The Democratic Labour Party’s 2013 Budget has left the public at risk in several ways and has also brought the dreams of some Bajans to an end.
This was the assertion of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley as she responded to yesterday’s Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly, charging that Barbadians were now unable to take care of themselves because of measures imposed.
“From many of the measures delivered … people felt pain, they knew they were hit, but they were not sure of the severity of the blow or where exactly it is; and indeed in the coming days and weeks they will come to discover the full extent of the blows that were delivered last night.”
In fact, said the St. Michael North East MP, the Budget threw into full focus what was at stake, and this she claimed was the ability of the poor to move into the middle class and for the middle class to move higher. In short, she said Barbados itself was at stake.
“Barbadians want to own a piece of land, a piece of de rock. Barbadians believe that their children must be educated, even if they did not get the full benefit of that education. Barbadians believe in fairness. They believe sometimes in fighting for the underdog and pursuing social justice with a keen sense of reality.
“So that what has been put at stake, Sir, are a number of things — our identity as Barbadians has been questioned and put at risk by the measures delivered by the Minister of Finance last night and it wasn’t only in the removal of fees; the ultimate betrayal of not just the party but of this country, of fees for university education, free education … was also in the inability to appreciate that his measures constitute a lucky dip of measures designed to achieve one thing, the unlocking of US$50 million in the first instance from the IDB, but without a coherent strategy to reposition a country and to lift up households and productive sectors that have ceased working in the way we have become accustomed to see them work.
“It calls on us to recognise that the identity of what it means to be a Barbadian, to work hard and be given a fair chance to achieve has been put at risk. The removal of the obstacles that many have worked for decades to allow poor people to move into the middle class, to allow the middle class to move out of that to another level, such that the outcome of these initiatives may well be the cementing of the remaining inter-generational poverty in this country which by their own study has moved from 13 per cent to 20 per cent; the pauperisation of the middle class, in particular those who are 55 and over who fear that they may lose all that they have worked for and do not have enough time to regain before they stop working…, but worst of all, the consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few. That identity that allowed for equity and a large middle class … is at risk,” Mottley claimed.
She queried whether the Budget was a sign that there was now a lack of belief in the country’s ability to fight the circumstances it found itself it, noting that Government had thrown its hands in the air and surrendered because of this belief that they were powerless.
The Opposition Leader told the House that the Democratic Labour Party could no longer blame the situation on the global economic recession because its main trading partners were showing evidence of growth, something Government itself had acknowledged in a 2012 study on the economy and the way forward.
In fact, she charged that the only country in the region that was not projected to experience growth this year was Barbados, claiming that the island could no longer hide behind talk of a recession, but rather that Government had robbed it of it’s ability to fight.
“Barbados as we know it is at stake,” said Mottley. (LB)