Heed Governor’s advice
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.