Newly installed Opposition Senator Crystal Drakes has stopped short of making any major pronouncements on Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley’s $1.2 billion austerity package announced in Parliament today, saying the economic implications of the Budget would have to be analyzed in detail in the coming days.
However, when informed by reporters that the National Social Responsibility Levy – which was hiked from two per cent to ten per cent under the last administration – is to be repealed effective July 1, along with road tax, Drakes noted that the promises were made by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) during the May 24 general election campaign.
“Those were things that were promised in the [BLP] manifesto so those will have to be analyzed through some assessments going forward and what implications they would have in conjunction with any other measures, looking at revenue,” Drakes said.
Following a brief swearing in ceremony before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House, attended by her parents Rodney and Ingrid Drakes, as well as her Senate colleague, opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn, an elated Drakes said she was ready to put her hands to the toil and to get down to work.
The 30-year-old economist currently works at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill and was formerly employed with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Commonwealth.
“I am curious to see if she [Mottley] will include anything regarding the transition to a green economy and pushing that agenda forward, as well as any opportunities as it relates to the youth,” said Drakes, who is also a Director of BlueGreen Initiative Barbados.
However, apart from a repeal of tuition payments for Barbadian students attending UWI, no such initiatives were addressed in Mottley’s so-called mini Budget.
Franklyn meanwhile declined to comment on the austerity package, telling reporters it was Drakes’ day.
The two senators were handpicked by Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament for St Michael West Bishop Joseph Atherley, who left the fold of the BLP and crossed the floor last month mere days after it won an unprecedented 30-0 victory in the May 24 poll.