Time to discuss way forward, says Clarke
While throwing his support behind the retention of the Transport Board, former Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke saw the need to discuss the way forward for that state entity.
Clarke was speaking in the House of Assembly earlier today where Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce sought a Government guarantee of a $30 million National Insurance Board loan for the Transport Board. Expressing concern about the $70 million deficit recorded by the Transport Board, the St. George North MP stressed Barbadian taxpayers would be asked to repay the loan since the Transport Board was cash-strapped.
He said the public could not continue to service a deficit of this magnitude indefinitely.
Clarke said: “The energy costs crippled the Transport Board and the manufacturing sector. If Government takes less excise tax it will assist a wide cross section of Barbados. What happened during the last four years? What are the DLP plans for the Transport Board? What are the Democratic Labour Party plans to service the $70 million deficit? Can we continue to service a deficit of $70 million? The $30 million should have come from the Consolidated Fund.”
He said the Transport Board was increasing expenditure faster than it was accumulating revenue.
While conceding that Government needed to continue running the Transport Board, Clarke said it should be run like the sea port and the airport.
Addressing the issue of the rolling stock at the board, Clarke noted that the life of a bus was 25 years and said that over the past four years several buses were refurbished. He suggested that Government should look at the cost of refurbishing, maintaining and buying new units.
The MP also noted that several metropolitan countries had entered into lease arrangements with the private sector in the acquisition of buses.
“Government policies have failed. It (Transport Board) is a necessary evil, but at what cost? Government has to pay this loan because the Transport Board cannot pay it,” Clarke said.(NC)