Clarke: Who will benefit from stimulus package?
Challenging whether all of the country will really benefit from Government’s $650 million stimulus package introduced during the opening of the Estimates by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Clarke agreed that a programme to “stimulate the productive sectors” was the only way to go.
He however challenged how it would be delivered and trickle down, charging that some years ago the DLP had spoken out against the same kind of public/private sector partnerships which it was now embracing.
“This is the question we want to ask, who will benefit from this? The Government is clearly looking at a number of off-budget financing and they have said so clearly and we need to discuss in this debate at this time, who will benefit?
“If it is true that the wider sector of Barbados will benefit from these arrangements and if Parliament will know and if people in society will have an opportunity to tender for the work Government is putting out in housing; if persons will respond to public works, to the various sectors in health, the new hospital, who will benefit?
“Will it be a situation where only the minister or Cabinet will know what is going on. We want to know and therefore if the Government is bringing a new dispensation to Parliament, then we have to look at a new way of dealing with these public sector partnership programmes that the Government now embraces because they said they weren’t embracing the public/private sector programme.”
Charging that every sector within the Estimates had been subjected to cuts, Clarke argued that the only interesting factor surrounded the capital works project that had been called five years ago.
“I want to find out if persons will be able to tender for these programmes and if they will and who will be left out because already we hear about a number of old contractors and a number of serious contractors who have been left out.
“We hear the utterance that some contractors will be left out based on who they belong to or who they are perceive to be belong to. I want to hear from Government who will be left out and who will be included and if everybody will be eligible to tender for these private sector partnerships.
“We want everything to be exposed here. If you want to go in a new direction let us expose everything here because in Public Works $80 million will be for road improvements and I agree with that because we started it.
“We started a programme to provide road works not only in the BLP constituencies at the time but also in constituencies that had elected DLP members and we want to hear St. Philip, we want to hear what is happening to other parts of Barbados…,” he said, noting that he had heard mention of work in the Scotland District but there was no mention of St. George.
“The public needs to know if it is really pay back time.” (LB)