‘Barbadians must lose get through mentality’
Barbadians have a “get through” mentality that cannot be allowed to go on any longer.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler made this point as he wrapped up debate on the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals late last night, making it clear that the time had come for Barbadians to pay for the social services which they enjoyed for free over the years.
Additionally, Sinckler fired back at private sector officials who suggested that Government should privatize some state entities, likening them to players observing a game but have all the answers for how it should be won.
The minister defended the new measures passed in the budget, saying unless the country attracted massive amounts of domestic and international investments at a rapid rate, residents would have to pay through taxes for the social services they enjoyed.
“Nobody wants to pay tax because we have a society that Lil Rick call a get through society . . . that is the mentality that we are encouraging people to develop that we must not have to pay or have to stand the responsibility or some of the responsibility to cover the cost that we want.
“We feel it is somebody else’s problem and we can ease through the door, or as they would say when I was small, ‘stow away in the fete’ and then tell somebody I get through,” Sinckler said.
Turning his attention to the issue of privatization, Sinckler chastised members of the private sector for suggesting that some state entities should be placed in their hands, stressing that things would not change simply by changing ownership.
During the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) post budget breakfast seminar at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Wednesday, PwC Advisory Partner Oliver Jordan said the private sector would be interested in the Hilton and Grantley Adams International Airport.
In addition, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Charles Herbert suggested that the automotive operation of the Transport Board should be transferred to private operators.
However, Sinckler insisted that the situation at the Transport Board would not improve unless issues related to its structure were rectified.
“We have experts in the game who like to tell you everything in the game. So the issue that can solve the problem of Barbados is for the Government to privatize all of its state entities and that will solve its problems. That is what they do, you know. They hold these meetings and they talk,” Sinckler told Parliament.
Making it clear that he was not opposed to privatizing some entities, the Minister of Finance stressed that the problem was about getting the organizations to be more efficient and productive, which could be done whether privately or publicly owned.
Singling out some agencies and departments including the School Meals Department and the Sanitation Services Authority, Sinckler said if they were to be privatized the main question then would be who would pay for them and how the money would be raised.
The minister also ruled out privatization of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, saying it had accumulated debt of about $75 million and selling it would not make sense.
“If I privatize the Sanitation Service Authority tomorrow to Mr Jose y Jose, if I sell it to Mr [Anderson] Cherry tomorrow . . . even with the most brilliant advisors in the world available to him . . . the question would, be who is going to pay for the collection of the waste? If I am not charging people at point at collection or at some point, how and who will pay for it? The state is still going to have to pay,” Sinckler maintained.
In defence of the National Social Responsibility Levy, the minister said it was to ensure that the health care system did not experience any of the shortages that currently exist.
“This Government will not, and I am sure the Opposition will not support any situation or condone any situation where there will almost have to be a medical arbitrage on the provision of care in Barbados for ordinary Barbadians. It cannot happen,” Sinckler insisted, while asking Barbadians to be patient.