Government has trashed the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s proposed economic recovery programme, calling it an “extremely reckless and dangerous” plan which, if implemented, will sap the economy of up to $1.5 billion.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, said the governing Democratic Labour Party would not be touching any aspect of the prescription made by Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur.
He called it “a plan for misery” that risked “jeapordising the massive development gains this country has had over the years”.
The St. Michael North West MP was speaking in the House of Assembly this morning as he led off debate on an amendment to the Local Loans Act to allow the borrowing limit to be raised from the current $5 billion to $6.5 billion.
Sinckler equated the BLP’s “indisciplined approach to economic management”, as deciding to “give everybody money, let’s go down in town and have a big band party, feel good, presumably get drunk, go home and sleep; tomorrow will be all right”.
Measures, he said, had been proposed as part of Arthur’s 15 point plan included abandoning the 2.5 per cent value added tax increase, restoring tax free allowances, removing the excise tax on diesel while subsidising diesel and gasoline prices, abolishing land tax, and selling “every possible public social entity”.
The minister cautioned Barbadians against falling for these and other “giveaways” costing “between $1.2 and $1.5 billion”.
“Take $1.5 billion out of the Barbados economy in that way in terms of public financing and what would be the result? Your debt payments would be in peril, thousands of persons in the public service would have to go home, … major social upheaval would occur because people would not be able to get their garbage collected, would not be able to get clean drinking water, the buses wouldn’t able to run,” he warned.
“This is not scare tactics, … this is reality and I am mortally afraid that somebody in the Opposition, if they were to get the opportunity, would actually try to do … this, that’s the frightening thing about it.
“It is one thing to talk fluff when you are at a school hall in some political meeting, but … the people in the Opposition actually believe … that this is a rescue plan. This is not a rescue plan, but it is certainly a plan for misery.
“People like feel-good situations, everybody wants to believe that everything is all right all the time, but we don’t live in that kind of world nowadays. I don’t know that we ever lived in that type of world,” he added.
Sinckler said Government was taking the correct course of action and would not now divert from it in favour of the BLP plan.
“We are saying … the immediate objective is to maintain stability, to ensure that our macro economic stability is in place, that government ostensibly can borrow to meet its demands, that we can work to reduce our levels of debt through bringing down our fiscal deficit as we have been doing, that you can continue your capital works programme to contribute to building the capacity of the country, that you can secure your social services,” he said. (SC)