Tuesday 24 October, 2017

PM accused of stalling until General Elections

Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Charles Herbert

Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Charles Herbert

The private sector has been pleading with the Stuart-led administration for dialogue for the last two months and on Friday they, along with the other social partners finally got their wish.

However, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Charles Herbert is of the view that any real progress or results from the discussions are not going to materialize. Further to that Herbert believes instead of making any adjustments to fiscal policies, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart will drag out dialogue until the 2018 General Elections are called. 

He spoke to Loop News after the conclusion of the Social Partnership meeting on Friday after more than six hours of discussions with the union movement, government ministers and private sector heads.Out of the meeting it was decided that the sub-committees of the Social Partnership would continue consultation, a decision Herbert said the private sector was “very disappointed” about.

“I don’t think that we had the dialogue and responses from government that we wanted and we think that the dialogue that they are promising going forward is with their Senior technocrats and the government ministers are still refusing to have dialogue directly with the social partners. So we are very disappointed.”

Herbert’s position no doubt stems from the last round of consultations with the sub-committee of the Social Partnership which saw the private sector compile a list of recommendations for government to be used in the planning of the May 2017 budget, none of which were ever taken into consideration.

He said the partners will proceed with the sub-committee meetings as scheduled but he does not believe that the framework is one that is "geared for success". When asked if he believed government would stretch out the dialogue until the next general elections, Herbert said “absolutely”, adding there was not much the private sector could do at this point.  

“Government has a right to make decisions and there isn’t much we can do. Ultimately it’s a political matter. We have shown them the desire for dialogue and the willingness to corporate.”

President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Akanni McDowall, said he believed consultations will be a “very long and difficult process” but the unions will continue to fight for their members. McDowall added the “political game” of government will not stop the union from agitating for public servants.