(BARBADOS TODAY) — St Lucia’s former prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony has described Barbados’ economic restructuring as necessary and unavoidable.
But Dr Anthony told Barbados TODAY he was confident the country would return to its glory days, while calling on the Government to continue communicating with citizens during the adjustment process.
“I think the policy measures of the Government are necessary and unavoidable because they have inherited a very difficult and complex situation,” he said as he reacted to Government’s ongoing debt restructuring exercise.
Pointing out that Barbados had gone through several “painful adjustments” in the past, Anthony said it meant that there were some continued structural deformities.
“But I believe the sacrifice that has to be made at this time is essential to the recovery of Barbados. I think the good thing is that the people of Barbados understand that despite what may have happened in the past, that they do have to make adjustments, that they have to endure some pain before the problems in the economy is resolved,” he said.
The two-term leader, who served from 1997 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2016, warned that during the adjustment period there should be constant and honest communication with the population in order for it to work.
This adjustment period, he suggested, was perhaps one of the most difficult in the island’s history given the very serious debt to gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 170 per cent that the Barbados Labour Party administration had inherited.
“That is not going to be easy to ensure that the debt-to-GDP ratio is reduced to acceptable international norms. So it is a long road ahead but I believe remaining in close touch with the people of Barbados, maintaining their trust and confidence will be vital in this process. And rest assured that the rest of us in the region are looking very closely at the experience of Barbados and Barbadians as they go through this particular phase of their history,” he said.
Highlighting other countries in the region that have gone through structural adjustment programmes, Anthony said Barbadians should feel some comfort that the economic turmoil being experienced was not unique to this island.
Recalling that at one point his St Lucia Labour Party administration came close to undertaking an adjustment programme due to a very high fiscal deficit, Anthony said he had to quickly take corrective measures to avert resorting to the IMF.
“I think the people of Barbados can feel some comfort that what is happening to Barbados is not unique. It has happened to other Caribbean countries, and they can take some hope and they can also take some confidence that it could be resolved because other countries have successfully resolve the problems that they have had.
“The problem usually is that people can’t adjust to, and accept very painful measures, measures that will impact on their daily lives, and we have to understand that. The key in all of this is to ensure that the most vulnerable, poorer sections of society are protected from the inevitable hardship that will arise,” he said.
“At the end of the day however, I think Barbados will return to its glory. It is just a matter of time,” he added.