Former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell has expressed disappointment in fellow economists, whom he said were not speaking out more on issues.
Worrell singled out the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) as one of the organizations that could easily influence economic policy decisions by presenting research and speaking with a level of authority.
“I am a little disappointed with most of my colleagues in the discipline because we don’t speak with authority,” he told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview earlier today.
“I am saying the reason I have value to add in terms of policy is because of the technical expertise that I bring to play. So I need to put out the recommendations in a straightforward manner that everybody can understand, but underpinning it must be sophisticated economic analysis, which the person who doesn’t have my training would not be able
to. So I am saying that the reason why SALISES and my colleagues in the profession are less influential than they should be is because they don’t do that. So their opinion is not founded on their technical expertise,” he added.
With the economy currently in the doldrums he further suggested that more economists needed to be in a position to tell Government that its expenditure is headed in the wrong direction.
“As a responsible economists that is what they should be saying. That is my problem with SALISES,” Worrell stressed.
During a generally relaxed interview, Worrell sought to make it clear that he was not political and that he had “studiously avoided political engagement” throughout his career.
However, Worrell, who was fired from the post of Governor back in February, suggested he had learnt the hard way to “communicate with everybody and not just politicians because politicians are going to be influenced by the climate of opinion.
“If the politicians don’t do the right thing, at least as economists our consciences are clear. You can’t say we never warn you,” he said, while acknowledging that nothing much was likely to happen before the next election, due the middle of next year, in terms of the required economic restructuring.
However, Worrell also called on Barbadians in general to join him in putting pressure on the next Government to do what was needed in order to shore up the country’s dwindling reserves, which fell to a meagre $549 million or just 8.6 weeks of import cover at the end of September.
He also said Barbadians must also insist on public sector reform, while complaining that despite calls over the past two decades for successive governments to address the issue, “nothing has been achieved”.
As part of its Medium Term Fiscal Strategy for 2010-2014, the Freundel Stuart administration had promised to embark on a process of public sector reform.
Government had also promised to retrench 2, 000 public servants in January of 2014, with another 1,000 in March, which would be followed closely by a further 500 through natural attrition, including retirement. However, only about half the expected numbers were achieved.
In his latest economic paper entitled The Barbados Economy: The Road to Prosperity, published last week, Worrell insisted that Government needed to shed 4,500 public sector jobs as part of much-needed reforms.
“I want all Barbadians to join me in insisting that the next administration of this country addresses that problem decisively. I have made recommendations as to how that should be done and that we enlist the oversight of the International Monetary Fund and other institutions because they can help us to ensure that we are serious and that we do achieve real public sector reform,” Worrell stressed, adding that “this is a democracy [and] a democracy is supposed to ensure that the voice of the people must be heard.
“The reality is that we are losing foreign exchange reserves. The reason we are losing foreign exchange reserves is because of the wastefulness and inefficiencies. It is costing too much to run the Government and our taxes are not meeting that bill. That is the reason we are getting the pressure on the foreign exchange reserves,” he insisted.
With the country’s reserves falling at “an alarming rate”, the respected economist also warned that the island’s $2 to $1 peg to US dollar peg must be protected.