Barbadians will have only themselves to blame for the hard times to come after the May 24 general election if they reject Solutions Barbados, the three-year-old political establishment has said.
Grenville Phillips II, the party’s leader, said he had no doubt Solutions Barbados was the only party that would bring prosperity to the country, and it would be a mistake if Barbadians were to reject his economic proposals.
“Previously they could not be blamed for anything that they had because all they had is Bees or Dees. So now if they vote for us they will do very well and if they don’t vote for us they will have no excuse for living through the austerity that the others are promising them,” Phillips told Barbados TODAY in a wide-ranging interview after he had paid his $250 deposit in preparation for his nomination next week.
In a tongue-in-cheek comment, the Solutions Barbados leader said that for the first time in 52 years since the country attained political independence from Britain, the leaders of the major parties here would finally keep a promise to voters.
However, he said, it was a “promise of harsh austerity” measures that would hurt the country further and was “not going to be good for the people of Barbados”.
“It took 52 years but finally they will keep their [promise],” he said.
Phillips contrasted this scenario with pledges of good times for the country, with a surplus in the first year of a Solutions Barbados administration without retrenching workers.
Among the party’s plans, he said, was repeal of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and Value Added Tax (VAT).
“We are not promising them austerity. The other parties are promising that they have to take harsh austerity but we have a plan that can promise them prosperity. Because it is a plan that sounds too good to be true, we published it three years ago and gave it to economists and accountants and told them to have no mercy on it whatsoever and our first report is that we will run a surplus during our first year, which is something that we have done once by accident during our 52 years [of independence]. And we will run a surplus during our first year and we can do that without laying off a single civil servant or reducing their salaries. We also will abolish the VAT and the NSRL,” Phillips said.
Ahead of his interview with Barbados TODAY the Central Bank of Barbados had released its report on the economy for the first quarter of this year.
It reported that the economy contracted by 0.7 per cent, and lowered its growth projection to between –0.25 per cent to 0.25 per cent.
The bank also revealed that overall debt had risen to 151 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 145.9 per cent at the end of last year.
In reacting to the revelation, Phillips said it appeared the country was on the road to devaluation.
“I understood that the debt to gross domestic product ratio is 151 per cent. Normally people devalue you at that rate. Now I know that the other parties are saying not to mind Grenville, that I am just an alarmist as they would not devalue you because Grenada went through the International Monetary Fund and they did not devalue, and that just shows you that we are really run by children because the IMF cannot devalue a shared currency,” he said, while promising that his party would work hard to earn the trust and the votes of Barbadians.
“We are canvassing and that is the way that persons normally try to convince persons to vote for them, and I mean vote, like come out and vote. We keep canvassing, we keep sharing our message, we keep encouraging people, we keep discussing things with people and we leave it to them as they will finally have a competent alternative,” Phillips said.