The nation’s pensioners advocate has agreed to give the Prime Minister time to come up with a plan to ease the plight of pensioners who it claims are expected to face hardship from the Government’s debt restructuring policy.
The Barbados Association of Retired Persons’ (BARP) president, Ed Bushell, revealed that they accepted Prime Minister Mottley’s recent request to give her a couple of weeks to address the association’s plea for a carve-out for pensioners.
Bushell was commenting in light of the Government’s International Monetary Fund-financed Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan, which is aimed at clearing Government’s massive debt, restoring the foreign reserves and achieving sustainable growth. Under the plan is an offer to exchange existing Government paper for a new debt instruments, contained a severely slashed interest rate and longer terms to maturity.
“When we first understood that there was going to be a restructuring, BARP acted immediately and we sought a meeting with the Government’s economic team . . . . We had a meeting with them, I think on August 31 . . . a three-hour meeting in which we discussed all of our concerns. They did an excellent job of making a presentation to us, explaining the whole rationale for why they were doing what they were doing,” Bushell said.
He recalled leaving that meeting with the understanding that Government was going to make provision for pensioners and senior citizens especially.
But he noted that having been made aware of additional information on the matter, BARP had to make a double take.
“Once the detailed information came out, we saw that they had been some special arrangements for seniors. However, we felt that because we were now aware of individual cases and a lot of other cases and the particular hardships that were caused, we again wrote the Prime Minister, outlining our concerns about these areas and again making recommendations as to what we thought could be done,” added Bushell.
The BARP said he was very pleased with the Prime Minister’s response.
“She has indicated that . . . give her couple weeks and she is going to take a serious look at the plight that this particular programme has put the seniors in . . . and we said, ‘give her the time’. She asked for some time and I think her promise is as good as her word,” Bushell declared.
Bushell was speaking to the media at the end of a presentation of a cheque for $1,500 to BARP’s Charitable Trust by Golden Soca Productions this morning.