Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
Sir Courtney Blackman, first Governor of the Central Bank
Dr. DeLisle Worrell, present Governor of the Central Bank
We are not a bit surprised that former Governor of the Central Bank, Sir Courtney Blackman is blaming both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party for the current financial woes. We are also not surprised, that the current Governor, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, is saying that the existing financial sector stymies or does not support innovation and creative enterprises. In layman’s terms it really means, that those citizens with startup enterprises, cannot get them financed.
The governor of the Central Bank appears quite clearly to have lost all sense of balance as far as the local economy is concerned. Not only has he been in office for the last five years or so, he is yet to come up with a publicly available reasoned and detailed plan for rescuing the nation’s economy from the situation it is in. His recent obvious confusion about the constitutional role of the Central Bank adds further to the confusion. Even local journalists are confused.
Dr Worrell’s reported U-turn on a policy announcement – a veiled criticism of the government, then claiming the government was on track – was but the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes. But first, we must get the legislation right. The Central Bank Act is irrelevant to the new financial architecture post-2007 and the new global regulatory paradigm. I said before, and say again, that the Act needs serious reform, giving the Bank a legally defined role, on par with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and all the other major Central Banks. Be that role inflation targeting, financial stability, or even more explicitly, managing unemployment rates, there must be a benchmark against which we could measure the Bank. Now we have a situation in which the governor is publicly expressing views about fiscal policy, and one local website even describing the governor/central bank as the government’s primary monetary and fiscal adviser. Not at all. The central bank should be independent of the government of the day and should be reporting direct to parliament.
When the voters of Barbados enter the polling booths on Thursday, it will be an enormous challenge for them to abandon old political tribal loyalties and objectively put the nation, future generations and their own futures before irrationally supporting a party or candidate they have always supported, while suspending reason. The harsh truth is that this is the most testing general election, not only since November 30, 1966, but since the early 1950s and the introduction of internal self-government.
In the new globalised world, there is no turning back for small nation states such as Barbados. New global organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation and the newly re-energised International Monetary Fund, now have power over small states, mostly wrapped up in international treaties, that they have never had before. At the same time, rich and powerful nations are subsidising their farmers and industrialists, such as car manufacturing and farming in the US, farming in the EU, and a long list of state-owned or controlled industries in China, which put further pressure on small states. But we are not just economic people, as a nation we are rounded with equal value given to our social relations, our civic and moral responsibilities and our cultural and creative environment.
Increasing Government Productivity:
One of the biggest drags on growth in Barbados is public sector efficiency, from improvements in technology, competent management to output per person. One only has to read the annual report of the auditor-general to see the extent of public sector incompetence. Take a simple, but important example, uncollected VAT. Value added tax is a sales tax paid by consumers and collected by trades and service people. For convenience, that money is paid to the government at pre-set dates – monthly, quarterly etc. However, in Barbados, there is a huge backlog of payments, of business people failing to handover to government monies collected on its behalf.
In the preface to its recent Alternative Worlds report, the US National Intelligence Council observed: “The world of 2030 will be radically transformed from our world today. By 2030, no country – whether the US, China, or any other large country – will be a hegemonic power. “The empowerment of individuals and diffusion of power among states and from states to informal networks will have a dramatic impact, largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750, restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy, and ushering in a new era of “democratisation” at the international and domestic level….”. In other words, even at the highest level of the inward-looking US, there is a realisation that the world is changing.
However, reading the over-optimistic, even fictional, recent central bank review of the economy and projections for 2013, one would not get this impression. The report tells us the fiscal deficit is growing, up from 5.2 per cent April to December 2011, to 6.2 per cent in 2012; personal taxes are down ten per cent and VAT fell by two per cent for the same period; subsidies to government entities rose by two per cent and interest rates rose by four per cent. Public sector debt is 54 per cent of GDP, and including the national insurance scheme, it rises to 83 per cent of GDP. But, in about or real optimism, the review predicts that growth over 2013 will be 0.7 per cent, based on the IMF predictions of growth in the US, UK and Canada, our major trading partners. Apart from the fact that I was under the impression the Caricom was our major trading bloc, to base projected growth of the Barbados economy on the projections for those three economies is economic lunacy.
Dr. DeLisle Worrell, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados
Dr. DeLisle Worrell will go down in history as one of the most visible and controversial Governors of the Central Bank of Barbados. He is certainly not a Kurleigh King, Calvin Springer or Winston Cox, perhaps closer to a Dr. Courtney Blackman.
Some Barbadians have become concerned by what appears to be virulent attacks directed at Worrell coming by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Attacks led by Arthur and Mascoll, which have reduced Worrell to an economist of lilliputian status. That Arthur, Mascoll et al would be so harsh about one of their own merits scrutiny. Bear in mind the Central Bank of Barbados has always been regarded as a respectable institution.
In the same way many believe governments managing world economies at this juncture in history are unfortunate so too Governors of Central Banks. All have to agree that the unprecedented challenges posed by the protracted global economic slowdown mean that modalities in boom times are not relevant at this time. It is in this context that we have to debate and evaluate the economic outpourings from Dr. Worrell since his appointment in 2009.
Posted in Banking, Barbados, Barbados Economy, Barbados News, Owen Arthur, Politics
Tagged Calvin Springer, Central Bank of Barbados, Clyde Mascoll, Delisle Worell, Kurleigh King, Winston Cox
At a time when banks in Europe, the US, Japan and Britain are imploding and every jurisdiction is enforcing legal requirements on financial institutions, the authorities in Barbados have come up with a wonderful idea of a voluntary code – see Feedback Invited On Draft Banking Code Of Conduct. It is interesting that many of the features of this draft code are similar to those of the now abandoned British banking code, which too was voluntary until November 2009.
Paragraph 2.4 of the draft is of no use for a large number of people in Barbados who do not have access to the internet.
Paragraph 3.2, on unfair contract terms should be a legal requirement, not a voluntary one. The second section of the above paragraph reads: “Financial institutions will also ensure that employees and agents who are authorised to give advice on the financial services offered are properly trained to competently, knowledgeably, efficiently and accurately render such service.” These basic requirements should be legally compulsory on every count. First, agents and employees are working on behalf of the financial institution, not of the customer, and in the case of the agent the form of remuneration is just as important. If s/he is being remunerated by commission, then the sale is more important than advising the customer on his or her consumer rights or even if the product is the right one for them.
Submitted by BAFBFP
Central Bank of Barbados
It is with great sadness that I find myself obliged to expose this obnoxious fallacy, that there is such a thing as access to development funding in Barbados. You see years ago, even before the demise of the Barbados Development Bank, right minded agencies like the Central Bank of Barbados, the National Insurance Scheme and the Caribbean Development Bank, the founding fathers, provided seed capital for a number of funds in the country with the expressed expectation that these funds will be put to use in encouraging and developing productive type operations in Barbados; and for those who are a little slow off the mark, “products” refers to items that one can see, hear, touch, smell along with activity that can attract foreign exchange.
The funds brought into being agencies such as the Enterprise Growth Fund, Caribbean Financial Services Corporation, Fund Access and facilities that are retailed to the public through the friendly neighbourhood Commercial Banks. It must be stressed here that to the best of my knowledge, NO private sector entity in Barbados has ever invested in any of these enterprises.
Over the years as things have turned out, these new agencies have become self supporting and other than for occupying a seat or two on the various boards, the founding fathers have little say in determining the on the ground direction that their progenies take. The result of course is that the initial agenda as stated by the initial providers of the funds (like the Barbados Investment Fund (BIF), the Industrial Credit Fund etc.) has been lost on the bureaucrats who have been fortunate enough to be posted as watch dogs on the disbursements of the monies to a needy public.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Posted in Banking, Barbados, Blogging, Business
Tagged Barbados Development Bank, Barbados Investment Fund, Caribbean Financial Services Corporation, Central Bank of Barbados, Enterprise Growth Fund, Fund Access, Industrial Credit Fund, National Insurance Scheme
Submitted by the People’s Democratic Congress (PDC)
Central Bank of Barbados
Under the cost of use of money theory, there is no way that the cost of use of local money/value (theoretical/actual) would actually be trending downwards in the country and at the same time there would NOT be taking place sustained annualized real growth in the political economy and services industry sectors of the country.
Under this same theory, too, is the obverse: there is no way that the cost of use of the Barbadian people’s money/value (theoretical/actual) would actually be trending upwards in Barbados and at the same time there would NOT be taking place persistent annualized real declines in the said political economy and services industry sectors of the country.
In the theoretical and applied political economy research fields, this cost of use of money theory is the near equivalent of the medical DNA technology theory applied in forensic and other tests across many parts of the world. Such is the virtual infallibility of this theory.
For, the cost of use of money theory is built on many fundamental truisms, two of which are already fairly well known in local money affairs circles:
Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance (l), Owen Arthur, Opposition Leader (2l), Clyde Mascoll, BLP spokesman of economic matters (3l) and Delisle Worrell, Governor of the Central Bank (4l)
BU has defended the need for the Central Bank of Barbados to zealously guard its reputation. The Governor of the Central Bank has suffered from the tongues of fellow economists Owen Arthur and Clyde Mascoll over his method of communicating on the economy. In light of the recent decision by the Central Bank of Barbados to depart from the trusted approach of using statistics produced by the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) – in this instance the unemployment number – it has inflicted serious harm to its reputation.
In the current climate the decision has provided political fodder for the struggling Barbados Opposition Party to raise it’s voice. What we have in Barbados these days is smoke and mirrors politics. On the government side we are witnessing the distasteful promotion of the late David Thompson’s memory to deflect focus on its economic performance to date. On the side of the Opposition every opportunity to gain political mileage is being seized. The political scientists explain that this is Westminster politics at its brilliant best, others suggests the counter view that extraordinary times call for extraordinary action by our leaders; a no show to date.
George C. Brathwaite
Next week bears an awful foreboding for Barbadians from all walks of life and all sectors contributing to the national economy. There is further predictable gloom on the economic horizon; this fact is based upon two significant things. For starters, the global economy remains as volatile and uncertain as it has been since 2007; the UK, USA, and Europe as whole are fighting stubbornly to bring about some stability in the context that their economies are still courting a double-dip recession, unable to kick-start employment, and are battling a series of corruption and other forms infelicitous charges regarding the public purse.
The second factor speaks to the lack or insufficiency of innovative economic mechanisms by government to deal with the shocks and turbulence impacting on Barbados given its peculiarities of a very low manufacturing base, a weak export climate, a restricted services economy, a fixed exchange rate regime, and an ever increasing import bill that far surpasses the capacity of the country’s production and consumption. Together these things make the job of Minister of Finance a perplexing one especially considering his ‘greenness’ to the profession notwithstanding his enthusiasm and/or other attributes.
From recent memory, perhaps the only Barbadian that I may say who would cherish and not envy the current Minister’s position is the Leader of the Opposition despite his acknowledgement of the tremendous task and acumen that is necessarily required for a return of Barbados to relative economic success. In my opinion, even with Mr. Arthur the difficulties would not disappear despite he may offer some confidence in the economy and inspire the local private sector based upon his track record. This is likely to be the case since in all fairness to potential leaders and economists, very few if any public statements made in the past year have suggested new economic paths for the country. Yet there is little dispute about the country’s economic accomplishments under his leadership.
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Posted in Barbados, Barbados Economy, Barbados Government, Barbados Labour Party, Barbados Tourism, Caribbean, Caribbean News, Democratic Labour Party, Fruendel Stuart, Owen Arthur, Politics, Tourism
Tagged Barbados Public Sector, Central Bank of Barbados, Financial and Budgetary Proposal, Moody's, Rihanna Loud Barbados Concert, Standards & Poor’s
An article published in the Barbados Today (21 July 2011) was startling more by its revelation than content. The article titled First Choice boldly asserts in its intro, “Thanks but no thanks. That appears to be what an increasing number of businesses and individuals buying about $600 million in foreign exchange each month are telling the island’s seven commercial banks, preferring to buy their foreign cash from the Central Bank of Barbados”. It is obvious the author (SC) got it wrong.
To the credit of Barbados Today reference was made to a Central Bank Report – Central Bank Intervention in the Barbadian Foreign Exchange Market (page 46 ) which is cited as the source of the author’s revelation. BU has scoured the Central Bank report several times and is unable to find a supporting basis for Barbados Today’s conclusion. The regulatory framework which has the Central Bank as the regulator and commercial banks the financial intermediaries exist. For the author to suggest that an increasing number of business and individuals are turning to the Central Bank to buy foreign exchange is inaccurate and irresponsible journalism at its highest. What it confirms is the dearth of journalistic talent generally but specifically in the realm of financial reporting.
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