Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says he is ready to defend his stewardship of this country’s economic affairs for the last eight years.
With general elections set for May 24, Sinckler said he fully expects his record to be the biggest talking point on the campaign trail over the next 25 days.
However, even though he has presided over more than 20 downgrades and the plummeting of this island’s foreign reserves to $410 million at the end of December last year, which is the equivalent to 6.6 weeks of import cover and well below the standard 12-week benchmark, Sinckler was adamant that his record would hold up to rigorous scrutiny.
“I am very ready for the battle ahead because I have always defended my record and I will always defend it. As Minister of Finance I can say that no other Minister of Finance has had to deal with the types of challenges that I have dealt with.
“I have faced them all manfully. I have been asked to make some tough choices and I have made those choices. If I may quote Winston Churchill, ‘it is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required, ’” Sinckler said in response to questions from Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of his visit to students within his St Michael North constituency who are due to sit the Common Entrance exam on May 8.
The minister explained that many of his tough measures, which included the hike in the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from two per cent to ten per cent on the customs value of imported as well as locally produced goods last July, were all done in the interest of securing the country’s recovery while maintaining social services.
“In the circumstances we did what was required to keep Barbados afloat in trying economic circumstances and to protect our social services to the extent that they can be extended to Barbadians. So that is an excellent record,” Sinckler said.
Notwithstanding, Sinckler said he expected this to be a tough election, although he was confident that the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) would be returned to power.
“All elections are tough. I am going into my 30th year of this and I don’t ever remember an easy election. I expect that they would be coming with the usual rhetoric about the country decaying. However, not because people shout things from the rooftop and believe their own rhetoric and lies, other people are going to believe it. The truth is that the day-to-day experience of Barbadians will tell you what is going on,” Sinckler said while admitting the country was faced with challenges.
He argued that those challenges would be only fixed if Barbadians put aside their personal agendas.
“Nobody is saying that we are living in a bed of roses where everything is okay. We have challenges like any other country in the world in many areas. The question is whether or not Barbadians come together and face down these challenges and whether we have put things in place to move on from this position. I believe we have done that. Barbados is a good country with proud people. This is about Barbados and not about the DLP or BLP [Barbados Labour Party]. The problem is that there are a lot of persons with their own agendas who are talking about ‘give me a chance’ [but] this is not a lottery,” he stressed.