A visiting Kittitian politician has endorsed Barbados’ decision not to enter a structural adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to remedy its economic ills.
Deputy leader of the People’s Labour Party Sam Condor contends that Barbados is better off crafting its own plan to return to growth.
“I haven’t seen the IMF go into any country and come out without leaving the country worse off than they met it . . . Wherever you go in the world the IMF is not dealing with the reality of the situation,” he told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
On Tuesday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler declared there was no plan to enter any formal arrangement with the IMF at this time, though the island has been working with the Washington-based financial body on the fiscal adjustment programme.
Condor, a former deputy prime minister in the Denzil Douglas administration which entered a US$84.5 million three-year Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in July 2011, argued that the Caribbean has a strong record of devising systems that work and there was no reason to look outside.
“I believe the Caribbean has the resources – the intellectual and other resources – to bring our countries to what we want them to be. We have a history . . . of building a standard of living where our people built a middle-class; not just an economy but a society. We have good education systems that could match [others] anywhere in the world, a health system that we could be proud of, and now we are turning to the IMF to tell us what we have done already,” Condor said.
Three years after St Kitts and Nevis implemented its IMF programme, the latest report from the international financial body issued in September said the two-island federation had made substantial strides and fiscal sustainability has improved.
The Fund forecasts that “growth is expected to continue at a relatively rapid pace, following a stronger-than-expected recovery of nearly four per cent in 2013, after a four year contraction.”
Still, Condor is not buying into the IMF and its methods, arguing that it does not deal with real people and real lives.
“The IMF report is based on statistics, economic growth and per capita income. What is per capita income when there are people getting less than a living wage?” he questioned.
“. . . There are some people with millions of dollars and people who don’t even have a bank account. So what is per capita income? What is economic growth of three per cent when people are losing their electricity, people can’t turn on their light, people can’t pay their bus fares? On the ground, people are suffering; there is tremendous hardship. The IMF report is a superficial overview of our situation and it is not getting down into the nitty-gritty of the hardship of our people.”
Condor suggested Barbados and other Caribbean countries needed to increase their cooperation to reverse the downward economic slide.
He also called on politicians to put aside their differences and put the welfare of the people first, as he charged that greed was partly to blame for prevailing economic conditions.
“It is not that we are not making money but it is the distribution. Inequality has widened. We have the resources here but we have to make sure that we get together and pool our resources and our ideas,” Condor insisted.
The opposition politician says St Kitts and Nevis is not overly concerned about Barbados’ ability to bounce back, stressing that the island’s strong system of governance would see it through.
“Barbados is used as a model in terms of democratic policies and principles, in term of your parliamentary democracy. If you use those systems properly, Barbados will be alright . . . Keep doing what you are doing, involve all the people and contend with all the ideas. Barbados will solve its problems.”