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PEP COLUMN: Twenty years of decline in Barbados

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

PEP COLUMN: Twenty years of decline in Barbados

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The People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) is extremely concerned about the future of Barbados and is appealing to all Barbadians to pay greater attention to public affairs and to adopt an attitude of taking personal responsibility for the fate of their country. There are far too many signs of decay and decline all around Barbados and we will highlight just one such sign in order to prove our point.
A mere 20 years ago – in 1992 – Barbados attained the number 20 place on the annual Human Development Index (HDI) published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The HDI is a mechanism used by the United Nations for determining the level of real social and economic development, and indicating how the various nations of the world community stack up against each other in terms of genuine “people well-being” and development.
And so, 20 years ago, Barbados was rated as the 20th most developed nation in the world in terms of the real social and economic well-being of its people.
Well, when the UNDP’s latest human development ranking was released in 2011, the figures showed that Barbados had plummeted to number 47 on the human development table. This means that we had fallen a whopping 27 places in a mere 20 years. It would appear therefore that not only are our standards falling, but that other countries are striving and are making progress while we drift and decline.
It is very instructive to examine the human development tables over the past 20 years, and to delineate the saga of Barbados’ decline. Barbados’ ratings for each of the last 20 years are as follows: 1992-20; 1993-20; 1994-20; 1995-25; 1996-25; 1997-25; 1998-24; 1999-29; 2000-30; 2001-31; 2002-31; 2003-27; 2004-29; 2005-30; 2006-30; 2007-31; 2008-31; 2009-37; 2010-42; 2011-47.
As we can see, the most massive decline took place between 2008 and 2011, when we plummeted 16 places. No doubt some professional excuse-makers would want to attribute this alarming decline to the international economic recession, but the reality is that all of the nations of the world have had to contend with the same international recession. Why are others striving and improving while we are declining?
We would also like to admonish Barbados Labour Party (BLP) activists not to try to interpret this sorry story in a politically partisan manner, for the sad reality is that Barbados dropped 11 places in the human development rankings during the 14 years of BLP rule (1994 to 2008).
And so, what we have here is a story that should evoke national shame and concern, rather than partisan chest-beating and finger-pointing. The truth is that we have gone off-track in Barbados – the UNDP’s Human Development Index, after all, is centred on all of those aspects of human existence that we used to value most highly as a people: educational attainment, access to public health, life expectancy, decent housing, equitable income distribution and a decent quality of community life. When did we lose sight of these national priorities?
When was the last time our political leaders mobilized Barbadian society to confront, grapple with and overcome a major social deficiency, thereby further elevating our level of social development?
Remember, any organism that does not press forward will not merely stand still – it will decline.