On the front page of the Nation Newspaper today December 4th 2022, Barbados has approached the IDB for another 200 Million in loans.
Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn said in his letter to the IDB that the fourth component of the letter was aimed at economic and fiscal strengthening for after the pandemic. One of the most interesting measures listed for justifying this loan is the use of a progress report of the measures prioritized by the jobs and investment council.
If viewers can recall the Jobs and Investment Council was put in place by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in April 2020. The Jobs and Investment Council started with eight committees – 8 chairmen of working groups undertaking a mandate of preparing a guide for the survival and transformation of Barbados and a wide cross section of persons was said to have been called upon to serve on the committees, including Barbadians in the diaspora.
- The eight chairmen of the working groups were Former Prime Minister, Professor Owen Arthur who chaired the Industrial Transformation group, which is looking at – How to create 20,000 jobs in 18 to 24 months;
- Professor The Most Honorable Eudine Barriteau chaired the working group of the Services and the Creative Economy examining – How can we train everyone to world class standards in the delivery of goods and services?
- Dereck Foster is chairing the Retail and Commerce committee, which will undertake – How can we guarantee food on everyone’s table?
- Senator John Rogers chairs that tasked with – Securing Food for Every Table.
- Dodridge Miller chairs the Finance and Insurance group, which will address – How can we fuel investment for the next 18 to 24 months?
- Tony Hoyos is chairing the Housing and Infrastructure group, which is looking at – What facility can be used to leverage the capital in the Housing Credit Fund to provide low-income houses?
- The Digital Transformation committee, which is chaired by Dr. Annalee Babb, will examine – How can we use technology and innovation to solve common everyday problems for Caribbean people?
- Lastly Former Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, will chair the – Trade and Logistics group.
The Job and Investment Council met in April 2020 and according to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, the members were expected to report back to Government within two to four weeks, depending on their areas of concentration. Some developments changed the operations of these committees or working groups as coined by government. Since being established 2 years ago, former PM Owen Arthur has died and Former Finance Minister Chris Sinckler has been given a job in Washington. In a bid for transparency the Prime Minister who is Minister of Finance should publish this progress report that Ryan Straughn mentioned in his letter as the reason for committing Barbados to an additional 200 Million in debt, this publication should also include who are the other members who sit on these working groups and the pay and compensation before the country proceeds to take that loan from IDB. At no point in time did this jobs and investment council report their findings and recommendations to the public via consultation / town hall or press conference, written media or else.
The public should request an update from the Prime Minister and Ryan Straughn on this Jobs and Investment council before this loan is signed off. What’s also a concern is the fact that the Prime Minister announced a plan to establish another council name the Fiscal Council when there is already the BERT monitoring committee. She said The Fiscal Council is expected to have one representative from the international community and the rest sourced regionally and/or locally. Mottley also promised the implementation of a public-private sector growth council soon to monitor the investment and growth targets under the BERT plan .
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Anthony Branker said last month November 2022 that as a member of the Barbados Private Sector Association, “we have not heard anything on the establishment of these working groups to date,” said Branker. “The Chamber fully embraces the concept of what gets measured gets done, and so we look forward to the establishment of these working groups. The PM was present when he made these comments. Barbadians should ask what is the role of the social partnership if these establishment of four additional economic committees , along with economic consultants.