Political experts in Barbados are describing the Parliamentary Opposition’s decision to extend a no confidence motion against Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler beyond the Chamber of the House of Assembly as a useful and sound strategic move.
Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, flanked by her Barbados Labour Party MPs, told a news conference at her office in Parliament Buildings this morning, that the group had decided to file the motion in the minister, because he was responsible for “all” the economic problems being experienced by the country, particularly through the measures introduced in the recent Financial Statement And Budgetary Proposals and his “lack” of action in seriously addressing them.
“As a result, we have taken therefore a decision that in the absence of the Minister of Finance showing leadership, to stem the loss of confidence in this economy, and to deal sensibly with being able to hold people’s hands through communication, through appropriate action and through, literally, being able to achieve the objectives that he set in his Budget to reduce the fiscal deficit, to stem the loss of reserves and to lay a platform for growth to which we are no closer with any major projects than we were two months ago, we have decided today, to file a motion of no confidence against the Honourable Minister of Finance in Parliament,” Mottley announced. She noted that the motion would have been filed almost immediately following the news conference.
However, the Opposition Leader suggested that while the Government had the numbers in the House to possibly defeat the motion, her party’s aim was not only to instigate a debate in the House, but to provide also an opportunity for the wider Barbadian public to participate in the decision and to demonstrate how they feel about the need to stop the policies she said were destroying the country.
“We also believe, however, that this is not a matter that is about 30 Members of Parliament speaking about whether there’s confidence in a Minister of Finance or not,” she pointed out.
“This,” the Opposition MP asserted, “is a matter that requires the voices of all Barbadians; and this is the opportunity for Barbadians who have been crying out, to say, ‘We want something changed; we cannot take it any more’.”
Mottley disclosed that citizens would therefore be invited to express their opinion as to whether they, too, were lacking confidence in the Minister of Finance, considering the society had now reached a stage, she said, where it could no longer be assumed that the 30 voices in Parliament were the only ones that mattered.
The BLP, she revealed, would therefore be launching an entity called The Movement For Love Of Country, Uniting For The Right Reasons at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed on Sunday starting at 4 p.m.
At this event, Mottley said Barbadians would be able to sign a petition in the form of a booklet.
“It is for people to express their own lack of confidence in the economic direction of the country on the basis of, one, the tax measures that have been uncertain and that have led to confusion; two, the failed bond, which means that they may very well be very difficult circumstances that will confront the Barbados Government in meeting its expenditure payments between now and March, but equally, the stemming of the decline in the reserves,” declared the Opposition Leader.
She said the booklet would also record the “continued afflictions that are imposed on the backs of businesses and individuals who are owed money by the government of Barbados and cannot receive their money; and therefore the petition would simply say that as a result of the aforementioned measures, we have no confidence in the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs”.
Mottley also pledged that the party’s actions might even go further, if required later, to include filing a no confidence in the Prime Minister and Government, and to marching in the streets.
Observing that the current economic and social state in the island was untenable, she referred to a litany of issues, including “confusion” over the collection of taxes, lack of medical supplies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that were impacting babies, the spending cuts in the public service, the fate of temporary workers, and yesterday’s statement in Parliament by Minister Sinckler that the Government had suspended the issuing of a US$350 million bond to finance the deficit.
Sinckler had explained that the conditions on the international capital market were favourable earlier in the year as Government sought to issue the bond, but that they had turned “sour” after the US Congress shut down its government, thus creating uncertainty in the market and a discouraging appetite for investing in bonds.
Commenting on the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against Sinckler, in light of the current situation, head of the Faculty of Government, Sociology and Social Work, at the University of the West Indies, Tennyson Joseph, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, that the BLP’s decision to broaden its initiative to include the wider Barbadian public, was a useful one.
Joseph said any chances of the motion succeeding on the floor of Parliament would be diminished, if the objective was limited to having the minister removed, considering that the Government had the majority.
He saw the motion as an opportunity to facilitate a debate on the economy and to put the minister at the centre.
But the lecturer in politics also suggested that it would be a more useful exercise if the Opposition engaged a broader movement of the wider population who could express their views on the issues, thus having a much greater impact.
Political scientist Peter Wickham also described the decision to include the average man on the street as a sound strategic move.
Wickham acknowledged that the Opposition parliamentarians did not file the no-confidence expecting it would succeed, but rather to give the public an opportunity to express their “displeasure” in Sinckler and by extension, the Government.
Wickham, who is also a political pollster, said there was something novel about this motion on two fronts: it targeted the Minister of Finance and not the Government, a reflection that it might not succeed, and also it provided for public interaction for people to express their “displeasure” at the situation.
In response, Minister Sinckler told Barbados TODAY this evening he would not be sidetracked by the Leader of the Opposition’s “childish pranks” and “devilish” determination to tear apart the country’s economy, to satisfy her “insatiable” appetite for office and power. “There are too many important things to do than waste time with her,” added Sinckler.