Member of Parliament for St James Central Kerrie Symmonds has added his voice to those asking Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to deliver on a promise he made of pay increases for public workers.
At the end of a meeting in August with labour unions and the private sector Stuart assured that depending on the performance of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), Government would look into the possibility of affording civil servants, who have not had an increase in nearly a decade, a salary hike, or some relief from the inflationary effects of the levy.
The NSRL, which was increased from two per cent to ten per cent in the last Budget, has been blamed for significant increases in most goods.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last week announced that after three months, ending in September, the NSRL had raked in around $50 million. While this amount was within targets set by Sinckler in May when he had announced the levy increase, he indicated more money would come for the period as officials were still adding Value Added Tax revenue to that amount.
“Over a week in October done gone . . . the man [Stuart] beg for the end of September,” Symmonds told an Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) St Michael South branch meeting at Graydon Sealy Secondary School last night.
“I would have thought that having given a commitment that at the end of September he would review the thing, when he sees September 25, 26 or 27 come along . . . [and] would be calling for the documentation [to see] if there is money”.
While cautioning that “there is pain in the land”, Symmonds emphasized that by now he would have expected that the Prime Minister would be seeking to “ensure that the people of Barbados who are workers get a little benefit because they did not have a benefit for nine painful years”.
However, referring to Stuart’s comments to Barbados TODAY last Friday, he lamented that all the Prime Minister was prepared to say on the matter at this stage is that “the minister [Sinckler] can say what he feels like saying, but I don’t have all the data on the performance for the first quarter and when I get it I will speak on it”.
“So your pain means nothing to Freundel Stuart,” he told the gathering of BLP supporters.
“What you are going through means nothing to Freundel Stuart. Your discomfiture means nothing to Freundel Stuart. Your inability to make ends meet and pay monthly bills mean nothing to Freundel Stuart,” Symmonds emphasized.