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Ince defends fiscal strategy

Government Senator Jepter Ince this afternoon stoutly defended his Administration’s decision to continue its medium-term fiscal strategy as the answer to the economic future of Barbados.

In his contribution to the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the Senate, Ince urged Barbadians not to expect “overnight” solutions, but medium to long-term growth success.

He told the Senate that once the various capital projects came on stream the Barbados Labour Party would remain in Opposition for another 20 years. The government member stated that he, working in collaboration with the minister of finance, would ensure that the projects were implemented on time.

He noted that the Estimates looked at restructuring and diversifying the local economy, something, he added, that should have been done 14 years ago.

However, Ince pointed out that the medium term fiscal strategy was not written in stone and would be reviewed, if necessary. He also took Opposition spokesman Jerome Walcott to task for an earlier criticism of the Government’s “abuse” of the National Insurance Scheme in financing the Administration’s operations.

Ince, the former Investment Manager of the NIS, said that in December, 2007, the previous BLP Government took $830 million in the form of debentures from the scheme, borrowed $20 million for housing as recorded by the 33rd annual report of the 2005-2006 NHC, and not a house was built and $10 million in “development bonds” for the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc.

He disclosed that other so-called development bonds came from the NIS – $13 million for the Bridgetown Port, $20.3 million for relocation of the Barbados Coast Guard headquarters and $17.2 million for major mains replacement programme for the Barbados Water Authority.

“Not a pipe. Not even a ‘lead pipe’ or ‘dagwood’,” Ince declared.

He told the chamber that the current Minister of Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, now had to find $60 million to implement the mains replacement project.

He also accused the former BLP Government of using money from the NIS for a private sector project – the desalination plant. Ince assured the country that its series of capital works projects such as the Andrew’s Factory $200 million upgrade, the $60 million mains programme, the port/cruise terminals venture, the Trinidad to Barbados gas line and the alternative energy sector scheme were all critical to the future development of the country.

He noted that the $600 million for these projects would be well spent. (EJ)†

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