Government must cut its spending — and time is running out for it to do so.
That is the only real alternative since more borrowing, increased taxes, or economic stimulus are not viable alternatives, Barbados Private Sector Association Chairman John Williams warned today.
He saw “a sense of complacency” in Barbados “the sense that if we wait long enough these problems will go away by themselves without any need for us in Barbados to change, but they won’t”.
Williams was speaking at Hilton Barbados this morning during the official opening of a National Consultation On The Economy, saying Barbados not only had to act to save itself from further trouble, but “we must do so with great urgency”.
“Our concerns remain the same; firstly, it is necessary to correct the country’s chronic fiscal deficit. We cannot sustain a budget that projects expenditure, including debt repayment, which is $1 billion more than revenue,” Williams said.
“Secondly, borrowing more is not the answer, there is no room for further tax increases and therefore a reduction in government expenditure required.
“Thirdly, there are opportunities for more investment, increased employment and economic growth, but as we have no money to create stimulus our principal efforts must be in business facilitation.
“And finally and above all we must implement our decisions, this is our major failing. Our presentation which you will you will hear later today contains specific actionable recommendations which we wish to see implemented in the short and medium term,” he added.
The private sector spokesman said the political directorate also had to show leadership in the interest of the country’s welfare.
“We require a transformation in the way in which we operate in this country, by the public sector, by the private sector, by the labour movement and indeed by our society. And so we must tell it like it is, we must tell our business community that the country can no longer support protectionism and subsidies that cannot be justified.
“We must tell our trade unions that restrictive practises must be abandoned, we must tell our public service that outdated processes must be modernised, we must tell our fellow Barbadians which entitlements from Government are no longer affordable, but still protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
“And we must tell our political directorate, Government and the Opposition, that we expect them to demonstrate the leadership that has characterised the development of Barbados for the last 75 years and then we must act. Anything less and we would have failed our country,” he said.
Williams noted that the BPSA and its member bodies had already made submissions to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs “outlining our views and recommendations on the economy and we welcome this opportunity today to present these more widely”.
“The Barbados Private Sector Association restates the position, which we have held for some time now, Barbados must be aware of and guided by what has happened in countries which have failed to take the necessary corrective action in a timely manner,” he stated.
“We in Barbados must act to help ourselves and we must do so with great urgency. If we don’t do it for ourselves, some external agency will tell us what to do.” (SC)