Member of Parliament for St Michael North Ronald Toppin has described as “a spectacular failure” the performance of Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy over the last nine years.
Making his contribution to debate on the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary proposals, Toppin said Sealy has been living in a “bubble” while Barbadians from all walks of life continue to feel the pinch.
“I thought that as tourism is the sector that is depended on so heavily to bring this country out of the mess that we have been put in, that we would have heard some bold and new initiatives with the purpose of achieving that objective, in relation to the Ministry of Tourism, but we did not,” said the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) Shadow Minister of Tourism.
“I look forward to the day when we can see the Ministry of Tourism moving from a ministry of platitudes and prophecy to one of performance. That is what we really want to see.
“We hear statements, for example, about the extensive concessions granted to hoteliers and yet when you speak to hoteliers they say, ‘yes, they have been granted on paper but you cannot get them; it takes forever to get them’. Only a small [number] has been getting them and they are frustrated into eternity,” Toppin added.
He said that unless something was done, the Ministry of Tourism would continue to underperform, stagnate and be nothing more than the vehicle that created a very special elite group to build and consolidate significant wealth in this country, while ordinary Barbadians fail to improve their lot.
“So, I have to burst the bubble of the minister because Barbadians have really been depending on this Ministry of Tourism to pull us out of this mess and really and truly, far from doing that, it has really been nothing more than a spectacular failure,” the Opposition representative contended.
Toppin further argued that while there has been talk from Government officials about record numbers of visitor arrivals over the last two years, Sealy was “glossing over” the decline in the amount of money spent by tourists while they are in Barbados.
He referred to the Leader of the Opposition’s response to the Budget earlier in the day, when she noted that the amount spent by tourists last year was less than visitor spend in 2007.
“Put differently, significantly more tourists in 2015 and 2016 are spending significantly less than a smaller number of tourists spent almost ten years ago. In other words, this Minister is getting less from more,” he said.
Meantime, responding to Sinckler’s Budget presentation, Toppin said the people of Barbados deserved a lot better than they have been getting from the Democratic Labour Party Government over the last nine years.
“Because, truth be told, this country really has been turned upside down, inside out by a Government that is really out of its depth when it comes to the management of the affairs of this country,” he said.
“In fact, only a favoured few who have been able to get some of the huge chunks of the fatted calf can really say that their hunger has been satisfied. But for the rest, in the other Barbados, the one that is being left behind, it has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride and a nightmare.
“We heard from the Minister of Finance that there will be the imposition of some $480 million plus in taxes on an already overburdened and overtaxed population – taxes on those who do not even work, new taxes that are going to take an already excessively high cost of living and spin it even more out of control than it has been ever before,” Toppin added.