Democratic Labour Party (DLP) spokesman on business matters Ryan Walters has accused the Mia Mottley administration of not fulfilling a promise to assist businesses over the past three months.
Though Walters did not say if businesses were equally not going forward to take up the announced help, he said Government disbursed only five million of the almost $270 million in an economic stimulus package announced at the end of April.
In a video release on Tuesday, the businessman said while the Labour Party administration was very good at articulating its vision, the results so far of the stimulus package showed that execution were “very much lacking”.
“It is very disappointing, but we remind the government if their policies are to bear fruit they must follow through with implementation,” he said. “As the (saying) goes ‘a promise is a comfort to a fool’. We need execution. There is too much talking. The people of Barbados deserve better.”
He said that of the $8.5 million business interruption benefit from the National Insurance Scheme – which was $1,500 for two months – only $4 million has been disbursed, as reported at the end of July.
Of the $20 million small business wage fund to assist employees with up to five workers, at $500 per month for two months, it was reported that $1 million had been accessed.
Walters also queried why no disbursement has been made under the $200 million Barbados tourism facility and the $40 million VAT Loan Fund that was put in place to provide working capital and investment loans to tourism related business, and 12-month interest free loans for businesses to help cash flow, respectively.
“We have heard nothing on the VAT Loan Fund in terms of how much has been disbursed. If we total what has been disbursed today we get $5 million,” he said.
At the middle of last month, while small hoteliers indicated that they were awaiting “further notice” on how to access the $200 million Barbados Tourism Fund facility, then Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds said it was up to the hoteliers to come forward for the concessionary loans, which were to be backed by a financial institution.
Insisting that Government was not delivering, Walters said: “The Barbados Labour Party government has not put the money where their mouth is.
“The announced $268.5 million economic stimulus package has not come to fruition after three months since it was promised. To date, we could only confirm that a mere $5 million, which is less than two per cent of the promised $268.5 million has been disbursed.”
He said this signalled that the recovery efforts of the country were being “driven solely by the independent efforts of businesspeople, big and small, who are supported by their private financiers and their own individual capacity with very little government support”.
The DLP spokesman said “if the numbers hold true” it suggested a lack of support for small businesses and entrepreneurship and that the most vulnerable were being made to “fend for themselves”.
Walters said: “The Government of Barbados needs to identify how they have contributed to the stimulation of our economy over the last three months. And please, do not tell us about paying unemployment benefits which are legally due to affected persons.
“The DLP is urging the government not to shy away from its commitment to the programme as it is still much needed. Micro, small and medium sized businesses are very much in need of assistance as they cope with rebuilding their businesses.
“Of equal importance is the dire need to retain as many jobs as possible and minimize any pending job losses within the economy as this has implications for further social fallout and the break down of families.
“We need the minister of small business and entrepreneurship to address this immediately. Three months is too long for nothing to happen. How long will it take to put the economic stimulus to work in the best interest of all?
“It isn’t fair for businesses and their employees to be left by the wayside with no support. The minister needs to step up and hold to their [Government] commitment now before more businesses close and more unemployment is unleashed on the citizens of this country.”