Government will not adopt any short, sharp response to the challenges being faced by the Barbados economy.
This assurance came from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today as he addressed a special expanded meeting of the Sub Committee of the Social Partnership, where the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and officers from that Ministry presented some of the options being considered to help the country reduce its deficit and increase revenue.
Stuart told the gathering: “I am not reckless. We will make the decisions we have to make, but within the context of proper consultation, taking into account the vulnerabilities of our households, the fragility of our businesses and of course the challenges faced by the Government, in terms of the need to provide certain basic amenities in the areas of health, education, sanitation, water, law and order, and so on, for the people of this country.”
The Prime Minister stressed that householders in Barbados were aware of what was happening in economies across the world. “But, not only do they know what are the challenges faced by countries across the world, they also know how Governments are responding to those challenges and they also know how the people affected by what Governments have done, have responded.
“So there is a generalised knowledge about the world in 2013 that did not exist in the early 1990s, and as a Government of Barbados, we would be irresponsible, I think, not to take cognisance of that.
“So we have to fine-tune our processes of communication. We have to ensure that we understand and keep before us the distinction between short, medium and long term, and appreciate that the problems we have were not created in the short term and all of them cannot therefore be solved in the short term.
“But we have to lay a solid foundation for the durable solution to all of these problems. We cannot do any of this in a context of panic, knee-jerk responses and the use of hyperbole. That is not going to get us anywhere. What we need now is some thought leadership and we need to keep calm and cool heads … doing correct diagnoses and prescribing sensibly,” he contended.
Stuart reassured those present that Government was viewing the challenges holistically.
“We understand the importance of maintaining a reliable, social safety net, the need to get our businesses going, and that Government has to create the kind of environment that will facilitate, and take some of the pressure off our businesses… Over the medium term, the solution to all of our problems is going to be linked to our capacity to get this economy to grow at a credible rate annually,” he stated.
He insisted that the measures outlined by the officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs earlier, were just proposals for the time being.
“These are not decisions that we have taken, these are proposals which we wanted to share with you to elicit some sort of response from you, and to see whether our thinking and your thinking have critical points of intersection. We have not come here with any embalmed set of proposals…
“These are just a set of proposals which have been constructed in the Government, by persons who we think are well positioned to advise us on these matters,” he underscored.
The Prime Minister promised that the consultation process would continue until there was a conclusion that would be satisfactory to all of the social partners.