigue’, especially wrought by the post 2008 period. This was compounded by a severe policy prescription that has decimated the hopes and dreams of the middleclass forced to witness a manhandling of nest eggs in the most unprecedented way. Finally came Covid 19.
The unprecedented times in which we live demands a degree of planning and collaboration between stakeholders in civil society never envisaged. The blogmaster is unable to reconcile conversations emanating from the mouths of key actors given what the national imperatives should be. Propping up a lifestyle fuelled by conspicuous consumption must be addressed. Calibrating our educations system to produce citizens who can compete to support themselves. Dismantling sub cultures and replace with initiatives to nurture national pride. The forgoing should positively impact crime. Last but not least the environment. We have to care about the space in which we have to exist.
No more tea…
Discuss for 15 marks.