Non-partisan professionals have a duty to publicly call out politicians who make outlandish promises to hoodwink the voting public, a spokesman for the United Progressive Party (UPP) is contending.
While making direct reference to a promise made last Saturday by fellow fringe political party Solutions Barbados to forgive 100 per cent of debt to Government, UPP candidate for St George South Craig Harewood said economic pundits needed to expose “such rubbish”.
“I am really calling on groups like the Barbados Economic Society or economic professors at the University of the West Indies to tell Barbados which economic policies make sense. Otherwise we are going to have outlandish comments like what we heard over the weekend where one party promised to wipe out all debt owed to Government.
“This is a ridiculous promise because the country runs on money and the Government needs to bring in money in order to pay out. So that notion makes no sense and I can’t recall any country ever proposing anything like that,” Harewood said, while warning that it would put Barbados on an even more detrimental path than the one the [ruling Democratic Labour Party] has us on”.
During a public launch event on Saturday, economic spokesman for Solutions Barbados Scott Weatherhead bitterly complained that Barbadians were at the point of “tax saturation”, before revealing his party’s plan which he described as “the complete opposite of all that has been done” by the “two obsolete parties” – the incumbent Democratic Labour Party and the main Opposition Barbados Labour Party.
As part of its ambitious economic strategy, the party is promising to remove the 25 per cent corporation tax on profits; the 35 per cent personal income tax; and the excise tax on fuel, and to either reduce or remove import duties on a range of items.
And while acknowledging that over $1 billion was currently owed to Government in terms of tax and other arrears, Weatherhead argued that there was more to be gained in terms of economic stimulus from forgiving those debts than keeping them on the books.
However, Harewood contended that such a proposition was based in fantasy, but was concerned that based on history members of the Barbadian electorate may be fooled.
“If we are to go back to the party manifestos of the mainstream political parties we would see a number of promises that were equally outlandish as the one we heard last weekend. All of these things really need to be called out by neutral persons so that the public understands that these are nothing more than empty, silly promises,” Harewood said, adding that “if you are going to make a promise like that you have to explain exactly how you are going to get it done”.
Just last week, the UPP released its 17-page New Economy Manifesto in which the nine-month-old political grouping promised to reduce the tax burden on Barbadians over a five-year period, if it wins the next election.
The party also said it was seeking to achieve five per cent economic growth annually over the next five years and a per capita income of $110,000 over the next 25 years.
To do this, the UPP said much emphasis would be placed on the development of a “new creative economy” in which there would be commercialization of music, film, fine arts, craft, design and fashion by way of a technologically driven platform over the next ten to 20 years, with potential earnings of US$1.5 billion annually.