The Bahamas Weekly Facebook The Bahamas Weekly Twitter
News : International : Caribbean News Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM

Caribbean economist, Zhivargo Laing calls for pro-growth strategies
By Bevan Springer
Feb 28, 2013 - 7:57:38 PM

Email this article
 Mobile friendly page

Former Bahamas finance minister says newly elected Caribbean leaders face difficult economic conditions

BAHAMAS  - A leading Caribbean economist says the newly elected administrations in Grenada and Barbados can steer their respective countries onto a path of economic sustainability, but it will require "genuine spiritual leadership devoid of ego in order to make difficult decisions with awareness, intelligence, wisdom and compassion."

Zhivargo Laing, a former Bahamian cabinet minister, lauded the experience of Prime Ministers Dr. Keith Mitchell and Freundel Stuart of Grenada and Barbados respectively and noted they preside over their nations at a "challenging time in the economic and social history of the world, when there is a great need to pursue economic growth strategies that generate jobs and improve income prospects for their people."

Laing noted that the Caribbean leaders "still face challenges as economic headwinds continue to buffet the global economy, notwithstanding its slow rebound from the recent financial and economic crisis."

"However, there are possibilities from pursuing pro-growth policies," suggested Laing who served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in the past Hubert Ingraham administration.

He noted the need to "encourage domestic investment through international capital access and promote inward foreign direct investment." He also urged a similar push domestically to support the needs of small and medium size enterprises, "more so in non-financial ways (such as management, technology, market access and cost savings) and improving efficiencies in the public sector."

Drawing on his own ministerial experiences, Laing recalled "one of the great lessons of the last crisis is that years of prudent fiscal management can produce financial headroom (low debt-servicing) which is an enormous asset to have in a crisis."

This "headroom" was valuable, Laing asserted, because it provided "the ability to engage in the kind of fiscal activity that supports an economy, protects the financial system and provides relief to those socially displaced during a crisis."

The former Bahamian finance minister said new administrations are quickly thrust into a balancing act, "facing the difficult task of balancing the realities of government finances with significantly limited room for maneuvering with the demands of greater investments in public education, public health, infrastructure, crime reduction and public sector reform."

Governments can no longer implement their mandates all by themselves and with their allocated resources, he asserted: "They will have to be creative in exploring the benefits of prudent public private partnerships - as well as achieving efficiency gains in government administration."

Laing, an author, management consultant and leadership trainer, said the Eastern Caribbean leaders also come to office when new global standards threaten some of the traditional economic sectors of Caribbean economies.

One such change, the new and evolving standards in international financial services, threatens the lucrative offshore financial sectors.

Urging careful attention to international trade negotiations, Laing pointed to policies which have made historic market access to certain products less effective and imposed new reciprocal demands that prove challenging to small and vulnerable industries.

He was confident the new administrations will "approach dealing with these issues with a clear sense of purpose but appreciating the competing interest of the global powers."

In all of this, Laing believes, new and current administrations will have to recognize the enormous stress being suffered by so many families in their countries and which have taken many of them to "the brink of near hopelessness."

Highlighting the human element of government priorities, he said "for many of these families, economic and social relief will not be forthcoming in any short period of time, so their frustrations may yet linger. It will be incumbent on leaders therefore to communicate with their populations genuinely and forthrightly."

In such difficult economic times the former cabinet minister said "the demands of the present moment require honest public policy dialogue with citizens, making clear what is necessary, doable and prudent. Politics as usual will be a mistake."

"Even in the best of times with all hands on deck, we are challenged to steer the ship of state to safe harbor; in the worst of times it is impossible to do so if all hands are not on deck. Prime Minister Mitchell of Grenada's pledge to promote unity amongst his people is both timely and timeless. It is a necessary pledge throughout the region. Execution now is necessary," he concluded.

Bookmark and Share

© Copyright 2013 by thebahamasweekly.com

Top of Page

Receive our Top Stories

Preview | Powered by CommandBlast

Caribbean News
Latest Headlines
TCI Conch Festival set for November 28th
Caribbean-American leader to be honoured in Philadelphia
Quotable Caribbean: Dr. Keith Mitchell, Esworth Reid, Asot Michael, and more...
Caribbean Congress of Labour and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation agree to establish formal national bipartite forums
CICMC lauded for successfully hosting 2015 annual conference
International Security Strengthens as Caribbean Becomes Free of Highly Enriched Uranium
Caribbean and Latin American Fashion Designers to Showcase at Dominicana Moda 2015
Kittitian mother thanks Health City for son's free heart surgery
First-Ever Sustainable Energy Roadmap for the Caribbean Launched
Quotable Caribbean: Robin Hayes, Karolin Troubetzkoy & more...
Sandals named 'Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand' at World Travel Awards Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony
How Export Competitive is the Caribbean?
Bahamas Embassy in Washington, D.C. Hosts Caribbean Celebration and Charity Event
Study Reveals $3.16 Billion in Cruise Tourism Expenditures throughout 35 Caribbean, Mexican, and Latin American Destinations
Intensive Capacity Building at Bahamas Bureau of Standards & Quality
Clarion Call For Collective Action Amongst Caribbean International Financial Services Sector
Civil Society Organizations Undergo IDB Training
My Father's Land wins 2015 Amnesty International Human Rights Prize at trinidad+tobago film festival
Caribbean Banking and the Caribbean International Financial Services Sector Comes Under Focus
Time to Capitalise on the Spa, Health and Wellness Tourism Industry
Call for Caribbean Diaspora Brand
New Student Project to Restore Mangroves in The Caribbean
Caribbean Investment Summit Brings Much Needed Focus to the Region
Quotable Caribbean: Dr. Keith Rowley, Dr. Kenny Anthony, David Evans, and more...
Trinidad & Tobago Announce New Minister of Tourism
Call for Nominations for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Council Award‏
Sourcing at Magic with Haiti’s Textile and Apparel Sector
Digicel St. Lucia Triathlon set for November 21st 2015
Bahamas PM to Keynote at Caribbean Investment Summit
JAMCOPY to host Caribbean’s First Digital Publishing Conference
The Caribbean Future Forum brings together young thinkers and senior UN officials as a new wave of on-line discussions gets underway
New Director appointed to the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean‏
Consultant Calls on Caribbean to Tap Into "Volunteerism"
Haiti to host 12th edition of CARIFESTA, the Caribbean Festival of Arts, August 21 - 30
Caribbean Seeks to Provide Additional Support to Existing Investors
Quotable Caribbean: Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, Andrew Holness, Petra Roach, and more...
Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue Co-Chairs Announced
Kareem Mortimer and CARGO included at first Caribbean Film Mart
COB Students Celebrate 3rd Place Finish in Caribbean Students Colloquium
PAHO/WHO Director Encourages Strong Action To Advance Health For All