Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has put Barbadians on notice that the social entitlements from which they have benefitted over the past 50 years may become a thing of the past.
During debate on the 2018-2019 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the House of Assembly this evening, Stuart warned the country not to expect a return of the long periods of prosperity which the country enjoyed in the past.
He said while Government’s latest programme to revive the stalled economy, the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP) would mean a changing future for Barbados, citizens must prepare for the social evolution.
“I just want to call on the country to recognize that the world has changed and it is not going to change back to the world we used to know, that world of yesteryear. Face the reality that we will have to question whether that panoply of social entitlements to which we have become accustomed over the 50 year period of Independence we can continue to afford in the context of challenged revenues,” he said.
To press home the point, Stuart referred to “the unsure jurisdictions” of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, which themselves faced challenges in a changing world, were trying to lure their taxpayers to return home and pay taxes rather than paying low taxes in Barbados.
“Our people have to be made aware that those who can help themselves will have to rely less on the state and what the state is to do has substantially to be reserved for those people who cannot help themselves . . . those people who are in danger of falling through the cracks; and every society has them,” the Prime Minister told the House.
However, he said he was confident about the future of Barbados and did not share the “ingrained” pessimism of those who felt the country was now an ugly place, strewn with sewage, lacking water, food and buses.
“That politics of distress, that politics of alarm, that politics of despondency has no attraction for me and it is certainly not the Barbados that I live in and in which I move and live and have my being from day to day. The people I meet in Barbados, I don’t ask them whether they are Bees or Dees. The people I meet are optimistic about this country’s future and they love their country,” Stuart said, adding that long may this continue to be so.