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AS I SEE THINGS: Possible solutions put aside


Brian Francis

AS I SEE THINGS: Possible solutions put aside

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In a recent telephone conversation with my former economics teacher who is now my colleague, Clyde Mascoll, we observed that our writings in the newspapers could easily represent “benign, free and unsolicited advice” to the Government of Barbados and others in the Caribbean.
We cover a wide range of economic and financial issues; if only our countries had leaders who were open to accepting good ideas and suggestions.
It turned out that our conversation now seems to have been visionary in nature, given the unfolding events in Barbados.
I would be the first to admit that Mascoll and I are not the only economists to have offered a number of solutions to burning economic and financial problems facing regional economies.
Two striking examples come to mind. First, we all recall Professor Michael Howard’s impressing upon the Government of Barbados to adopt fiscal measures contained in the Opposition’s last manifesto in order to address the country’s fiscal challenges.
Who could forget Opposition Leader Owen Arthur’s insistence that Barbados push harder on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) because “Barbados needs the CSME more so than any other country in the region, given its level of exports to the other countries”?   
What is rather fascinating to me is that all the ideas that have been put forward by various sources, with the simple goal of seeking out possible solutions to the major financial and economic challenges in Barbados, have been rejected by those charged with the responsibility of transforming this country, at least, until recently it now appears.
I say this because Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler seems to have come to the realization that serious policy interventions are needed to take the Barbados economy to the promised land.       Rightfully, the minister is now publicly acknowledging that Barbados’ economy needs to be restructured not only by diversifying across sectors or industries, but perhaps, more importantly, sector/industry diversification.
Furthermore, Mr Sinckler is now seeing the importance of regional integration to economic growth and development prospects for Barbadians.
As laudable as these recognitions are, we live and work in a practical environment and things are easier said than done.
On that note, I wish to pose these simple questions: Are Mr Sinckler’s perspectives embraced by other members of Cabinet?
How enthusiastic is he about the remedies he now sees for fixing the Barbados economy?
Will his pronouncements result in real action on the policy front or remain just appealing words?
I can only hope that all  of these questions will be answered in the affirmative for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

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