Member of Parliament for St Michel West Central James Paul has slammed international ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s for their repeated downgrades of the economy, charging that these agencies were servants of capitalists who wanted to see Barbados fall.
At the same time, Paul appeared to link the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to the forces that want to bring the island “to their knees”.
In its most recent announcement on Barbados last week, Moody’s downgraded Government bond and issuer ratings to Caa3, putting the country on par with Greece, Venezuela and the Ukraine.
The New York-based agency highlighted the country’s rising debt and limited prospects of fiscal reform, stating that as a consequence, rising domestic and external financing pressures were very likely to impair the Government’s ability to service its debt.
Six days earlier, S&P had downgraded Barbados to ‘CCC+/C’ based on its limited financing alternatives and low international reserves.
In his contribution to the debate on the 2017/2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, not only did Paul charge that both agencies wanted to punish Barbados because it had been doing well, but he suggested the BLP was in collusion with them.
“When we listen to the discussion on the rating agencies and we see the attitude, who do the rating agencies in this world serve? The rating agencies in this world serve the owners of capital in the world.”
He added that these owners of capital wanted the best returns on their investment, and “if they have to bring a country to their knees to get it they would do it, and if they have to enlist people within the respective countries to do so, they would do it.
“Hence it is no surprise that we hearing the Opposition taking the stances that they take today, where it seems to me that they feel that the ordinary working class in this country must bear pains of some of their transgressions in the past.”
The Government backbencher also questioned whether former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was sincere when he said in 2002, while here to formally declare open UN House in Hastings, Christ Church, that Barbados was “consistently punching above its weight”.
It is a comment that Barbadians have widely repeated in commending the country’s achievements, but one that Paul viewed with suspicion.
“Very often I hear the discussion about Barbados punching above its weight, and I wonder when the person who made the statement that Barbados is punching above its weight, really on reflection, was he actually congratulating us, or sending us a warning at the time that ‘maybe you are out of your league, and we would pull you down’,” Paul mused.
“There are some people who would like to penalize Barbados for the success that it has achieved over the past 50 years and going onwards. Even our Caribbean neighbours would like to sometimes say that you know we are going too far too quickly,” he added.