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SALISES Fosters Debate on BERT

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, January 10, 2019

Six months following the implementation of the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation (BERT) programme, a group of scholars will make rigorous assessment of its progress.

On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, a panel of experts across a range of fields will examine the impact of the measure on Barbadian society, when the Sir Arthur Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) convenes a policy forum. The event will be held in the Ralph Carnegie Lecture Theatre, in the Faculty of Law, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Rolled out in August 2018, BERT is the Government’s response to reducing heaping amounts of foreign and domestic debt, improving the island’s foreign exchange position, reducing State-Owned Enterprises’ reliance on the public purse and the retraining and retooling of those affected by retrenchment exercises. The programme was also a key component of gaining financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and consequently, funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as well as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Panellists will speak on the theme, Barbados and the First Phase of the IMF: Plan of Recovery and Precarity. They include: former Prime Minister of Barbados and recently-appointed Professor-of-Practice at The UWI Cave Hill, Hon. Owen Arthur, sociologist Dr Alana Griffith, Human Resources specialist Dr Akhentoolove Corbin and economist Professor Winston Moore.

Director of SALISES, Dr Don Marshall, believed that Barbados’ experiences with the BERT plan carries potential lessons for the relationship between the state and the society locally and regionally.

“Barbados' unfolding experience and pathway through the IMF/BERT Plan is likely to be instructive as it shall draw attention to trade-offs between financial sector enhancement and domestic socio-economic autonomy,” he remarked. “The IMF demands a reconfiguring of the relationship between the state and society in the former's supply of subsidies and transfers. Such inheres very different relationships between political authority; and labour union leaders, financial market actors, social care providers and business elites. These are developments that strike at the heart of Caribbean development debates.”

The SALISES director added that next Tuesday’s forum will be the first in a series of events examining the parameters for social and industrial policy within current austerity programmes in the Caribbean.

“It shall feature perspectives from various scholars drawn from a range of disciplines, given the multidimensional character of the region's development crisis,” he added.


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