The Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s political candidate for St Michael South Central Marsha Caddle has dismissed Government’s report of two per cent economic growth for the first quarter of the year, saying it was both “unsurprising” and “unremarkable”.
Delivering the Grantley Adams Memorial Lecture at the Grand Salle of the Central Bank last night, the economist, who recently left her job at the Caribbean Development Bank to seek political office, further described the two per cent growth as meaningless to the average Barbadian, adding that it was not expected to have any real impact on the lives of her immediate constituents.
“We heard the Acting Central Bank Governor [Cleviston Haynes] on Tuesday report two per cent growth in the last quarter, which is unsurprising and unremarkable,” Caddle said, adding that “not only is the macro picture still abysmal, but people are only becoming poorer and more deprived”.
Caddle also challenged members of Government, who she said were touting the two per cent expansion to “follow me into St Michael South Central and tell the people that this economy has grown by two per cent and see if that satisfies them.
“It is not just growth, but the kind of growth that matters. We want growth that is sustainable, inclusive, and led by the creation of lasting, decent work,” she said.
Caddle, who is challenging the incumbent, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy, noted that Barbados’ current system of social protection was essentially the welfare system, which makes transfers in cash and kind to individuals and families.
However, the economist argued that it was time for the State to begin making “real” investments in social protection and make it more productive.
“Why not invest your social protection resources in helping to match small companies or single providers to the types of projects in the public and private sector that could best make use of their skills?” she asked.
As an example, Caddle pointed to the St Michael urban corridor, saying it was in need of water-borne facilities and other improvement projects.
She suggested that Government should seek to encourage the unemployed and marginally employed residents in the area to start their own businesses with a view to carrying out those projects.
“That is your social protection.That is your support to helping people realize their productive capacities,” Caddle said, while further suggesting that “rather than simply seeking to record growth so you can register it in a table, the task is to engineer real growth from within – the kind that is led by people’s choice, innovation and participation”.
She further argued that “when a country’s socio-economic progress has been so derailed as Barbados’ has been in the last decade, investing in people’s productivity directly at the community level is part of what will ensure a recovery with people at the centre”.