The governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP) deserves no better than an emphatic ‘F’ for its performance during its first 100 days in office, according to an Opposition spokesman.
Controversial trade unionist Caswell Franklyn has delivered a scathing critique of the ruling BLP, which captured all 30 seats at stake in the May 24 general election before Member of Parliament for St Michael West Joseph Atherley crossed the floor one week later and was appointed Opposition Leader.
It was Atherley who selected Franklyn as one of his two senators, and the trade unionist did not mince words today as he accused the Mia Mottley Government of heaping even more hardship on Barbadians than its predecessor, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
“This Government has failed so bad that it isn’t funny,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Hardly anyone of note has escaped Franklyn’s sharp tongue since his appointment to the Senate.
One the very day he took his oath he let lose on the former administration, accusing it of acting improperly by awarding a number of contracts in its dying days, as he called for the prosecution of those who had formed the DLP Government.
Soon after he described the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers as “political prostitutes” for accepting a five per cent pay offer from Government.
And in his first contribution in the Senate Franklyn accused the Mottley Government of performing a favour to friends, by amending the Constitution to pave the way for Kay McConney, a Barbadian who lived in Canada, and Rawdon Adams, the son of late Prime Minister Tom Adams, who was living in France, to become members of the Upper Chamber.
Today he characterized the BLP’s tenure thus far as one filled with sleight of hand magic tricks and smoking mirrors. He made specific mention of the scrapping of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), the benefits of which, he charged, were nullified by new taxes such as the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) of $1.50 per day for households and 50 per cent of water bills for commercial businesses.
“This administration is characterized by bait and switch, giving the impression that they will do something while doing absolutely nothing. They took off the NSRL then put on more taxes than the NSRL was collecting. I really don’t know what they are doing,” the unabashed senator said.
In her June 11 mini Budget, Mottley had confirmed the removal of road tax, to be replaced by a levy of 40 cents per litre on diesel and gasoline and five cents per litre on kerosene.
Franklyn claimed the levy of kerosene – along with the introduction of the GSC – was the equivalent of forcing people to pay for services they did not use.
“You are taxing people for sewage who don’t use the sewage system. This levy on the fuel was supposed to replace road tax, so why is it on kerosene when nobody uses it to power any vehicle? You still have a lot of people that use kerosene oil for cooking, so essentially you charging road tax on a stove. Well, I never see an oil stove pass anybody on the road yet,” he stressed, while urging the Mottley administration to concentrate on collecting the taxes owed to Government rather than placing additional burden on the citizenry.
In his 2017 report, Auditor General Leigh Trotman had indicated that while Government receivables stood at over $2.5 billion, “a significant amount of those receivables appears uncollectable”.
“What the Government can do is to go out there and collect the taxes that have already been collected by businesses through VAT [Value Added Tax]. I am talking about millions upon millions of dollars out there that if the Government collects it, there would be no need to raise anything. I am talking about people whom Government has judgments against. These people keep getting away with it over the years. It can’t be allowed to continue,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.
The senator, who leads the Unity Workers’ Union, further said the BLP administration was abusing the “goodwill” of the electorate, which handed it all 30 seats 100 days ago.
“They have been given a lot of goodwill but they are abusing it and that is what is going on in the country today with this Government. So far all they have done is secure jobs for the people that were integral to the campaign,” he charged.
Additionally, Franklyn argued that Government was able to mask what he described as “glaring deficiencies”, by using its public relations machinery to good effect.
“The Government is just full of PR and no substance. It is just smoke and mirrors. They make people believe that they are getting something but in truth and in fact they are losing more,” he argued.