Clarke: Just a 'quick fix'

Its sudden rush to help children whose financial needs are not being met by some parents is adequate proof Government was indeed in a deep slumber.

And Opposition St. George North MP Gline Clarke also thinks that, rather than just setting up a special fund to help meet child maintenance costs, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Administration should increase employment so many of the individuals in arrears can meet their obligations.

The Barbados Labour Party spokesman made the assertions this morning in the House of Assembly as members debated a $400,000 supplementary resolution to facilitate the fund’s establishment.

While calling for a mother’s allowance, “where mothers based on their income receive an allowance from the state for every child the person has”, Clarke said Government’s solution to the problem was a mere “quick fix”, which suggested it was asleep on the job.

“Of course the Prime Minister says that he has now woken up; I don’t believe (only) the Prime Minister was sleeping [because] I heard the snoring out there and I believe the whole Government was sleeping because they [have] come at this last minute … and you put in place something now without adequately telling us this whole thing,” he said.

Clarke said high unemployment among men owing maintenance was a key issue authorities needed to resolve.

“Over the past four years the Government has not been providing opportunities in employment. Employment among men [is] now … more than 10 per cent … and the Government comes in here [not] telling men across Barbados how they are going to provide employment for them through the construction industry and so on,” he stated.

“There are too many persons who go home week after week without adequate funding and … you have high unemployment in the construction industry, that is where the majority of men who maybe [are] in default lie, and men cannot take home money because they are not employed.

“They [Government] have suppressed the construction industry, suppressed industries in Barbados and we have a situation where a number of men who would want to pay for their children cannot pay, not because of any fault of them, but because of Government sending a large signal across Barbados that they should not be any increase in wages and that unemployment is the order of the day,” he added.

The former Cabinet member said while the BLP “did not necessarily oppose” the measure, it considered it “a quick fix to fix a matter that has been really in existence for a long time, but is not necessarily universal…and we believe that there needs to be clear understanding and a clear policy needs to be enunciated by the government”.

“I am saying that this fund was talked about when the Prime Minister was Attorney General and it was also announced in the Budget of this year, and the Budget was held in the month of June … so the government has taken approximately two and a half years to bring this measure to the House. On the eve of the election the Government is bringing this on this occasion in order to put this in perspective,” he said. (SC)

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