No magic to Owen
It is an illusion – Owen Arthur has no magic bullet for the Barbados economy.
That was the response of Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell to a question yesterday about whether he would consult Arthur, who was recently returned to the helm of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party following the ouster Mia Mottley.
Worrell a former International Monetary Fund economist said people often gave more credit to the abilities of economists than they deserved.
“There is a strange notion that there is some magic about the economy and that [we] are some magicians and that I am one of them and [we] can figure out things that will make things happen in this economy that other people cannot figure out.
“Not true! There are no magic bullets and I don’t have any magic.
“The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t have any magic. The Minister of Finance doesn’t have any magic,” Worrell told members of the media during his Press briefing on the economy’s performance over the past nine months.
The country’s lead economic advisor said as far as he was concerned the economy was “the people on Broad Street and the people who go to work every day and find a way to make ends meet. That is the real economy”.
Quizzed on whether a wage freeze was a viable solution right now to help contain Government spending, the Governor said that was a decision for the Minister of Finance and that if he had a view on the matter he would communicate it to Minister Chris Sinckler.
Worrell said too that there is no hidden agenda and that the Central Bank communicated “our honest best judgement as to where the economy is and where the prospects are”.
He said the institution was always willing to entertain additional ideas and suggestions “but they have to be evaluated in the light of the reality”.
Stressing that the economy was stable, with $1.4 billion in reserves, Worrell said the country was able to meet its imports and other foreign exchange commitments from the foreign exchange generated by the tourism, international business sector, projects and financing from money the country borrowed.
“So far for the year, those inflows have been sufficient to meet our commitments except for $42 million. Of that pool of $1.4 billion we have only had to dip into it for $42 million and that is what we mean when we say the economy remains stable,” Worrell pointed out.
At the same time, the Central Bank boss conceded that the country was unable to achieve the growth that was anticipated for 2010 and unemployment, now at 10.7 per cent, was still higher than anticipated. He said: “We have kept the ship stable which is what we wanted, so that we are poised to take advantage of the recovery when it happens.”