Members of the Opposition are warning the Government to take its time in the execution of the IMF-sponsored Barbados Economy Recovering Transformation (BERT) programme.
Responding to the ministerial statement delivered by Minister in the Ministry of Finance during the Estimates debate, Ryan Straughn, where he outlined the precarious state of Government’s state-owned enterprises, shadow Minister for the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Scott Weatherhead said the Government’s austerity programme could not be realistically executed during the proposed seven years.
“This is a 15 to 20 year thing that this administration is trying to force on the backs of Barbadians in one election term or seven years. The problem we find ourselves in wasn’t created in seven years, it was created in over 40 years. We cannot solve it in seven years.
“You cannot turn around an economy that is $16.4 billion in debt, you cannot turn it around in seven years,” said Weatherhead.
“We really believe that Government needs to slow down, pace itself and take this thing in strides and in pace. There is no rush. Rome was not built in a day and Barbados cannot be fixed in seven years.”
Weatherhead was joined by Opposition members Crystal Drakes, Bruce Henniss, and Sylvan Greenidge at a press conference held at the Opposition Leader’s office in the Parliament Building.
Weatherhead argued that the Mia Mottley administration was building the blocks for a debt-ridden Barbados, as the $580 million loan from the IMF, $100 million loan from Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and $230 million loan from Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) increased the public debt.
“A billion dollars in loans cannot clear $16.4 billion in existing debt. This is additional debt that this Government has just placed the citizens of Barbados in, so I want us to be very aware as we go along into this programme.”
The prominent businessman also expressed concerns about the growth strategy of Government. He believes that the suggested growth strategies could bring no immediate results.
“Investing in education, investing in training is not going to directly impact economic growth this year, next year, or five years from now. That is a 30-year plan. What we need to see is growth in the productive sectors. We need to see growth in agriculture, growth in manufacturing, growth in exports, development of products and services for exports and I do not see any of those things contained in the BERT programme . . . We are talking about real measures to incentivize farmers, manufacturers, people who make products, people who export products outside of Barbados, that is what we really need to see.” (KK)