Act now to avoid economic dark hole
THIS COUNTRY’S ECONOMIC OUTLOOK is gloomy by any standard and there is a growing sense of uncertainty – among both individuals and corporate citizens. That something must be done to correct the situation – and done sooner rather than later – is now the clarion call from all quarters.
If we are to be guided by Professor Michael Howard and Ryan Straughn, two of our leading thinkers in the area of economics, then there are not too many options available. The Freundel Stuart-led administration must not vacillate in this situation – but must take the decisive measures and at the same time show the public that their perception of the administration as being the master of “dilly-dallying” is totally wrong.
We do not believe that either Professor Howard or Mr Straughn has taken a partisan stance on this matter; rather, they are simply giving their best advice since this is still their homeland. Their comments – or, more precisely, warnings – have been consistent and straightforward: we must tackle our ballooning deficit by drastically reducing Government expenditure. The approach may be harsh but it is the correct thing to do.
Professor Howard has been forthright and consistent in his position, regardless of whether it offends or affects the ruling Democratic Labour Party or the Opposition Barbados Labour Party. With his many years of experience teaching at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, serving as a member of the board of the Central Bank of Barbados and holding other private sector directorships, he brings a solid background to the table in this crucial debate.
Straughn has done a good service to this country by simply expressing his views, or those of the Barbados Economics Society, in his many public discourses islandwide. His suggestion, given at the recent breakfast club meeting of the Broad Street Journal, that the private sector agitate against Government’s high and unsustainable current account deficit is a view we support.
Recent comments from Professor Howard as we contemplate a home-grown solution to our economic problems show why there is need for greater activism on our part: “We cannot build a proper foundation for sustainable economic growth unless we act now to deal with the current public finance problems.” Clearly, the solutions must ensure that as a nation we avoid any economic dark hole.
While Professor Howard and Mr Straughn bring specialist knowledge to the fiscal debate, we believe the views of a wide cross section of the public need to be heard.
Although there is no doubt that economics is not an exact science – indeed, many of its practitioners got it wrong in the last decade – we need to listen and embrace diverse views as we seek solutions. Do not shoot the messenger because of a difference of opinion.