The Grenville Phillips Column – Politicians Cannot Grade Themselves


Photo left to right: Leighton Greenidge, Daniel Chalbaud, Cherie Pounder, Grenville Phillips, Kenneth Lewis

Every 5 years, Barbadians get an opportunity to look at their politicians’ report card and decide whether to allow them to continue to manage the national economy, or turn over management to a more competent group.  Over the past 50 years, we chose not to look at their report cards, but instead simply listened to our politicians declare that they were doing a good job, and the opposition declare that they could do a better job.

Those of us who do not worship politicians normally made our voting decisions based on whomever was the most persuasive.  I am an Engineer.  How could I have been so gullible, naïve and lazy?  Politicians cannot grade themselves. What was I thinking?

Like many others, I simply wanted to trust that our politicians knew what they were doing.  I just wanted to participate in Barbados economy and leave the management up to what they told me was an experienced and competent political class.  Our dollar appeared stable, the transition of power between BLP and DLP was non-violent, and we were not a dictatorship.  So while everything was not perfect, I was convinced that they knew what they were doing.  Oh, how wrong I was.

It was in 2015 that I just happened to see our politicians’ report cards by accident.  I read the IMF reports for Barbados and I was shocked to learn that we had been failing as a country for the past 20 years.  The IMF informed Barbados and other developing countries that we could use debt to finance our development, but they warned us that our debt should never, under any circumstances, exceed 40% of what we as a country made in one year, which is called the Gross Domestic Product or GDP.

Twenty years ago, the BLP took Barbados past this maximum ceiling that should never have been crossed.  However, rather than quickly return to the safety of under 40% GDP before anyone found out, they recklessly and arrogantly took Barbados’ debt to an irresponsible 90% GDP.  Why on earth and in heaven did the BLP do this?  If they thought that it was necessary for us to cross the 40% maximum limit, then why not ask our permission, or at the very least, inform us.  They had no right to plunge all of is into an unsustainable debt and almost ensure that our children will lose this country – no right whatsoever!

Clyde Mascoll recently challenged my figures on ‘Down to Brasstacks’ and shockingly declared that the BLP debt was good debt.  I responded that my figures came from the IMF, the same source that he used when he was criticising the BLP for their reckless borrowing when he was leading the DLP.  Further, the only good debt was any debt below the safety of the 40% GDP ceiling.  Anything over that ceiling was irresponsible and reckless debt.  I challenged him to discuss this issue with me at any time.  He has yet to respond.

The DLP took the debt baton from the BLP and appear to have simply given up.  They have allowed the debt to rise to about 150% GDP, which has taken us to the brink of economic ruin.  In this upcoming election, the DLP will claim that they are doing a good job, but the IMF report card shows that they are failing miserably.  The BLP will claim that they could do a better job, but the IMF and Moody’s report cards show that they were the ones who actually placed us in this financial mess.

After I read the report cards, I set about publishing solutions to the various problems hindering Barbados’ development, but neither established party appeared to be listening.  Peter Boos subsequently offered similar advice, and he was informed that unless he was in the political trenches and got his hands dirty, that he basically had no standing to offer any advice.  Since the DLP explained that the only way that they would listen to advice is if I got into the political trench, then into the trench I went.

Solutions Barbados was established in 1 July 2015, primarily to offer good advice to both political parties.  However, despite being in the political trench with them, they still would not listen.  Therefore, we will assemble 30 responsible persons in order to finally give Barbados voters a competent alternative to the two established parties.  We are pleased to announce the following additional candidates: Kenneth Lewis, Leighton Greenidge, Daniel Chalbaud, Cherie Pounder and Betty Howell.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

It Is Very Easy To Forget: Short Economic Memories In Barbados

Submitted by Trained Economist

Graph Credit: Barbados Economic Society

The challenges we now face must be put into a context and avoid the Tea Party like angry lashing out and politicizing of issues. The Barbados situation reminds me so much of what Obama faces in the USA.

1. It is easy to forget how dependent the Barbados economy is on tourism and international capital flows (especially for property investments). Given that the global recession was been especially long and severe, and the recovery weakest in the major source markets for our tourists and capital flows, it meant that Barbados would be severely impacted in terms of tourist arrivals, tourist expenditure and international capital flows. Aggregate demand, GDP, employment, government revenues and foreign reserves were bound to be negatively impacted. In 2008, Real GDP grew by 0.2%, it declined about 4.8% in 2009 and grew by around 0.3 % in 2010. Given those numbers and the length and depth of the global recession in our major source markets I am not persuaded by arguments which suggest that domestic policy aggravated the impact.

I would like to take you back to 2001 after the September 11 bombings. Our major source markets went into recession after the September 11 bombings and in 2001 Real GDP in Barbados fell by 3.4% and again by 0.4% in 2002. Very few would have argue that the post 911 recession was of the scale of the current recession, and the recovery was far more robust and sustained, but look at the impact it had on Barbados. The reason it had that impact was not because of a failure of local policy then, it was because of the openness of the economy and the reliance on tourism and international capital flows. The then government launched a major counter cyclical program but we still had two years of declining GDP. In the face of a recession of the scale encountered by our source markets and the slow recovery, a domestic growth solution is not a very practical one for Barbados given the structure of our economy.

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About Economic and GDP Growth

Submitted by Looking Glass

IMF Headquarters

We seldom look beyond our particular opinions, goals, beliefs or those of significant others to the context in which they have meaning and reflect the true state of affairs. All too often fabrication and criticism of reality is accepted as fact. There is no reason for the IMF or the Central Bank to fabricate our GDP growth. Increases in some of the GDP components such as taxes, Vat, construction (Pickering, Merricks, Four Seasons) house sales and loans (borrowed funds) may well be enough to generate the 2% GDP growth

IMF first became ‘involved’ in Barbados in 1991, discovered the loans to some of the regime to build homes were written off and has been ‘resident’ ever since, but prior to 2007 got little mention. In fact we were told that the IMF had been asked to leave (Nation 5/8.2006). Given the pre 2007 IMF comments about the economy under the BLP, it is hardly surprising that Lord Arthur and company would find it necessary to criticize the Central Bank and the IMF observation about growth. That a government who inherited an empty bucket was able to generate growth is a big slap in the face. Criticism for criticism sake or political purposes is not symbolic of virtue and does more harm than good.

The Central Bank not the PM or his cronies formulate/determine the GDP and notify the government who in turn apprise the people. In 1991 and again in 1993 we were told the GDP grew by 1% when if fact it had declined. Ask why the Governor resigned.

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