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Time for Canada to act

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

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Barbados and its neighbours are facing a potential serious financial crisis which Canada and other rich countries shouldn’t ignore.
With Canadians investing as much as CAN$60 billion (BDS$108.6 billion in Barbados alone and at least CAN$80 billion (BDS$144.8 billion) in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, the problems range from mountains of debt in Barbados and other countries and expanding deficits, to escalating commodity prices and a sharp decline in tourism receipts. It is therefore imperative that Canada and other rich western nations offer an economic helping hand to the region.
That’s what Canadians have heard in recent days from Dr Jack M. Mintz, the chief executive officer and president of the Deloitte & Touche LLP and the Palmer Chair of the School of Public Policy of the University of Calgary in Alberta.
“Economic and fiscal problems in the Caribbean should be a wake-up call for governments and businesses operating there,” said Mintz in an analysis published by the Financial Post, Canada’s leading business and financial daily paper.
Should it occur, “a financial crisis will heavily impact many Canadian businesses that have turned to the Caribbean islands to set up financing and insurance structures,” Mintz added.
“A major economic slowdown in the Caribbean islands would also raise security issues for Canada as crime, including drug trade, could become more problematic to control.”
To support his warning that Barbados and many of its neighbours were facing a serious problem that “should attract attention” in Canada, Mintz said: “Many Caribbean governments face financial instability. Gross public debt has risen to over 80 per cent of GDP in 2013 for Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis and St Lucia.”
In Barbados’ case, its debt was 94.7 per cent of GDP, compared with Antigua’s 100 per cent, Grenada 117 per cent, Jamaica 133 per cent, and St Kitts-Nevis 91.2 per cent. (TB)