Member of Parliament for St George South Dwight Sutherland has branded the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study “an exercise in cosmetics”, which does not address the current environmental issues affecting the country.
Sutherland told Parliament yesterday that the document, dated 2014, “does not speak to increased dumping as a result of the imposition of a tipping fee”, nor does it address the National Social Responsibility Levy that was laid in the House during the last Budget. However, he noted that it includes the provision for Barbadians to write off up to US$5,000 per year for home improvement, including the purchase of solar heaters, an incentive that was removed by the Minister of Finance two years ago.
The document focuses on greening Barbados in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and housing and transport.
The shadow Minister of Health and Labour charged that it should also be updated to include the issues of garbage collection and the prolonged water shortages in several communities around the island.
He also reiterated his criticisms against the use of private waste haulers to collect garbage in certain communities over the next six months, saying the new programme was not in line with the definition of the green economy by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), which states that the green economy should seek to improve human wellbeing and social equity.
“When we look at the piles of garbage, when we look at the health hazards that we can face from the non-collection of garbage on a timely basis, when we look at the whole aspect of how the workers at SSA have been treated of recent, when we look at the lack of respect for key stakeholders, this document speaks to the involvement of key stakeholders who had a hand in the preparation of this document, I assume. When we look at what has transpired at the Sanitation Service Authority, it begs to question this definition.
“The Democratic Labour Party continues to disrespect the trade unions in this country. When you can seek to engage private waste haulers without having any consultation with the unions, and without engaging your workforce, tell me how this document, or greening in that area, is contributing to social equity and human wellbeing,” Sutherland said. On the issue of water shortages, he stated that even though Barbados was a water-scarce country, this was no excuse for residents of the affected communities to suffer from a lack of water.
Sutherland added that the Green Economy Scoping Study speaks to the need for water in several areas, namely eco-tourism, farming, agriculture and fisheries, and Government should make a greater effort to address the shortages.