An Election-Oriented Budget: WATCH OUT!

George C. Brathwaite

Next week bears an awful foreboding for Barbadians from all walks of life and all sectors contributing to the national economy. There is further predictable gloom on the economic horizon; this fact is based upon two significant things. For starters, the global economy remains as volatile and uncertain as it has been since 2007; the UK, USA, and Europe as whole are fighting stubbornly to bring about some stability in the context that their economies are still courting a double-dip recession, unable to kick-start employment, and are battling a series of corruption and other forms infelicitous charges regarding the public purse.

The second factor speaks to the lack or insufficiency of innovative economic mechanisms by government to deal with the shocks and turbulence impacting on Barbados given its peculiarities of a very low manufacturing base, a weak export climate, a restricted services economy, a fixed exchange rate regime, and an ever increasing import bill that far surpasses the capacity of the country’s production and consumption. Together these things make the job of Minister of Finance a perplexing one especially considering his ‘greenness’ to the profession notwithstanding his enthusiasm and/or other attributes.

From recent memory, perhaps the only Barbadian that I may say who would cherish and not envy the current Minister’s position is the Leader of the Opposition despite his acknowledgement of the tremendous task and acumen that is necessarily required for a return of Barbados to relative economic success. In my opinion, even with Mr. Arthur the difficulties would not disappear despite he may offer some confidence in the economy and inspire the local private sector based upon his track record. This is likely to be the case since in all fairness to potential leaders and economists, very few if any public statements made in the past year have suggested new economic paths for the country. Yet there is little dispute about the country’s economic accomplishments under his leadership.

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