It is long past time for Government to own up to the role it has played in Barbados’ current economic problems.
Barbados Labour Party lead spokesman in the Upper House, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott said the current administration continued to recite a long list of excuses, but needed to admit it had played a role in creating the challenges.
He was speaking on a resolution which the Senate later approved to give government permission to borrow up to US$500 on the international capital market, a measure he said his party would not oppose.
The former Minister of Health said, however, that it government was not innocent of helping to make the island’s problems worse.
Noting that the international borrowing would be used for budgetary support to finance fiscal operations, to build foreign reserves and improve and extend government’s external debt maturity profile, he said lead government spokesman on the matter, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean’s overall reasoning was inadequate.
“The only thing that has been missing,… is that of taking responsibility. It is human to err, it is human to make mistakes, but whenever we have a matter to discuss in this Honorable House related to the state of economic affairs in this country we hear about external factors, we hear about a world global economic recession, we hear about the mismanagement of the Opposition from the last 14 years,” he said.
“We are yet to hear a single member of the other side stand up and say ‘well we tried this, we made a mistake, we were wrong, we need to do this’.
“That is the only thing that was missing in terms of the discussion, in terms of the explanation from the honorable member and I know that she will agree with me,” he added.
Referring to the resolution itself, Walcott said government needed to clarify aspects of its provisions, including the interest rate.
“In terms of the interest rate we are told here that the indicative coupon is between 7.875 and 8.375. I would like the minister to clarify for us in terms of the going rates at this point in time. Is this not a bit high than what is going out there and does it have anything to do obviously in terms of our junk bond status, where in terms of external markets we are at an all time low,” he said.
“Of course there was a Budget last week and there is a lot of talk about fiscal deficit. In terms of the interest payments on this loan these would certainly have some impact on fiscal deficit… especially when we speak about the servicing of the debt.
“The interest on these debts have moved from 14.8 per cent of government revenue to over 30 per cent of government revenue this year.” He also wondered how the servicing of the new loan “would impact on an already terrible situation as it regards the government’s finances”. (SC)