Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has suggested that Government Senator Jepter Ince could not have been fully in charge of his faculties last week when he described the private sector as parasites.
In fact, the independent representative for St Peter suggested that such an unnecessarily harsh criticism of the business community could only be excusable – in the midst of the current precarious economic circumstances – if it were made in a drunken stupor.
“It is the kind of comment that you expect a fellow to make when he is ‘tight’ and got in some grogs,” Arthur told Barbados TODAY this morning in dismissing Ince’s remarks, which have raised the ire of the local private sector, with Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert yesterday stating that the BPSA was willing to settle for nothing less than an official apology.
Delivering the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s lunchtime lecture last Friday, Ince, who is the parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Finance, took members of the local business community to task, accusing them of bellyaching about the recently announced budgetary measures because that were unwilling to carry their share of the economic burden.
It was in that context that Ince described them as “a parasitic plant in the bosom of Government” that needed to either put up or shut up.
“They have no grounds for complaining. We give the private sector about $300 million in goods and services [incentives] when the year comes. They complain about cutting the deficit and making tough decisions. If Government decides to cut the goods and services to the private sector, tell me, what is going to happen? They cannot stand, their balance sheets cannot take it,” Ince had cautioned.
However, in defence of the local business community, Arthur said its members had recently been made the victim of a series of punitive measures by Government.
“So to say that they are parasitic would suggest that they love punishment and you should give them even more,” he said, while accusing Ince of talking “nonsense”.
However, Arthur said he was not prepared to go any further with his criticisms of Ince at this stage for fear of legal repercussions.
“I don’t like to respond to Mr Ince because he talks so much nonsense and I might get arrested for child abuse,” the former prime minister said jokingly.
Earlier this year, after Ince had said the Barbados dollar had no value of which to speak because it was not recognized internationally, Arthur had recommended that the parliamentary secretary be made to undergo a psychiatric evaluation on the grounds that “it may be discovered that he may be in the wrong Government institution”.