Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has broken his silence on the recent Moody’s downgrade, warning that his administration was not interested in “sprinting to bottom line results, where the arithmetic is right, but the society is wrong”.
Addressing his monthly branch meeting at the Bay Primary School, Bayland, St Michael last night, Stuart noted that despite the negative downgrade, Moody’s had issued a positive outlook for the economy. He also said the ratings agency had acknowledged that progress had been made by his administration in addressing the island’s economic challenges, even though Moody’s felt that it was not occurring at a fast enough pace.
“[This is] a coded way of saying that we should aim to get the bottom line looking good as soon as possible,” the Prime Minister said, while cautioning that the desired Moody’s result would come at too high a cost.
“The truth is getting the bottom line looking good quickly will involve devastating Barbados’ households and this Prime Minister is not, in this small highly personalized society where everybody knows everybody else, going to do that,” Stuart said, noting that “you send home a man today and destroy his family and you meet him in the supermarket or at the corner of a road.
“We in Barbados cannot function that way. Those things can work in larger more impersonal societies. We are really a tightly knit community here in Barbados and we have to be very careful how heavy a yoke we impose on people,” he told his constituents.
“My Government has taken a position that sprinting to bottom line results where the arithmetic is right but the society is wrong is certainly not part of our agenda. We want to keep the society right, while working our way gradually towards correct arithmetic; and that is our position,” Stuart added.
The Prime Minister also took issue with local economists and captains of industry who have been calling repeatedly for economic growth, while recalling that a former Central Bank employee had advised him some years ago to concentrate on stability instead of economic growth.
Stuart said over the past eight years his administration had tried to do just that, arguing that even though it had been said that the country had not been growing, development had been taking place.