Government will struggle to fix or build major and minor roads in Barbados unless its urgently pursues a special partnership with the private sector.
Former Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke made that recommendation today as the House of Assembly debated an approved a $3.7 million supplementary for the Ministry of Transport and Works.
Clarke knocked Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development Denis Kellman for suggesting the Ministry of Finance could allocate more funds for road and infrastructural works in rural Barbados.
Instead, the Barbados Labour Party Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Rural Development said, a public private sector partnership focussing on tenantry roads and other roads in Barbados was the solution.
“When ministers get up to speak they must speak in a way and must inform the country and the Parliament. The Minister (of Housing) can’t come today to tell us he is hoping he will get money from the Ministry of Financing, he is hoping to do this, he is hoping to do that,” Clarke said.
“I am saying the Ministry of Finance outlined a concept which both sides agree to, a concept in which the government will be focussing on, the private public sector partnership which makes sense. And for (Kellman) to say he is hoping that government will give funds it is only stressing the Ministry of Finance to a point where they cannot take this sort of argument.”
The veteran St. George North MP called for “a new paradigm shift” to fix the 40 to 50 tenantry roads “that need to be fixed across the country”.
“We have to agree that these supplementaries are not necessarily to do a lot of work. These supplementaries the funds may have been allocated already so we have to pay for work done,” he noted.
“We cannot have government trying to do everything and therefore government has to understand that they must spend any one year over $150 million dollars across Barbados but they cannot do it they don’t have the resources. So if they don’t have the resources to do it well let the private sector do it but (let government) manage the programme.
“Let this House agree that we will get the private sector to start putting a programme in place to fix these roads within a 10 year programme or five year program and bridges.”
Clarke said roads and other infrastructure improvements were important because they stimulated industrial activity,
“When the ABC Highway and the Spring Garden Highway were developed it was not developed by accident it was put in place to develop industry leading from the airport to the harbor. All of these highways are important because they help to develop the country itself,” he stated.
“Both political parties agree that we have to develop the infrastructure and we have to do it in such a way to build out industry for the future of the country. But in doing so we have to be mindful that we do not have the money.” (SC)