Opposition Leader: Don’t hide and take austerity decisions

Ready to defend proposals: Adriel Brathwaite, James Paul and Mara Thompson.
Ready to defend proposals: Adriel Brathwaite, James Paul and Mara Thompson.

The lead spokesperson for the Opposition on Finance and Economic Affairs, indicated tonight that she agreed with the need for austerity fiscal measures at some point in time.

Replying to yesterday’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals delivered by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, however, suggested that the Government should not “hide” and take such decisions.

“We understand that you might have to take difficult decisions, but yuh can’t hide and take them,” Mottley argued.

“You have to stand up like a man and take them. When Tom Adams (late Prime Minister) had difficult decisions to make in 1981, this country was told up front by Tom Adams… [He] didn’t wait until after an election and say ‘I had to go to the IMF’ to deal with difficult economic decisions.”

“Tom Adams faced the problems and fixed them; and not only faced them and fixed them, but went through an election and won the election,” recalled the Opposition MP.

She said the former prime minister maintained the trust of Barbadians.

“He didn’t do like ’91 and deny action on the eve of an election. He didn’t do like 2013, and deny action on the eve of any election,” she argued.

Mottley said what the minister presented as budgetary adjustment expenditure, was too unclear. She told the House of Assembly in her reply there were fundamental issues of execution surrounding the collection of the taxes as proposed by Sinckler.

“But I go further. This is also placing a burden on the middle classes of Barbados who have lost their allowances, who have equally had to face increased tax and who have had to face increased light bills and increased gas and diesel bills, because of the taxation and otherwise wrong-headed policies of this government,” he pointed out.

She charged that these same people now had to have their disposable income “further taken from them”, and referred to a letter which she said someone wrote to her describing the Budget as “murder by taxation and stagnation of a generation”.

“This tax places a burden on people who generate jobs. If a household had somebody gardening for them three days a week, they are likely to tell the man come one, or don’t come at all. If this person was accustomed going and getting a certain level of goods, to be able to support the church, they would have to sell to the church.

“We can’t afford to give you at the church any more goods to help feed the people, because we are barely able to make ends meet,” Mottley declared.

She reasoned that because this Government “refused” to take action between 2009 and 2013 “we have a deficit that is hanging us, expenditure that is killing us”.

She also said the Minister of Finance misled Parliament when he said in his Budget presentation, that “since around 2006 or so, the contribution of the government of Barbados to the UWI has exceeded the combined contribution to all the nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools, Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechic”.

She noted that most Barbadians who were not fully aware of how government worked would be prone to believe that the minister would not mislead the House of Assembly by trying to make a case to justify “the savaging of young people by removing tuition fees from them”.

Mottley urged Barbadians to go online to barbadosparliament.com and see the true educational contributions in the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2013-2014. (EJ)

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