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BLP COLUMN: Facing economic reality


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

BLP COLUMN: Facing economic reality

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In a recent address to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Opposition Leader Owen Arthur dealt with critical issues required for sustainable national development.
He said: “If ever there was a time for a frank and intelligent conversation on Barbados’ options for development, this is the moment. Our nation is dicing with danger.
“We are in the process of evolving and creating an economy that is more vulnerable than it has been at any time since Independence. This is because some of the forces which drove the initial modernization and diversification of our economy are no longer of any real effect.
“In addition, some forces of a more recent vintage are now subject to challenge in the global arena or will not have the same positive effect in the future as they had in the past.
“Ours is an economy that is in transition. We know where we are coming from. But on current course, there is no certainty as to whether we will reach a successful destination. For the options available to us now on which to mount our national development have shortened. But the necessary mastery is not being exercised over the use of those that remain.
“To this new and emerging element of vulnerability must now be added the new and even more dangerous force of volatility. Barbados’ development, more so than that of most other countries, has been made to rest on the asset of stability and the pursuit and practice of macroeconomic discipline.
“Those virtues are now at large. Unchecked fiscal indiscipline, incoherent macroeconomic policies and a new dangerous drift in our ability to conceive and execute national economic policies and programmes are adding an element of uncertainty and volatility to an economic transition which would have been difficult to make in any event.
“Vulnerability and volatility, acting together, constitute a very dangerous economic cocktail at any time. But they are even more toxic when they occur in conjunction with the kind of economic forces which have been buffeting the Barbados economy, and which require of it a major transition and transformation.
“In this regard, it is critically important that we work with a clear and strong perspective of the forces which . . . will in the immediate future exercise the shaping influence on the structure and performance of the Barbados economy. For this sets the context within which the role expected of tourism can best be gauged.
“I begin with the assertion that it is oversimplistic and unhelpful to presume that the recent weak performance of the Barbados economy has been due either entirely or in large measure to the effects of global economic recession.
“This is but part of the truth.
“A larger part of our reality has to do with the fact that the economic forces which helped in the past to spawn and support activity in certain critical parts of our economy are no longer operative.
“In this respect, the performance of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors has been relatively weak over the past two decades. It would be good if we could look to renewed buoyancy from these sectors to help drive our future growth and development.”
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.

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