If George Payne had his way, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler would be fired. He would also get rid of Sinckler’s May 30 Budget which every representative private sector body has said will lead to a spike in the cost of living and job losses.
In a statement issued yesterday (June 22), Payne, the long serving representative for St Andrew, said Sinckler does not know what he is doing and this is clear from the number of times he has been forced to clarify his budgetary measures to key stakeholders after announcing them.
That action, said Payne, is a pattern of behaviour that demonstrates gross incompetence.
The following is the full statement from the BLP chairman:
Once again, the Minister of Finance has demonstrated that he does not know what he is doing.
He is the only Minister of Finance in the history of Barbados who has habitually conceptualized policy measures, announced them, and thereafter has to go to great lengths to explain them to stakeholders and the public.
We saw this with the solid waste tax, the cell phone tax, the tipping fee, and the confusion over when all but two of the income tax allowances he took away from hard-working Barbadians were to be deducted.
What happened this week with the Minister holding consultations with stakeholders to clarify his May 30 Budget was a continuation of his characteristic behaviour of repeatedly getting it wrong, and putting the cart before the horse. It is a pattern of behaviour that demonstrates gross incompetence!
Whatever credibility the Minister had left after the numerous gaffes he has made in his seven budgets; the 17 downgrades this country has suffered under his watch; and after the spectacular failure of his home-grown fiscal programmes to rejuvenate the economy, has now been totally eliminated by this week’s talks with stakeholders on his Budget, after it was presented.
No competent leader decides on a path, declares it, then holds talks to listen to how those most impacted by the measures feel. This bastardization of the Budget package after it was presented renders it discredited and unreliable. It shows how wrong the minister got it.
Worse than that though, is the fact that the Prime Minister agrees with this approach given his statement essentially to that effect. That demonstrates the rot in this Democratic Labour Party Government starts at the very top.
This entire situation would be laughable if it did not involve the well-being of 260,000 Barbadians.
But the fact is, the imposition of the increase of the National Social Responsibility Levy to 10 per cent, the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions, and the hike in excise taxes on gasoline and diesel will cause the cost of living in Barbados to skyrocket. These taxes will devastate the average Barbadian and lead to more unemployment. Indeed, this has been stated by all of the stakeholders – which is unprecedented. Therefore, notwithstanding the Minister’s belated concession not to have the NSRL applied to the near 300 basic items already included in the VAT-free basket of goods, the reality is that come July 1, the Budget measures will inflict more pain on Barbadians.
Worse still is the total silence and abandonment of the CLICO Investors and Policyholders . After the 2016 Budget Mr Sinckler apologized to CLICO and BAICO policyholders and promised that the transition and settlement would be completed by the 31st December 2016. Another Budget has come and gone and nothing more has happened and not a single word from the Finance Minister.
The Barbados Labour Party contends that there is enough evidence to demonstrate the Minister of Finance’s incompetence and inability to manage the economy. This is why there is a lack of confidence in the Barbados economy by local investors, while the only people attracted here in recent years have insisted, and received, massive concessions.
The Barbados Labour Party is therefore calling on the Prime Minister to fire the failure that is the Minister of Finance, and recall the entire budget.
If this Government honestly wants a Budget that is in the best interest of Barbados, they need to immediately start a consultation process involving the key stakeholders, the official Opposition, the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Development Bank.
We cannot continue with this chop and change, piecemeal approach to the management of the Barbados economy.