Owen Back In The Picture Challenging Thompson Economics Policies!

Throw out Government’s recently announced mid-term policies to ensure Barbados recovers from the current recession.

What this country really needs is a second generation of smart, viable, economic policies that properly integrate trade and fiscal sustainability, former prime minister Owen Arthur said in a hard-hitting lecture last night.

In his first public lecture since the Barbados Labour Party lost the 2008 General Election, Arthur, an economist by profession, labelled current Prime Minister David Thompson’s new policies as not being proportionate to the circumstances surrounding the crisis, in respect of its causes, effects, and possible solutions.

Arthur’s lecture, entitled Transforming The Economy In The Age Of Liberalisation was held at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, and attracted a full-house, led by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, former ministers Glyne Clarke and Trevor Prescod, as well as Cuban ambassador Pedro Garcia Roque.

Arthur, the MP for St Peter, noted that immediate and urgent fiscal solutions are needed for the country, since the private productive sectors and households of Barbados are also facing catastrophic failure should the status quo remain.

According to Arthur, the most important factors facing the country in the near future would be the changes made due to specific forces in international trade law and international business. “It is my deeply considered judgment that these forces have not abated. Over the next five years, and beyond, the consequences of new trade pacts and relations which have nothing to do with the recession per se, will in the absence of pro-active policy adjustments, bear heavily and adversely on the structure and performance of our economy,” the former PM said.

Arthur claimed the direct performance of the Barbados economy should be of grave concern, since in the past two years the Thompson-led Government had not been directed toward the need to implement policies that could enable Barbados to reposition its economic enterprises and sectors to accommodate changes in international trade law and relations.

“In addition, no new policies seem to be in the offing in this year in our public affairs,” Arthur told the audience.

The former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance noted that policies intended to correct fiscal problems could easily, and inadvertently lead to more vulnerabilities like a deeper recession and rising unemployment. “The trade-offs, therefore, have to be carefully measured and calibrated to ensure they lead to the harmonisation,” Arthur said.

He added that notice should be taken of the fact that there are three international trade and relation matters which will take effect by 2015, which require pro-active policy adjustments now, to prevent serious damage to the Barbadian economy when it should instead be looking to raise its head after the recession.

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