Government’s prescription for fiscal success has turned out to a recipe for the “callous” retrenchment of civil servants and chaos in Barbados.
And Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley today slammed key Government ministers for “sheepishly” going on holiday or otherwise vanishing, leaving junior public officers to deal with the “mass confusion, mental anguish and rapidly declining morale” that has gripped the public sector.
The Barbados Labour Party Political Leader said she also believed errors related to tax measures announced in the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals were so serious that they warranted Parliament’s early recall from summer recess.
A concerned Mottley said too that the “rapidly declining state of affairs demands an urgent reconstituting of the Social Partnership” and she urged Barbados Workers Union General Secretary Senator Sir Roy Trotman to rejoin the tripartite body “in the interest of Barbados and the workers of this country”.
In a strongly-worded statement issued today, the former Deputy Prime Minister said her party’s worst fears about the Budget were now reality.
“The BLP shares the shock and outrage of thousands across the public service who are being directly impacted by the callous manner in which Government has gone about its retrenchment and diminution of benefits exercise,” she said.
“Not only is the sending home of workers now being pursued as a first, rather than the last, option as the Minister of Finance indicated in the Budget, but it is scandalous that junior public officers are being asked to break this news to workers, while key ministers of Government have sheepishly gone on holiday or vanished, totally indifferent to the impact of the 2013 Budget on the welfare and well-being of Barbadians.
“The result is chaos, mass confusion, mental anguish and rapidly declining morale, at a time when the country needs all stakeholders operating at full throttle.
“The Barbados Labour Party said in its official response to the 2013 Budget that the measures were ill conceived and would impact Barbadians in a manner least expected but that we would wait and see. We have now started to see,” she added.
Mottley said there was a need for greater sensitivity to be “shown to the impact of the sudden and across-the-board retrenchment on workers”.
“It cannot be right that 10 days before the start of the new school year, households with a sole breadwinner are being plunged into total panic, not knowing how to proceed with readying their children for school,” the BLP leader stated.
“We are aware that the Post Office is but the first of many departments targeted for mass retrenchment in the days ahead.
“This cannot be right … given assurances to the country by none other than the Honourable Prime Minister of Barbados less than one week ago who tried to assure workers who were taken off the pay sheets for August that it was a computer glitch. It is clear that the computer glitch is now a sentence of unemployment!
“Where is the Prime Minister’s voice now? He took pains to remind the country last week that he is the minister of Civil Service. How many people will be cut? What are the criteria? From where? Will the Government lead from in front and make the cuts from their own Cabinet and from their political expenditure?”
Another area of concern for her was “the abominable situation where at least two major glaring errors related to the Solid Waste Land Tax and the Consolidation Tax have been identified in the presentation delivered by the Minister of Finance, effectively paralysing accounting systems across the country”.
With the House of Assembly adjourned until October 15, she said the BLP believed these errors necessitated an early recall of the House.
“Surely, the Government must know that the words of the Minister of Finance have the force of law upon his speaking and no Government department nor Government official nor, indeed, any other minister can alter or correct his words in a press release or advertisement,” she noted.
“These mistakes can only be corrected by actually amending legislation or by the delivery of a new Budgetary Statement from the Minister of Finance.” Mottley, who restated that her party was prepared to consult and come up with a plan to fix government’s fiscal problems while containing the suffering of Barbadians, said the country needed Sir Roy now.
“The current trajectory of the industrial climate demands the involvement and leadership of the country’s oldest and most trusted worker representative body,” she said. (SC)