On the brink
Opposition Leader claims Central Bank close to insolvency
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has charged that the Central Bank is close to insolvency and has blamed that state of affairs on the mismanagement of public finances.
She told a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) St Lucy branch meeting last evening that the state corporation is affected by a litany of woes including politicking, recklessness, questionable spending on entertainment, and arrogance.
And she has heaped the blame on Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell.
She told those gathered at the Darryl Jordan Secondary School that the island’s leading financial institution has fallen into disrepute and will have to seek taxpayers’ dollars for a bailout.
“Can you imagine a Central Bank, that used to be regarded as one of the most independent and competent institutions in this country, now being viewed as a propagandistic machine of the Government? . . . A Governor of the Central Bank taking positions now that would cause people to wonder what is he talking about? A Central Bank that we are now hearing is virtually broke that will need an injection of capital from the Government in order to carry on?
“And then you have to take the taxpayers’ money that should be helping to build out this country and to stabilize people, to now put it back in the Central Bank to make it solvent.”
She charged that the bank got to that position through “reckless expenditure combined with no interest on the investments that it makes in Government paper, only because it wants to keep the cost of Government debt down”.
The BLP leader also outlined a list of problematic internal and external practices at the Central Bank.
“Two parties at Christmas when people going home and you about to make an announcement to send home 35 per cent of the bank’s staff. How could you justify two parties at Christmas when they got people in Barbados that can’t even buy half a picnic ham?”
“How can you justify paying $40,000 a month on average in entertainment at the Central Bank?” she asked, adding that was the equivalent of 30 people getting salaries.
Mottley spoke of a chauffeur earning a salary close to the prime minister’s because of the unusual hours of work.
“But it’s not the chauffeur’s fault, it’s the people who called him out to work [overtime],” she was quick to add.
Mottley said the pivotal institution spends almost $10,000 every month in videotaping.
“As if that is not to be the height of contempt, you address the workers via video,” she added, referring to the bank head’s mode of holding staff meetings.
She said staff were unable to discuss matters relating to the imminent layoffs because the communication was by video, “as if he is in another country or another planet”.
The Opposition Leader further accused the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of sitting idly by “while people who work in this country for decades giving their best to the Central Bank stand in fear, in anxiety”.
She said while the Central Bank’s filing of annual reports was once “like clockwork”, the 2013 report was still to be laid in Parliament.
Mottley also criticized Governor Worrell for discontinuing the traditional press conferences following the release of quarterly financial reports.