Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has weighed in on the public row between his Cabinet colleague, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, and Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell.
However, unlike his other colleague, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, who on Friday made it clear that Government would not back down in its efforts to fire the Governor, Inniss did not come out in support of Sinckler.
Instead, Inniss Sunday told a joint meeting of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) St James Central, St James South, St Michael North and St Michael North East branches that neither the under-pressure Sinckler nor the embattled Worrell was bigger than Barbados.
“Today there is this issue with the Governor of the Central Bank versus the Government and Minister of Finance. They say these matters are before the court and therefore you should not speak on them but there are so many matters before the court that if you are told not to speak on any of them, you would have nothing to say on anything in this country . . . . What I would simply say is that Barbados is bigger than Dr DeLisle Worrell, Barbados is bigger than Chris Sinckler, Barbados is bigger than Donville Inniss . . . it is bigger than each one of us,” the minister said.
At the insistence of other members of the board of the Central Bank, Sinckler reportedly met with Worrell on February 9 and gave him the option of either tendering his resignation by February 13, or be fired.
However, that order was met with defiance on the part of the Governor, who immediately embarked upon a legal course of action, challenging the right of the minister to oust him.
The Governor has been granted a temporary injunction –– twice extended –– barring Sinckler and the six-member board from taking any further action to dispose of him until the court could be satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for removing him.
The dispute between two of the country’s key fiscal planners has led to ridicule by some and concern by many, including the private sector. There have also been calls by the Opposition for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to fire Sinckler.
“Each one of us in whatever task comes before us to perform, whatever decisions we are called upon to execute, we must always ensure that Barbados comes first. It cannot be about the title of your job, it cannot be about the car you drive, it cannot be about the lifestyle, it must be about what is in the best interest of Barbados,” Inniss told party supporters at yesterday’s meeting at the St James South constituency office in Wanstead Terrace.
Inniss, who has not been shy about voicing his opinion on matters outside of his ministerial portfolio, told the gathering the DLP was still very much on the job of ensuring that the economy did not slip into a state of insolvency.
“We have all of those now who speak of an eminent collapse of the Barbados economy; there are those who speak of negative adjustment of our currency rate; there are all sorts of speculation out there. I can tell you that I am determined like my colleagues around me to ensure that this economy stays afloat,” he stressed.
The outspoken minister also defended Government’s decision to print money to meet state expenditure, which according to the last Central Bank report has contributed to the country’s lowest foreign reserves level in fourteen years.
Inniss argued that those funds went towards enhancing the drivers of Barbados’ economy.
“In terms of addressing the issue of the printing of money, we have through Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, gone out there and rolled up out sleeves, gotten increased airlift, increased cruise ships; we have gotten the numbers up for the first time to over 600,000,” he stressed.
Worrell revealed earlier this month that the Central Bank was being forced to print money to finance the administration’s programmes, including $50 million each month to pay public servants salaries.
“On the week on which Government workers are paid, we always know that in addition to all the other expenses, we have to find $50 million approximately to pay Government wages,” the administration’s economic adviser said on the bank’s economic forum, It Matters Fiscally.