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Government working to improve Barbados economy, says PM
Published on July 26, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has promised that the government will continue to work to mitigate Barbados’ weaknesses and build on its strengths to make this country one of the most progressive small island developing economies in the world.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart
Stuart made the comments on the heels of the global launch of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2014 Human Development Report (HDR), which listed Barbados 59 out of 180 countries, in the new Human Development Index (HDI).

Barbados’ rating last year was 38, but, according to the UNDP, the current report is based on a completely different set of information than that for the previous five years. The data for the last five years was based on the 2005 figures, while this year’s is based on the 2011 figures. The main changes are: the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) calculated by the World Bank using “enhanced methodology” to arrive at the Gross National Income, and the life expectancy data, which was updated in the World Bank report for 2012. As a result, many countries, along with Barbados, have moved, some upwards and some downwards.

And, the prime minister said: “While we were proud of the high ratings through the years, and in fact note that the current indices regarding the quality of life continue to be generally high, common sense suggests that we need to acknowledge the full reality of the situation in Barbados, and use this data and knowledge to make more focused interventions to address the issues of poverty and vulnerability that, unfortunately, are still present in Barbados, and to get much needed concessional assistance. Our overall HDR ratings continue to be high, at 59 out of 180 countries.”

Stuart pointed out that Barbados carried out the Country Assessment of Living Conditions Survey in 2010, the first poverty study since 1998.

“These current World Bank and UNDP findings, in the assessment of Barbados’ Human Development Index, no doubt reflect the conclusions in that survey. Barbados has long been ‘graduated’ from access to concessional financing based on its high ratings, and we have argued that with identified pockets of poverty, Barbados needs to be able to benefit from grants and concessions from which it is currently excluded,” he contended.

The report emphasises that “because national and international agencies continually improve their data series, the data, including the HDI values and ranks” presented in the document “are not comparable to those published in earlier editions”.

A press release issued on the Latin America and the Caribbean results stated that the average annual growth rates in the region’s HDI dropped by about half over the past five years, compared to growth between 1990 and 2000.

“This was a larger drop than in all other regions, except the Arab States. The report attributes part of the HDI slowdown to the global financial and economic crisis. To boost resilience and reduce the region’s exposure to future financial shocks and volatility, UNDP calls for the creation of a Latin American Monetary Fund to complement global funds,” it stated.

The Latin America and Caribbean region also ranks highest among developing regions on the new Gender Development Index. Argentina, Barbados and Uruguay are among the 16 countries in the world in which female HDI values are equal to or higher than those of males.

This year’s Human Development Report indicates that The Bahamas ranks at 51, Barbados at 59, Antigua and Barbuda at 61, Trinidad and Tobago at 64, St. Kitts and Nevis at 73, Grenada at 79, St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 91, Dominica at 93, Jamaica at 96, St. Lucia at 97, and Guyana at 121.
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