Parliament was thrown into recess for 15 minutes tonight after Member of Parliament for St Andrew George Payne accused Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler of making a serious threat.
At issue were remarks Sinckler made yesterday in reference to an RBC economist during his presentation of the Appropriations Bill 2016 in the House of Assembly.
This prompted House Speaker Michael Carrington to call a 15-minute recess to check the records of yesterday’s proceedings.
Following the break, Carrington returned to the chair and ruled that whether the utterances of the Minister of Finance amounted to a threat was a matter of opinion, while stating that Sinckler was at the time exercising his right to freedom of speech.
Based on the minutes which were read by the Speaker, Sinckler, in rebutting a recent economic warning issued by Trinidadian economist Marla Dukharan of the RBC (Financial) Caribbean Group, said in part, “Do not come around here every year talking that rubbish if you’re not prepared to put your money where your mouth is.
“Do not come around here every year trying to create confusion in this economy . . . Put up or shut up. And I’m saying that, as a Minister of Finance of Barbados, because it is rubbish to be doing that constantly every year and trying to give people the impression you have some secret way, or some special way of getting things done in Barbados, if you want to do it come.”
Carrington then said, “That does not sound like a threat to me, but if the honourable member interprets it as that, I am not going to go behind that, because I believe we have freedom of speech. You’re entitled to so interpret it.”
Before continuing his contribution to the debate on the Estimates, Payne, who is a member of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, said that the comments were “serious”, and that he had received some 500 emails, letters and text messages of complaint.
“The Minister of Finance cannot speak to a financial institution that way,” Payne said.(GA)