Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has advised fellow MPs to treat the Budget debate over the next few days with the seriousness it deserves.
“It is a juncture in time Sir,” he told the House of Assembly and a national television audience, “that presents this country with a real opportunity to choose a path of restructuring and revitalisation, not just to the obvious systems that drive our economy and society, but importantly as well, to the core beliefs, values and philosophical moorings that characterize who we are as a people, what quality of life we want and imprint what we desire to leave on history’s page.
“The exercise we undertake over the next few days and certainly in the weeks ahead cannot be pigeon-holed into a narrow discourse, over only the merits or demerits of this measure or that measure; or about who was right and who was wrong.
“It certainly, Sir, should not be about who wants which party in office and any naked anti-democratic reactionary hot air about regime change through bluster rather than ballot.
“Rather Sir, it has to be a critical national conversation about how we maintain Barbados’ standing as a leading developing country in the world and more importantly how we build on what we already have in an effort to surpass even our most generous expectations.”
He called for “a national dialogue characterised not by fear and fear-mongering, but based on a platform of optimism that starts from the belief that our best days are ahead of us simply because we are starting from a position of relative strength”.
According to the minister, given the experience and knowledge of Barbadians “we have accomplishments and importantly as well, we know what we can achieve still if we work collectively as a people — black, white or Indian, worker or management, public or private, Bee or Dee”.
“This exercise must be about how we can be build the national fortitude and insatiable desire to undertake the kind of change which can extend our possibilities beyond mere hopes and toward crafting of a firm and credible pathway to developing a country that is socially balanced, economically sound, environmentally sustainable and characterized by good governance,” he said.
“This, fellow Barbadians, is our season to take stock. It is our season to pursue a rigorous examination of self, of communities, of systems, and of country as a whole. It is our season for frank, honest, constructive and productive engagement among ourselves and with the rest of the world.
“My sincere hope is that in the course of my presentation here this evening, I can convey that sense of openness, and seriousness of purpose even as I set the stage for what will be a call on all Barbadians to forge a collective movement to stabilize our economy and usher in a more determined agenda for structural change that will better equip us to confront the challenges or a modern world.
“To this extent Sir, attractive as it might appear, ours is not a mission today to entertain ourselves with the instantaneous but never-lasting gratification of retail politics. Ours is a mission to present frankly and fairly the facts pertaining to the current state of the Barbados economy, in particular the state of the public finances and the impact which this is having on efforts to forge a return to sustainable economic growth in our economy.
“More pointedly Sir, our mission is to set out not just how we propose to deal with these issues but more importantly how we intend in the short- to medium-term to engage in an intense process of intervention by the State over the next two years to unlock the factors which can secure us the growth we so clearly need to sustain ourselves.” (RRM)