To live within our fiscal and debt management means, we now have to be circumspect in creating more social entitlements, save and except for the truly needy and reform some of our entitlement programmes to eliminate expenditure wastage.Owen Arthur 2007
Do we truly understand what living within our debt management means would look like?
Former Prime Minister Arthur must have asked himself this question.
It is no secret that much of the progress in Barbados was driven by investment in the Social Sectors. It may also be concluded that the Social Sector is now too large for the economy to carry at a time when the economy is itself undergoing a difficult transition. A thorough rebalancing of the relationship between the Social and Economic Sectors, seems to be necessary to bring back harmony to the process of National Development.
The State has made available to the citizens at large, a wide array of entitlements and social services using a principle of free universal access. We are at the point where this can not continue. Fundamental adjustments have to therefore be made to the range of entitlements afforded to the citizens by the state.
We must also agree on a fresh approach to determining who should benefit. A comprehensive rebalancing of the role of the state and the private sector in the Social arena of Barbados, has to be envisioned as an essential part of the new governance arrangements for the society.
It goes without saying that privatisation has to be engaged as a major aspect of Governance in Barbados. In order for this transition to thrive we must prioritize changing the business culture in Barbados with emphasis on improving the conditions for doing business.
Barbados will not succeed unless a carefully conceived and managed programme of privatisation is made part of its economic future. The government of Barbados, like those in the rest of the Caribbean, will not succeed in overcoming its horrendous debt problems with which it is affected, unless it ends having to borrow or transfer funds to cover losses. It is better to create State enterprises fashioned along private sector lines, to carry out specialized functions that are too complex to get caught up in bureaucracy. It is however important to consider that any privatisation of the large owned state enterprises in Barbados should be accompanied by employee shareholder options.
We are at the crossroads and as Martin Luther King Jr. said ” the time is always right to do the right thing.”