Members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) have criticized the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government’s 2016-2017 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure as a document designed to sway the vote of Barbadians in forthcoming general elections.
The accusation came Sunday night from Opposition Economics Advisor, Dr Clyde Mascoll, and party leader Mia Mottley. However, they differed in speculation on when the Freundel Stuart administration will ring the bell for elections, constitutionally a little under two years away.
Mascoll told a meeting at the party’s Grantley Adams House, Roebuck Street headquarters that goodies will be shared out in the Estimates and the poll will be called before 2018. However, Mottley said this year’s Estimates will be one of two the administration has before calling elections in 2018.
Mascoll said: “I’m convinced, given the nature of what I’ve seen in the Estimates that there is an election coming before 2018.
“We have now excessive spending in this fiscal year coming, and you will get some more things. There will be an increase in salaries for public servants this year. There will be some form of tax relief coming this year.”
He told BLP faithful to expect lots of spending for the ongoing 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, “and then in preparation for everything else”.
He said the planned spending spree that the BLP sees in the 2016-2017 Estimates, stands in stark contrast to the tight fiscal measures, which the current administration had in place since taking office.
“How come you have been asked for the last seven to eight years to do everything possible for your country that you love, but now within less than six months, the very government that imposed all restrictions on you, is now prepared to relax everyone?” he asked.
Addressing the crowd after Mascoll, Mottley said: “Now that I can see these Estimates, I see the Democratic Labour Party campaign, because there are only two years left in which to have Estimates, this year and next year.
“And they intend – inspite of how broke Government is – to use it to their advantage. They can only do so if we zip up, keep quiet and say nothing.”
Calling on Barbadians in all social, labour and religious groups to object to what she sees as national financial excesses amidst an economy in recession, she pointed to selected areas that will receive road works under a $20 million rehabilitation programme, though passageways in some more needy districts remain neglected.
She aligned the areas given priority for road development with the political ridings of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Government ministers Dennis Kellman, Richard Sealy, Adriel Brathwaite, Denis Lowe, David Estwick, and Michael Lashley.
At the same time, she said that areas desperate for roadworks such as Canewood Hill and Friendship Terrace continue to be ignored for some eight years.
On an aside, Mottley said that of the $20 million approved for the roadworks, “one whole million of that $20 million going to a consultant alone”.