The first 500 days of the Mia Mottley-led Government has been a resounding failure, according to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Party president Verla De Peiza held no punches this afternoon as she gave the administration a failing grade and contended there was nothing on the Government’s report card that should give Barbadians any measure of pride about the trajectory of the country.
Speaking from her law office at Charlton Chambers, White Park Road, De Peiza sought to make the case that Government had only heaped more social hardship on the backs of Barbadians and only had the “smoke and mirrors” of increased foreign reserves propped up on borrowed money to show for it.
“We keep focusing on one single goal, while failing to realize that we have not met any of the other targets. We keep speaking about the wonderful foreign reserves, but we don’t seem to be in a position to make money from the heavy taxes that we are imposing on Barbadians,” said De Peiza, who called on Government to give the country an update on the foreign debt negotiations being conducted by London-based firm, White Oak.
The DLP leader also took exception to Government’s recent decision to forgive the Value Added Tax (VAT) debt owed by businesses, charging that corporate Barbados was being given a free ride while the average citizen has been left to bear the cost of executing the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
“We are concerned that in this current climate, we have creditors that we are not paying and now we have debtors who are not paying in and whose indebtedness has been forgiven, to the point where our financial position and how it impacts upon the average Barbadian, is increasingly negative. We have a concern that businesses are getting a free ride whilst our people are being asked to bear the brunt of the burden,” De Peiza contended.
She argued that the removal of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) meant that prices on the basket of goods connected to it have risen, and she warned Barbadians that they were likely to go even higher under the wider net of the ASYCUDO World programme, a new paperless platform implemented by Customs.
“This basket of goods seems to have disappeared along with the NSRL, and prices in the supermarket just keep going up. I believe that this was an inevitability having removed the NSRL, but it is likely to be exacerbated by the ASYCUDO World application, because you now have to present invoices for every item coming in.
“This means that importers have a greater bill to pay, which would inevitably be passed on to the consumer. There is every expectation of a further inflationary increase not just only in the supermarkets but in terms of personal barrels coming in,” De Peiza said.
The former DLP senator also chided the Government for the island’s garbage collection woes, noting that with the Garbage and Sewage Collection Levy attached to the water bills of households, the Mottley administration had the finances to address the problem.
Last week, Government’s chief economic adviser, Professor Avinash Persaud declared that the worst of the austerity under the BERT programme was almost over.