The spread of economic pain within Caricom
EXCEPT FOR Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, the general economic outlook for most member states of the Caribbean Community, Barbados being among them points to discouraging scenarios for 2014.
As the sole primary energy-based economy within CARICOM, Trinidad and Tobago has traditionally held the advantage, particularly with rising income from oil and natural gas exports.
Guyana, on the other hand, with a significantly diversified agricultural base to enable growth and consumption of most of what its inhabitants consume, while the mining sector continues to expand, has been recording economic growth between three and five per cent over recent years.
In the case of Barbados, which has been hailed for many years as having the best managed and stable economy, the current second-term Democratic Labour Party administration is feverishly struggling to keep the economy afloat with a combination of measures, including mass retrenchment of public sector workers, while maintaining watchful eyes against a much feared devaluation of the Barbados dollar.
Now has come the unpalatable news, reported in this past Sunday Sun, that despite the “tough measures” undertaken to turn the economy around, the prospects are not encouraging, certainly not in the short term. As assessed by the credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, Barbadians may be facing tough economic days for “some time to come”.
But there is also very worrying news for a few other CARICOM jurisdictions, namely The Bahamas and Belize. The first is famous as being among the leading Caribbean tourist destinations as well as having a thriving offshore financial services sector.
Now the country’s Prime Minister Perry Christie has sounded the alarm bell that “tens of thousands of Bahamian jobs may be at risk” because, he claimed, well placed influential persons have chosen to “use their power, either unilaterally or in small groups of high-powered nations, to impose their will” to force changes in the operations of this region’s offshore financial sector, by resorting to unsubstantiated claims of “immoral practices”.
The Bahamian leader called no names, nor referenced examples when pointing to the challenges now facing countries with vital offshore financial services sector while addressing last week’s meeting in Nassau of the Third Caribbean Conference on the International Financial Services Sector.
For its part, the Belize government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow was openly specific in accusing the European Union (EU) of unjustly identifying his country as being a “non-cooperating third country” in the international battle to combat “illegal fishing”.
In an angry response to the action by the EU’s Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to indentify Belize, along with Cambodia and Guinea, as non-cooperating jurisdictions, the government in Belmopan claimed that the EU Council’s decision was based on “outdated information”.