Sinckler talks review of social service costs

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is suggesting that Government will soon re-examine how it funds some of its free social services that place a heavy financial burden on its limited finances.

He was speaking to Barbadians on a national television programme recently where he responded to questions from callers about the economy.

Sinckler noted that the developmental interventions which were introduced to help the society collectively as it related to economic and social mobility were costly. He said it would be beneficial for Government to realize the true cost of delivering appropriate high-quality services to Barbadians and then seek to ask the public which part of that cost they were prepared to carry.

“It costs on average of $180 million to run the Queen Elizabeth Hospital; it costs $100 million to run the Barbados Transport Board; it costs $170 million to run the University of The West Indies –– all major expenditure items.

“The time is coming soon where a serious national discourse has to take place on how these things are funded. The cost of these areas of expenditure is not going down; it is going up, and therefore as a country we have to see how we are going to deal with it; but we also have to ensure first that we do the types of reforms that give us a level of efficiency,” he said.

The minister indicated that currently there was “quite a bit of wastage across all of these social areas”. He stressed that each time Governments ignored rectifying inefficiencies within the social services, the cost of restructuring would significantly increase.

“That’s a challenge and that is one of the costs attached to having the type of society that we have. We do run a kind of social democrat process here in Barbados. We don’t call it welfarism, as they would say in Britain and Europe and other places; and you see what is going on in Europe. These things have a cost.”

When asked about his views on his recent criticisms from the general public as it relates to his economic decisions, Sinckler said that he was not investing in failure, but was focused on success.

“You have to set your task, take your advice, establish your policy and implement it. Some people will see the wisdom of it now, others will see the wisdom of it later. But at the end of the day, you can’t let that get you down because you will not get anything done in those circumstances,” he said.

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