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Messy and painful

Sinckler hints at additional austerity measures

More “messy” and “painful” austerity measures are on the cards for Barbadians, as Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has hinted at additional tax rises and structural adjustments.

He today warned of changes if Government is to continue providing social services such as health care and education while improving on the gains made over the past 49 years.

And while not being direct about increased taxes, the minister said, in an address at the Parkinson Memorial School Speech Day and Awards Ceremony this afternoon,

he understood no one liked taxes but it was time for Barbadians to stop believing they were entitled and to start embracing change.

He made specific mention of health care, transportation, welfare services and education as some of the social services that could face cuts.

“We live in a society in which we believe that we will constantly be able to do the things which we do before economically. It is just not possible. It is not possible. Costs have increased, demands have increased, expectations are far more sophisticated and demanding than ever before in our lifetime,” said Sinckler.

The minister, who has come under fire for the 19-month fiscal adjustment programme and recent budgetary announcements, maintained that the current system was unsustainable. He argued that “loading up” the public service with employees was no longer viable, and that “spending inordinate amounts of money” to do simple things inefficiently and ineffectively was affecting the country’s ability to compete.

“We must change it. Change, yes, can be messy; change can be painful sometimes, but it is a process we have to go through in order to achieve our ultimate goal,” said Sinckler.

He contended that it was time Barbadians understand that the things they have taken for granted “are not ours to hold on to forever”

unless they embraced change, and while the country had given so much in its first 49 years of independence, particularly “in the form of health care, education, social welfare, and community development”, Barbadians would have to give back during the next 50 years.

“And unless we understand that things have to change, envisage that change, embrace that change, and make those changes that are required to protect the things that we have come to learn, to understand, to enjoy, and to need going forward, we are going to have significant problems in Barbados,” he warned.

Sinckler said residents should stop believing that “nobody should be taxed, no tax should be raised, everything should be low, but we want all of the services provided for free”.

He made it clear he did not “live in that dream world” and emphasized that if the country was to remain competitive and maintain the services now offered, “we have to step up and make the changes, not just in relation to increasing this tax or increasing that tax”. “That is temporary – taxes go up and they come down. But substantial change in relation to the efficiency, in relation to the administration, in relation to the delivery of those social services must take place now. Not next week, not next year, not the next ten years.

“It must happen today because we have to embrace the situation that the world is no longer in a position whether willingly or [unwillingly] to provide for us that which we feel we are entitled to, because the truth is, we are really not entitled to anything other than what our hard work and the sweat of our brows produces,” he stressed.

The Minister of Finance indicated that the cost of running the Queen Elizabeth Hospital climbed from $120 million in 2010 to $200 million by 2013, while statutory transfers to the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies almost trebled from $60 million in 2003 to close to $150 million by 2012.

In addition, he said, the cost of waste collection and disposal continued its rapid rise from $30 million in 2006 to $62 million by 2008 and almost $80 million at present, and that it costs between $4 and $5 each for Barbadian to travel on Transport Board buses. “If costs are going to increase like that we need to do two things. One, we need to find out what are the best models to finance the cost if we are going to meet the demands of a sophisticated and growing population. Secondly, we have to make sure that whenever we spend a dollar we get absolute value for the dollar we spend.

“Every dollar we waste or misspend or get less value for is a hit on our economy and that is why we have to find ways to change what we are doing,” he stressed.

The minister also called on Barbadians to stop complaining that “times are hard in Barbados, Barbados is a difficult place to exist in, taxes are too high and it is not right”.

9 Responses to Messy and painful

  1. Tony Webster December 5, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Who exactly is driving this ZR? Is he qualified? Is he really driving…or has he handed over control…to the conductor? Does he have a valid drivers license? Does he recall all the guff delivered in Hallowed Halls , over the last seven years, usually known as The Budget, but also known as the Medium Term Farcical Amelioration policy. Indeed, does the driver actually possess:-
    1. A memory?
    2. A conscience?
    3. Something called personal integrity?
    4. What about that old saw, that sez: “When you screw-up, do the decent thing: resign”.

    If this Honourable Gentleman told me that today was Saturday 4th December 2015…I would check at least three web-sites, plus both local newspapers.

  2. Sue Donym December 5, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Messy and painful – like a massacre. And we worry about terrorists slipping in undetected.

    We should be grateful that we are to be increasingly taxed but told to expect less in terms of health care, education and social services. This means more to spend on conferences and travel for MPs and their entourages.Yaaaaay!

  3. Kevin December 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Ill not go to overboard this Christmas. Lord knows what awaits this country in the new year.

  4. dave December 5, 2015 at 11:12 am

    The sooner this DLP Govt leaves Office the better.
    A Big Bunch of Clowns who cannot manged the Economy.
    Owen Arthur asked the question in 2008 elections campaign -Change for what and to what ??

    Now we we frigging well see
    We brought this shyte on our selves. We took things for granted when the BLP was in power and felt that changing to the DLP that the good things the BLP did would remain and the bad things the BLP did would be corrected by the DLP —=Joke !!!

    Despite of the crap he is talking though, money will still be spent on foolish elaborate 50th Anniversary Independence Celebrations

  5. Bernard Codrington December 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    How much in tax concessions were granted to foreign investors over the same period? Over the same period, how much unnecessary new projects were undertaken without estimating the real benefits and lack of contribution to the GDP? Did the tax measures put the country into reverse gear rather than encourage growth the important denominator in this fraction? Creative tax policy was lacking and still is lacking.

  6. st clair worrell December 6, 2015 at 12:08 am

    I have a very keen sixth sense … When this team of new politicians came to Office some eight years ago, a lot of them we knew very little about except Mr. David Thompson and maybe one itwo of the others…. And l had an epiphany… Alas these are mostly neophytes and we would be in for a rough ride as they had no experience in the business of running a country… Hence I not shock as some ppl are because l expected what we are now experiencing to be the outcome…. So brace yourselves for the aftershocks.

  7. dave December 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    St. Clair ! Come to the top of of the class . You are so right; Too right to be wrong. Neophytes indeed. That is why Owen Arthur warned the stupid people in Barbados that tough times were ahead post 2007 and that they should not change the Government . He asked the question -Change for what and change to what ?? The uninformed led by people such as a certain Reverend Senator and those of his ilk and led by people from St. John and St. Philip who have taken leave of their senses voted for the DLP and pray warriors were in full effect election night 2013–praying for the DLP to get back in —and now this ! Peter Wickham and that foolish second poll and anyy poll at all messed up the whole situation in 2013. Had not Peter Wickham and that stupid second poll , we would not be in this DLP crap trap today. Peter Wickham needs to stop his nonsense!

  8. Troubled December 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

    It seems like the only ideas the minister of finance and his advisory team have are based on squeezing more out of the citizens. How about increasing the efficiency within the public sector? How about holding public sector employees accountable? Why are we paying 7 and 8 times to do one task? Why is the system at customs so antiquated? How about updating procedures and processes within government? More taxes and don’t complain about taxes. Embrace additional taxes!! Does this man hear / understand what he is saying?

  9. Sue Donym December 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    @Troubled, you are right. The philosophy sounds so backward. The last two paragraphs of this article could have stood alone. They only seem happy to pay for salaries for a morbidly obese civil(?) service.

    When Mr. Sinckler refers to misspending and overspending, does he realise it is they and not the taxpayers to be brought to account? They still don’t accept that they are not getting it right and we need to be looking at improving efficiency wherever it’s needed – collection, recording, allocation, disbursements, review. Just ask the Auditor General.


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