Government is there when you need it; there to protect and to empower; powerful and effective and held in reverence and not ridicule.
That’s how Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Investment and Finance and Chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Professor Avinash Persaud, believes Government’s reputation should be seen here and abroad.
He expressed this last Saturday night as he delivered the feature address at the 20th Anniversary Awards and Dinner of FundAccess at the Accra Beach Resort under the theme: Exceeding the Vision – Together Towards Tomorrow.
Acknowledging that a Government should be one for all to be proud of, he said: “We need to change the reputation of Government in Barbados and the reputation of the Barbados Government in the rest of the world. Government must become an adjective of efficiency, responsiveness and power.”
Explaining that much of this was becoming a reality with the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Plan, having moved off first base, Professor Persaud said: “We have taken arms against a sea of troubles; the dollar has been pulled to safety. Our debt is moving to sustainable levels. We have had the first credit upgrade for almost 15 years. Repairs to roads and sewerage are well advanced. We are now pressing hard on the lever of economic recovery.
“Within a few weeks, students will start arriving for Ross University and this will be the first of a series of significant new investments and expenditures, that along with the payment of arrears and refunds, will help fund the recovery that will take place in 2019. There is more still to do to secure that recovery as firmly as we have stabilized the economy, but we can now afford a little time to reflect on the most important of the four words of BERT which is Transformation.”
The Special Envoy invited those gathered to join him in imagining such a transformation of the island at the 40th anniversary of FundAccess, in 2038. And, he said: “Barbados is successful; its people are content, healthy and wealthy. What are you going to see? What does it look like? Are our mothers in the cane field? Is tourism the only business? Are the majority of the men on the block still unemployed? I don’t think so.
“I think the path to prosperity is one where public investment in education, training, and health means that each person has an in-demand skill that commands a decent income and the majority are selling these skills down a superfast broadband connection to the rest of the world.”
Professor Persaud further pointed out that there was a clear role for education and training on that path for prosperity as well as a clear role for supportive platforms of growth, like broadband connectivity, trade agreements, transport infrastructure, public health, law and order, and an efficient court system.
Despite this, he warned that for the vision of the new economy to touch all, the financial system had to be fit for this purpose.
“If it is not, the right education and growth platforms will lift only part of our society; inequalities will weigh and tear our social fabric. That oft-quoted dichotomy was always a false, meaningless one: there is no sustainable society without an economy and there is no sustainable economy without a society,” he surmised.