The DLP administration made itself offensive to the voting public with their arrogance and excessive taxes. They also alarmed investors by attracting downgrades due primarily to their irresponsible printing of money to an unsustainable level.
The BLP administration has increased taxes far beyond what the DLP administration levied. They also defaulted on foreign debt, which resulted in a downgrade more severe than any downgrade under the last administration.
With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) being our lender of last resort, there was an urgency in setting economic targets with which the IMF would agree. The Barbados Economic Recovery Team (BERT) developed a plan to meet these targets, but after they have offended both foreign and local lenders, if we do not meet these targets, the consequences for all of us will be dire.
BERT is trying to meet these targets through severe austerity methods, including: increasing taxes, laying off public workers, and breaking contractual agreements with local investors. However, there are proven non-austerity methods that can meet these targets, which Solutions Barbados published over three years ago.
At the recently held Nation Talkback event, Shane Lowe of the Barbados Economics Society noted that it would be foolish not to evaluate all opportunities. In response to my question at that event, Dr Greenidge admitted that BERT did not examine any of the non-austerity economic plans when developing their plan.
I asked whether BERT will finally examine Solutions Barbados’ non-austerity plan now that the urgency in getting an IMF agreement had passed. Dr Greenidge indicated that they would not. The reason given was that he believed that all solutions must include public suffering. He is, of course, entirely wrong.
BERT refused to examine the non-austerity plans, not for reasons or urgency, but because they stubbornly embraced a questionable academic economic philosophy. That is so irresponsible that it should be a crime. This is not a hypothetical exercise with academic consequences. Their decisions have real consequences for real people.
BERT appears to be so blinded by their academic theories, that they are even willing to violate one of Prime Minister Mottley’s first post-election promises, made on her sacred honour, that all ideas must contend. Their actions risk exposing the Prime Minister to accusations of lying to and misleading the public. But they do not seem to care.
For the record, the non-austerity approaches of lowering taxes, effectively addressing corruption and properly managing public services are proven revenue generators. Barbados reduced taxes under the Arthur administration, Singapore properly managed their public services, and Switzerland effectively addressed corruption. All three benefitted economically without the need for austerity. Yet, because a small group of economists have tightly embraced severe austerity-based economic theories used by the IMF, which have failed so many countries in the past, most Barbadians are destined to needlessly suffer.
The established media are unquestioningly parroting BERT’s misinformation that severe austerity is absolutely necessary and the only solution. They also appear to have crossed the partisan boundary by not allowing a fair analysis of the current administration on their platforms.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the dire economic situation that she faced upon entering office. To her credit, her directive that all ideas must contend was a wise and responsible approach. With limited time available and with a general election that saw the emergence of several new ideas, it was important that all ideas be considered and rigorously scrutinized prior to their implementation – including BERT’s.
Since BERT appears to be allowed, without being restrained, and without any meaningful scrutiny from a fawning media, then we are truly sunk. Our unquestioning media need to be reminded that their current actions normally facilitate the rise of dictators – who normally target a free press once they consolidate power. They should be guided by Albert Einstein’s relevant observation: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at [email protected]