Now’s the time for action!
There seems to be major concern about the economy of Barbados and we share this concern, especially since the last election in which the Democratic Labour Party DLP) was returned to office with a knife-edge majority.
In and of itself, this makes governing difficult since the business of governing relates in the final analysis to controlling the numbers in the House of Assembly, and that is not easy if one has a majority of a single seat.
This reality will inevitably lead to the appearance of inertia. There will be criticism of the Government simply because, apart from anything else, such a situation may conduce to a slowing down of the pace of visible governance as far as sittings of the House are concerned. That is understandable and in some respects, due allowance must be made for these circumstances.
Yet, it now seems that there is a desire and indeed a need for urgent action to be taken to deal with the continuing problems in the economy, and we feel the Government agrees with that statement. Hence the recent trip abroad by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank during which it seems they met several international investors. This must have been a mission on which, at the very least, they were able to make initial contacts and get a gauge of the state of the market.
This in case the decision is made to go to the market given that the Minister indicated last year it was necessary to borrow about BDS$40 million every month to pay some categories of public workers.
The sense of anxiety and concern about the economy has been raised also by the report, later denied, that the jobs of some temporary public servants might be at risk. However, these reports, even when they are vigorously denied, have the capacity to cause concern because some people may believe that where there is smoke one finds fire!
We are, therefore, happy that the Government, the unions and the private sector met on Friday last to discuss the economy, because if there is concern, then clearly, discussion may help to point the way forward, with all hands on deck, so to speak – the Government providing the enabling environment and the businessmen and women “batting” on the prepared turf.
We are mindful of all the contributions made at that meeting, but perhaps the most important message coming out of the many words spoken is that time for action has arrived. The Government is almost certainly aware of this feeling, and the return of the DLP to office must surely mean that there is voter confidence in the capacity of the Government to solve the country’s problems.
There is, therefore, a clear need for the Government to indicate what its plans are to address current concerns, because if the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy has failed, or is no longer operative, then its successor should be laid on the table and implemented after due discussion.
The state of the economy is reflected in continuing job losses and falling revenues both for companies and for Government, and no responsible Government will stand idly by while this state of affairs exists.
It is time for action.