Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AS IS SEE THINGS: Seriousness of purpose

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Since the 2008/2009 global financial and economic crisis, Caribbean countries, like so many in the rest of the world, continue to struggle to adjust to the new reality that it cannot be business as usual.
To succeed in the present global environment, countries have to get fundamentals right. Good governance, good government, respect for law and order, building strong families, adjusting economic structures, reforming pension schemes, constructing new institutions to facilitate economic growth and development, and redefining the size and roles of Governments are but only a few of the critical issues that must be addressed if our countries are to have any reasonable chance of returning to the “days of plenty” as we have heard so many times in the past.
All of these changes cannot be done by Governments alone. Our private sectors, trade unions, churches, non-governmental organisations, youth groups, and we the people must come fully onboard and make our meaningful contributions. The times we live in dictate that approach. It is within that context that we all in the Caribbean have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose if we want to guarantee success.
What all of this means is that when things are not going as planned, when mistakes are being made, when policies seem not to be working in the best interest of our countries and citizens, our collective voices must be raised not to condemn and criticise necessarily but to restore order by advocating for change. If the changes being sought are based on our strong convictions, then, they ought to be pursued to the very end.
I believe that is the proper context in which all Barbadians should see the alternative economic proposals put forward by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick. After all, the Government of Barbados has tried several policy initiatives since assuming office in 2008 with mixed outcomes.
If we accept the pronouncements from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr. DeLisle Worrell, we are more likely to conclude as they have said in the past that the economy is “holding its own” given the turbulent nature of the global economy.  If, however, we listen to the Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and are convinced by her public disclosures, then, we may be inclined to accept that the economy is weak and the prospects for recovery low given the fiscal constraints facing the Government.
Clearly, disagreements between the Government and Opposition on the current state of the economy are not new. But when a Government Minister casts serious doubts over the economic policy directions of the Government, we all should take notice and begin to open our eyes to the possibilities that are available to us as a country and people.
As it now stands, Estwick has presented his proposals to the Cabinet and the public is still awaiting a formal response by the Government to the alternative measures suggested by one of their colleagues.
Based on the contents of the proposals (as reported in the Press), there is certainly serious food for thought.
If the Government is open to alternative courses of actions and remains committed to the future economic growth and development of the country, then, it ought to give serious consideration to the proposals. And I could only hope that that is currently underway!
Brian M. Francis, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. Email: bfrancis@uwichill.edu.bb

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