At the end of this month, I will no longer be living in Barbados. That pending departure has caused me no end of problems in deciding what to do with this blog and how to engage on the many issues that interest me, many of which, like the state of economic policy, appear to be at difficult junctures.
Many people have asked that I continue the blog, even though I may not be living on this island, and I cannot say how easy that will be until I see how things work out looking on from afar, but I really appreciate the encouragement behind such requests. I was also touched deeply by a gift I got yesterday from a friend, which as a piece of mahogany with 'Living in Barbados' carved on it, in exactly the style of this blog's title. That is going to be a precious souvenir.
As has been the way for a while, I have made contributions to discussions about the economy without them being in the public glare of this blog, on the radio, or via one of the local newspapers. I know that there is a very vigorous set of discussions going on about the state of the economy and ways forward, and there is nothing secret about it and all the participants are very open with their opinions, which they are expressing without any cover of anonymity. One element that seems lacking has been a forum that is more visible for such discussions, because it is important that people with contributions feel that they can make them freely and openly. Blogs have been useful in opening some channels of discussion but I have always been wary of comments made under cover of anonymity (whatever the apparent bases for choosing that).
Amongst the many things that seem clear to me is that Barbados is not short of people with ideas. But, there is a problem in turning ideas into action. That is a problem of a broader scale which is starting to show up more clearly as a sort of 'implementation paralysis'. In the case of the economy, part of that lack of action has arisen because of the health issues of the Prime Minister/Minister of Finance. But, one of the important tests of organisations, including government, is how well they can function in the absence of particular persons. I would have to say that Barbados is really struggling to function during the past months. Putting the constraints imposed by the Prime Minister's health concerns into a separate category, I see another problem. Many who have opinions and ideas are not directly involved in making decisions about policies, so depend on those who are to listen and decide if the ideas floated can be taken further. So, the simple question I have is whether policy makers seek to really listen to those who have ideas or have they closed their ears? If they are listening would they indicate why the many ideas that seem workable and beneficial do not see the light of day as policy actions?
I am not going to comment much on the wave of views that have been expressed recently about the current state of the economy, though if one looks at column inches or time discussed on the radio, it would seem that this topic is now fully in the centre of many people's concerns. I would merely suggest reading some of the weekend's commentary and thinking about what some of them said. In particular, I was struck by Hartley Henry's piece in Sunday's Advocate, that seemed to take solace in saying that an IMF programme or devaluation were not being discussed as options for Barbados. My take on that is simply that the government in various forms has said that neither option is for consideration. So, having closed the door to them, why would people keep them on the burner publicly as options? But, having summarily dismissed them, the question is still there of how the government will try to right the economic ship and get it to steer a good course.
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