“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” – Psalm 46:1-2
To follow on from last week’s new year resolutions, we now focus on reality.
For government, business, trade unions, the civil service, and community organizations, the advent of a new year heralds a period of reflection on failure to meet internal set targets and the damage done by external interventions in 2021. Let us now plan by setting targets for rehabilitation and growth for 2022.
We shall look at Barbados as an example by analyzing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the beginning of 2022 and propose strategies for change.
This may be appropriately extrapolated to other small island developing states. The objective is to create an environment for the country to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and rebuild.
After an economically devastating 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was given a strong mandate to design and implement a recovery and growth strategy in May 2018.
An analysis of appropriate statistics will show that the government immediately went about restructuring the country’s debt thus stabilizing the economy, strengthening the foreign reserves to facilitate trade and create jobs, and was about to address economic growth when COVID-19 struck and threatened both lives and livelihoods. The management of the COVID-19 process has been like living through a world war and in many ways, the response has been stellar.
The prime minister, in her wisdom, has now called a snap election. This is a brilliant move because it is going to take some magic from the major opposing party, the Democratic Labour Party, to energize a wave (swing) to begin to systematically topple BLP seats won in the last election.
My expectation is that this snap election will result in the BLP being given a similarly strong mandate to implement recovery and growth strategies over the next five years without undue political risk.
Innovative opportunities for economic growth abound and involve (1) demand-pull agriculture; (2) enterprise development creating new jobs; (3) foreign companies setting up their global headquarters in Barbados and increasing the GDP per capita; (4) renewable energy leading to cost reduction and a clean environment; and (5) converting solid waste into wealth and well-being.
All these opportunities have been comprehensively delineated.
The role of trade unions should be focused on enhancing the productivity of the workforce for fair compensation.
The civil service, the permanent professional branch of a government’s administration, has been under reform for a number of years to adjust to the technological climate of the information age.
The public and private sectors, coupled with the trade unions and the civil service, can do with additional support from community-based organizations and service clubs, which provide free labor to complement the activity of the formal social partners.
Let us build up our immune system, vaccinate (I suggest mandatory vaccination), believe that God is our refuge and strength, and put our shoulders to the plough to knock the pandemic for six. Then the road will be clear to creatively and disruptively chart a path so that the phoenix may rise from the ashes and take us into a sustainable future.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is email@example.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com/basil-springer-column/ and on www.facebook.com/basilgf).