A ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate has suggested that without the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), the Freundel Stuart administration might have been left with no choice but to send home workers.
“The NSRL raises tax revenue for Government, while at the same time controls expenditure on foreign goods,” explained James Paul during last night’s DLP meeting in Bank Hall, St Michael, in support of St Michael West candidate Michael Carrington.
Linking the recent increase of the levy from two to ten per cent on both locally manufactured and imported goods to the need by Government to save jobs, the St Michael West Central candidate openly enquired: “Now, which do you prefer? Contributing money to keep people employed, or send them home?”
At the same time, Paul took local trade unions to task over their criticisms of Government’s failure to grant pay increases to public servants.
“Despite the prevailing economic climate, our public servants are always paid in full and on time, and we have passed several laws which guarantee workers’ rights,” Paul pointed out, while suggesting that “the unions should focus their attention on the private sector, especially when it comes to contracted workers, who have no rights; when it comes to unemployment benefits, severance pay, vacation or sick leave, whereas Government workers receive all of these”.
Also addressing last night’s meeting, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett warned that if the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) were to take the reins of Government following next week’s general elections, constituency councils would be a thing of the past.
“The constituency councils have served us well since we established them, but I believe that if the BLP takes over, these councils will be no more, because they have never supported them,” said Blackett, the incumbent representative for St Michael Central.
Blackett explained that the councils, which were set up by the DLP Government after it took office in 2008 to give voice to the concerns of residents of the various constituencies, were established in such a way that “all the political parties would be represented on them”.
However, he lamented that “to this day, the Barbados Labour Party has never nominated anyone to serve on their behalf” on any of the councils, which are also mandated to maintain links with Central Government and other agencies with a view to effectively and efficiently managing resources for the development of the given constituency.
Critics of the constituency councils have dismissed them as another political arm of the governing DLP. However, in the estimation of Blackett they have helped many people over the last decade, especially through the David Thompson Memorial Football Classic, which he said provided job opportunities during the tournament for many small operators, including those with food stalls.