Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Silence telling


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THE DEAFENING silence of key governmental authorities on the announcement by Moody’s Investors Service on Monday must rank more disappointing than the gloomy news itself.
We at least anticipated another unfavourable assessment of our economic status, but we could not have imagined the lack of official response, signalling contempt for the views of this international rating agency and disdain for the suffering of the rest of Barbados.
The fact that our country is now rated three notches below our last assessment and with a negative outlook, has not earned a single public response from the Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler, Governor of the Central Bank, Dr DeLisle Worrell and certainly not from our already tight-lipped Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
At least one Cabinet member, Donville Inniss, although admitting he had not fully analysed the Moody’s report, defended the prospects in his Ministry of International Business.
Maybe there is a view in the corridors of power that the thinking of the German character in Sartor Resartus is relevant: “Nay, in thy own mean perplexities, do thou thyself but hold thy tongue for one day; on the morrow, how much clearer are thy purposes and duties; what wreck and rubbish have those mute workmen within thee swept away, when intrusive noises were shut out . . . .”
There is indeed a time to speak and time to remain silent as we are reminded in Ecclesiastes: “A time to tear and a time to mend; a time to be quiet and a time to speak.”
But the genuinely felt anxieties expressed by almost every other responsible sector of our society except Government, tell the story of fear for the future based on a sense that strategies put in place to turn our economy around are not having the anticipated effect. Moody’s themselves, in giving their views on four drivers of the economy made the point that “while supportive of government borrowing, costs such as financing of the fiscal deficit, pressure the country’s currency peg to the US dollar, long considered a critical element of Barbados’ economic policy framework”.
Not a very inspiring observation. With this type of news at the outset of the week and indeed the ominous warning shared last week with Rotarians by respected Chairman Emeritus of Ernst and Young, Peter Boos, we have great reason to reflect on the direction of Barbados even though expenditure cuts have only been recently implemented. We believe Moody’s assessment is based on where the country ought to be at this time, cuts and all, given the agreed formula going forward.
As a result we feel compelled to express concern over the official silence and warn that this encroaching darkness should bestir our leaders. Shadows are lengthening. Evidence of the prosperity of yesterday is growing vague in the fog of today’s grey. Our glorious memories, watered by the tears of Grantley Adams and nourished by the care of Errol Barrow, are becoming vague in the haze of  the current mysterious muddlement.
Night is upon us, Governor Worrell. Bewilderment confounds us, Minister Sinckler. Above all, the urgency of our deepening decline beckons, yea, beseeches Prime Minister Stuart to scatter the darkness. They dare not remain silent; and they must not turn a blind eye, for the hourglass of time drips imperceptibly as it demands courageous leadership and bold patriotism from those placed in authority over us and to whom we look for direction and hope. But alas!

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