Barbados is headed into the hands of the International Monetary Fund on its current economic path.
This warning was issued this morning to the Freundel Stuart Administration by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.
President David Simpson pulled no punches when he addressed a news conference this morning at the organisation’s Hastings, Christ Church headquarters, insisting that if Government failed to implement the “necessary” austerity measures, the IMF would do it for them.
Simpson argued that the Government could not continue spending as it currently is, and recommended sending home some public servants, considering that wages and salaries were the highest component of public expenditure.
He said the institute was “very” concerned about the high deficit and the Administration’s inability to cover its revenue. The chartered accountant noted that since Barbadians could ill afford to bear any more taxes, Government would therefore have to examine other means of narrowing the “massive” deficit gap.
“There is need for some cuts, but underlying all of that, Government needs to become more efficient in the deployment of its services and its functions and where there may be products across Barbados; and I would admit to you, within the private sector it is necessary to see this change in productivity and inefficiency and the benefits that can be had from that change in terms of cutting expenditure,” observed Simpson.
“Wherever possible, Government should move to a point of allowing certain state-funded entities to start to move towards becoming self sufficient in terms of the generation of revenue.”
He reasoned that Government needed to do an analysis of what it cost to run some of these entities and base on that cost, determine and share with the public, what it was costing to provide these basic services that “we believe are a necessity, but also share that some measure of the cost may need to be transferred to citizens as they are able to access these services”.
He said there were public officers who did not contribute anything to the daily operations of the Government and taxpayers should not be required to continue bearing such a burden.
Simpson said if the burden remained on Government’s shoulders, it would call for further taxation “and I don’t think anyone of us wants to see any more taxes coming out of our pay cheques or pay packets at the end of the week or the month going forward”.
“The Central Bank governor has identified some bright spots. [But] the challenge remains that all of us knows some of the things that need to be done. But it is going to come down to who is going to have the will power to do what has to be done, regardless of the consequences for them as politicians, for them as political parties, as … leaders nationally,” asserted the ICAB president.
“If we continue on the current path and we don’t take the steps that we need to, as was alluded to earlier, the IMF or any other entity, would put them in place for us,” he cautioned.
The ICAB head was of the view that it was better that Barbadians swallowed “all of the bitter pills now”, for the sake of a better future. He said citizens were already “swallowing a bitter pill now, and why not take all now” so things could improve later.
Simpson said Barbadians must start paying for certain aspects of health care, especially those who could afford to, adding he believed the taxpayers should not continue to subsidise public transport and the University of the West Indies.
He said he believed it was time those who benefit from education began paying for it. Simpson also suggested that high-net-worth patients who received concessions at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital should be required to invest in a wing of the hospital. (EJ)