With reports that Government is close to reaching a deal with its external creditors, the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) is urging Prime Minister Mia Mottley to come clean with the details.
The call has come from the trade union’s president Edwin O’Neal who today cautioned that the “devil was in the details”.
Speaking to members of the media at a press conference at CTUSAB’s Garrison, St Michael headquarters this morning, both O’Neal and general secretary Dennis de Peiza queried what was Government’s next step in addressing its external debt.
“Essentially there is a well clichéd phrase, ‘the devil is in the details’. We are going by various reports that Government is getting close to a settlement with the international creditors and if this is true, then Government can begin this conversation with the people of Barbados as to what those details are for the satisfying of the external debt,” O’Neal said.
De Peiza said he was satisfied with the recent reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which lauded the progress of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
However, he said with the news that the country’s economy was stabilizing, the Government needed to come up with a solution regarding how it would repay those external creditors.
“What we are concerned about now, if we are hearing that there is a level of stabilization happening at the domestic end of our economy and fiscal arrangements, we now have to deal with foreign debt. This congress is concerned with how and what are we doing because we have to know,” de Peiza said.
“We don’t want to find ourselves in a position where labor feels another blow, another serious part of the burden. We know it has to be shared but we still want to know how you are going to proceed.
“If you do not start to generate some level of revenue and growth in the country, we are going to go around in a circle trying to treat one problem but creating another. So we are conscious of this as a part of the ongoing development and although we are happy to see that we are able to satisfy one end, we now have to turn our attention and do so very proactively about how and what we need to do to go forward, having a cushion and not to have some serious setbacks that could put a toll on the already burdened society that is carrying a lot of weight at this time,” he added.
During a recent three-day visit to the island, an IMF team headed by mission leader Bert van Selm praised BERT for reaching its goals.
Van Selm said the IMF was also satisfied with Government’s revamped tax system, as well as its progress in finding a solution to satisfy external creditors.
As part of BERT’s focus on reforming the island’s public sector, close to 1500 persons were retrenched.
Those retrenchments were done in three phases ending in January of this year when approximately 500 workers lost their jobs.