FULL STORY: Make babies!
BARBADOS needs a population of 325 000 people, and if Minister of Education Ronald Jones gets his way, it will become a reality in ten years.
Jones, who was speaking in the House of Assembly on the Appropiation Bill 2014-2015 yesterday, made a case for a larger population so that local businesses could have access to a more diverse consumer base.
“Barbados needs a slightly bigger population. The land size of 166 square miles must not be a hindrance . . . . If it can’t be reproduced in Barbados – because the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA) has overdone its job – then we must open our doors and [invite] a careful selection of those who can deliver children and within a certain age range.”
He said an increase in population would “make sense of the programmes we are looking to develop in Barbados: more people paying taxes, more people eating our agricultural produce and utilising our manufactured goods and services.
“Over the next ten years we have to change the size of this population. We can comfortably go to 325 000 [and] people could still live comfortably in the space they have.”
But executive director of the BFPA, George Griffith, immediately warned the minister not to get too excited about increasing the population because the island was one of the more densely populated countries in the world and currently facing financial difficulty.
He said the limitation of the current population was one that Barbados had to live with.
“People say you need economies of scale in order for the economy to continue to grow . . . . You don’t only need a population because of its ability to constitute a workforce.
“There are a number of other social factors that must be taken into consideration and, most of all, the democratic right of women to determine how many children they are going to have . . . .
“I cannot think of any highly educated and intelligent Barbadian woman who is likely to have more children than she needs, and family planning is still the conscious effort to determine the number and space of birth. It is entirely up the women.”
Griffith said the BFPA was “flattered” that the minister would say that it had overdone its job, but noted that if Jones was “declaring Government policy and Government needed to encourage women to have more children, I would imagine a comprehensive range of compelling incentives would have to be offered”.
He added:?“And only yesterday [Tuesday] mention was made that there are not enough day care facilities, not enough nursery schools for children, so while we may not cruicfy the minister for his statement, we feel that on . . . reflection he might realise that Babados is literally maxed out in terms of it population.”