Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Leader Mia Mottley today refused to be drawn into debate on the Holidays With Pay Bill, saying unless the Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler addressed pertinent issues relating to the economy she did not see the relevance of the debate.
And shortly after being told by Speaker of the House Michael Carrington to take her seat, as her request was deemed irrelevant to the Bill, Mottley left the Chamber, and was followed shortly by some of her Parliamentary representatives.
Mottley said while she agreed for the need of the relevant legislation, it was unfair for the debate to take place now when Barbadians were concerned about job security.
Expressing concern about the troubling state of the economy, Mottley said the situation could result in more of a “holiday without pay for majority of Barbadians” in a few months if fiscal matters, recent downgrades and the move by Guyana to temporary halt trade in Barbadian dollars were not urgently addressed by Government.
Mottley made the comments after Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss laid the bill.
“We will not participate in long or protracted debates in circumstances where the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are not prepared to answer the legitimate concerns of Barbadians. A number of events have happened and those events all impact on the jobs that we are here now trying to talk about because there can be no holiday with pay if there are no jobs. It is as simple as that,” argued Mottley.
However, a defiant Mottley was interrupted by Carrington, who questioned the relevance of her contribution to the Bill.
Mottley however insisted that the country’s fiscal position was so dire that jobs were at risk.
Making her case the Opposition Leader insisted “if the Governor of the Central Bank is correct in his letter on January 3, , that they have not been able to balance inflows and outflows of foreign exchange and that there must be deeper fiscal measures to reduce the fiscal deficit as well as to protect the foreign reserves by dampening spending, it means that jobs are at risk. And if jobs are at risk sir, there can’t be any discussion about holidays with pay because it will be holiday without pay for majority of Barbadians.
“And we are saying sir, that the questions that we are asking are not questions that we want to know. The concerns that we have are not peculiar to the Barbados Labour Party. People are concerned. Is there and will there be further measures that will be imposed on people to protect what the Governor of the Central Bank has said has clearly been a failure since 2013 to balance our reserves,” said Mottley, also querying if Government planned to seek outside assistance to address the fiscal problems.
She was however once again interrupted by the Speaker of the House who read her a Standing Order on relevance.
A defiant Mottley nevertheless insisted “I contend that we cannot discuss Holidays with Pay [Bill] unless people are employed in this country. If people don’t have jobs there can be no discussion about people going on holiday with pay or without pay”.
She was subsequently asked by the Speaker of the House to take her seat.
Shortly after Leader of the House John Boyce took the floor to join in the debate, Mottley exited the Chamber, and was followed by her opposition colleagues.