Jamaica’s Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips has given the thumbs up to the Barbados government’s economic policy programme that has resulted in the dismissal of hundreds of public sector workers and a move to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Addressing the 80th annual convention of the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on Sunday, Phillips, said that the economic challenges facing the Caribbean are the “most serious since Independence.
“As your brother, having walked through the fire before…it’s incumbent on me to share a little bit of what I have learnt from that experience. The first point I would like to make is simply this; the basic responsibility that comes with Independence and sovereignty is the requirement to manage your own economic and fiscal affairs,” Phillips told BLP supporters.
“If you don’t manage your personal accounts, your fiscal affairs, your national accounts, well someone will come and manage it for you and that is the very opposite of Independence.
“Because let me tell you, the banks in the international community, the multilateral organizations, when they intervene, quite frankly they intervene with more detail, more comprehensively than was the case with colonial authorities in the last years of colonialism. So I applaud the BLP Government for agreeing to bite the bullet and take charge of the fiscal accounts of this country,” he added.
The government of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, which came to office in May this year, is implementing its own Barbados Economic Recovery and Transition (BERT) programme aimed at restructuring an ailing economy.
Phillips said that had the new government looked to international organizations for a programme much tougher demands would have been asked.
He said while some of the demands which had been placed on Barbadians were indeed tough, success was on the horizon.
“The second thing I would like to say on a more hopeful note is that if you take the hard decisions early, if you stay the course, if you sustain your patience and your courage you will achieve success.
“This is not a task for the fainthearted nor is it a task for the impatient, but I would say that with honesty and forthrightness and willingness to take the people into your confidence at every step of the way, they will walk with you and understand, because these are the same people that fought and struggled to get Independence and they don’t intend to give it up now,” Phillips said.
The former finance minister in Jamaica told the government that it should not depend solely on the promises of those international agencies which have pledged their assistance, but instead what was required was for her administration to work above and beyond and in the best interest of Barbadians.
“When we took on the battle there were many promises made by elements in the international community of resources that would flow, but as they say in the good book promises are a comfort to [a fool]. Give thanks for the promises but understand if the promises are not fulfilled, don’t let that cause you to waiver in your determination to reach the end point of your objectives.
“…In order to manage by ourselves it will take a great revival of the national spirit. We have to be equal to the task as our forefathers and mothers were, to build up the great capacities of our people. To face the challenges of the time it will require a quality of political work like nothing you have had to face since you took up the challenge to secure Independence,” Phillips said.
“But you can do it. It can be done because it has to be done,’ Phillips told BLP supporters.