Central Bank of Barbados

12/04/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/04/2023 08:16

Can Using the Same Strategy that Put a Man on the Moon Help Barbados Achieve Economic Grow...

Barbados' economic challenges can be transformed into opportunities for investment and innovation. This is the view of both economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

The two were speaking during the Central Bank of Barbados' 48th Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture on the topic "Directing Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth: A Mission-Oriented Approach." Professor Mazzucato, who delivered this year's lecture, is working with the Barbados government and other local stakeholders to design such an approach.

The Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London and Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose advocates for an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling the big problems facing countries.

"In looking at the space programme - because the space programme in different countries is often the most outcome-oriented one - I realised that it would've been impossible for NASA to have actually gone to the moon… without changing the economic system. It was not just an aerospace feat, it was a political, economic feat," she said.

Professor Mazzucato said innovation must take place in multiple spheres in order to tackle the issues the country is facing.

"What was so interesting in Kennedy's famous speeches that he gave around the Apollo programme was the language. He said 'we're doing it because it's hard, not because it's easy', and that language of tackling uncertainty… is so different from the language that we often use in that policy world, which gets us these problematic policies that are reactive," she stated.

The acclaimed author and speaker noted that the Apollo programme focused on getting as many sectors as possible working together including nutrition, electronics, and software. Around 400, 000 people were involved in the mission.

However, Professor Mazzucato pointed out that this didn't "just happen." Rather, she said the United States Government addressed procurement in a way that was fixed price and challenge-oriented, with incentives for quality improvement and innovation.

The Barbados Government has adopted six missions in the areas of climate resilience, social cohesion, food and water security, public health and safety, worker empowerment, and digital inclusion.

Speaking during the discussion portion of the lecture, Prime Minister Mottley said these areas emerged out of consultations with the labour movement, private sector, and civil society. She said significant progress must be made between now and 2030.

"People have choices about where they go, where they invest, and what they do. And similarly, our people have choices about if they stay here or they leave. This country has traditionally exported people from as far back as the 19th century and what we're finding is that unless we give people a reason to stay here, we're going to be even more challenged," she said.