BARBADOS ECONOMY SEEMS LIKE IT’S IN A COMA AND ON LIFE-SUPPORT by Henderson N. Bovell
Contrary to what the Central Bank Governor now tells the country – this world was always characterised by “uncertainty!” That, perhaps, was the feeling of the Dinosaurs; Christopher Columbus; the Arawaks; America’s first President and Grantley Adams. In fact, the world will still be an “uncertain” place, long after Barbados’ next leader takes office: it is the only certain thing in this uncertain world. But, it has become customary (and for some time now) for the Central Bank of Barbados to tell the country that the Barbados Economy is: “stable.” Is this the same Central Bank that also told the country and people who have money in Clico, that their money is safe?
In the first paragraph of a document entitled: “Review of Barbados’ Economic Performance for 2011 and Prospects for 2012,” the Central Bank of Barbados said: “The Barbadian economy remained stable in 2011, in a climate of undiminished international economic uncertainty…” As is now the norm, in his recent Review for the first quarter of 2012, the Central Bank Governor, again told the country, that: “The Barbados economy remains stable, and we may be witnessing the beginnings of a slow recovery, but there is some distance further to the resumption of sustained economic growth.”
If for no other reason than – that the Barbados economy is alleged to be still: “stable,” as the country is being told since 2009 – then Barbadians should be very worried. There is another possibility! If after a serious injury, a patient’s condition (which was said to have been “stable” in 2009) is still stable three years later, and his condition has neither improved nor deteriorated – they can only be two possibilities, especially in a situation where the attending physician knows his craft.
Either the physician does not feel that those who are worried can handle the truth or he is simply giving a placebo. But only if the country were to apply a little Bajan commonsense, it would be forced to ask, how can the economy be still “stable” if things are getting worse based on information being presented? Even in term of International Business and Financial Services sector, we are hearing of decline and that Barbados is getting competition from the region. Yet, we are hearing that the economy is “stable!”
At the end of 2011, the country was told that: “The lingering effects of the international recession have dried up business cash flow and reduced profitability, leading to additional job losses.” The Bank also told the country then that: “Tourist numbers have increased, but length of stay and average spending have fallen.” Is that stable or deterioration?
In the recent ‘first-quarter-review,’ in terms of prices, the country leant that: “Food and oil price inflation continued to drive retail prices. At the end of 2011, the 12-month moving average rate of inflation reached 9.4 percent representing a 3.6 percent increase when compared to the previous year.” Is that stable or deterioration?
In the area of Balance of Payments, the Bank said: “During the review period, the current account deficit widened when compared to the same period in 2011…” It also said that: “Domestic deposits at commercial banks fell by $38.2 million for the year (data up to March 21)…” Is that stable or deterioration?
Allegation of “stable,” and yet “the economy is expected to grow by a little less than one percent in 2012,” with the growth dependent on whether the DLP-Government can build sufficient houses through the NHC, and if there is construction of tourism related projects. Now! I ask you! Based on the Central Bank’s own information – is the Barbados economy “stable” or: “in a coma and on life-support?”