Heed Gov­er­nor’s ad­vice

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Opinion -

The light be­ing seen at the end of the eco­nomic tun­nel Bar­ba­dos has been slowly jour­ney­ing through these last eight years should not be an on­com­ing train, as long as we stay on our present track and do what needs to be done.

That, es­sen­tially, was the gist of Cen­tral Bank Gov­er­nor Cle­vis­ton Haynes’ pre­sen­ta­tion on the third-quar­ter eco­nomic re­view.

Haynes said it was bet­ter the fis­cal ad­just­ments were done up front as this process sent the right sig­nal to in­vestors that an ef­fort was be­ing made to re­verse the econ­omy’s tra­jec­tory.

The gov­er­nor re­ported there was re­cov­ery in the in­ter­na­tional re­serves, which had been con­sis­tently fall­ing for the past six years. Bar­ba­dos now has im­port cover for ap­prox­i­mately 8.6 weeks.

He said too that “the sus­pen­sion of debt ser­vice pay­ments and the sub­se­quent debt re­struc­tur­ing have cur­tailed Gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to ac­cess fi­nanc­ing other than from the Cen­tral Bank. How­ever, the im­proved fis­cal per­for­mance and re­duced bor­row­ing re­quire­ment con­tained fi­nanc­ing (termed print­ing money) to only $14 mil­lion by the Cen­tral Bank dur­ing the July to Septem­ber quar­ter af­ter ris­ing by $105 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous quar­ter”.

How­ever, this good news came with a caveat. That is, the next 18 to 24 months will be painful. That is why the gov­er­nor said, “the ad­just­ment has to hap­pen; I think what the Gov­ern­ment is hop­ing to do is to try to mit­i­gate that pain”.

The Mia Mot­t­ley Ad­min­is­tra­tion would do well to heed the gov­er­nor’s un­so­licited ad­vice be­cause it will be blamed for ev­ery­thing that goes wrong – even if it did not au­tho­rise it.

And since the lay­offs have com­menced, much has gone awry. In­deed, the man­ner in which they have been han­dled to date leaves much to be de­sired. It can­not be fair that of­fi­cials just turn up and sud­denly dis­trib­ute dis­missal letters, hav­ing not first held a meet­ing with the depart­ment to let staff know that they may be im­pacted.

The tech­nocrats man­ag­ing the process are of course to blame for this in­hu­mane ap­proach. They need to be more sen­si­tive be­cause they are deal­ing with peo­ple’s lives.

Gov­ern­ment also needs to im­me­di­ately es­tab­lish its house­hold mit­i­ga­tion unit to as­sist the re­trenched work­ers as promised by Mot­t­ley when she an­nounced the lay­offs in a na­tional ad­dress last month. Not do­ing so to date is like throw­ing peo­ple over­board from a sink­ing ves­sel and then low­er­ing the lifeboat to help them.

That said, we urge Gov­ern­ment to fol­low through on its pledge to en­sure those be­ing re­trenched are given first nod for jobs at Ross Univer­sity and the con­struc­tion com­pa­nies.

We hope, too, that Gov­ern­ment keeps its word that af­fected work­ers will be given pri­or­ity when it rolls out a project to digi­tise its vast records in Jan­uary. Fur­ther, we look for­ward to the ad­min­is­tra­tion amend­ing the laws to es­tab­lish an af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion-type pro­gramme to al­low for up to 20 per cent of the value of Gov­ern­ment’s goods and ser­vices to go to af­fected work­ers as promised by the Prime Min­is­ter.

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