It is possible to have economic development without growth, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart insisted today as he defended Barbados’ placement in the very high human development index of the latest UNDP report.
The Prime Minister told a gathering at UN House for the launch of the 2013 report that even though there might not be significant growth, a fact that he stated was being highlighted time and again as of late, there were clearly benefits to the population that were still being seen as a result of social policies and proactive system of government.
With Barbados ranking 38th out of 187 nations and in the very high human development index, stretching back in time to look at the history of development in the region, Stuart noted that there were periods before when there was decline in growth but it did not mean that people were worse off, because changes were taking place to benefit a large number of people and make the economy serve a larger number of individuals.
“It is possible to have development when no growth is taking place because structural changes are taking place that have the effect of making life better for a larger number of people; capacities are being created and flexibilities are being put in place to respond to the diverse beliefs and aspirations of as large a number of people as possible.
“We had economic growth where there was no human development; we had a phase of human development where there was little or no growth and that brings us to the third category, development minus the word economic, but including both economic and non-economic factors. That is where we are today. That is why Barbados is at number 38 of 187 countries in this Human Development Report of 2013, because this report starts from the premise that life expectancy is important. That is an issue to which no attention was paid between 1640s and 1838. It didn’t matter. This report takes account of the fact that education is important, that’s a factor that was irrelevant to the Barbados society of 1640 to 1838,” he stated.
Likewise, the head of Government said there were environmental, health care, education and other policies that were now in place and being championed by his Administration towards pushing the island’s development. This, what he termed “proactive state of Government”, was among factors why he said Barbados was performing so well, and in this hemisphere, only ranked behind the US and Canada and first among the countries of the region. (LB)