Squandering the Deficit

Those whom we have entrusted to manage our national economy have revealed their estimates of annual revenues and expenses.  They plan to spend approximately $1.6B more than what they expect to receive.  This deficit can represent a strategic $1.6B investment.  However, a review of the estimates shows that only a fraction of the excess spending can be considered an investment.  Solutions Barbados’ overarching concern is that we are not getting much value for what we are paying for, resulting in increased national debt.  Three spending examples from the estimates should suffice.

We are gravely concerned about the money estimated to be invested in building projects.  This would normally be a safe investment, but not when managed by a Government that has chosen not to protect the investment value of our nation’s infrastructure.  It can be protected by simply enforcing building standards.  The result is that we are fortunate if government funded buildings remain occupied for more than 30 years.  The Caribbean building standard is that buildings should remain operational for at least 50 years.

The planned expenditure on our failing education system is $485M.  The vast majority of our secondary school students graduate with no marketable skills and no competitive certificates.  After investing so much, we should not be getting so little in return.  The solution is obvious – simply change the secondary school curriculum to allow all students to graduate with at least one marketable skill that will allow them to generate revenue.

The $333M estimated to be spent on our health system is at risk of being mismanaged.  The risk can be substantially reduced if our health system was properly managed.  The ISO 9001 quality management system has been available to the Government for over 15 years.  However, the Government has chosen not to follow this international management standard, resulting in unnecessary wastage.

These three examples describe how unlikely it is for us to get a positive return on any deficit spending.  It should be clearly understood that both BLP and DLP administrations have squandered our deficit investments.  Given their collective past performance, we should continue to expect high-maintenance infrastructure, and less-effective and poorly managed public services.  Solutions Barbados believes that our elected representatives are sincerely doing the best that they are capable of.  However, their best is very far below what Barbados needs at this time.

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