Tuesday, April 16, 2024

EDITORIAL: PM needs to engage the people


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NEWS THAT the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that Barbados will have one of the worst economic performances among Caribbean countries would undoubtedly have weighed heavily on the hearts of many Barbadians.

It certainly was not the kind of news anyone would want to hear at this time, especially when so many have been barely hanging in during these tough times, hoping that very soon things will get better.

Adding to the distress was that the IMF’s prognosis for 2016 was little better and IMF officials estimated that St Lucia would be keeping Barbados’ company at the bottom of the growth projections list.

Not good news at all.

We all should be disturbed by these predictions, especially since so many Barbadians are eagerly awaiting a lifeline that would bring some ease to all the hardships being faced. Many would have believed that by now, the island would be making its way out of this prolonged stagnation which hangs like a noose around its neck.

In the latest Regional Economic Outlook for the Western Hemisphere, the IMF stated that Barbados’ economy would grow by no more than 0.8 per cent this year and 1.4 per cent next year. We expect our leaders, particularly Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, to take this information seriously and look to engage the people of this country in a dialogue to discuss and chart a way out of this economic stranglehold.

While we are happy that the Prime Minister has responded, we pause to consider that response, particularly when he pointedly said he did not believe there was need for despair. Mr Stuart said, too, that Barbados continued to do very well, considering “all the indices”.

We invite the Prime Minister to walk among the people of this country, visit supermarkets, even the lines at utility companies where many queue to pay their bills, and talk to them about their struggles. There are not many who will share the same belief that this country is doing well considering the daily hardships many face to not only pay their bills, but also to put food on the table to feed families and send children to school.

That said, there must be a correlation between the country doing well and individuals doing well. If this is absent, then the Prime Minister and his finance officials need to give leadership to this issue that has so many down in the dumps, and not to make light of the IMF’s predictions.

While many would agree that the IMF cannot apply what Mr Stuart said was a “stock of solutions” to problems like those Barbados is facing, it is clear that there is a need to take heed, given the 2016 forecast. Barbadians need to feel that their sacrifices will bear fruit soon and not feel disillusioned, wondering when the hardships will finally end.

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