Sunday, April 21, 2024

.2% growth ‘no big issue’

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“Much ado about very little,” says Sir Courtney Blackman. “It’s close to that.”
The former Governor of the Barbados Central Bank so characterized the fuss over whether or not Barbados’ economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the last quarter, as reported by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, or if the Central Bank should revise upwards its earlier forecast of 2.5 per cent growth for 2011.
“When you make a projection or estimation of whether the economy grew by 0.3 per cent, that could mean less than one per cent or it could be growth that’s much higher, and that’s because of a margin of error, plus or minus,” said Sir Courtney. To estimate growth at less than one per cent is almost meaningless because you don’t know exactly the rate of growth. 
“It could be .2 per cent more or .2 per cent less. It could be any of those. So to make a fuss about a projected rate of growth at that level is really trivial actually.”
As he explained it, forecasts were made by economists according to the “best available information at the time” and if conditions changed and specific data about economic performance became available in a matter of weeks or months then adjustments could be made.
“It’s not a big issue,” said Sir Courtney. But the former Central Banker who later went on to become Barbados’ Ambassador in Washington was quick to say that given the severity of the global economic crisis and its impact on the United States, the Caribbean, Europe and other regions of the world, an indication of growth in Barbados shouldn’t be ignored.
“To achieve growth in the present situation in which the Barbados economy finds itself and in the light of the uncertainties of this world, particularly the weakness of the American economy, which has more impact upon us than any other economy, to get any growth at all is very good,” he said. 
“I think this emphasis on measuring growth by these numbers, I don’t contribute to that. My greatest concern is do we have enough foreign exchange reserves to survive this crisis? Do we have a comfortable margin of reserves? That is what we should be trying to keep in focus. That must be our objective. Once we have enough reserves we are in business.”
Such reserves would be necessary over the long-haul because Sir Courtney fears the crisis could continue for another three years, if not longer.
“We really don’t know how long it’s going to last,” he said. “The most important thing is for us to find ways to increase our foreign reserves.”
The former Central Bank Governor seemingly chided Barbados’ key political leaders for their failure to educate the populace about the tough global economic climate so that Barbadians could adjust their behaviour accordingly. 
“I really feel that the political leadership of Barbados has failed to explain to the Barbadian, to impress upon them the severity of this global crisis and to get them to understand what happened to the Americans,” said Sir Courtney.

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