If the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) wins the May 24 general election, it could turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help in rescuing this country’s sinking economy.
Speaking to reporters this morning just after handing in his nomination papers to Returning Officer Marcia Graham at the Frederick Smith Secondary School’s nomination centre in St James, incumbent BLP representative for St James Central Kerrie Symmonds said a Government led by the BLP would not rule out a bailout from the international lending agency.
“The IMF is not on the agenda and the IMF, quite frankly, is not off of the agenda,” said Symmonds, who earlier had one of his nomination witnesses replaced by the presiding officer because she was not registered in the constituency.
“We have to look and see what the situation is. What is clearly on the agenda is that there has to be fiscal discipline. I am glad you raised that question because the Barbados Labour Party is committing itself to fiscal discipline,” he stressed.
Dressed for the occasion in a light red and white striped shirt, dark blue long pants and a bright red scarf around his neck, the BLP candidate admitted that the next Government would have a rough time addressing the social and economic challenges currently facing the country.
“This is going to be a lot of heavy lifting. We have . . . a six-month programme where certain things would be done urgently in Barbados. Many of those things are going to be economic-related in order to drive the potential for a turn around in this country,” the St James Central incumbent said, adding that this could be achieved once the resources are available.
Symmonds, who arrived at the nomination centre just after 10 o’clock this morning accompanied by scores of red-clad supporters, said resources would also have to be found for a number of projects, including a vendors’ mall in Redman’s Village.
However, he said some programmes would “take a little bit longer than that because you have to get the resources in first.
“So I would imagine that with the first financial year, we would be in a better position. But again you have to wait and see how bad the damage is, because, let’s face reality . . . in June this year we have US$120 million to look for to repay a Credit Suisse loan and that is something this Government has sat down on and you know the state of the foreign reserves. Where are we going to find that money?” the BLP candidate asked.
It was only on Saturday night during the launch of her party election campaign that BLP leader Mia Mottley promised to cut out wastage, stamp out corruption and reprioritize the country’s expenditure to help pay for promises to repeal the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy, restore free tertiary education, raise pensions, fix the south coast sewage problem and give public servants a pay rise.
“There are those naysayers who say, ‘well how you going pay for it?’ Well, I have come to Weymouth tonight to talk to you the people of Barbados. I have come tonight to tell you that this country of ours that has a $10 billion economy and a $4 billion Government expenditure, can be no different from what each an every one of you householders have to face every day and every week in this country,” Mottley said.
Neither the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) nor the fledgling United Progressive Party (UPP) has ruled out going to the IMF for help, although Solutions Barbados has emphatically rejected the idea.
The DLP’s George Connolly, Daniel Chalbaud of Solutions Barbados, the UPP’s Wendell Callender, Eric Marshall of the People’s Progressive Congress and independent Joseph Jordan also handed in nomination papers today.
Chalbaud, who arrived at the centre almost unnoticed, flanked only by his nomination team of five, also had to replace one of his witnesses because he was not registered in St James Central.
The atmosphere was more celebratory when Connolly arrived at the nomination centre, led a group of about a dozen supporters and official backers, some dressed in the party’s colours of blue and gold.
Like the remaining candidates, the DLP hopeful was optimistic about his chances and promised to make a difference in St James Central.
“I bring over 20 years of getting things done under very trying circumstances. I am not an individual who makes excuses. I get all the resources that are available and bring my skills to the people who have skills that support that and then we get things done,” he said.
Meanwhile, the nomination process went smoothly at West Terrace Primary School centre in St James South where the BLP’s Sandra Husbands, the DLP Donville Inniss, the UPP’s Christal Austin, Solutions Barbados’ Jacquiline Alleyne and independent Nicole Howell were duly nominated.
It was a similar story in St James North at Gordon Greenidge Primary School for the nomination of the BLP’s incumbent Edmund Hinckson, Harry Husbands of the DLP, David Waldron of Solutions Barbados and Grafton Cobham of the UPP.