Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, has charged that Barbados has a crisis on its hands as the current recession deepens.
Mottley voiced this concern today as the Freundel Stuart Administration sought to raise its limit of short term borrowing from the Central Bank from $1.75 billion to $2.75 billion.
Repeating her arguments that Government was unable to pay its debts, the St. Michael North East MP said: “The $160 million owed by the Ministry of Education to the UWI, having brought it down from $200 million to $160 million two and a half months ago. The $49 million the private sector came out at the end of January and said is only a sample of 25 businesses and what is in fact owed to the private sector for goods and services for refunds is far in excess of that.
“And stories abound, of at least one major player in the private sector owed $32 million and another being owed $20 million. I do not know what the facts are, and the Government needs to tell us. What I do know is that Government is the biggest organisation owing money.
“Therefore, if there is to be confidence in the economy, and if people are to pay other people they owe, then Government must pay its bills. Then if we are talking about arrears in the region of $250 million, and we have not touched CLICO, then we are talking about a very serious situation.”
Mottley told fellow parliamentarians that last year Government had run a deficit of 7.3 per cent of the gross domestic product. She suggested that it was time for the 30 members of Parliament to get together and act as one to address the situation.
‘All not well’
Mottley said: “We know now that the commercial banks would not take Government paper, it tells us that all is not well in Barbados. We are appealing to this Government [to] sit down with us. How can it be in a country that it is alright to sit down with unions, it is alright to sit down with private sector, it is alright to sit down with the church, but the very people who are capable of constituting a Government remain outside of the loop in terms of the full picture, unless we are being told that the rest of the Cabinet do not know the full picture too.”
She explained that every day she gets calls or her office gets calls about people’s electricity about to be cut off; of people not being able to pay rent, or indicating that no one in a household was working.
Addressing the challenges facing the sugar industry, Mottley explained that without an injection of $11 million some planters were saying they may not be able to cultivate next year’s crop because they produce cane at $110 a tonne and they receive $54 a tonne for the sale of each tonne of cane.
She noted that the rum industry, which currently earned $80 million and had the potential to earn $500 million in the future, could not be allowed to die through lack of financial support. (NC) ††††