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Infamous tipping point

Harry Russell

Infamous tipping point

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WHEN SIR OWEN TOLD us we were at the tipping point over a year ago, our minister would not listen. He may be short and irascible, but he knows his economics. Now it is too late, and measures that we now have to take defy the palate.
When a customer in a bank has done foolishness and finds himself at the end of his tether, there is no point in revisiting his mistakes. Only he must avoid doing the same thing over again.
“When your hand is in the lion’s mouth, somehow or the other you have to take it out.” – Slinger Francisco.
For more than two years we have been telling the Government in the newspapers and on the radio to cut the public sector, the main drain on its spending. The minister has now done so, and all hell ‘“brek” loose. He has also cut the private sector with taxes especially the poor, more hell. Now you talk about accountants masquerading as economists.
Our minister would be well advised to read the submission by one Mr Gregory Phillips on Page 11 of the Tuesday, August 27 DAILY NATION. He could also watch Wheel Of Fortune on Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation television channel 700 at 7 o’clock Monday to Friday night. See the exposure given to Sandals in Aruba, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada. Urgent decisions are needed now. Even these recommendations will take time – which we do not have.
Can servants, civil and otherwise, be surprised when cuts start to bleed? It was telescoped to the nation for more than a year, unless they were stupid enough to believe the claptrap of the Government. I guess they were, since they went to the polls.
The minister asked, “Where to cut?” You could have told him to start with the allowances of the members of the House and their household so as to set an example.
Now that the catastrophe is upon us, we need to swallow our pride, curb the sweet sling talk coming from sellers of snake oil at the highest level and take decisions previously regarded as taboo; “dah beach is mine”, “no casino gambling ’bout hey”. We have already dismantled the free Drug Service, burdening mainly the old and indigent.
One, we cannot afford education as before, so we have to hold strain for a while. Two, we cannot cut the allocation to the hospital. The hospital is a life or death situation. If the minister says that there is wastage, let him tell the public and the doctors where the wastage lies so that his vague remarks can be assessed.
Old-time people used to say mens sana in corpore sano – if your body’s not healthy, the mind is gaga. At this time all hands on deck have to be at peak performance. Mr Boyce, talking as a friend, let the health of the nation be like the rock of Gibraltar.
We have to fast-track the few projects that we have (it should have been done long ago) so as to put people to work. However, this means spending power is generated. Unless the projects are foreign-financed, this will affect foreign exchange. If foreign exchange is depleted further, “cat gnam we suppa”. Care must be exercised when borrowing from the Chinese as we cannot afford to end up like countries in Africa – that would be worse than devaluation. Hence Catch 22!
I usually agree with Dr TJ’s All Ah We Is One, but if we have reached a point where our accountants masquerading as economists are in riptide waters, the money to pay for free tertiary education is just not there.
Mark you, there should have been attention to suggestions, but something had to give. Sending students to university instead of swelling the workforce is poor strategy; a delay by three years of the inevitable. You end up with educated unemployed.
“Wild Coot, yuh vex!” Yes. When a prospective investor asked me whose palm he must grease, I would say with great indignation and pride, “That’s not necessary in Barbados.” Today I get a five-dollar tip for playing pan.
Some foolish malcontent is going about spreading ignorant, ridiculous rumours that the Central Bank has instructed all commercial banks to adopt a “no unauthorized or excess of limit” overdraft policy. I do not believe it.
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]