Dr Michael Howard’s many questions were recently answered by the Barbados Economic Recovery Team (BERT) economist, Dr Greenidge. Hopefully he can answer our single question.
Let me first state that BERT’s austerity-based solution will likely work. The austerity is supposed to be very severe, for as long as it needs to be until it works, which is expected to be many years.
The severity and duration of the foreseen suffering of the Barbadian public was the only reason why we designed a non-austerity alternative. When we tried to share it with the last administration, we were promised that the only way it would be heard is if we entered the political trench. We naively believed the promise, entered the trench, but were never allowed an opportunity to be heard.
To our knowledge, two other entities independently designed non-austerity plans, resulting in three non-austerity plans on the proverbial table. But Solutions Barbados was the only entity that entered the political trench.
We now have a new administration and a new promise by a new Prime Minister. Her first directive was that all ideas should contend. Therefore, our question is: why has BERT not allowed a review of any of the non-austerity plans? If it was an oversight, then since Dr Greenidge seems to be the BERT spokesperson, can he spare 2 hours to meet with us to assess our plan? If he is too busy, then can he authorise a non-partisan accountant and/or economist or a panel of them to review our plan? If it was not an oversight, then why is BERT violating that prime directive?
I am fully aware that Dr Greenidge’s traditional training would not likely have included non-austerity methods, much a surgeon’s would not likely have included alternative natural methods. Therefore, let me suggest an analogy to hopefully spark his interest in what he may not know.
Let’s say that there are two main approaches to treating cancer. The traditional more popular surgery, drugs and radiation (chemotherapy) which traumatises the body, and the alternative-health natural remedies mainly consisting of herbs, diet and exercise, which do not traumatise the body.
The traditional medical practitioners have convinced the Government that theirs is the only way to treat cancer, despite the proven success of alternative-health methods. Therefore, traditional practitioners receive all of the national health budget and prestige, and are viewed as credible.
Traditional medical practitioners are not normally trained in alternative health methods. However, rather than learn about them to improve patient-care, many use their prestige to irresponsibly ridicule what they do not understand, and dismissively reject alternative-health practitioners as persons on the fringe.
When we were facing economic ruin, the traditionalists recommended the only thing that they understood, namely, traumatic austerity. Others designed alternative non-austerity non-traumatic solutions. Dr Greenidge is urged to resist the temptation to be close-minded on this critical matter.
Since I may not get another shot at this, let me try to reason with him. This may be a hard task since he may still be euphoric that an agreement appears to have been reached with the IMF, and he has the support of the private sector and unions, who are trying to convince us that the austerity that we are about to experience in exchange for an IMF agreement is unavoidable.
He should be aware that IMF personnel also agreed with our non-austerity plan, but they thought that it contained a fatal flaw. They said that it depended on the unions’ support, and based on the unions’ adversarial relationship with the DLP administration, they thought that the unions would never agree. However, we met with the NUPW, BWU and CTUSAB, and all three agreed to participate. Therefore, the IMF’s singular concern was effectively resolved. Mr Greenidge, please allow both ideas to contend – for the public good.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com