High levels of debt, low levels of growth and natural disasters to a lesser extent have historically bedeviled the development of the Caribbean region.
Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, gave this unflattering intdeerpretation of the economic status of the islands of the Caribbean region while speaking on the 2013/2014 Budget in the House of Assembly.
He said: “In this Budget, this creative work of statecraft, we are actually dealing with both of them, and doing so in a manner that this Government can continue to protect the society that we hold so dear. It is important that we do that because measures taken inappropriately, measures taken just to win an election, or measures taken for popularity can undermine a society you are trying to build and protect. This Democratic Labour Party understands that.”
Reacting to detractors who continue to argue that the present Administration was the worst since Independence and should be removed from office, Sealy said that these detractors must be reminded that the DLP enjoyed the support of the majority of Barbadians on February 21, 2013.
“And the DLP did so, not because they were doling out goodies; they did so because the people appreciated that this Government had managed the affairs of Barbados well in the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression of 1929. That is why we won the election on February 21,” Sealy argued.
He explained that one of the problems the Government faced was the high cost of wages and salaries paid to public servants and he reminded Barbadians that the party had honoured its pledge and maintained the level of employment in the public service.
Responding to claims made repeatedly by Barbados Labour Party spokesmen that they created 30,000 jobs between 1994 and 2008, Sealy argued that they were not jobs created in the industrial sector, but mostly jobs created in the public service.
Addressing the issue of tuition fees, Sealy recalled that when he was first elected to the House of Assembly in 2003 an interviewer had sought his views on tertiary education, and he had indicated at that time that those who could afford it, should be asked to make a contribution.
“I do not see the payment of tuition fees as a violation of the Barrow revolution. Errol Barrow came up with a package which was appropriate for the time — to make education available. In Barrow’s time access was the issue. And if you indicate to me that persons who can afford should be asked to make a larger contribution at the tertiary level, it is something that I understand,” Sealy said.
The St. Michael South Central MP pointed out that while Opposition Leader Mia Mottley was complaining that the new arrangement would deprive the poor of access to tertiary education, the Ministry of Education had given the assurance that through a means testing mechanism no deserving person would be denied access to tertiary education because of state of finances of their parents. (NC)