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EDITORIAL: Bring clarity, Worrell


EDITORIAL: Bring clarity, Worrell

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IF EVER there was a time for the governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell, to put aside his apparent reluctance to engage in a full press conference with members of the media, take them into his confidence and have a frank exchange on the state of the economy, it was this week.

Having delivered himself of his scripted report, looking as wooden as ever, Governor Worrell left the country with more questions than answers.

His language, body and all, stilted in a way that television cameras tellingly reveal, did not inspire great confidence. His recitation of statistics was prosaic. But the country needs more than banality.

His repetitious call for an increase in productivity in the delivery of public services remains as chilling as ever. And even more unsettling was his statement that “Government’s dependence on the Central Bank to finance its deficit limits the bank’s ability to influence interest rates appropriate for Barbados’ circumstances, as is the standard practice used by central banks, everywhere” was even more disquieting.

The report for 2016 was a mix of good and not-so-good statistics, requiring a drilling down beyond the bare figures.

Now that the growth of 1.6 per cent is leading us out of the recession, is this growth sustainable?

Besides the fact that there has been no increase in inflation, what else offers the man in the street hope?

What’s the real story behind the magical increase in export earnings?

Now that the import cover has dwindled to ten weeks, is this not time to worry?

What factors led to the dramatic decline in import earnings? What is the story to be told about this figure?

There are far too many questions to be posed in this space.

The result of the public not having access to all the data and explanations needed, a potentially ugly tug-o-war over the true position of the economy will ensue.

In the state of anxiety that exists, some, no doubt induced by the selfish concerns of Opposition interests, are likely to exploit Barbadian sensitivity. That is why we deserve clarity.

As the Business Authority stated editorially this week, “Barbados’ best interest requires an absence of sugar-coating of what the country is confronting economically this year”.

Our Minister of Finance, is, more often than not, given to painting an optimistic outlook. But after six years that promise has grown thin and is likely to appear thinner in the context of his Government’s obvious desire to secure a third successive term of office within the next 15 months or so.

The people of Barbados, the businesspersons of Barbados and potential investors in Barbados deserve to know the full facts of the state of health of the economy beyond bragging and arrogance on the one side, and illusion and misstatement on the other.

There is no room for politicking from either side of the divide. That is why we turn for untarnished answers to the agency designated under the Central Bank Act to provide such information. It is the traditional role and indeed the legacy of governors of central banks to be fully transparent, accountable and forthright.

We seek nothing more and certainly nothing less.