Well, the decision appears to have already been made – we are to be surrendered to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the lender of last resort when we still have one good option left. We must now await the terms of the surrender.
Let me be clear. There is a time when going to the IMF for a loan with favourable terms is appropriate and encouraged. That time is when the general public has sufficient savings, or access to resources, to cushion the likely effects of the IMF’s prescribed austerity.
For Barbados, that time was around 2009, when it was clear that the DLP administration was incapable of managing the improvement of Barbados’ economy. Unfortunately, the DLP administration also suffered from a major character flaw that would prove even more damaging to Barbados – they simply would not listen to good advice.
For the past three years, we all but begged them to consider our non-austerity plan. Our plan had been independently verified to provide a surplus of over $1B in our first year without any austerity. The plan has been published on our website (SolutionsBarbados.com) for the past three years for rigorous public scrutiny. But they ignored us.
The current BLP administration has started extremely well. They appeared to be willing to listen to all ideas on solving the South Coast sewage crisis. Contrasting the unresponsiveness of the last administration to the inclusiveness of the present one, I am still exhilarated – beyond words. I cannot commend PM Mottley highly enough.
I should mention that as an engineer, I would simply have solved the problem so that the people would quickly forget that there ever was a crisis. Most of the problems that we currently face in Barbados are engineering based, and Chartered Engineers determine the most effective, economical and lowest maintenance solutions to problems. However, that is not always good politics.
On minor issues, it is accepted that all ideas will not be allowed to fairly contend. The BLP administration is expected to simply follow their own plans in order to progress efficiently. However, where the consequences to the public are foreseen to be dire, then it is expected that all ideas would be allowed to fairly contend.
The BLP’s decision to go to the IMF appears to be a departure from their excellent start. There are currently three plans on the proverbial table: the DLP’s, the BLP’s and Solutions Barbados’. While all of the DLP’s past plans have failed to improve the economy, it is possible that their last one may have a slim possibility of working. Therefore, it should be examined. The BLP’s plan was described as a bitter medicine, belt-tightening, severe austerity plan, that we now know is supposed to be directed by the IMF. Then there is Solutions Barbados’ verified non-austerity plan.
To force Barbadians into an unnecessary severe austerity plan, when a verified non-austerity plan is on the table, is unconscionable. The economists applauding the decision to surrender Barbadians to the IMF are being highly irresponsible when we still have one good option left for the public to avoid severe austerity.
The PM is being badly advised to pursue austerity, and it is likely that she will continue to be badly advised. After her economic advisors have spent an election campaign dismissing our economic recovery plan without even examining it, their heels are so deep in the mud that their only option is to embarrassingly leave their shoes in place. They have unnecessarily over-committed themselves, and pride normally prevents young professionals from admitting that they were wrong – it is their bane, but it can ruin our economy.
The Institute of Chartered Accounts of Barbados (ICAB) and the Barbados Economics Society (BES) had a responsibility to review all plans and advise the public accordingly. They should have done that before the General Election, but they appeared to be so intoxicated by Miamania that they neglected their public duty. Now that the election is over, it is time for them to wake up.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com