Managing our people
The government of Barbados will not bow to the dictates of the international rating agencies.
The recent S&P downgrade came days after Moody’s, another rating agency, maintained our investment grade on the island’s domestic and currency bonds of Baa3. This announcement appeared to have energized the camps within the Opposition.
The news of downgrade in the investment world is not what a country wants to hear, however, it appears as if the co–co leaders of the BLP, Owen, Mia and Clyde found something to rejoice in as they rushed to all media to shout their concerns and frame the narrative.
Of course, this delivery could not come without the Opposition calling for elections and the resignation of the governor of our Central Bank.
The dark side of partisan politics continues to define the Barbados Labour Party’s philosophy. This is where the downgrade of Barbados is occurring as the co-co leaders continue to display narrow, selfish, political intentions masked as national interest. We have never denied the volatility of the economic environment.
Axis of motivation
Here is a time for a conversation to take place at the national level; instead, the lure of power becomes the axis of motivation for a press conference and reckless statements. It will not be too long before the BLP’s announcement of a public meeting is made.
During the boom years of the BLP’s administration, our economy suffered from a lack of consolidation of our economic fundamentals. No attention was paid by the Arthur dream team to reduce dependence of fossil fuels and cultivate an appetite for renewable energy.
The market driven agenda of the BLP has left our economy violated. The runaway spending, cost overruns and off the book expenses are now the centre of our fiscal consolidation strategy.
The call from S&P to curb spending is a direct request to cut our wage bill, attach user fees for social services and increase current charges levied on consumers. When the S&P message is decoded, there are essentially asking our Government to introduce a series of austerity measures.
These austerity measures have already been hinted at by the Opposition. The BLP has given one assurance of the reduction in the wage bill paid by the state. We cannot see the current, well respected international economist, Dr DeLisle Worrell keeping his job as governor. Can you imagine the level of public disrespect shown towards Worrell because his agenda continues to be professional and not partisan?
As a party, we have been extremely consultative in our process, as we sketch the new financial architecture. Our priorities in managing the hand we were dealt required we stabilize the dollar, reduce the fiscal deficit and accelerate growth (private sector-led).
In seeking to accelerate private sector growth, we have sought to increase the money spent in marketing Barbados and diversifying our markets. This has seen a focus on four key markets CARICOM, Britain,
United States and Canada. Our increased tourist arrivals reflect the efforts of the Government to facilitate the private sector-led tourism agenda.
This three-pronged approach recognizes the worst than anticipated economic recession. We will not retreat in the face of the troubles faced in the Eurozone and the spill off effects on the US economy and our region.
Despite these troubles, we have stabilized our economy, reduced our fiscal deficit, maintained foreign reserves of BDS$1.4 billion, introduced policy to increase the competitiveness of the international business sector, maintained our dollar parity, and attained targets set under the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy.
Let’s us all join hands and make the call for putting Barbados first.
• Douglas Leopold Phillips is a pseudonym for the Democratic Labour Party.