If Executive Director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay had her way, hoteliers would not get access to available concessions unless they first put out requests for tenders and utilize local manufactured goods.
And McKay is hoping that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler will see things her way when he makes Tuesday’s Budget presentation.
“I want them to make sure that at the end of the day when hoteliers are refurbishing, like they were this year, that in order to qualify for all the incentives they have, they have to first and foremost put out requests for tenders,” said McKay, who believes this would generate increased employment.
She also said it would put manufacturers in a better position to know “who is doing what and how they can approach the different companies.
“If they have to advertise in the newspapers and announce that they are refurbishing and looking for tenders, that would allow a lot of people not only to have work, but some people would be able to add shifts, and that is huge,” McKay said.
In the meantime, ordinary Barbadians have also been sharing their wish lists ahead of Tuesday’s presentation by Sinckler, who has already made it clear there will be no pre-election giveaways with a national poll due here within months.
“You can’t give away what you don’t have,” Sinckler recently warned, as he spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a fun day held for students from his St Michael North West constituency who had just completed the 11-plus exam.
“We are a responsible Government and this is a country and we will do what circumstances dictate in the environment that we are in,” he added at the time.
His comments came amid lingering concerns about the state of the island’s foreign reserves that were said to have risen slightly from $681 million last December to $705.4 at the end of the first quarter of this year.
The country’s fiscal deficit also ended the financial year at an estimated six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the projected 5.8 per cent, while gross Government debt, which requires servicing to the tune of over $300 million annually, also remained high at 105.4 per cent of gross domestic product, but slightly better than the 108.6 per cent for the corresponding period last year.
In support of Sinckler’s comments, one man who identified himself as De Mayor said: “I don’t believe there is nothing you can do in these circumstances.
“We have to stabilize the economy, so we can’t expect no giveaways, no free things,.’
He suggested that even though Barbadians were crying out, “I believe things still good in Barbados”.
“If you compare a lot of other countries to Barbados, things still good here, but we like a lot of complaining. People don’t understand that we don’t have no real resources, the resources are the people. We also have to import,” he said, while stressing that “we have to live within our means”.
However, 46-year-old Patrick Thomas is still hoping for a salary increase.
“I would love a raise of pay. That is what I’m talking about the Budget, plus I didn’t get my income tax return. I would like that too. So I hope them talk about it tomorrow inside the House of Assembly,” he told Barbados TODAY just outside Parliament building.
Thomas also made clear his frustration with the current Freundel Stuart administration, saying, “I would like to change the Government. That is the biggest thing I want to see. Change the Government. If they change the Government I feel I will get all my money.”
Another Barbadian, Al Harte, is eager to learn how Government intends to reduce its spending.
“I want to know first things first. What they are going to do, if they are going to lower the prices or raise them?
“They talking about bus fares. I don’t know about that part . . . [but] whatever happens I think the people in Barbados does spend too much so I hope that when the Budget call we can spend less.”
However, Mark Adamson, who is the leade of the little-known People’s Democratic Congress, is not at all optimistic that the pending budgetary measures will redound to the needed economic growth.
“Barbados is on a very downward trajectory and the types of policies and measures required, the minister will not have the understanding to actually bring [them] about,” he told Barbados TODAY.
One woman, who requested anonymity, complained that in the face of the island’s economic troubles, Barbadians had only themselves to blame since in her estimation they were too focused on their wants instead of their needs.
“It’s all about the Remy. The girls buying hair, the Crop Over events, all the reggae shows and everything; the big houses, everything big, but them ain’t seeing that we got an expense here,” she said.
Therefore, “if Chris Sinckler give us a Budget with [increased Value Added Tax] VAT and taxes everything, we deserve it because we Bajans caused it on ourselves. The Crop Over events and the reggae shows, we cause it on ourselves. Peter pays for Paul and Paul pay for all,” she emphasized.