With less than two years to go before the next general election, Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Leader Mia Mottley is already making a case to the private sector as to why a Government under her leadership would be capable of digging the country “out of the seemingly bottomless pit”.
Tugging at the heartstrings of the business community, Mottley said the country was suffering from a huge fiscal deficit, inefficiencies, corruption, economic downgrades and poor business facilitation, and that the BLP was ready to lead with a clear plan and decisive and focused leadership to correct those problems.
In an address yesterday to the monthly luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at the Hilton Barbados Resort, the Opposition Leader said the ills brought upon the country by the ruling Democratic Labour Party had led to an erosion of confidence.
“Because of the ill-advised policies, the unfortunate political tribalism and corrupt practices of an incompetent Government, confidence has been undermined, both internally and externally, trust has been eroded, [and] the integrity of the Barbados brand has been severely tarnished. As long as apprehension and uncertainty persist in our midst, the erosion will continue. Without confidence, investment will always falter,” Mottley warned.
Speaking on theme Rebuilding Investor Confidence in Brand Barbados, the BLP leader said it was possible to place the island on the right path again.
However, she said it would not be easy because in addition to getting the productive sector to perform again, a BLP administration would have to reverse economic decline triggered by “institutional implosion and social decay”.
Therefore, she said, the task of bringing the country back to prosperity would require “absolute discipline, commitment to mission, creativity, compassion and a willingness to listen” and the involvement of everyone willing to work towards that goal.
“We must begin by acknowledging that much of our present dilemma results from the absence of two vital attributes – bold, focused and decisive leadership and sound, transparent, accountable and disciplined governance,” Mottley told the business community.
Without getting into specifics, Mottley promised “a bold new course” and “the right policies” to achieve growth and increase Government revenues.
And in a clear reference to the uncertainties that surrounded the recent introduction of the National Social Responsibility Levy, the Opposition Leader vowed that a BLP administration would think through any taxes it planned to introduce.
“I make you a solemn pledge we will not introduce taxes in Budget speeches and then try to figure out how to implement them. This cavalier approach affects confidence at all levels,” she said.
Mottley pledged to strengthen key state institutions and root out corruption, which she charged had become “an alarming new feature” of the current administration.
She also promised to reduce and eventually end the practice of the Central Bank’s funding of Government and to run a fiscally disciplined administration that would not be reckless in its spending.
“The one thing that a government controls is what it spends. We will be disciplined in this regard. The BLP will make choices that prioritize the country’s needs,” she said.
In addition, Mottley promised the private sector that a BLP administration was prepared to enact legislation early in its tenure to encourage investment, and to involve the various sectors, include the BCCI, in the decision making process.