Sunday, April 21, 2024

Reading from the same book


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Parliament HAS resumed sittings – after the usual summer break – in what is bound to be one of the most engaging of times for the Barbadian body politic.
Within the next 15 months, we expect there will be a general election, and debate will sharpen as both sides begin their run-up to that date.
Whatever happens, it will be a battle based mainly on the economy, since it now seems clear that the recession is lasting longer than anticipated and its impact is being felt on the local economy to such an extent that the figures for growth have been revised downwards.
Management of the economy and the choice of policy options will therefore take centre stage because the competing politicians will be urging their respective policies as the right ones. We leave that debate to these worthy women and men, at this stage.
A matter of immediate concern must be the fate of the unemployed and those who are likely to lose their jobs in the near future. When no less a figure than the Governor of the Central Bank warns of future job losses, we all have to become wise in the management of our personal resources.
It cannot be business as usual, and while we cannot ignore personal realities, we are in a sense, our brother’s keeper, and should recognize that buying local, as far as we can, will help to maintain local jobs, one of which might be our very own.
That is why our concern is not simply whether the unemployment rate is 11 per cent or 12.1 per cent.
It is true that accurate statistics are very important and the integrity of the process matters as much, or even more, than the figures themselves.
What the public interest demands is that the technocrats and policymakers are reading from the same book. Plans and strategies to relieve unemployment and to ensure the well-being of all Barbadians may be adversely affected if there is dissonance between technocrats themselves; for confidence is a major factor in encouraging private sector investment for growth.
Any democratic country’s reliance on private companies to create jobs means that the corporate leaders must have accurate information on which to assess a government’s policy and how they may adapt their investment to take advantage of the climate created by the politicians for future growth.
Very often, hard decisions have to be made, and statistics are important. But so too, is psychology because economics is a major study of the behavourial sciences, and confidence matters; because investors are human beings too!


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