We could be wrong when we say there can’t be a Barbadian alive on this island who does not believe things are bad and the immediate economic future holds little to no hope. But we don’t believe we are!
If we ignore all that has been said by politicians in the Opposition Barbados Labour Party and the ruling Democratic Labour Party over the past year, but particularly during the six months immediately before and ever since the February general elections, Barbadians would still be in no doubt that we are in dire straits.
And if we chose not to recall what has been said by the professional economists within and outside the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, as well as the various sectoral leaders, we still could not hide the fact that our economy is a shell of what it used to be — and more importantly, that the all important ingredient in influencing the future of a society – hope – has become as fleeting as the foreign exchange that literally drives our economic engine.
In the circumstances, and even with unemployment racing toward 12 per cent, we would also bet the few dollars still knocking around among ordinary citizens that there are not many people who would want the job of Dr. DeLisle Worrell, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados.
His name is now firmly associated with bad news because it seems that every time he addresses the country that’s all he brings — bad news about what has gone and grim news about the future. And so it was yesterday when he reported on the performance of the economy during the first half of the year. There was nothing to cheer about.
Again we could be wrong, but we don’t believe we are when we say that we are reasonably sure that by now the Government accepts that Barbadians have grown tired of hearing how bad things are here and how it’s not their fault or our fault, but the fault of the international economy; how our trading partners and our source markets are in decline and as a consequence we can do no better. We believe by now they have determined to drop the script in which the star repeats: “Just hold on! I’m coming to get you!”
Because quite frankly it is starting to sound like a doctor declaring: “The patient has expired, rigor mortis has set in; but keep the oxygen handy for with a little luck we might still get a pulse!”
Talk to the people Mr. Prime Minister, and not about how you can’t get Easter without Good Friday or have a baby without labour. Talk real to the people. Don’t tell us what we already know because we are feeling it every day; tell us what you are proposing and get genuine feedback.
Talk to Barbadians, Mr. Sinckler! You still have a few weeks before Budget day to engage real people who are feeling real pain in real dialogue and get sincere feedback. The pronouncements of a budget are no substitute for meaningful engagement. By the time the budget comes around it is a fait accompli.
Barbadians know there is going to be some bitter medicine ahead for all of us; engaging us before you administer it could be the proverbial spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine more palatable.
We don’t think there is a need to repeat all the bad news the governor gave yesterday in this editorial. What’s more important is talking to the people in a manner that prepares them for the rough ride on which they are about to embark. We daresay that from all indications it will be one Barbadians have never experienced before and those who sit in the seats of power are doing a very poor job of mentally preparing the population for it.
And for those who would seek to dismiss our position on this subject, we urge them to ask all 30 members of Parliament if they believe Barbadians would vote the same way today they did on February 21 if a general election were held now. It may be a moot point, but we don’t believe the state of the economy is substantially different today from how it was six months ago. The difference is that today people have far less hope and confidence in the future than the little they had then . That, we suggest, is a reflection of how they believe they are being treated by those who were elected to govern.
Fortunately for the Governor of the Central Bank, he does not have a seat!