Government need not look any further than the skyrocketing cost of living for solid evidence of the negative impact its economic policies have had on Barbadians over the past ten years.
This suggestion from Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) economic advisor Clyde Mascoll last night as revealed findings of his own informal survey on the rising cost of living during a BLP meeting held at the junction of Strathclyde and Bank Hall, St Michael.
Mascoll reported that in January 2008 when the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) took office, the cost of a three-and-a-half-pound chicken was $14.20. However, he said when he checked yesterday, the same item was priced at $19.77.
He also said that ten years ago when the DLP first took office, an 1800 gramme Chefway Parboiled Rice retailed for $5.35, but as of yesterday the price had risen to $13.49.
“Therefore, what you are seeing is that in spite of the fact that Barbadians have not had an increase in their salaries, prices have risen inordinately in this country,” Mascoll said, adding that “so even if you don’t like to hear about GDP [gross domestic product], if you don’t like to hear about the national debt, you must know, regardless of where you stand politically in this country, that you are in trouble, unless you are one of the privileged few”.
Mascoll, who unsuccessfully led the DLP into elections in 2003 before crossing the floor to join the BLP three years later, further argued that while the price of basic food items had risen significantly over the past decade, salaries had either remained frozen or had only marginally increased.
“There are people in Barbados who even though they’re getting increases in salary, they are hurting,” the economist said, while cautioning that “all of these big matters about GDP and foreign reserves and the fiscal deficit, and the national debt . . . are only important when you can look to your own pockets and your own circumstances”.
Mascoll, who lecturers in economics at the University of the West Indies, Cave
Hill, also pointed out that the country had moved from a surplus of $119 million under a BLP Government from 2004 to 2007 to a deficit of $319 million between 2008 and 2013.
“Then for the following five years we encountered further difficulties of $555 million in deficit,” he added, while suggesting that it was “pure ignorance” and “pure incompetence” on the part of the DLP that had resulted in “the difficulties that we have now”.
He also zeroed in on rising domestic taxation, saying Government’s response to economic challenges was simply to punish the citizenry with higher levies.
“They taxed you. They increased your income taxes, they increased your VAT, excise taxes. They took away your allowances and your deductions,” Mascoll said, adding that as a result, “Barbadians have been unable to spend money like they did before.
“The reason why the economy is not growing is because people don’t have any income [with] which they can consume, and as a result the country’s economy is not growing,” he stressed.