Outlook is Gloomy
Dr. Kim Quimby, a Lecturer in Immunology at UWI, Cave Hill appointed to the committee to advise the government of Barbados on the selection of vaccines issued the following chilling pronouncement recorded elsewhere in the press.
The statement is chilling because the government of Barbados and other countries with an overdependence on tourism and services have been adopting a wait and see strategy of borrowing to protect the way of life we have become accustomed. Some will define that way of life as living way above our ability to earn (afford).
We hope Dr. Quimby’s dispassionate warning based on training is factored in government policy and promoted in a national conversation. Setting expectations is important because if we observe the behaviour of Barbadians one senses there is an unforgivable ignorance about the dire economic predicament Barbados is currently mired. We should not have to be reminded that before COVID 19 reared its head just over a year ago Barbados’ economic state was fragile.
In a recent blog F for V I S I O N the blogmaster expressed concern at the lack of cohesion between ministries revealed in the recent 2021/2022 Estimates Debate. We have posted questions how does government plan to manage the 700 million budget deficit. What is the plan to sensitize the population of the real situation. The blogmaster understands the objective of government messaging to inflate the confidence of average Barbadians at a difficult time. However, the message must be tempered with reality.
If Dr. Quimby’s warning comes true, is the current plan to protect and give hope to Barbadians a realistic one?
Some will say send home government workers. If we do, how will it impact government revenues. The economists will generously use the Multiplier Effect argument. What about the social dislocation and disruption? There will be the knock on effect to the private sector given the design of the local economy which is public sector led.
Without getting technical and using a low dose of commonsense there are inherent risks and others we have to carefully manage in the unravelling COVID 19 public health crisis which has exposed economic and social vulnerabilities in Barbados and other countries. In the same way the virus is described as novel, responses by Small Island Developing States (SIDs) will have to vary from traditional tactics and approaches to problem solving.
The biggest two problems Barbados have to stare down are managing an unforgivable debt accumulated over decades to support a popular lifestyle AND the ability to materially move the GDP needle which is challenged by the fact our main money earner is a non starter for some time to come.
The reality is that the novel problem being faced by Barbados has stumped our best and brightest. If there is a path to finding our way out of the COVID 19 induced economic maze the blogmaster remains ignorant. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown they say. Is is easy for some to continue to harp about the missteps that created a one-legged economy. It is more difficult to offer ideas that will move the GDP needle in a significant way.
The BU space over the years has captured hundreds of ideas posted by the dull and intelligent. The blogmaster senses the political directorate and shadows in the private sector have been contented to milk unfit for purpose economic and governance models.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now reaping the whirlwind from those stasis positions taken.
The outlook remains gloomy.