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Sir Frank: avoid IMF


RICKY JORDAN

Sir Frank: avoid IMF

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SIR FRANK ALLEYNE is worried about the recent Moody’s three-notch downgrade of the Barbados economy, and is calling on Barbadians to do whatever is necessary to keep this country from falling into the hands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The veteran economist who chairs the Government’s council of advisers, said Thursday he was not surprised at the recent downgrade, and described it as “a source of worry because it’s telling me that the fiscal deficit on the current account is slipping”.
He therefore called on the Government to engage the public more, particularly the business community.
Sir Frank also reiterated that the inefficiencies in Government’s revenue collection system were extremely worrying.
“I find it difficult to accept, for example, that revenue from road tax is declining. I certainly got the impression that the number of vehicles on the road were increasing, and I’m starting to believe that there are very serious inefficiencies. Government knows it too and that’s why they put in place the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
“There have to be serious inefficiencies in the revenue collection system and management of revenue in Barbados. For too long in Barbados we’ve allowed serious inefficiencies to almost become endemic,” he said, noting that the BRA had its work cut out.
Calling on public servants to get their house in order in terms of professionalism, Sir Frank said it was “painful” to go into
 some of Barbados’ revenue agencies, particularly the Licensing Authority, and stand in lines for an hour and a half while some workers “clean their fingernails and look at their cellphones”.
Questioned about last week’s IMF monitoring visit, he said the Fund usually comes in if a government fails to manage.
“My preference is that it’s better to manage your own house than to be managed by somebody who will set conditionalities. Everyone in Barbados should do whatever is necessary to keep this country from going into the hands of the IMF. A lot of Barbadians don’t listen and if they listen they don’t hear. I’ve been over the last 12 months trying to get the country to understand that when you have a crisis, there are no sacred cows,” he told the SUNDAY SUN.
“But what has happened in Barbados is that we have developed an entitlement society. Nothing is free in life. Education and the health care services in Barbados have never been free, they have been tax-financed…. What I worry about is that those of us who have benefited from taxpayer-financed education feel somehow that the society owes them something.
“You can’t get them to do anything without charging money for it. Some people who can hardly find food to put on the table contribute by way of VAT to the financing of the education of these people, and I’m saying that a lot of them in my view have no conscience, in spite of what the taxpayers have done for them,” was how Sir Frank put it.
On the matter of layoffs in the public sector, he said it had exposed the weakness of human resource management in Barbados.
Calling it “basically flawed”, Sir Frank asked: “How can you have a workforce of the size of Government and don’t have an electronic human resource data base which is developed on the basis of annual assessments on a yearly basis? All of this to and fro over the retrenchment process is not good for the economy and increases uncertainty…. I think it’s unforgiveable that within the public service there is not an up-to-date human resource database.”
 
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