Mottley: Island strapped for cash

(Left) BLP stalwart, Herbie Yearwood, has a word with BLP candidate for St. Michael South Central, David Gill.

St. Michael North East MP, Mia Mottley, argues that Barbados is assets rich, but cash poor.

She offered the characterisation on Saturday afternoon while speaking at the First People’s Forum on “Privatisation: The Barbados Model”.

The former Deputy Prime Minister asked her audience: “Where are we as a country and can we afford the Government that we have? The fact is that Chris Sinckler said he has to borrow money to keep 7,000 employees at work every month.

“The facts are that Government has to borrow $40,000,000 every monthend … to pay its monthly bills. That is where we are. We are asset rich and cash poor. It is like you owning five houses and two cars, but you cannot pay a light bill – you cannot buy food and you cannot pay your water bill. What will you do?”

She contended that any Barbadian who found himself in such a position would sell a house and a car to pay the bills every month. Mottley said it was not only Owen Arthur, Clyde Mascoll and herself who had said that Barbados was asset rich but cash poor, noting that in 2009 the late David Thompson told members of the Press that the nature of the country’s finances required that assets be sold as had been done in the past.

She further stated that as recently May 25, 2011, at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said: “Even a blind man on a trotting horse sitting down backwards would be able to see that too many of these organisations have become too much like the very central Government administration that they were created to assist.

“They have become wholly inefficient in service delivery, extremely costly to maintain and weak in managerial and operational systems as well. This is not to say they have bad managers, but as a system and at a structural level they can no longer effectively and efficiently deliver to the public that they are suppose to serve.”

Mottley claimed that Sinckler identified such Government agencies as the Barbados Port Inc., Transport Board, Barbados Water Authority, Sanitation Services Authority, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and National Housing Corporation have become increasing burdens on the taxpayers.

“We will have to be bailed out from the outside. We make decisions in our interest,” she added. “When the sugar industry imploded in the 19th century the sugar planters in Barbados created the Barbados Mutual. The choice is ours.”

Maintaining that she wanted to see the economic enfranchisement of the Barbadian worker, Mottley asked: “What is wrong if the Government sells a bus to two bus drivers?”

She noted that out of a total budget of $105 million, the Transport Board spent $46 million on diesel.

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