Given what is at stake in this general election, it is important that voters have no excuse for what they are about to vote for. The established parties, and those parties who share their failed development philosophies, already know that economic ruin under their stewardship will be inevitable.
It is instructive to examine Guyana’s experience with a ruined economy, since ours will likely be much worse. After their independence in 1966, Guyana embarked on a development philosophy where the Government managed major industries. By the 1970s, Guyana was one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean with G$2.55 = US$1. Barbadians used to leave Barbados and move to Guyana in search of work.
After Guyana entered the debt spiral and were on the brink of economic ruin, their politicians tried to convince the people to trust their failing development philosophy. Following are two examples from then Prime Minister, later President Desmond Hoyte in 1985.
“We have concluded that the standard IMF prescription is not only palpably irrelevant and useless, but also positively dangerous and counter-productive in our particular situation.”
“But let me make our position clear on this issue. While the People’s National Congress remains in office, the bauxite industry, the sugar industry and the other strategic industries which we have nationalized in this country will never, never, never be denationalized [privatized]. For one thing, to do this would be an admission that we are abandoning the socialist ideal, and we have no intention of doing that.”
By 1988 with the economy almost ruined, Hoyte finally admitted that his Party’s 19-year development philosophy was a failure and surrendered the Guyanese people to an IMF programme.
By 1989, the IMF Stabilization programme had resulted in: a 70 per cent devaluation of the dollar, doubling of income tax rates, a ruined economy, dilapidated infrastructure, lack of supplies, reduced social services, mass emigration of professionals, and 75 per cent of the population in poverty.
In addition, the Government managed industries were privatized, including: mining (bauxite and gold), rice, timber, sugar, fishing and telecommunications. In the aftermath, Guyana’s citizens learned three simple lessons the very hard way.
1. Politicians rarely tell citizens the true state of a poorly performing economy.
2. Industries are not toys for politicians to share with their friends.
3. Politicians are prepared to ruin a national economy for the sake of their development philosophy.
Barbados is now facing economic ruin. Our political leaders are as defiant as those in Guyana shortly before they admitted defeat. It is useful to be reminded of our Prime Minister’s response to Moody’s downgrade in June 2014.
“What they say is only relevant if we want to embark on an orgy of foreign borrowing in which people should know how much we should have to borrow, how much our money should cost. But if we are not intending in the short or medium term to go to the capital markets to borrow money, what they say has as much value as what you would see in any garbage dump collected by the Sanitation Services Authority.”
If we do not learn from Guyana’s experience, then we will be much worse for it. Voting for any political party which embraces a failed development philosophy will guarantee the economic ruin of Barbados, and leave that party with only two options: to surrender Barbados to a most severe austerity programme, or to form a dictatorship.
Solutions Barbados’ path to prosperity is a workable and proven plan that has been published over two years ago for rigorous public scrutiny. Solutions Barbados also has 25 candidates and intends to run 30. They will be showcased during our 2-year celebration event this Saturday 29 November 2017 at 6 p.m. in Independence Square.
If voters elect a life of severe austerity or dictatorship for themselves in the upcoming general election, then they will be without an excuse as their children search for crumbs.