Pay rise coming
A new Barbados Labour Party government will negotiate a wage increase for thousands of public sector workers whose salaries are now frozen.
About $24 million in tax free allowances removed by the Freundel Stuart administration would also be restored and the CLICO debacle resolved through a combination of cash, investment instruments and tax relief.
Those pledges were made last night by BLP leader Owen Arthur, who asserted that since Stuart and his colleagues were not giving Barbadians the real report on their performance he would be letting voters know that Government was “broken” and had “failed badly”.
Speaking at the BLP’s familiar Bay Street Esplanade stomping ground as the party launched its 2013 general elections campaign, the former Prime Minister told the large crowd, many of whom were dressed in his party’s favoured red, that the DLP administration had failed and its failure did not deserve reward.
A glaring example of this, he said, was the absence of a wages settlement over the past few years, something he committed the BLP to once voted into office.
“I would be ashamed to be a Prime Minister and a Minister of Finance and have people living in my country whose wages are frozen while prices are rising by 30 per cent, and … the Government of Barbados must accept that people can’t be frozen like that,” he said.
“As soon as practical a Barbados Labour Party Government must negotiate a wage settlement for people that are in this situation. It is wrong, it is unconscionable.”
Arthur said the wages settlement would include tax relief for the middle class and even greater solace for the poorest in society.
“This Government has failed bad, but it is also a broken Government, … because governments exist to do things. This Government now has lost its capacity to make things happen,” he stated.
“You must change this Government because the Democratic Labour Party has failed Barbados and that is the most important reason why a government must be changed. You can’t reward failure and I say that they have failed Barbados because the Democratic Labour Party fundamentally have made Barbados the victims of a philosophy that is folly.
“The Dems would want you to believe that they are not interested in building an economy, they are interested in a society. I ask you how on God’s earth can you build a society without the wherewithal to pay for the things that a society needs?” the veteran politician asked.
Arthur said it was not enough for Stuart to promise a performance report to Barbadians, but instead “move around Barbados and to use the opportunity of a political campaign for vilification and vitriol”.
He told the Prime Minister he should tell Barbadians that “every year the Barbados economy has been getting smaller and smaller and for the first time in the history of Barbados’ administration a government will go back to the people with the economy smaller than the economy that it inherited”
“Some people are struggling on Sundays to put a decent meal on the table for their families, Barbadians for the first time have to borrow to pay a light bill, people have to be running from the people that they owe,” he said.
“Our economy is not only getting smaller … but Barbadians are saving less and less … over the term of this Democratic Labour Party. Over $1 billion had to be drawn down from deposits held in the banking system of Barbados for people and companies in this country to be able to make ends meet.
“Tonight I have come to dispel the myth that by some reason best known to the Democratic Labour Party our country is in some special way the victim of international circumstances beyond our control, and that all of the rest of the world is in our situation and better can’t be done and that countries that use to have been like Barbados prosperous countries are themselves now too the victims of international recessions.”
Arthur said the only hope the DLP was offering Barbadians now was “the opportunity to go and cut down bush by the road”.
“We are not teaching our children to weed by the road and if that is all the Democratic Labour Party is offering you across Barbados tell them that is not Errol Barrow’s vision for you,” he urged the audience.
“We believe too that this is a country where people have aspirations and if you marry opportunity to aspirations and leave them to their own devices they will get on with the business of improving their circumstances and helping to build and develop their country.
“What the Democratic Labour Party has done is that it has robbed you of the means of which you can rescue this country by giving you your own devices to do it. They have taken all of the money out of your pocket by which you too could rescue Barbados,” he added. (SC)