The Opposition spokesman on finance is giving Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler a failing grade for his handling of the economy and has called on him to demit his post.
Clyde Mascoll charged today that Sinckler is clearly “incapable” of doing the job.
His comments came on the heels of yesterday’s media conference at which Sinckler told reporters he did not “walk around” considering if he should leave office or not.
Speaking at a media conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, Mascoll said the Minister had been given more than enough time to get it right, yet he was still struggling.
“The Minister of Finance needs to be taken out of his misery. He is simply incapable of handing this task that is before Barbados,” he said.
“Initially he was given an opportunity to prove his worth. He has had over four years and he has failed miserably and the real thing for him to do is to agree with himself that the skills that are required to get the job done are absent.”
Turning his attention to the announcement by Sinckler that there would be some “broadening of the tax bases”, Mascoll said Barbadians were already overtaxed and any more taxation would only further sink the economy.
“The evidence is clear that there is no economic recovery so far for the year. So further taxation would be madness,” he charged.
Mascoll suggested that while the national debt could not be reduced in the foreseeable future it could be controlled, adding that instead of taxing the population, Government should start investing in infrastructure and other areas.
He also suggested that the Freundel Stuart administration should control its borrowing in order to inspire economic growth and the Central Bank should stop buying treasury bills as this was also adding to the national debt.
At the same time, he cautioned that as Government sought to cut its current account expenditure there would be job losses.
Mascoll further stated that the unemployment rate would rise “in the foreseeable future” and the cost of living would increase in the face of new tax proposals.
“The country’s economic and social misery index will therefore continue to rise,” he said.
He further argued that the International Monetary Fund’s suggestions regarding a tax reform would “compromise the economy even more” by going after more revenue while stifling economic growth.
“It will mean that Barbadians will be called upon to pay higher taxes. There will be certain conditions in the VAT that will be removed, which will contribute to higher cost of living. It will also mean that our manufacturing plant and other sectors that we are trying to resuscitate will now be pushed even further back because of the requirements that are contained in those measures,” Mascoll said.
He argued that the IMF’s suggestions were simply a way to extract more revenue, and not to strategically make Barbados’ tax system more efficient and effective.