Government risked condoning and encouraging imprudent financial management if it did not move to repeal the Social Investment Fund.
Calling it “a clear case of unimaginative duplication” and the result of “poor conceptualising”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean told the Upper House today that the previous Democratic Labour Party administration and the current one were acting in the public’s best interest by ending the financial facility and transferring its monies.
The Leader of the House made the comments in a presentation which preceded the passage of the Social Investment Fund Repeal Act, 2013 during the second sitting of Parliament’s new session. McClean said the fund was established by the former Barbados Labour party Administration when there were already a number of other institutions that provided a range of services to the same target audience, including micro businesses and the poor.
“The fund was established for nebulous purposes, it was unclear and to me in identifying the transfers and the activities … you will find that there was very little activity in this fund,” the minister said.
“Why should any logical Government or any agency establish a fund in order to transfer money to … three major entities that are already established and are given transfers from the Consolidated Fund?” she asked.
Those agencies she referred to were the Rural Development Commission, the Urban Development Commission and the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited.
“This really reflects illogical thinking on the part of the persons who did it… We came into office in 2008 with a commitment to bring some greater rationalised behaviour, greater transparency and … effectiveness to the machinery of government. And in looking at this kinds of funds … it was felt that rather than continuing with this arrangement to take the money, close the fund and transfer it,” she explained.
McClean also pointed out that following the fund’s establishment in 1998 the majority of its existence was one of little activity.
“I believe that no clear thinking person could object to the closing of this fund… In essence what we saw was the establishment of a fund which did not take us any further in our effort to address some of the problems of poverty and hardship,” she stated.
“I certainly believe that this fund should … be repealed and it will be repealed in a way that does no harm … to the delivery of service to the persons who would normally constitute the appropriate target audience or stakeholder group.” (SC)