We can once again be a crossroads for the world
by Baba Elombe Mottley
I have been following with fascination a debate on the internet about what direction Barbados’ budget should take. I am taken by the wide range of people who are involved in the debate passively as adjunct recipients and actively (like myself) as commentators. What comes across are the various traditional alternatives on how government should divide up a shrinking pie in what appears to be crisis oriented with no consensus as to where we are going. I am not an economist but I would like to raise one or two points which I think should be considered, valued and included in a budget to start the process of change.
WiFi-ing Bridgetown is one, but here is the problem – the level of awareness of politicians and civil servants and their unwillingness to seek advice on suggestions etc. The developer of the London Eye visited Barbados about ten years ago and when he found out that Barbados did not have Wi-Fi, he offered to construct the system. The Barbados government – the politicians and their civil servants – refused.
Reassessing who, where and what we are… and can be
About a hundred years ago, Barbados was at the crossroads between Europe and South America and as a result it was able to develop its nascent tourism with stop-over visitors from both of those continents. The Panama Canal construction relieved us of a large portion of our population and in turn pumped considerable funds into the economy to raise the standard of living of thousands of Bajans. The sugar industry was still able to generate most of our foreign exchange.
In the mid-fifties, migration again played a major role, the sugar industry persisted and English and American big-wigs discovered our West Coast and established the up-market tourism that still presently exist.
The building of the deep water harbor and the expansion of Seawell Airport led to the flirtation with “industrial development” in the form of screw-driver industries where we built massive factory spaces to employ Bajans that totally disemboweled our skilled trades – tailoring, dress-making, joinery, etc. I am aware that there were areas where technological changes made other skills obsolete.
Make the egret our National bird Continue reading