Good and bad news on human development

Dear Editor,

The good news is that The Bahamas has risen three places (from 58th to 55th in the world) in the United Nations’ first post-pandemic Human Development Index.

This places us not only first in the Caribbean region, but significantly ahead of our erstwhile rival, Barbados, which has plunged from joint 58th to 70th place.

The bad news is that, given our wealth, we continue to punch significantly below our weight in terms of human development, where we should never have been in the company of Barbados in the first place.

In its report, the United Nations has a section showing a country’s wealth per capita minus its human development rank. In this column, Barbados (less than half as wealthy as us) punches above its wealth rating by 26 places, while we punch below ours by eight.

That is a disgrace.

And it points clearly to poor political choices. Unlike Barbados (which has income tax), we continue to get most of our tax from the poor (via consumption taxes), to extend bizarre and illogical tax breaks to the rich and to spend too little on our population (about half as much as Barbados per dollar of GDP).

The fact that we choose to under-invest in human development in order to spare wealthy residents and corporations from global norms of progressive taxation is not only immoral and stupid but is also the root of most of our social ills, which we would long have outgrown if we even kept pace with our regional peers in terms of this very easy political choice.

Andrew Allen

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