The man seeking to take over the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) following its humiliating 30-nil defeat in the May 24 general election is warning Barbadians that the worst is yet to come.
Reacting to yesterday’s $1.2 billion austerity package presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley, former Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss urged Barbadians to take note of the term “mini Budget” because “the big Budget will come when the IMF [International Monetary Fund] gives the dictates to [Government] as to what has to be done.
“Come October Barbadians should see the real Budget,” Inniss cautioned, adding that “I am not going to sit here and wish bad for this country. I have to live here. If we are going to swim we will swim together and if we are going to sink, we will sink together”.
Ahead of yesterday’s Budget, Mottley, whose Barbados Labour Party administration came to office a mere two weeks ago, had revealed that the country was in need of urgent economic action, while disclosing that the national debt had risen to $15 billion, which equates to a whopping 175 per cent of gross domestic product.
Mottley also said the island was facing over $1.7 billion in current arrears while its foreign reserves had fallen sharply to US$220 million, or about seven weeks of import cover.
However, in response to Mottley’s presentation in Parliament yesterday, Inniss was adamant that his DLP left funds in the local Treasury.
“Prime Minister Mottley is wrong when she said that she found a broke Treasury,” Inniss said during a DLP review of the Budget at its George Street, St Michael headquarters this afternoon in which his party colleagues Dr David Estwick, Stephen Lashley and Verla de Peiza also participated.
“When I hear the new Prime Minister ranting and raving about how bad things were and that she inherited an empty Treasury and a broke economy, I say [she] is blatantly wrong and [she] may get away with it because the voice of the Democratic Labour Party has been very quiet, but that will soon come to an end,” he said in light of the party’s humiliating election defeat.
Inniss, who lost in the constituency of St James South to the BLP’s Sandra Husbands, said enough evidence was available to refute Mottley’s economic claims.
“All of the data in terms of our domestic and foreign debt were available. It was used throughout the campaign. There is nothing secret about it. Central bank reports are there,” he said, adding that “the Democratic Labour Party did not lie to the people of Barbados. The information was there for everyone to see and that is how our economic programmes were based”.
Regarding the Budget, he said it fell short in terms of spending cuts.
However, he said it was “very significant in that it reflects a continuation of some of the causes of the former Government . . . . The need to ensure that Government revenues are shored up.
“Yes, you have removed the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) but really and truly you imposed on this country a whole set of new taxes,” he said while pointing to the new 40 cents per litre tax on gasoline which is to replace the annual road tax.
Inniss also argued that while old age pensioners had been granted an increase in pay, “you give with one hand and take with the next, because these pensioners who paid the minimum water bill of $52 a month now have to pay $87, so some of the increase will be taken away”.