Out of order
Arthur and Symmonds accuse Central Bank of sending mixed messages about the economy
A former prime minister and an Opposition spokesman have accused the Governor of the Central Bank of sending mixed messages about the country’s economy and contributing to a “crisis of confidence”.
Furthermore, said Owen Arthur and Leader of Opposition Business in Parliament Kerrie Symmonds, Dr DeLisle Worrell was out of order when he appeared to disclose yesterday that the Budget would be delivered next week.
Addressing a luncheon of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers yesterday, Worrell cautioned that while the medium-term fiscal strategy was working, additional measures were needed to bring the deficit down to a “comfortable” level and “there is also another two per cent or so of GDP that still has to be found in terms of further adjustments”.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Arthur charged that Barbados was caught up in “an acute crisis of confidence because of conflicting signals emanating from major people, but particularly from the Governor of the Central Bank”.
“We have heard before that the country is stable, that the policies are working, that there are no alternative policies that can be pursued and the next thing we are asked to accept are very punitive, alternative policies,” he said.
“It would be best if the Governor of the Central Bank would stop making these statements because each and every one now amounts to another false dawn,” Arthur added, insisting that the country needs “calm assurance from credible people about what is about to happen and the nature of the policies”.
Furthermore, Arthur said, while Worrell projected two per cent growth for the economy, in the context of a 27 per cent decline between 2007 and 2014, “that would hardly be felt”.
In a separate interview, Symmonds expressed similar sentiments and voiced concern about “the chaos which has broken out in the management of Barbados’ public finances”.
He pointed out that just about two months ago, Worrell reported to the country that the policies implemented by Government were working.
“Now he is telling Barbadians that he is about to take a complete 180 degree change of direction and that a further two per cent is needed, which means more expenditure cuts, more taxation measures and more pain and pressure for ordinary Barbadian folk,” Symmonds said.
During his address yesterday, Worrell said he believed that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler would address the issue of the additional two per cent adjustment next week.
That comment had been interpreted by some as a revelation that the Budget would be delivered next week.
However, sources in the Ministry of Finance have told Barbados TODAY, that neither a statement nor the Budget had been planned for that time.
Arthur and Symmonds were insistent that Worrell had no place making any such statements.
“As the person who is responsible for coordination of the Opposition’s Business in Parliament I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the very disgraceful development of being made to hear about a Budget next week from the lips of the Governor when the common courtesy and the established practice that has been followed in past years has been that either the Leader of Government business or the Minister of Finance himself should and would have alerted the Opposition to this major development,” Symmonds said.
When it was pointed out that the Governor had not specifically mentioned the Budget, the Opposition MP added: “Whatever it is that is supposed to happen next week is being told to us by the Governor of the Central Bank and not by the parliamentary authorities who have been elected for the purpose of discussing with the public the proposed shift in Government’s direction and I wish to deprecate that approach that is being taken.
“Procedurally, it is highly inappropriate for the Governor to be once again announcing or appearing to be determining a major policy direction shift. This is becoming a core problem of this administration. I don’t feel that the Governor has any relevant interest in the direct administration of Barbados’ public finances. That’s what the Ministry of Finance was created for,” he insisted.
Arthur, who served as a Minister of Finance for 14 years, said Worrell’s behaviour was in danger of devaluing the role of the Minster of Finance, “both in respect as well as substance”.
Insisting that the Central Bank Governor should stick to monetary issues and supervising and regulating banks in Barbados, he said this country was “in serious problems when the Central Bank arrogates to itself responsibilities that it does not have”.
“This is outrageous behavior by a man who is dangerously out of control,” said Arthur who resigned from the Barbados Labour Party earlier this year to sit as an Independent Member of Parliament.
“The responsibility that resides in the Ministry of Finance to conduct, to articulate and to implement policies in relation to public finances must not be compromised and must not be subverted,” Arthur argued.