Economist Ryan Straughn is cautioning the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that if it wins the next election, it will inherit an economy that is in worse shape than when the BLP left office in 2008.
Delivering the Eighth Tom Adams Memorial lecture last night, Straughn, who is the BLP’s Christ Church East Central candidate, said while successive BLP administrations had presided over economic activity since 1976, the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) regime had effectively reversed the gains that were previously made.
“With the exception of 2008, the current DLP Government has failed miserably to reproduce the level of economic activity the Barbados Labour Party handed to them in 2008,” Straughn told the gathering of mainly Opposition supporters in the Hugh Springer Auditorium of the Barbados Workers’ Union headquarters.
“So far, up to 2016, some $5.5 billion has been eroded from the economic base of Barbados,” he added.
The lecture, held in honour of the island’s second prime minister, was entitled Transforming Barbados’ economy in an increasingly uncertain world: Lessons from Tom Adams for the 21st century.
In distinguishing the track record of the BLP from that of the DLP, Straughn relied on data from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre and Central Bank of Barbados, along with his own calculations, to show that the current administration had bucked the growth trend for Barbados with its economic figures now receding into the negative column.
The former macro-economic modeling specialist at the Central Bank of Barbados and current financial consultant said the BLP, led by Adams, had introduced a period of accelerated growth when it took office in 1976.
“The Barbados Labour Party successfully reproduced that level of economic activity every year during its post-independence administration under Tom Adams. But more importantly it added approximately $7.5 billion in new economic activity over the ten years,” Straughn said.
“So we set a new bar, we raised the bar,” he argued, while noting that despite registering such growth, the BLP still lost the government in 1986.
Rating the succeeding DLP administration’s performance, he said it was “decent” at first but then it struggled towards the end of its tenure.
“The DLP created $4.2 billion in new economic activity above that of the Barbados Labour Party. [However] there was one year where it almost failed to reproduce what we were able to do under Tom Adams [and] by 1994 the Democratic Labour Party had only increased the size of the Barbados economy by some $300 million,” the economist explained.
Moving on to the Owen Arthur era of governance, Straughn said that from the year after the former BLP leader took office, the 1995 to 2007 period saw a successful reproduction of economic growth activity “every year without fail”.
He noted that Arthur’s time saw an added $15.5 billion in new economic activity, adding that the former Prime Minister had left the economy with an international credit rating of ‘AA’.
However, he pointed out that under the DLP, the country has suffered a series of downgrades and as of September 27 this year international rating agency Standard and Poor’s placed Barbados’ status of credit worthiness at ‘CCC’.