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West Indian economic crash prompts episcopal calls for thrift: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Development/Economics/Govt Finances.
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An economic downturn and political turmoil in Barbados has prompted the Archbishop of the West Indies to challenge his countrymen to practice thrift and self-reliance. The Most Rev. John Holder has also tasked political leaders to set aside their political wrangling and work together to pull Barbados and the West Indies out of a protracted economic slump.

Last week the island’s Central Bank reported sharply lower foreign exchange reserves and a down turn in overseas investment, while economic growth was projected to be less than 1 per cent for the coming fiscal year. Last month the IMF forecast no grown for 2013 and 2014 for Barbados — marking it as one of the most sluggish economies in the hemisphere.

On 23 October 2013 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler survived a no-confidence motion by a vote of 15-14. The Barbados Labour Party had charged the government with incompetence in managing the country’s fiscal affairs.

In response, Archbishop John Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, released a statement on 26 October with the church’s Advocacy and Social Justice Commission urging Barbadians to “use the coping and creative skills we have to ride out the recession and lay the groundwork for an economic rebound.”

“Barbadians of earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for the quality of life we now enjoy,” the archbishop said, adding: “We are proud inheritors of such a spirit of fortitude and resilience, and we must show that we are capable of peacefully getting past the present economic setbacks and building a more prosperous and just nation.”

“We do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realised. Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our efforts to prove the predictions wrong.”

While crying up thrift for the people, the archbishop also challenged the government to institute social and economic reforms. “We must re-examine our systems and structures, and work to ensure that those Barbadians who consider themselves to be marginalised are given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of a prosperous Barbados,” the statement said.

Politicians needed to do their part as well.  “Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair. Instead, they should work together to find solutions to the problems which our nation faces. One up-manship and selfish actions will only serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required,” the paper said.

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