On November 30, 2014 Barbados celebrates 48 years as an independent nation from Great Britain, moving the country within a mere two years of that critical milestone of five decades as a sovereign state.
Given the small size of this beautiful country and the very limited resources with which it has been naturally endowed, it would be extremely difficult based on all the evidence for anyone with an objective outlook to disagree with those in the past who have said that Barbados has clearly been able to “punch above its weight”.
After all, within a few decades, Barbados has been able to transform itself from a relatively low per capita income economy in the 1960s to one that is now classified by the World Bank as upper income, driven largely by activities in sectors such as wholesale and distributive trade, tourism, and international business. But the successes that this country has experienced could not have come without the right vision for the transformation of the entire economy and society as well as adequate investments in activities that could and in fact have been able to stand the test of time.
So while much has been made of the investments that have been undertaken in relation to education and the development of human resources in Barbados over the past 40 years, it is also true that the vision for the expansion of the economy and society also included massive public undertakings with respect to infrastructural enhancement, capacity building and the construction of important institutions to facilitate overall socioeconomic growth and development.
Hence, the massive road networks; improvements in telephone, Internet services, water, electricity, cable, and sanitation; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital; the University of the West Indies; the Rural and Urban Development Commissions; the Fair Trading Commission; and the Social Partnership are all critical elements of the master plan for the sustained development of the country.
Despite these elements in place, the country from time to time is faced with many critical challenges which it has to be creative in overcoming.
For example, in the early parts of the 1990s, the economy witnessed a nosedive and it took the intervention of the International Monetary Fund and a brave response by the then Government to save the day and subsequently to restore macroeconomic stability.
After that experience, our economic fortunes returned and that scenario remained for well over ten years.
In more recent times, however, economic turmoil has returned and now the country is once again being challenged to resolve many economic and social issues that have the potential to set us back many years, the longer the problems linger.
But the truth is that as documented above, many of the ingredients for success are clearly in place in Barbados and therefore all that is required to reverse our current difficulties is the will of a people and the determination to succeed.
And it is for this reason mostly that as we celebrate yet another year of independence that we all should accept that there is much for which we should be profoundly grateful.