Not a clone
Symmonds not backing Mottley’s repeal of tax demand
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is facing fresh dissent from within her own ranks.
But the man who openly challenged her in public this weekend, St James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds, could be facing internal censure by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) over his public statements.
BLP General Secretary Jerome Walcott was very adamant today that a radio programme was not the place for raising party concerns. He has therefore indicated that the party would have to deal with Symmonds’ conduct at the parliamentary group level.
“I am very concerned about the public statements made by Symmonds. If you are not going to speak at a political meeting, it is not a matter for discussion on a radio programme,” Walcott said today following Symmonds’ appearance on Sunday’s Down To Brass Tacks radio show in which he came out strongly against his leader’s stance that there must be a repeal of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
Symmonds had indicated that he would have no part in last night’s BLP meeting at Carlisle car park in The City called to press the Government on the matter.
But even with the threat of censure hanging over his head, a defiant Symmonds made it clear today that he was not Mottley’s “clone” and that it was “not a one person show” within the BLP.
He described himself as an Opposition MP with “a valid view”, which was that the party’s opposition to the municipal levy was too narrow an issue to merit a call for Barbadians “to hit” the streets at this time.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the St James Central MP, who is also the Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Assembly, further indicated that he was mulling over his participation in Thursday’s planned march on Government Headquarters to be led by Mottley in a show of Opposition disgust over the measure.
“I have not yet decided what I am going to do with respect to the march on Thursday.
“I have to rationalise that in my mind. I have already said publicly that I feel that the Barbados Labour Party has to be very clear about the point it is making to country, and in my view we have to be very cautious about heightening people’s level of expectation beyond where we are able to reach,” he said.
“I appreciate fully the enthusiasm about the lack of confidence with the Government. I share that competely because people are suffering.
“On this particular issue, however, there are some realities,” he stressed.
In explaining his position on the solid waste tax, he noted that the country now has a $1.5 billion deficit that had to be filled.
“Resources have to be found from somewhere. This tax was a bad tax, it has been adjusted. We do not yet even know the extent to which the adjustments are going to take. We have not yet seen the full extent of the ajustments that the Minister [of Finance] proposes. There are still some doubts about how far he is actually going. So I think it is wise that we reflect and pause a little bit so that we understand what it is we are up against,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“However, beyond that we also know that we are going to have to pass on to the consuming public, householders, the people out there, the tourism people, the industrial people and the agricultural sector, an element of the cost associated with the disposal of waste in this country,” Symmonds added.
The Opposition MP maintained that he did not want the people to begin to believe that the BLP could wave a magic wand and they would not have to pay anything.
“My real concern is that I would want to temper enthusiasm with a degree of caution and measured judgment. I am very worried about actions that are premature, actions that are overly hasty. I think that sometimes you can bring too heavy a hand down on something when really and truly you are not yourself in a position to do a lot better. My concern is that if we were in government two months from now, what would our solution be,” Symmonds said.
“I want the BLP to be very clear about its cause to the country. It cannot send mixed messages. If we are marching in protest of a bad administration that has run down and destroyed Barbados, then I am all for it. If we are marching along very narrow lines of a Municipal Solid Waste Tax that has been adjusted, and the extent of the adjusments we are not sure about then I have to say then there is wisdom in pausing and doing a little bit of reflection and analysis of not only where the government is at, but where we would likely be if we were in the government’s shoes in short order,” he added.
The development with Symmonds comes on the back of recent public disagreement between Mottley and her former leader Owen Arthur, who had stated back in December that he had lost all confidence in her leadership.
Political scientist Dr Tennyson Joseph is on record as saying that Mottley should step aside as a means of settling the internal power struggle while his former University of the West Indies colleague Dr George Belle said today Mottley’s ongoing problems were an indication of Arthur’s continuing appeal.
“Once that continues you will have the divide in the party and it weakens the party in relation to focus and unity. This is something that has been going on for some time,” Dr Belle said.