Sunday 20 October, 2019

BUDGET REPLY: Barbadians need help to survive

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley delivering her Budget Reply.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley delivering her Budget Reply.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley says Barbados is suffering from "incompetent and non-responsive" leadership.

In her Reply to the 2017 Financial Statements and Budgetary Proposals, Mottley charged that this year’s Budget was a reflection of a disconnect between parliamentarians and the general populace, making “the largest tax grab since taxes were introduced” without giving Barbadians the support to cope with the impact.

“At what point do we have a government that stands up for the people of this country? This tax grab is so huge that it is likely to lead to a contraction in this economy… which means our GDP will fall. This means our debt-to-GDP ratio is going to increase… and this means that we are now galloping down the road to take over from Greece. Right now there are only three countries – Barbados, Greece and Japan – with over 160 percent debt-to-GDP ratio,” said Mottley.

Mottley argued that the Budget is unlikely to realise the projected revenue but that with the hardship of $481 million in additional taxes, provision should have been made for a cost of living allowance, as well as a guarantee of a minimum living income for every household.

“This is about people being able to eat and if it means that we have to carry these people and families… tens of thousands of people... we have to do it!” she insisted.

She charged that the DLP administration has failed to provide strong leadership and have done nothing to understand the plight of the people, while the Barbados Labour Party has been hitting the ground and “rubbing shoulders” with communities across the island.

Mottley said Finance Minister Chris Sinckler has lost all credibility and should be removed from his post, asserting that the 2017 Budget joins a series of failed economic plans.

Decrying the announcement of plans for a National Fiscal, Economic and Social Development Restructuring and Enhancement Programme, Mottley lamented, “The name is so long – I cannot even remember the name… By the time you say those words, the election come… and gone.”

She criticised the DLP administration of trying to create the impression of being effective by the announcement of many plans, often referred to by acronyms, but with little to show for it.

“This is the same Government that tells us about FACTS – they like these acronyms!” she said. “You know what ‘FACTS’ stands for? Freundel And Chris Telling Stories.”

Throughout her Budget Reply, Mottley frequently returned to the issue of leadership, contending that the Prime Minister’s refusal to engage the people of Barbados has been a driver of the country’s decline.

Mottley said that while Barbadians have grown accustomed to the silence of the Prime Minister, it appears his administration is not even communicating with important stakeholders in key sectors.

“It is shameful! Barbados cannot carry the weight of an incompetent and non-responsive Prime Minister. We knew he did not talk to us… and we got accustomed to that, but we didn’t know that he didn’t talk to officials who he should be speaking to! We thought that he spoke to them, but it is clearly the case that the Prime Minister only speaks to the tourists at Ilaro Court and the dead people in his library – that’s all,” she charged.

Mottley insisted that the country needs new leadership, asserting, “For Barbados to grow, this Government must go!”

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