The most unkind cut
THIS COUNTRY’S first prime minister Errol Walton Barrow often said the financial affairs of this country should be run from Bridgetown and not from Westminster or Washington.
His meaning was clear. He had led us out of the clutches of colonialism in Westminster and he was not going to deliver us into the bondage of the IMF located in Washington.
The ministerial statement by the Minister of Finance on Friday last, shows that for the second time in two decades the party which Mr Errol Barrow founded has placed the country in jeopardy of being dictated to by the officials of the IMF in Washington.
It must, therefore, be the unkindest cut of all that as a first step only, some 3,000 employees of the public service will lose their jobs before the end of March 2014. The Leader of the Opposition described the proposed action in even more muscular language which we suspect will find ready acceptance to the ears of many who followed the election campaign.
And that brings us to the core point. In the lead up to the general election in February, a pertinent and demanding issue was the management of the economy and the security of jobs in the public service. Time and again, and against the backdrop of job losses in the private sector; reassurances were given by the government spokesmen that not a single job had been lost in the public service.
Specific contrast was drawn between the two parties. It was alleged that leading Opposition BLP economists were meeting at the University and discussing how to cut 10 000 jobs. That statement was denied, but the allegation was repeated, if only we think to emphasis the alleged difference between the two parties.
The notion that no job losses was also government’s stimulus to the economy reinforced the idea of full employment policy of the public service.
As guardians of the public interest we remind the country that from the very first Budget of the new DLP administration; the Barbados Labour Party in Opposition criticized the Budgetary proposals and declared that they would eventually create serious problems for the local economy.
That criticism has persisted from then until now, and wrong-headed policy may explain why alone of regional economies, the local economy will not show growth this year. But how and why did the Government persist in policies now shown to have been wrong?
Ms Mottley thinks that the solution at this stage cannot now be economic only, since in the light of three failed attempts to revive the economy; investor confidence, she asserts, has been lost.
With an election having been held in February last; that is a very serious statement, but it cannot be easily dismissed, in the light of recent setbacks to our efforts to borrow on the international markets.
Further, the Government must have known of the increasingly fragile nature of the economy for many months before the February election. Did the electorate deceive itself into thinking that the economy had been stabilized, or were they led into that mistaken belief?
Those questions have to be answered, since our economic revival may well depend on getting straight answers, as a prelude to the kind of political action needed to energize our national will.
We may have said it before; but it cannot now be business as usual.