Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has slammed Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, calling her an alarmist whose focus was simply on a general election campaign and political power.
Charging that the St Michael North East Member of Parliament was using scare tactics by suggesting Government wanted to create a police state through new requirements for vendors of agricultural products to be registered, Stuart said Mottley was creating confusion in the country when the facts were not on her side.
During debate today on the Protection of Agricultural Products and Livestock Bill 2017 in the House of Assembly, the Prime Minister said Mottley had the “capacity for unabashed deception” in her contributions and so he was not surprised by her statements.
In a hard-hitting contribution to debate on the bill, which was later passed by the Lower House, the Prime Minister said members of his side who were disappointed by Mottley’s contribution had only themselves to blame adding, “it serves you right” if you expected anything different from the Opposition Leader.
Stuart’s condemnation came following Mottley’s charge that the legislation criminalized vending. The Opposition Leader had also called for the bill to be delayed and sent to a select committee for review.
“This bill does not seek to criminalize anyone,” Stuart, who is Member of Parliament for St Michael South, said in defence of the new legislation, adding that it seeks to protect food crop and animal farmers.
According to the leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), it was an Erskine Sandiford led administration in 1992 that introduced the praedial larceny laws, and so it was a continuation of the DLP’s efforts to reduce theft of agricultural products.
However, Stuart criticized Mottley for being big on bluster and short of facts when it came to the new legislation.
He rejected her call for the training of wardens before the legislation was introduced. Stuart told the chamber it made no sense to train the officers before the laws governing their actions were sanctioned by the House of Assembly.
The Prime Minister also insisted that Barbados was a society accustomed to registration of businesses and trades, explaining that it was a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Attorney General Sir Henry Forde who brought the Professions, Trades and Businesses Registration Act forcing the registration of “everything that moved”.
Now, he said, Mottley was trying to make an issue of the registration of vendors when the laws were simply to protect the public and in the event of health implications to ensure a level of traceability in the products.