Time to work together to save economy
With the Budget less than a fortnight away, the private sector proposals to tackle the issues confronting the Barbadian economy have been released and have generated some discussion.
As with other suggestions, they should be welcomed as part and parcel of the national effort to reach consensus about the way forward. As has been made clear time and again, no one sector or group has exclusive right to the remedies for the malady confronting us; but a distillation of the several ideas placed on the table should produce a plan which when tweaked to suit our peculiar circumstances is workable and commands the general approval of the vast majority of Barbadians.
At this critical juncture we urge rational debate. This is not a time for emotional interpretation and reinterpretation of proposals put on the national debating with the ultimate aim of persuading the electorate to this or that perspective; nor can there be any debate about the need to trim the fiscal deficit.
That is now a given and therefore a plan to sell off assets and to reduce debt with the proceeds therefrom as well as to other non-strategic assets to local entities with a view to reducing government transfers to the entities then sold seems like a sensible suggestion.
No matter the source of the suggestion; once it is accepted either in original or modified form, and implemented, we expect the Government to answer for its acceptance as policy, and to take the glory or pain consequentially arising from its implementation.
We note and agree with the Barbados Private Sector Association’s sentiment that our island “is facing one of the most challenging periods we have ever faced” and that now is the time to display a quality of leadership suited to the challenges we face today.
We mention this point because some decisions which will have to be taken may be politically unpalatable, and most governments are loathe to do those things which are likely to cause political opposition; but no one can rationally argue with the suggestion that we must change the way we do business and that the level of absenteeism has to be reduced.
But we can see some objection to the notiona that “means-testing” should be introduced in tertiary level education and to tertiary level medical care, and to the very sensible suggestion that a cap must be put on the number of years a student can spend at taxpayer’s expense before graduation.
We are well aware that privatization or the selling of national assets to private sector buyers has become a very emotional and contentious political hot potato.
It was raised with telling effect and impact during the recent election; and while we do not expect that such arguments will disappear overnight; we feel a responsibility to urge all Barbadians to approach any such privatization or rationalization policy initiatives with reason and rational arguments; rather than with emotion.
This country is at the crossroads and decisions have to be taken now that cannot wait, and the outpouring of suggestions from entities all over this country is a sure sign that once the government gets it right, the country as a whole will rally behind the policies to ensure their success.