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AS I SEE THINGS: Development strategy

Brian Francis, [email protected]

AS I SEE THINGS: Development strategy

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Imagine a ship sailing through turbulent waters in the open Caribbean seas with destination, Barbados, but the captain has no known technology to allow him to sketch out his route. What do you think will happen? You guessed right: the ship will sail aimlessly with the captain and crew hoping beyond belief that they would get lucky and reach the shores of Barbados without incident.

Had you been a passenger onboard that vessel, how comfortable would you have been under the prevailing circumstances?

As you reflect on that question, think now about the economy of Barbados and all of the trials and tribulations it has been through in the past few years: a fiscal deficit that seems insurmountable, less than one per cent economic growth rate for several years, high levels of public debt, rising cost of living, immense pressure on the foreign reserves, and productive sectors that seem unable to respond to growing demands for improved productivity and international competitiveness.

Given those economic conditions, don’t you think that like the ship, the economy will continue to drift pointlessly without proper and improved direction? If you answer that question in the affirmative, then, like me, you would infer that the economy is definitely in need of reconfiguration. But, how does the country fulfil that important goal?

Clearly, to reconfigure the economy, we need a proper development strategy. But what is a development strategy?

In a paper entitled Eight Strategies For Development In Comparison, Jan Priewe says: “A development strategy is an economic conception that defines the priority goals, coherently explains how set goals can be reached, identifies the policy tools and explores trade-offs and the time frame.

It is a kind of vision with normative goals, balanced against what is feasible.

Such a strategy does not necessarily have to be explicit; rather, it can be implicit in the mindset of policymakers or a tacit agenda of governments.

Moreover, it does not need to be comprehensive, but it must address key issues for the medium to long term. If such a vision does not exist, it is likely that the policymakers, including external advisers, will simply follow the historic track, with a focus on short-term issues barely related to long-term goals.

Pragmatism without a compass might prevail with rather low ambitions.

As a country, therefore, we first have to be honest with each other as to the true state of affairs, economically.

With consensus, hopefully, we can then determine what is important from a developmental perspective and the things that are less essential.

We proceed, then, by prioritising for the short, medium and long terms and carefully, but boldly, design policies, programmes and plans that are workable and sellable to achieve all of our set goals for the transformation of our economy and society. If implemented properly, the economy will drift no more.

What, then, is holding us back as a people from putting together a decent development strategy that can lead to the economic and social transformation of our country for the good of all?


Email: [email protected]

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