One of the co-chairs of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme has warned that power and water blackouts threaten to undermine Government’s ability to reach the IMF- backed programme’s fiscal targets.
Fielding questions from reporters at a news conference today at the Sagicor Insurance Wildey offices to report on Government’s performance up to September this year, Edward Clarke cautioned that the equipment and fuel problems at the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) must be remedied urgently.
Clarke said while the island-wide power outage on Monday and the forced load-shedding on Tuesday that caused water shortages harmed productivity and the economy in general, a much worse situation awaits Barbados should a similar thing happen for a longer duration.
On Monday, the island was plunged into darkness due to what the company’s management said was aging generators that were further hampered by contaminated imported fuel. This was followed on Tuesday by more power blackouts and water shutoffs.
The BERT co-chair said: “We should still be able to meet the targets.
“I don’t think that would stop us from meeting the targets. That would not be a reason to stop us from reaching the targets.
“However, if it continues, that’s a different matter.”
Clarke suggested that he was buying into the assurance given by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and management of the BL&P that such an event would not happen again.
Light & Power has spent $4 million to rent turbines as a short-term solution as it works on a more sustainable long term programme the longer run.
The BERT Monitoring Committee Co-Chair expressed concern that the country was not prepared to deal with such emergencies.
“It has shown us that generally in Barbados that we are unprepared.
“We are unprepared in the public sector…we are unprepared in the private sector and we are unprepared in our homes, how to deal with a situation like this.
“It has opened up [the eyes of] a lot of people in Barbados as citizens, as residents and businesses and the public service.
“We must be better prepared to handle emergencies and to have a business continuity,” Clarke said.
He expressed hope that before the next hurricane season arrives, the country fixes what it needs to repair and is therefore in a better position to tackle similar emergencies.
“I think what was done was done relative to fixing the problem, but that is not a long-term solution for us.
“We must be able to handle things much better ourselves in cases of such eventualities… hurricanes or whatever disaster we may get.” [email protected]