Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle has defended the Government’s attempts to fix a ‘destroyed’ economy, describing as unprecedented the International Monetary Fund-backed programme with Barbados.
“What we have been doing over the last few weeks and months is really about trying to stabilize the country and I want us to hear that. I want us to hear in this community and in Barbados to understand the tremendous task that is before this Government. I want us to recognize that what is happening in St Michael South Central and in Barbados is not business as usual,” the economist and first-time MP told the party faithful at her constituency branch meeting at its Tweedside Road office on Sunday.
Caddle said she understood that Barbadians have suffered under the previous administration but needed to understand that the BLP administration now has to clean the “mess” the country was left in.
The St Michael South Central MP told the newly elected executive and members that the DLP administration had not only fostered institutional decay but also destroyed the economy.
“I think Barbadians need to be reminded of the scale of the mess. Because what we have had is not just the destruction of the economy. We have had a complete institutional decay. Barbadians no longer have confidence in public institutions and it is our job to try and repair that confidence and let people know that we are here to make sure that public service is returned to what we know it can be and what it should be,” Caddle said.
It was unprecedented for Government to enter into an IMF recovery plan and invest so much in social care services, she declared.
“It is unprecedented for a country to announce those kinds of expenditures even as they begin to negotiate an IMF negotiation. But this BLP administration led by the Honourable PM was able to do that.”
Barbados would not have been able to survive a structural adjustment programme had the Government not spent on critical social care infrastructures, Caddle said.
When the Prime Minister announced in the June Budget that Barbados was seeking to enter into an IMF programme, she was attempting to strike an “unprecedented” deal with the IMF that would access balance of payments financing while maintaining social spending, the Economic Affairs Minister said.
“What she also said that was unprecedented in a fund programme is that you cannot take people on a long journey and not give them breakfast. As someone who has worked on fund programmes before it is unheard of for a country to announce a very necessary increases in expenditure.
“Very necessary increases in social investment things like buses, as people were not able to get home from work and school. Very necessary investments in trucks to pick up garbage because rats were running up and down our streets and people’s children were playing with rats. Very necessary for pensioners to have an increase, the largest increase in the history of this country,” she said.
“If it had not been done as the people were left decimated by the last administration we would not have survived a fund programme,” she said.
Caddle said: “I want us to know it took ten years to destroy this country and it is not going to take ten years to fix it but it is not going to happen overnight and I want us to understand that is the message that we have to carry. Because this administration and I am not saying that because I am a part of it, this administration is working very hard to very quickly stop the bleeding and begin the process of transformation. But you have to help us carry the message,” she said while seeking to explain the severity of Barbados economic situation.
“When the last Democratic Labour Party administration took office they inherited six billion dollars in debt and they said that was a lot and we had run up the debt stock and we had done such terrible things. When we took office on May 25, we inherited 15 billion dollars in debt. In ten years they increased the debt from six to 15 billion dollars making Barbados the third highest indebted country in the world. I want you all to let that sink in,” Caddle said.
Caddle explained the Government’s economic recovery
plan, starting with the decision to default on payments to its creditors.
“We declared a restructuring of the external debt- the debt owed to creditors and the internal debt-the debt owed here in Barbados because we had to.
“In order to close the tremendous deficit we had we would have not been able to do it by just cutting expenditure or just raising taxes it would not have been enough so wide was the gap, so we had to announce a restructuring of the external and the domestic. So why the external even though it was so small as compared to the domestic because we simply could not meet the principal payments that were due in June this year,” she said.