Barbados’ newly-sworn Opposition will be sparing no punches if the returned Freundel Stuart Administration introduces new austerity measures it believes will further hurt local households and businesses.
Moments after she, the 13 other Barbados Labour Party MPs and two senators had their oaths of office administered by Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley said her party was interested in seeing the country back on an economic growth path, but that this would be hindered by the $75 million in spending cuts proposed by the Democratic Labour Party government before last month’s general election.
The St. Michael North East MP said the Opposition was prepared to let government introduce its new programme free from “advice” from the BLP, but once it was divulged her team would voice its concerns.
She was speaking in anticipation of Wednesday’s official opening of Parliament and the upcoming Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
“I think that what is going to be incumbent on the government is to come to the country with their programme and let the country analyse the programme, we as the Opposition, as I said, will keep the national interest in the forefront, but equally we will hold the government accountable because if we feel that there are things that will in effect make the economic condition of households and businesses worse, we will point that out,” she told the media after the ceremony at Government House this morning.
Mottley, who is having her second stint as Opposition Leader, again raised concern about the $75 million in spending cuts which had been announced for the new financial year, which will begin on April 1.
The cuts, which were to be followed by a similar amount in the following financial year, were proposed as part of government’s Medium Term Fiscal Strategy.
“We don’t believe that the continued austerity programme that they have stuck to thus far has worked. We feel that this economy has to be put back on a growth path, and therefore at the end of the day it’s either households will spend, businesses will spend or Government will spend…,” she said.
“And if households and businesses are denuded from spending because they have no disposable income the pressure is then put on Government but then there are difficulties there in relation to Government’s own debt profile.
“And then obviously there has to be a balance in relation to the foreign reserves, but they do have room, they do have maneuverability because according to the governor of the Central Bank you have at least $500 million in excess of what is the minimum required for foreign reserve,” she added.
Mottley, who was the first to be sworn this morning, said she was “humbled that my colleagues have given me their confidence for us to move forward”.
“As I have indicated in other interviews Barbados is at a very difficult time and I think that how we move forward is going to determine what kind of future our children as a whole will have. There is a lot less room for maneuverability and the country is going to be very demanding of all of us on both sides in terms of doing the right thing and putting country first at all times,” she said. (SC)