Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has been given high marks for her three-hour reply Wednesday to Government’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Political scientist Dr George Belle has described Mottley’s presentation as one of hope.
“We are not able to test her yet because she is not in Government, but she is conscious of the fact that people are looking for, as she said, hope . . . and that the Covenant of Hope, a thing that her party has presented. But it is also saying to the Barbadian population that we are prepared to give you hope.
“If you listen to the Government side, you just get despair. So you get despair versus hope . . . and the Leader of the Opposition presented hope,” Belle added.
The political scientist said Mottley was able to respond to a Government which is having a difficult time justifying what it has done and is about to do in terms of its budgetary proposals.
“So I think that in that sense, she had a field day in relation to the critique of that general problem that faced the Government,” the political scientist said.
In her reply to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s $542 million package of measures, Mottley, who presented herself as a Prime Minister in waiting, contended that the country was in need of “proper leadership”, and not the “most vicious tax take” ever to hit the country since the introduction of the taxation in 1941.
The BLP leader, who announced plans to introduce a cost of living allowance for public servants, also promised to tackle head on, the controversial printing of money by the Central Bank of Barbados to pay wages and finance Government’s programme, vowing a BLP Government would enact legislation to put an end to the practice.
She also pledged to establish a dedicated unit for the collection of taxes, remove unnecessary red tape that make it difficult to do business here, give the Fair Trading Commission more teeth, repeal the controversial Barbados Revenue Authority Amendment Act to provide for a different way of addressing tax compliance and form a Get Barbados Moving Again committee which she would chair.
Mottley promised to strengthen the Police Service Commission and take politics out of it, pass legislation to bring greater discipline and accountability to statutory boards, fix the court system, establish a commercial court to settle commercial disputes and put in place a framework for international arbitration.
Belle said it was a clear reflection of the concerns of the general public.
“I think she also showed a kind of confidence in the future by projecting in relation to what the Barbados Labour Party would do if it became the Government.
“It therefore gave her presentation an aspect of a developmental thrust and this is what has been lacking very much in the Government’s presentations . . . [which] are very much like somebody who is trying to pass an exam . . .
“We have a problem with this area of the economy . . . and we are addressing it in this way and that way and it is supposed to bring this kind of result,” he said in reference to the Government’s approach to the economic issues of the day.
“The Leader of the Opposition was able to respond to the weaknesses of that,” Belle added.
He noted that Mottley did not elaborate on the range of proposals which a BLP Government would introduce, suggesting it was a deliberate strategy on the part of the Opposition Leader to hold some matters to her chest until the election campaign.
“She did bring a developmental aspect to her presentation which has been lacking by the Government for a long time . . . that is to say, ‘how do you get a revision in Barbados, how do you therefore, in that sense, get confidence to return, how do you get growth . . . in other words, the more elaborate [approach] than what is currently being presented, where you kind of edging, edging along,” he added.
Turning to the issue of leadership, Belle said Mottley’s push in this direction was critical to the debate.
And in reference to the speech by Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss in which he also addressed the issue of leadership, Belle said it was an implicit warning about the “weak” leadership in his party.
“That you do not have anybody to go out there to explain to people what the Government wants to do and why they are doing it. Nobody is effectively doing that as a necessity because of the way in which the crisis is impacting on thousands of people,” Belle lamented.