When we elect politicians, we mainly want them to manage the country without putting us in an unsustainable debt situation.
Barbados’ national debt is an unsustainable $13 billion, with the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) being responsible for approximately $8 billion and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for approximately $5 billion. The crucial question that Barbadian voters are being forced to answer in this election is who is most capable of reducing Barbados’ deficit (overspending) and debt so that our debts are not forced onto our children.
The DLP appears to have given up trying to reduce their annual overspending. They have turned to the opposition BLP, challenging them to propose where to cut spending. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has concluded that devaluation is certain if we continue on the current path. Therefore, unless the DLP starts listening to good advice, they are not capable of solving Barbados’ economic problems.
With the DLP appearing to disqualify themselves, the common assumption is that the BLP has the experience to solve Barbados’ economic problems and should be given the opportunity to do so – the sooner the better. I made a similar faulty assumption until I examined the BLP’s past performance and realized that the BLP is significantly less experienced in bringing us out of economic challenges than the DLP.
The BLP has always taken over a stable economy and has always created severe economic problems whenever they were in government. I must admit that this surprised me. After our Independence, the DLP had two terms in Government (1966 to 1976) and left a national debt of $251 million. The BLP found this most enviable financial situation and after their two terms (1976 to 1986), left a national debt of $3.1 billion, which is more than 12 times the debt they found when they entered.
Thus, the DLP had their first experience in dealing with an unstable economy. They had two more terms (1986 to 1994), added $1.2 billion to the national debt to take it to $4.3 billion, and stabilized the economy with austerity. Once again, the BLP took over a stable economy and once again, they more than doubled the national debt, taking it from $4.3 billion to $9 billion after their three terms (1994 to 2008).
They also significantly increased the deficit (annual overspending). The economy was so unstable at the end of the BLP’s last term, that Moody’s blamed their 2009 downgrade on the BLP’s mismanagement of the economy. A quote from their downgrade report follows: “Barbados’ key debt indicators have been on a deteriorating path over the past decade … the worsening of debt indicators over a long period of time suggests that structural issues are at play.”
Despite their past experience, the DLP has been unable to stabilize the economy this time. If the BLP forms the Government after the next general election, then they will find themselves in an entirely new situation. After our Independence, the BLP has always found a stable economy whenever they took over the Government, and then proceeded to massively overspend and leave Barbados in a significantly worse economic situation than how they found it.
Therefore, they are the least likely to solve Barbados’ economic problems. It should be noted that it takes no special competence to spend borrowed money. However, it takes a special type of incompetence to consistently more than double the national debt every single time you are in office. In order to prove to Barbadians that they can manage an unstable economy, especially after their consistent mismanagement of the Barbados economy whenever they were in government, one would have thought that the BLP would use every opportunity to provide workable economic solutions before the general election.
Barbados’ economy will likely be ruined if the economic problems are not effectively addressed after the next general election. Therefore, the consequences of failure are too great to not properly scrutinize each party’s economic plans before the next general election. Solutions Barbados has published its workable economic plans over 20 months ago, and they have withstood 20 months of rigorous public scrutiny. Solutions Barbados’ candidates have experience in implementing successful business plans.
Therefore, we are the most capable of solving Barbados’ economic problems. Now that Barbadian voters have finally been given a competent alternative, they can either allow Barbados to finally win, or tragically return to more of the same.
(Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com)