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SWIMMING UPSTREAM: What foreign currency means to us

by Kammie Holder

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Can you imagine cars running out of gas, no medical supplies and a shortage of imported food? Yes, my friends it can happen. Barbados like all countries needs to earn foreign currency, especially United States dollars, the international currency of commerce to pay for goods and service. Thus, if the Government is to meet the demand by businesses for foreign currency and the insatiable desire for imported goods, it must support projects like the $1 billion Pickering St Lucy Project. As an environmentalist I must emphasise the need for green areas lest we create concrete jungles. These projects should only be built on areas not in agriculture production and on rab lands. Thus every political party which has the mandate of governance from the people must undertake projects to earn foreign currency. Let me help those who may be curious about what I am trying to say. The coffee you drank this morning was purchased with US currency, the Audi the privileged among us drive was purchased using the Euro and for those of you who had English muffins this morning pounds sterling were used in that purchase.As an environmentalist, I must reluctantly support the $1billion St Lucy project because of its sheer benefit to the country. However, it’s hoped that we use land not in agricultural production as this will lead to a greater food import bill. It must be pointed out that Barbados is nearing its maximum carrying capacity as it relates to such large-scale developments. Our desire to use such large-scale housing and golf projects must be balanced against food security, environmental degradation and maintaining social cohesion.Barbadians will want to maintain their current consumption of foreign goods but that may lead the Government to make unpopular monetary and fiscal measures to stem foreign currency depletion. All manufacturers and citizens can play a part in reducing the demand for foreign currency by using local goods and services when available.Let’s not play politics with our economy; the need to earn foreign currency through large projects must and will be the aim of every Prime Minister be it David Thompson or Owen Arthur. • Kammie Holder, the boy from the village who is amazed at the lack of nation builders and non-partisan thinkers in Barbados.