Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has slammed Government’s “Ernie and Bert” economic crisis programme as a “quick-fix”, designed to improve its chances of being re-elected.
And in so doing, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration is inflicting more pain on Barbadians than necessary, he charged.
“Your [Government’s] job is not to rush in here and do a quick fix. This is not a quick fix thing that you can do in four years, give a little sweet something at the end of year four, and then year five get re-elected. This is what this whole thing is about,” the trade unionist insisted.
“I understand that the country is in trouble, but you cannot rush in and fix it in the short term looking at the next election down the road, because this is what is happening.”
He made the comments this afternoon during debate on the Approval of Debt Restructuring Bill 2018 in the Senate, in which the Government is to amend the terms on which domestic bondholders are repaid.
Referring to Government’s recently introduced Barbados Economic Recovery and Transition (BERT) programme as the “Ernie and Bert programme”, Senator Franklyn said it was causing Barbadians undue stress and pain.
“This programme is more onerous than the IMF [International Monetary Fund] would have put on us had we gone to the IMF and let them design a programme for us.
“But we in Barbados decided this is what we are going to do, and the IMF decided not to stop us. This is one of the fastest programmes ever negotiated by the IMF,” Senator Franklyn said.
“You are hurting us, the people of this country, more than is necessary because you want to do it in four years so you can win the elections.”
He lambasted Government for its decision to send home 1,500 public workers, saying that most of those losing their jobs were at “the bottom of the scale”.
The senator recommended the Prime Minister trim her 26-member cabinet instead, which he claimed was ten more than it needed to be.
He said the impending job cuts ran counter to the Government’s protection of the most vulnerable in society.
“As part of this BERT programme, you are sending home people at the bottom of the public service scale and you feel that is good . . . . You are sending home people who are making less than $2,500.
“Take care of the people who cannot take care of themselves. If you come to Parliament and you have not been able to put your life in a position where you can support yourself then you shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be coming here relying on Parliament to feed you and serve you,” Senator Franklyn said.