Mascoll warns that worst is yet to come
Opposition spokesman on finance, Dr Clyde Mascoll, is warning that the economy will reach “rock bottom” by next year.
But before that, he said Barbadians could expect more public sector layoffs and higher taxation.
Speaking during a panel discussion, which formed part of the Barbados Labour Party’s annual conference last weekend, Mascoll also accused Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell of moving away from his job of managing monetary issues and venturing into fiscal policy.
“This economy will reach rock bottom before the end of this fiscal year, that is March of 2015,” he told the gathering at the St Leonard’s School on Sunday.
“You have not yet seen the worst in the Barbados economy; it is coming.”
Against the backdrop of the Central Bank’s recent third quarter report which showed that Government was in need of some $174.6 million to meet its 19-month fiscal adjustment targets, announced in August, 2013, Mascoll said there would be further public expenditure reduction measures.
“If the Government intends to cut expenditure further by next month, there will have to be consideration of even more workers going home in Barbados because it does not make sense to me. When I look at the data there [isn’t] any opportunity for cutting further expenditure unless Government intends to look at its major component of expenditure – wages and salaries.”
The economist said the pay cuts would be accompanied by increased levies.
“You can look forward to even harsher measures. At a time when Barbadian workers have not seen increases in your salaries for six years, you have to pay higher taxes,” he stressed.
Mascoll said his negative forecast for the Barbados economy was based on Government’s failure thus far to meet its fiscal adjustment targets.
“When the measures were introduced last August, the same Minister [of Finance, Chris Sinckler] said that he is looking to reduce our deficit by $400-and-something million. Now, in spite of the measures, in spite of sending home over 3,000 workers, in spite of the new taxation, after ten months, the Government has succeeded in reducing the fiscal deficit by only $5 million.
“This is why in spite of all that they have been doing, they are now reporting that they are coming back to you, the good people of Barbados, to inflict further taxation on you, to reduce spending further.”
Mascoll added: “All the evidence does suggest to me that we are on the wrong course. We have barked up the wrong tree and we are destined to erode all of the gains that we’ve had post-independence by guaranteeing that our future is in no way better than the past that we’ve experienced as a people.”