Ten months after being rejected by the electorate, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) has expressed fear and disheartenment for the country’s future under the leadership of Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.
In a press release, party leader, Verla Depeiza took aim at a number of controversial economic decisions made under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, arguing that just a year ago, the country’s outlook was brighter.
“Today we have a hot and sweaty approach and are not so sure what is happening to our economy. And Barbadians are not living; they are barely surviving,” argued Depeiza, as she praised the approach of the previous Government.
“We worked in accordance of our tried and successful philosophy: home grown solutions first. It worked for our former leader Sir Lloyd. We preferred slow, but sure. In that way the average citizen could still live.
Central to the concerns raised by Depeiza was Government’s failure to broker a debt restructuring arrangement with external creditors.
“Besides missing crucial payments, Barbados has now missed the March 31 deadline to complete the negotiations with the external creditors. We call on the Government as a matter of urgency, to give a progress report on the negotiations and to let the country know what fallout to expect from these failures,” she demanded.
“At a time when BERT is touted by the Mottley administration as being Barbados’ saviour, international agencies remain unconvinced.
“Moodys now follows Standard & Poors as skeptics of the plan. We have suffered two downgrades in the last eight months by the same agencies whose ratings were used by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to condemn and belittle the former DLP administration,” Depeiza charged.
Yesterday, Deputy Division Chief for the Caribbean II Division at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Bert Van Selm told Barbados TODAY that settling on a debt restructuring arrangement with external creditors, who account for close to 20 per cent of Government overall debt, was critical to restoring confidence to the local market.
Depeiza’s assessment of the situation was considerably more blunt.
“Both rating agencies were clear that Ms Mottley’s decision not to pay debts was a significant factor leading to the downgrades. She did not pay Credit Suisse in June last year nor the prison bolt in January this year. It is almost June again and the delinquency grows direr.
“And with the deafening silence surrounding White Oak’s negotiations and Barbados’ precarious position with
international creditors, the DLP is disheartened and fearful of the future of Barbados under this regime,” admitted Depeiza, before tearing into Government’s taxation policies over the last ten months.
“The National Social Responsibility Levy is now being declared by economists to be a fairer tax than what has now been implemented. The IMF itself had hailed the progress of the DLP,” she said of the fund’s January 2018 assessment.
At that stage, she said the fiscal deficit was estimated to have declined to 5.5 per cent in 2016/2017 reflecting stronger revenue performance.
“The IMF also credited the former Government with reducing total expenditure, despite a large increase in debt service, reflecting our efforts to contain spending across the board,” she contended.