Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has condemned the Opposition for calling Barbados junk.
Stuart issued this condemnation of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party today in the House of Assembly while speaking on the Consolidation Tax Bill.
The Prime Minister said: “Credit ratings do not only apply to countries. Countries have credit ratings; so too do companies; corporate personalities; and so too do individuals. There was a time in my life when I had no credit rating, and that is true of over 75 per cent of the population of Barbados.
“They cannot go to a bank and get a loan because of their credit rating. That is true of people in The Ivy and in My Lord’s Hill and Bayland and in Britton’s Hill and in Westbury Road. But that does not make the people junk.
“That does not mean that they are not good fathers. It does not mean that they are not good sportsmen; it does not mean that they are not worthy members of the Men’s Fellowship or the Mothers’ Union. It does not mean that they are valueless persons. All it means is that in one area of their lives – that is the area of the ability to borrow money comfortably – they have a challenge.
“The same thing goes for a company. There are small businesses in Barbados that have no credit rating, but they are still trying to employ people and bring some fulfilment to their lives. I, therefore, cannot accept any argument that says, as the Opposition likes to say, that Barbados is junk because its credit rating is challenged by rating agencies. I do not accept that.
”Barbados is still one of the most coveted developing [countries] in the world. We still have a literacy rate that is the envy of people all across the world. This country is still a slice of paradise for people who visit us, whether they come here just for holiday or to invest.
“We are still number one in Latin America and the Caribbean in the United Nations Development Index. We are still at number three in the Americas on the UN Human Development Index, ranking only behind the United States of America and Canada. On the Transparency Index, we are ahead of a whole set of developed countries, and in relation to corruption, we are ranking above many countries which are larger and more powerful than ourselves.
“We are not junk and in the 47th year of our Independence, I deprecate and deplore anybody coming in here and talking about Barbados is junk,” the Prime Minister added.
The St Michael South MP went on to say that Barbados was still one of the most coveted piece of real estate to be found anywhere in the world; yet for cheap political gain the Opposition was calling the country junk.
“If you are calling the country junk because its credit rating is challenged, you are calling your constituents junk because their credit rating is challenged; and I do not accept that. Credit ratings do not only apply to countries, [they apply] to
companies, and they apply to individual households as well. I know the days when if my life depended on it, I could not go to any bank and get a loan. That is true of most of us.
“The parliamentary representative for St Michael East has to know that. The member for St George North has to know that. The Honourable Member for St James North may not know about it, but that is not his fault. It is not a criticism; just that circumstances shielded him from the uglier experiences of every day life,” Stuart argued.