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THE PEP COLUMN: The right prescription that there is

THE PEP COLUMN: The right prescription that there is

Fri, November 09, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Over the past four years, the Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) has consistently put forward a comprehensive six-point plan for the resuscitation and development of Barbados’ economy. But our society – led by the intellectually lazy Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – has failed to take a serious look at our prescription.

It is clear to us that the solution to Barbados’ economic predicament has to be multi-pronged. And it is equally (and tragically) clear that the economic prescriptions of the DLP and BLP are fatally deficient in that, between them, they are based on no more than two of the six essential prongs.

The only thing that the BLP has got right is the recognition of the need for policies to restore the purchasing power of the Barbadian masses. Likewise, the only thing that the DLP has gotten right is the recognition that Government must ensure the maintenance of social welfare services and programmes that prevent or alleviate human distress.

The PEP also subscribes to these concepts, but these policies cannot – by themselves – do the required job. Indeed, even before we get to those policies, we have to attend to the critical task of taking measures to re-establish the soundness of Government’s finances and credit.

The fundamental problem with Government’s finances is that for several years Government has not been operating within its income. And this fact, along with the recent decline in Government’s tax intake caused by the recession, has created a $500 million annual structural deficit in Government’s finances, resulting in our Government, among other things, borrowing funds on a monthly basis to pay the salaries of civil servants.

It is crucial that this problem be solved or at least significantly ameliorated to give our Government a secure platform from which to launch other resuscitation policies.

Our Government simply has to restructure its budget to bring expenditures more in line with revenues. And let us make it clear that we are not advocating any policy of mass layoffs. There should be no policy of jettisoning any of our workers, since we are all fellow citizens who must all survive. But there will have to be some cutting or restructuring of Government’s bureaucracy and programmes, and perhaps some non-replacement of retiring Government workers.

In addition, there must be a new initiative in relation to statutory corporations. No longer can we accept the notion that statutory corporations will be loss-making enterprises. They must be given a new mandate to operate efficiently and – within reason – to earn their keep. They must also be given a new management structure, with our most astute and patriotic entrepreneurial managers to put in place. The PEP has detailed proposals on these matters.

Other prongs of our PEP blueprint include policies to re-energize production in our agriculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism and financial services sectors; the development of a more self-reliant and environmentally appropriate Barbadian style of living; and the engineering of a new social contract based on greater equality and sharing of resources.

• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party.

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