This is the first in a series of mini manifestos issued by the United Progressive Party as a part of our conversation with the nation of Barbados. After the delivery of the manifesto the Progressive Party and its candidates will make themselves available for further discussion. Given the constraints faced by Barbados the approach taken by the Progressive Party is to take a steady, measured path to A New Economy with a heavy reliance on the people of Barbados to adopt a new vision for progress…
‘The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.’ – IMF Website
The IMF is one of the leading financial institutions in the world established to support member countries. Barbados became a member in December 1970 and under Stand-By arrangements in October 1982 and 1992 accessed SDR46.35 of SDR55.77 approved. Given the perilous state of the Barbados economy it is no surprise that there is a clamour from many quarters for Barbados to access foreign currency support at concessionary rate given our forex level and junk credit rating.
Our membership in the IMF ensures that we benefit from rigorous monitoring to ensure ‘’policies that are conducive to orderly economic growth and reasonable price stability, avoid manipulating exchange rates for unfair competitive advantage, and to provide the IMF with data about its economy’’. BU must conclude given our interrupted membership in the IMF for forty six years successive government see value in the membership.
In an IMF working paper titled National Insurance Scheme Reforms in the Caribbean of October 2016 the IMF signalled to several Caribbean countries that with an ageing population, negative to anaemic economic growth, and rising unemployment numbers national insurance funds in the region, projected deficits will deplete assets in the coming years. The following graph extracted from the working paper estimates that on its current trajectory NIS reserves for Barbados will be exhausted by 2037. The reserves represent the excess funds explained as ‘‘income from contributions and investments that exceed the expenditures on benefits and administration that has accumulated over time’’.
On today’s (21/04/2017) Voice of Barbados talk show United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate Craig Harewood attempted to raise the matter and was bundled off the airwaves by moderator Glyne Murray. By asking the UPP candidate to investigate the assumptions used by the IMF in the working paper to support the projection that NIS reserves will be exhausted in 2037 in the opinion of BU was unprofessional by host Glyne Murray. Given the importance of the NIS fund to protecting the financial security of senior citizens of Barbados the intervention by Harewood should have been welcomed by the moderator and used to share his vast knowledge as a former minister of government. It is ironic that the Nation newspaper cited the IMF working paper in an article credited to Gregory Hinkson a former manager of Investments at the NIS Investment and specialist in pension investment analysis titled Social Security under pressure. Someone should assure Murray that the analysis of the IMF staffers was supported by the 2011 Actuarial Review.
The management of the NIS fund has been targeted by the BU community over the years –the burning issue remains the unavailability of recent financials of the fund and the late disclosure of the 15th Actuarial Review as at 2014. It is instructive under Concluding Remarks on page 18 of the working paper the IMF recommends, ‘’Finally, it is imperative that the authorities begin to build national awareness of the fiscal risk associated with the pension schemes and the need for reforms. At a minimum, the actuarial deficits should be systematically monitored and reported to the public with more frequency and a degree of detail to allow proper evaluation of the fiscal risk’’.
BU suspects Murray needs to understand what exhausted reserves by 2037 means AND VOB should apologize to Harewood by inviting him to make his point without fear of moderator harassment.
Submitted by Mrs. Debra Iﬁll, Independent Voter
The idea of a third, fourth, and ﬁfth party in principle is one that should be welcomed. It augurs well for any democratic state, that the freedom exists where ordinary people can put themselves forward to contest political elections.
But political leadership is not child’s play it is a serious decision that comes with national responsibility. It is no surprise that we are seeing a rising number of parties coming forward to contest the upcoming election. The DLP has demonstrated that it possibly takes little to gain leadership of our nation. Unfortunately for the past eight years we have been subjected to, “the worst government since adult suffrage”, as stated by Dr. George Belle. The problematic is that the people must not allow mediocrity to become the standard of our democracy. What should also be clear in the minds of those who would contest the election, is that it also takes very little to destroy a nation; a point also well demonstrated by the DLP.
As the legitimate Opposition party of Barbados, we want the BLP to outline blatantly the way forward. Yes, their manifesto-esque document, The Covenant of Hope attempts to do so. The issue with this document is in its cumbersome nature, especially for the ordinary person. Appropriate conversations with the people remain necessary, and I see that today, Saturday, 11 February 2016, this was started with the mass canvass in the City, showing an attempt at unity of message. It is my hope that these will continue. The strategy cannot be, that after the election is called, the deeper conversations with the people will begin. The leadership of the BLP must outline for us, their plans; their economic plan, their leadership plan, and their plan for our social elevation. We have been after all suffering for the past eight years, and although we know the way up will not be easy, we need to know that there are actual plans in the works.
For many there appears to be a void in the political system. This idea was created by the combination of an inept and failed DLP government; and their morality campaign preying on the reactionary nature of some of our citizens. This campaign, hypocritical as it might be, since immorality in many forms has played out on the national stage for the past eight years, would have been more damaging, had the DLP actually been a government of some success. But it did create a void in some peoples’ minds. Of course those persons are unable to see behind the curtain of confusion that was created.
Nonetheless, opportunistic individuals are attempting to exploit this void, some seeking to look after their own interest groups as is seemingly the case with Solutions Barbados, and those seemingly with personal grouses and axes to grind, as is the case with the UPP. Of course they believe that they can do no worse than the current administration, and they may be correct in that assumption. What we as a people need however, is a government that knows that it is better than what currently exists, and that is equipped with the knowledge, and the tools to turn this country around.
Eastmond’s failing to earn a nomination from the people is not the reason that I would resist her as a possible leader of the state. What would cause me pause instead is the bitterness in the expressions about the leader of the opposition that she and her cohorts espouse on social media almost daily. I ﬁnd it distasteful, and irresponsible. It is as if her cohorts and her, believe that their political failures are the fault of the Opposition leader. I have yet to hear of any studies done by Ms. Eastmond and friends, seeking the answer as to why she has been unable to gain a simple nomination. In other words she has yet to take responsibility for her failures. It is the same with Dr Maria Agard, who played a risky political game and lost. Lost, and not only victories, must be seen to have been taken with dignity.
As the Opposition Leader stated today, parties come and parties go. What I am more concerned with at this juncture, is what the incoming leaders of this country, Ms Mottley and her team, plan to do to take the country forward.