Barbados pressured to end 'entitlements' to its people
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said her country has been repeatedly pressured to end certain "entitlements" to its citizens.
She was speaking today (Dec 15) at the virtual launch of the United National Development Programme (UNDP) 2020 Human Development Report "The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene."
She said she welcomed the opportunity to recognise the extraordinary body of revolutionary work compiled through the last 30 years under the auspices of the UNDP by inspired teams of independent and innovative thinkers.
"Indeed since the first report in 1990 when it pioneered the Human Development Index, this report has sought to shift the focus of development economics from the narrow lens of cold statistics on economic growth to the broader suite of policies with people at its centre."
She said the report has challenged the status quo and brought fresh approaches to tackling many of the most intractable issues facing the world today.
"(For) small island developing states, like my own country Barbados and others in the Caribbean, our people are our own main resource. Building social capital through investment in education and health is at the very heart of our policymaking. This is who we are.
"I cannot tell you how often and how strongly successive governments in Barbados have been pressured in the past by international financial institutions and others to end these 'so-called' unsustainable entitlements. But we have persevered. And we have lived to see the tide begin to change."
Mottley said in major ways the Human Development Report has been a beacon of light to Barbados and many other small and middle-income countries.
"It's central philosophy speaks directly to us and helps to capture and explore our own realities. Indeed, the Human Development Index was the first authoritative international measurement of human development to validate our national policy choices as independents, and to reinforce them in international discourse. For we were the ones who upon independence chose to reverse centuries of exploitation of our people, centuries of tyranny, and to place them at the centre, and to begin to build for them opportunities for shelter, education, housing, health and all of the other things we now value 55 years later after my country became independent."
She noted the report has long cautioned against the slavish adherence to the GDP per capita criteria as a reliable measure of development.
"Indeed in this year of our Lord, we have had to make too many speeches indicating that GDP per capita is as irrelevant an instrument when used historically as taking my blood pressure two years ago to determine if I am going to get a stroke today."