Arthur tells private sector to step up
The banking sector is rolling in dough earned off the savings of and charges to Barbadians, says former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
As a result, he believes the time has come that the excess liquidity in the banking system be put to work for Barbadians.
Arthur made this point as he called for a reform of the financial sector at a public forum titled Economic Challenges In Barbados And You on Wednesday night at the Moot Court, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.
“Excess liquidity in our banking system is the savings of the Barbadian people. The banks have not been taking risks and all they are seeking to do is to add more and more charges. They are making more and more profits from charges. The banks have to understand that they have to make their profits from taking risks,” he said.
Challenging the private sector to step up to the crease, Arthur, a noted development economist, stressed that Government cannot continue to be “the saviour of first and last resort” and he called on that sector to have a serious sitdown with itself and find new ways for growth.
“. . . The private sector has to come together. I would like to see a relationship where the Government gets involved in a partnership arrangement with the credit unions, small business association and to some extent some of the enlightened banking system to be able to finance the creation of new small and micro enterprises by allowing them to do what ordinary people do.
“Ordinary people who want to create business learn how to use credit. Until the small people of Barbados also understand that, don’t look for grants and handouts all the time, learn to do what the big people do,” he said.
Speaking directly to special advisor to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Avinash Persaud, who was a panellist, Arthur said part of Government’s debt restructuring programme, which he called “a work in progress” and not a “grand design”, must focus on financial sector reform.
“I understand what you are trying to do but the message that is being sent again is it has to be left to the Government. And I want the message to go forward as well, the private sector has to do more for the development of the country,” Arthur added.