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AS I SEE THINGS: Developing Barbados


AS I SEE THINGS: Developing Barbados

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THE STATE OF affairs between the beleaguered governor of the Central Bank and the Government should concern everyone for several reasons, the most conspicuous of which is clearly the irrefutable fact that all the economic and financial reports we have been presented with in recent times by the Government, Central Bank and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, have painted a very poignant picture of the current circumstances facing the economy.

How could any reasonable person take comfort in an environment in which a colossal gap continues to exist between current revenues and expenditures, the public debt is relatively high and potentially unsustainable, tuition fees have been imposed at the University of the West Indies, the chaos in the delivery of health care continues, and the overall ability of the Government to meet the socioeconomic goals set out in various manifestos and other economic strategy papers is under severe scrutiny and doubt?

Added to the problems above, is the inability to generate and sustain any meaningful rate of nominal or real growth, persistent unemployment among young people, rising costs of living, difficulties in doing business, lack of diversification within and across various sectors, increasing complexities in securing much needed financing for key aspects of development, and low consumer and investor confidence.

All of these issues inhibiting the reconfiguration of the economic landscape can be resolved or overcome in a reasonable amount of time, provided we have the collective will to deal with adversities.

To put it bluntly, developing Barbados means that we need a socioeconomic strategy that emphasises three critical themes: revival, modification and sustainability. 

Initiatives taken with respect to each of these themes will amount to the kind of transformation that is so badly needed from a development perspective.

At the macroeconomic level, serious attention must be paid to fiscal and debt sustainability as well as sources of growth and development.

From a microeconomic angle, policies and programmes must target tourism, agriculture, energy, international business, small and medium enterprises, trade and investment, the physical environment, health, poverty reduction, international competitiveness and productivity enhancement, among others.

The successful implementation of such a strategy could see increases in the volume and value of exports, sufficient levels of foreign exchange earnings to facilitate imports and foreign debt payments, low rates of unemployment, greater levels of domestic and external investments, internal and external macroeconomic stability, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and an expanded pool of human resources in science and technology.

While some among us may see the accomplishment of these important micro and macroeconomic targets as intractable tasks given the severity of the challenges we face, here is the plain truth: it is only when these as well as other socioeconomic goals are achieved and maintained that we can truly boast of developing Barbados.

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