Amid the island’s ongoing economic troubles, the head of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI), Graham Clarke, today warned that the island was facing a “deceptively gradual decline” from which there was no easy way back.
At the same time, Clarke cautioned that any recovery strategy for Barbados should not be left up to “a select few” and must be able to mobilize the national talent pool if it is to work.
“The mobilization of this pool of talent is what is needed at this time, to pull us out of this state of what I call the deceptively gradual decline which we are seeing manifested in a number of ways in our society and in our economy,” he told participants in this morning’s official opening of the BCSI’s Services Weekend Barbados seminar at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
“What your business and ultimately what our nation becomes is up to you; is up to us,” he stressed, adding that “no one group of individuals has a monopoly on ideas and that is why we cannot underestimate or undervalue the immense wealth and talent that is part of the human resource capital of this small island developing state”.
Based on the latest Central Bank report, the economy continues to operate in the red, with the fiscal deficit estimated at $279 million for the first six months of the fiscal year; the country’s foreign reserves having plunged to 8.6 weeks of import cover or $549.7 million at the end of September; and Government debt having soared to 144 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Stressing that the way out will require all hands on deck, Clarke said: “Everyone, including all of you entrepreneurs in this room this morning, has a part to play in that decision-making process, in that effort to reconstruct, to rethink and to reposition ourselves for the future.”
His comments coincided with this morning’s announcement by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that the long-awaited Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRL) 2017 would be laid in Parliament next month.
The BSRL, which was announced by Sinckler in his May 30 Budget, was structured and developed by three working groups coming out of last August’s Social Partnership meeting.
Calling it one the most ambitious deficit-reduction programmes in the country’s history, Sinckler said the plan would address such essential areas as foreign exchange earnings, the productive sector, the competitiveness of the island and the major challenges with implementation.
“Having examined the situation carefully and completely, Government is now in a better position to roll out a comprehensive plan to tackle these issues head-on,” he told participants in the annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, while promising that the plan, which will be targeted, inclusive and decisive will benefit from wide public discourse.