Barbados Today http://www.barbadostoday.bb Read, Watch, Listen & Discuss Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:58:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Arthur quits BLPhttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/arthur-quits-blp/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/arthur-quits-blp/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:50:43 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98174 Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur today handed in his letter of resignation to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party with immediate effect.

Arthur has called it quits from the party he led for over 15 years after recent public disagreements with his successor Mia Mottley.

However, the St Peter representative has made it clear that he is not giving up on active politics.

estimates2013owenarthur

He arrived at BLP Headquarters on Roebuck Street at 11:10 a.m. to hand in his resignation.

He told Barbados TODAY the party has lost its way and its soul and is in danger of becoming a “megalomania” party.

He intends to continue serving his constituents as an independent member of the House of Assembly.

More in our 12PM and 6PM video news updates and in tonight’s ePaper edition – http://epaper.barbadostoday.bb.

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Arthur fed uphttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/arthur-fed-up/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/arthur-fed-up/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:32:22 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98090 Saying he was fed up and tired of being perceived “as a source of discord” within the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), former Prime Minister Owen Arthur plans to make a definitive statement tomorrow on his future relationship with the BLP, which he led for over 15 years.

Arthur served notice of his intention mere hours after the BLP, under the leadership of Mia Mottley, held a protest march through the streets of The City today against the Government’s introduction of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.

However, Arthur, who was noticeably absent from today’s “white march” which was attended by the other 13 sitting BLP Members of Parliament, said his decision to “abstain” was based on principle.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the St Peter MP also admitted to feeling “conflicted” as he promised to say definitively tomorrow whether he felt he still had a future with the BLP.

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

“I am tired being perceived as the source of discord in the party, and tomorrow I will be making a definitive position in terms of my future relationship with the Barbados Labour Party,” said Arthur.

Pressed to say whether he would be resigning, Arthur would only say “you will get it [my statement] tomorrow, but it will be very definitive”.

At issue for him, is Mottley’s stance that there needs to be repeal of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.

Arthur, who was Prime Minister for 14 years, said it would be “hypocritical” for him to support such a call at this stage, since one of his first acts when he took over the Government in 1994, was to introduce an environmental levy.

“I am the only person in Barbados who cannot with honour, participate in an event with the intention of protesting totally against a Government introducing a measure to raise resources for environmental solutions, and  I cannot do that with any honour because I introduced one as my first act as Minister of Finance and Prime Minister of Barbados,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that his decision was prompted then by three reasons that remain valid.

“The first is that at the Rio Summit in 1991, the global community . . . committed itself to heightenng the fight to find solutions to environmental issues and urged that countries and governments introduce in their fiscal system, measures to raise resources for environmental management and sustainable development on the basis of the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

“It is for that reason that in 1995 I introduced an environmental levy as Minister of Finance,” Arthur recalled.

He noted that the levy, which was in existence for 15 years, was introduced at a time when the absence of resources for environmental development and management led to a debacle at Mangrove called Mount Stinkeroo “and it was no longer acceptable that the country should see the absence of financial resources as a reason why we have Mount Stinkeroos in Barbados”.

He said his former administration had also accepted that environmental management issues were going to factor heavier and heavier in the context of public policy in Barbados.

“We had to put in a South Coast Sewerage System. We still need one for the West Coast. We had to deal with Mangrove. You had to protect the shoreline; and I could go on.”

Based on that, Arthur said he could not now fault the Freundel Stuart administration for its move to apply resources to deal with environmental management, even as he warned “you have to do it properly”.

“This Government abolished the environmental levy and then came with a tax that was absurd. It is [now] trying to make the tax sensible. But I cannot participate with honour in [a march] to have no environmental resources at all,” said Arthur.

He went on to dismiss Mottley’s proposal for a water levy to replace the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, saying it would only make matters worse.

“That would cause me, if that was to be the proposal, to do in St Peter, what I did in relation to the municipal tax. I would have to urge my constituents not to pay that too. So I am therefore in a very conflicted position,” he said.

“I have already indicated that I was not comfortable with what the Democratic Labour Party had done. They have shown an initiative to try to address that. I am not happy with what the Labour Party has put on the table. In fact, I think that will lead to a worse situation; and, therefore, I abstained and I am going to address this matter further in the context of its politics tomorrow. But I abstained today because having introduced an environmental levy, I can’t tell the country now that the Government cannot raise resources for environmental management. I can’t do that. It is not fair,” he stressed.

In a further knock on the knuckles of Mottley, he said: “It is naive to say that we got this vast problem, but it can’t be addressed.”

However, he does see some validity in the argument by Opposition MP Kerrie Symmonds earlier this week when he warned that the country faces “a financial cliff from which we have to come back”.

“It is a $1.8 billion [problem] and there are going to be no solutions that are painless; some will be very unpopular,” warned Arthur.

Within the context of recent statements to the effect that the country now was now “broke”, Arthur also warned that “the last thing” Barbados should want to do now is to go to the International Monetary Fund, which he said “will be more painful than a tax on water or a tax on solid waste”.

kaymarjordan@barbadostoday.bb

 
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Junior golfers ready for tourneyhttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/junior-golfers-ready-for-tourney/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/junior-golfers-ready-for-tourney/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:44:18 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98123 Barbados is being represented by a six-member team at the 27th Caribbean Junior Golf Championships in Puerto Rico.

The championships run from July 27 to August 1 at the Trump International Course in Dorado Beach, and teams from ten regional territories are expected in competition.

The Barbados team is captained by Spencer Smith, who is attending the championships for the fifth year, and also includes Xzavier Wiggins, Iz Hustler, Chris Cobley, Joshua Jones and Christian Mason. The coach is former senior player Bobby Edghill.

Spencer Smith

Spencer Smith

Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones

Christian Mason

Christian Mason

Chris Cobley

Chris Cobley

 

Jones and Mason are newcomers to the team and will compete in the 14-15 years division, along with Cobley, while Wiggins and Hustler will compete in the 11-13 years category and captain Smith in the 16-17 age group.

Most of the Barbados players are products of a training programme conducted by the Barbados Golf Association and qualified for the tour after a series of national trials.

Coach Bobby Edghill said the team, which leaves this Saturday, was a good mix of experience and individual talent and should give a good account of itself against the best juniors from the region.

Host country Puerto Rico are the defending champions, having won the title last year in Cayman Islands. Other teams expected to contest the Caribbean Junior Championships, over 54-holes, are the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, United States Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos and the OECS.

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3,000 strong at noonhttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/3000-strong-at-noon/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/3000-strong-at-noon/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:03:32 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98156 The speculation on the level of support Opposition Leader Mia Mottley would get for her protest walk against the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax was put to rest today, when thousands of marchers took to the streets just after noon.

The scorching midday sun would not stop the 3,000 plus supporters from joining the members of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the march against the tax that has sparked much outcry since its imposition just weeks ago.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley along with

Members of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) with Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.

BLP officials led the way, holding hands periodically during the hour-long walk that started in Heroes Square, moving on to Bridge Street, Probyn Street, ending in Bay Street where Mottley delivered a letter to Government Headquarters.

Behind them were people of every colour, class and creed, the majority wearing white; a few dressed in red.

Some made the trek in silence. Others shouted chants like “We had enough; enough is enough!”; “Chris got to go!”; “Them killing we”; and “Lord, we can’t tek it no more” – among other catchy lines. Then, there were those who, at the top of their voices, rendered the popular protest song We Shall Overcome.

A young supporter showing his message.

A young supporter showing his message.

Calysonian Serenader’s 2014 Outta Wuk didn’t make it to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals of Friday, August 1, but it was a pick constantly replayed from the music set on a truck that carried supporters, including artiste Peter Ram.

Entertainer Peter Ram (left) and another marcher.

Entertainer Peter Ram (left) and another marcher.

Some of the scores of placards held high read: DLP Sinking The Ship, DLP A Solid Waste, One Tax Too Many, Too Many Taxes, Six Years Of Lies; Six Years Of Taxes, Six Years Of Pain, All My Money Taxed Already, Dun Wid Dem Before Dem Tax We Again, Solid Waste Tax Waste Of Time, Stand For Better, No More Sucking On Our Nipples, A New Taxman Chris Taxmore, Why Do We Have To Pay For Dem Stupidity?, This Tax Is Pain; This Government Must Be Insane, and What Next, Toilet Tax?.

Many not participating in the march lined the streets and gathered at vantage points on buildings, watching the thick crowd pass by. Some even cheered on marchers, shouting they wanted to be involved in the action, but could not because they had to work.

Some supporters told Barbados TODAY why they protested. They all shared the common position that they were not for the Solid Waste Tax, and hoped that it would be repealed as soon as possible.

“I joined because I can’t pay no more taxes. My light off. I can’t pay my mortgage. What more Chris Sinckler want from me? Why them can’t cut them salary in half? . . . . These people unreasonable, and that is why all of we out here.

“And the time going come, when we going vote them out,” said a loud protestor calling herself Anonymous for fear of being “victimized”.

“My inheritance is under attack. You can’t tell me own a piece of the rock and then tax it from under me. I do not mind paying taxes; but they must be justified,” another marcher stated.

Alma Roach, an elderly woman, said while she received a tax bill for just over $300, she could not afford to pay it because the monthly disability benefit she received was too small.

“I feel bad. That is why I am here to support the march; because I can’t pay the tax,” said Roach.

Sheryl Hart, another elderly person, stated: “I can’t pay this tax. I does get pension off of a man that dead that I did live with and that can’t stretch. This month I had to pay $225 in bills, and then I was left with what? It ain’t fair. If we don’t do something, them going to be taxing we all the time; and you wouldn’t be able to survive.”

Hamza Bourne is only 22, but he does not think that he is too young to protest against the tax which he believes will especially affect the elderly population.

“This Government doing too much stupidness. Taxing people all the time. Taxes, taxes, taxes! No work, and stores shutting down and you ain’t making sales. You got old people that getting $600 and $700 a month, and now you want them to take $600 and $700 a month now and pay another tax.

“You want them pay more for food; you want them pay more for light; you want them pay more for water. The people can’t take any more; and people seeing it, but they are just afraid to do something,” Bourne lamented.

A small representation of the Royal Barbados Police Force oversaw law and order on the road, controlling the massive crowd that was hardly aggressive – that was actually polite.

anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb

 

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‘It’s not about me’http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/its-not-about-me-2/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/its-not-about-me-2/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:33:42 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98144 Three days after creating a political storm by publicly criticising his party leader’s decision to stage today’s anti-Municipal Solid Waste Tax march, Opposition MP Kerrie Symmonds showed up and joined his colleagues and the thousands who made the journey to Government Headquarters.

Symmonds’ reason for taking part was that he wanted to put party before person.

“I had stated my views in the strongest possible way in order to do what I think is protecting and promoting the broader interests of my party; but no man is bigger than the party,” the St James Central MP said.

He acknowledged that his Barbados Labour Party had taken a policy decision on the tax and he said he was honouring it.

“I am a democrat and I am bound by the party to which I belong.  So the issue is not about me, or not even so much about my views, the issue really is about helping the Barbados Labour Party to get rid of a bad government that is inflicting a lot of pain on a good people, and that is why me and my constituents are here to support that,” he explained.

Symmonds had made it clear earlier this week that he was not Mottley’s “clone” and that it was “not a one person show” within the BLP.  He described himself as an Opposition MP with “a valid view”, which was that the party’s opposition to the municipal levy was too narrow an issue to merit a call for Barbadians “to hit” the streets at this time.

Symmonds, who is also the Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Assembly, had further indicated that he was mulling over his participation in today’s march on Government Headquarters.  He said previously he had not yet decided what he was going to do with respect to the march.

The Opposition MP had told Barbados TODAY he had to rationalise that in his mind.

”I have already said publicly that I feel that the Barbados Labour Party has to be very clear about the point it is making to country, and in my view we have to be very cautious about heightening people’s level of expectation beyond where we are able to reach,” he said then.

He had noted that he did not want the people to begin to believe that the BLP could wave a magic wand and they would not have to pay anything.

 

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Mascoll seeing red over Moody’s reporthttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/mascoll-seeing-red-over-moodys-report/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/mascoll-seeing-red-over-moodys-report/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:30:36 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98141 Clyde Mascoll is fed up of responding to reports issued by international ratings agencies on the state of the Barbados economy.

Mascoll, the economic advisor to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, made his feelings known this afternoon when asked to comment on the latest report by Moody’s, which rejected the Barbados Central Bank’s forecast that the local economy would grow this year by 0.3 per cent.

From left: BLP members Reverend Joseph Atherley, Clyde Mascoll and David Gill took part in today’s march.

From left: BLP members Reverend Joseph Atherley, Clyde Mascoll and David Gill took part in today’s march.

Moody’s had suggested that instead of growth, the economy was expected to contract by 1.0 per cent; that the dollar could be in jeopardy if the foreign exchange reserves continued to decline; and that the fiscal deficit would worsen.

However, Mascoll said he said he was tired of repeating himself that the Barbados economy was in trouble.

“I must confess to the people of Barbados, I’m tired of repeating myself. Barbados’ economy is in trouble. It has been now for a while. Barbados has a problem with a lack of growth, Barbados has a problem with a fiscal crisis which it cannot resolve, Barbados has a debt problem, Barbados has a growing unemployment problem
and therefore Barbados’ economy, as we all know by now, regardless of which side of the political fence we are, is in trouble,” he said.

He also expressed disappointment that Barbadians seemed to pay more heed to Moody’s, when he has been telling them the same bad news for years.

Mascoll lamented that this country appeared to prefer listening to foreigners like Moody’s who take their information from Barbados, rehash it and deliver it back here for citizens to consume.

The economic advisor argued that the right thing must be done to ensure the problem was resolved, because the country could not continue on its present path.

“The poor [are] becoming poorer, business people are losing profits, households are under strain, everyone is hurting in Barbados, except for a very few, especially those who continue to ride in very big rides after professing to be poor and not wanting to have a cut in salary. Yet still they are now demonstrating all kinds of vehicles. I see BMWs when I went in to carry the letter [to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on the Municipal Solid Waste Tax today], I saw Audis, I saw Mercedes,” pointed out Mascoll.

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CTUSAB ‘doing what’s right’http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/ctusab-doing-whats-right/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/ctusab-doing-whats-right/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:44:45 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98108 As the Opposition staged its “white march”, Barbados TODAY sat with president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Dennis De Peiza, to get the organization’s position on the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, and how the union intends to treat to the matter.

He also responded to criticisms about the unions’ handling of the retrenchment of over 3,000 public workers and shared his views on strained relations with the Barbados Workers’ Union.

 

You’re with us on a day when the Opposition Barbados Labour Party is staging a white march. What’s your impression of the event?

De Peiza: The Congress of Trade Unions understands the situation that faces the country at this point in terms of the public [being] very sensitive about the tax measures that have been introduced. Certainly, from the perspective of labour, there have been a number of taxes imposed on the society over time, and in addition to that there have been no increase in salaries for public officers, in particular; and one understands how this impacts.

And when we speak to the level of retrenchment in the Public Service and statutory boards that we have seen in recent times, this of course raises a serious level of concern. I believe each organization, whether it be political party or otherwise, has its own agenda and determines how it wants to make its process felt in this regard. What the labour movement will say at this point is that we believe that matters such as this one should be a matter of consultation at the level of the Social Partnership.

We ourselves have a perspective and would be able to provide some type of guidance in terms of what is the final determination that is to be made, because at the end of the day we also represent a large [number] of constituents, and I would suggest to you we represent the masses in terms of our society. So this is really a shortcoming that has emerged in this instance and I don’t think it is too late to get back to the basics. In other words, have that consultation and dialogue with the labour movement and the other stakeholders –– which would be, of course, the Barbados Private Sector Association . . . .

 

When you say consultation here, do you mean consultation with the Government or consultation with the Opposition that is staging the march?

De Peiza: I am going to put it in another context. We embrace the Social Partnership model and I believe that where something like this is going to happen, we could sit down with the Social Partners to speak to something that is fundamental in terms of how it impacts the lives of people. If you went back to the water rates when they were being changed some years ago under the Barbados Labour Party, I recall that we had a meeting at Grand Barbados, chaired by then Prime Minister Owen Arthur to discuss the issue of the water rates and the proposed changes that were to be implemented.

Maybe, it might not have altered significantly what would have happened, but at least the level of engagement –– and who knows? Some of the ideas that might have been put forward may have been or could have been embraced. So I still believe that there is room for that type of engagement to take place; so that there is a demonstration of commitment that we speak to in terms of consultation and dialogue.

 

So Government has not consulted with the Social Partners on the municipal tax?

De Peiza: Let’s put it this way. There has not been a discussion that I am aware of where we have been brought to the table and the merit and demerits of such a measure hammered out.

 

Where do we go from here, now the tax is with us? The Government says it’s proceeding with it?

De Peiza: Any time that you can determine what should or should not be done, that can only be done through disclosure of information, to know all the facts and to be able to make some input into the discussions.

 

So you’re still hoping that Government will still bring you up to date on this matter?

De Peiza: That is something that is in the open. It hasn’t taken place that I am aware of . . . . I’m sure the labour movement will be willing and ready to have that type of discussion to see what can be done, or what can be measured in terms of the outcry that has come from the public at large.

 

What are your union members saying to this tax right now?

De Peiza: We in the labour movement have not fully discussed the matter as yet. Of course, we have had small pockets of discussion, but not in terms of our major grouping. It’s on our agenda very much; but we were hoping to have further information first before we can go and start a discussion which is more or less premature in a sense, because it is not based on thorough information that would help us . . . .

 

So do you support the call by the Opposition, which is behind the march today; which is for a repeal of this measure?

De Peiza: Every organization has its agenda. The Opposition would have more information than we have, and they know why they are staging their protests, and what they intend to get out of it. But I am saying that we are reserving our position on this case until we are fully informed, and then make a judgement based on a set data that is placed before us.

 

What sort of information do you really want though, because you know the people are going to say you know that the tax is going to be 0.3 per cent in terms of the improved value of the land? You know too that seniors are going to be exempted, and you know too as well that agricultural landowners are going to be paying half the price, and everybody has until December 31 to pay now? So what more do you need to know?

De Peiza:You are talking about after the fact. We are talking about what has informed the discussion. Don’t forget I spoke to you in terms of what we have agreed upon as part of the strategies for growth and recovery of Barbados and before this measure was brought to the table.

It was not raised at the level of the Social Partnership; so since it is something extraneous, I believe we should have some background as to why this is taking a place, just as much as we would have been informed about the intention to retrenched 3,000 public officers, I believe the courtesy should be to bring this to table and have a discussion in like manner.

 

You said it’s on your agenda. When are you likely to discuss this matter?

De Peiza:  We were to meet on it last week. Well, unfortunately, we had some issues resulting out of the death of our president’s wife, and we were not able to convene that meeting; but we have set a date for a board meeting to examine this among other matters.

 

And what date is that?

De Peiza: That is an executive board meeting which will be held on August 7. A bit long because of other pressing commitments we have to scheduled at that time.

 

CTUSAB has no part in today’s white march then?

De Peiza: We weren’t invited and I don’t think CTUSAB is an organization that would just get up and join a march like that. Of course, that has to be part of a decision that has to be made by the members of CTUSAB, and, as I said without the benefit of a discussion for us to come to a position, I don’t think CTUSAB would be so callous as to just go and march in those circumstances.

 

Some people criticize the union saying it is not representing the workers, and maybe some would suggest that because you haven’t even met on the municipal tax, it is a sign that you are stepping away from your mandate?

De Peiza: I think that people have to understand how the Congress of Trade Unions operates. The Congress of Trade Unions is an umbrella body that deals with policy matters, but our individuals unions are constituents that would meet and discuss on whatever matters they need to at the national level and then they feed into the Congress. So it is at this point that we would then have that discussion that would lead us a definitive position. That is not to say that the individual unions have not been discussing the matter with their constituents.

So I think if people are going to take that stance, that they should first ask themselves: did your union consult with you or are you aware of what is happening within the individual union? Because that is not necessarily the remit of the Congress.

 

Is it a wise move by the Opposition at this time? Does the country need a protest march now?

De Peiza: I would not wish to say if it is wise or unwise. Every organization has to make its own determination; and if in their judgement that is what they want to do, then they are free to do so, because as an Opposition there must be expectations from their constituents in that regard.

 

The union has in the past used protests as a means of stating its message. Is the municipal tax something that is worthy of a protest?

De Peiza: Once that is a decision taken by the unions at any forum that we have, then we are commited to something like that; but a decision has not been made.

 

How is the BWU these days? We know last week they were missing from the Social Partnership meeting. Are they back on board yet? Has the Prime Minister been able to reach out to them? 

De Peiza: Well, that question I would respectfully suggest you should direct to the Prime Minister; but so far I have not had any response from the Barbados Workers’ Union to the point of re-entry into the Congress.

 

Have you reached out to them? 

De Peiza: I always say that is an ongoing thing. My president has spoken on several occasions: at last year’s biennial conference and every opportunity that we have we always make our public comment that we would like to welcome the Barbados Workers’ Union back to the fold. We don’t have any qualms about anything; we have no axe to grind; we are one fraternity; we have always been a part of a strong labour movement in Barbados.

We anticipate there can no difficulty that can be too big which cannot be overridden in this case; and we believe that it’s just a matter of time before whatever perceived breach there is is settled.

 

So the trade union movement has not lost its way?

De Peiza: Can’t you see the vibrancy that has been maintaining the Congress? The Congress has been continuing to play its role in every sense, based on its constitution and its mandate; and it has been doing what it is suppose to do; and I don’t think it would be a fair comment to make that the Congress is not playing the role.

People may have expectations, but we have to what is right. You still have to do things according to the standards and principles to which you subscribe.

 

So you are happy with where you are in terms of the representation of those 3000 workers that have been retrenched at this stage. Everything is being done for them that can be done at this stage?  

De Peiza: We’ve always said and the two unions who were involved in the process, they spoke to what should have been done in accordance with the law. The matter is now before the Employment Rights Tribunal; so I will leave it there. But we would certainly like to make sure that whatever happens follows the process and procedures that are established.

 

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Sinckler not moved by BLP marchhttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/sinckler-not-moved-by-blp-march/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/sinckler-not-moved-by-blp-march/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:27:26 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98138 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is not moved by the 3,000 plus supporters involved in today’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP) protest to press for repeal of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY following today’s march, which started at Heroes Square and ended at Government Headquarters, Bay Street, Sinckler said while he acknowledged the efforts of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, it was not enough to convince anyone that the tax should be withdrawn.

In fact, he said he believed former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s method of dealing with the tax was precisely how such issues should be handled, pointing out that Government had already made interventions and adjustments to the tax.

“Appeals have come in and we have been dealing with them as expeditiously as we can. There was one particular group that we have helped in the circumstances,” said Sinckler, in reference to the recent changes made to the levy.

He also said today’s march was not only about repeal of the tax, but also for the imposition of a tax on water, which will not be supported by the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

Asked to comment on the turnout for the event, Sinckler said: “Large is relative. To an ant a dog is large but to a dog an elephant is huge. There are 80 thousand property owners who would have received tax demand notices. Would you consider 3,000 of 80,000 to be large? he asked.

However, he went on to state that “the numbers thing is not important. What is important is the purpose of the tax which is to assist us with the management of the cost of dealing with the solid waste and that’s the basic purpose.

“Everybody accepts that there is a major solid waste problem in Barbados . . . . The disagreement seems to be about the type of tax that you utilize and that way it is six of one, half dozen or the other or the next.”

He warned: “You are still going to have to impose some type of tax and that’s the point Kerrie Symmonds [made] before he had his road to Damascus experience between last Sunday and today. I agree with him, and unfortunately he seems not to agree with his own self, but the fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, whether it is B or D, Chris Sinckler or Mia Mottley, this Minister of Finance or another one, a charge is going to have to be placed,” he added.

He said while today’s exercise may have given promotion to the Opposition Leader and her internal battles with the labour party leadership, at the end of the day this Government was trying to solve a problem that “they [the BLP] created”.

 
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AT ODDShttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/at-odds-3/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/at-odds-3/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:55:17 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98086 Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler has dismissed the latest Moody’s report on Barbados, saying it is not very important.

moodys

However, noted economist Ryan Straughn said he agreed with the latest report, and has questioned the Government’s ability to maintain the reserves and attract private sector investment.

Yesterday, international ratings agency Moody’s rejected the Central Bank’s growth projection of 0.3 per cent for this year, saying instead the local economy was expected to contract by 1.0 per cent.

Moody’s also expressed concern over the state of the country’s foreign reserves, while cautioning that any further erosion in the reserves could likely put added pressure on the Barbados currency.

However, in his response Sinckler told Barbados TODAY “that is Moody’s view”, adding that the agency did not have access to all the information that the Central           bank did.

“Therefore, the thing that they do as much as anybody else is estimate. This thing about the growth this year and whether it is going to be 0.3 per cent or down one per cent, it is all just guess work,” added Sinckler.

In defending the Central Bank’s prediction, Sinckler said it was a given that the economy would not experience any robust growth, adding that there was always a margin of error and no one was debating that.

In response to concerns about the reserves, the Minister of Finance explained that last year the reserves started to decline around the end of April to the beginning of May and therefore when compared to this year it was indisputable that the the reserves had stabilized for the first half of this year.

“Yes, the pace of fiscal consolidation can be quicker, and will gather pace as you go on through the year. But nobody can say that that process has not in fact started,” he said.

Dismissing the Moody’s report, Sinckler said: “It is not that really important. What is important is achieving the targets that we have set and that is what we intend to do and that is what we are working towards. That is what the municipal tax and all that is a part of. So we either want to achieve our tax or we don’t, and I think that most Barbadians want to and [we] will do so.”

In a separate interview, Straughn told Barbados TODAY the Moody’s report was “confirming what everybody knows”.

He said it would be difficult for the Barbados economy to experience any growth this year since the correct conditions were simply not there.

Straughn explained: “Given the domestic situation, there is the continued impact on VAT, the continued impact on consolidation tax and household spending and now the introduction of this new tax [ the Municipal Solid Waste Tax] although it is delayed somewhat, it is not conducive to doing business domestically. So I really don’t see, based on those things, growth in the absence of some foreign injected project.”

He insisted that the current fiscal and monetary policies being pursued by the Freundel Stuart administration were hindrances to economic growth and attracting private sector investment.

“The ability to attract foreign investment is a critical part of the puzzle, because unless we are attracting and earning foreign exchange then we are going to be forever in this problem and borrowing currency to pay public servants is not a strategy I would say is a workable one,” added Straughn.

Suggesting that the recent announcement of capital injection into property projects was not enough, Straughn added: “Given that the financing seems to have gone astray, it is difficult to see where you can get genuine growth opportunities in this type of environment.”

The past president of the Barbados Economic Society (BES) said the deficit was only a little less than it was for the first quarter of last year, adding that it demonstrated that the fiscal consolidation measures put in place by Government was not significant enough and it was “a serious situation” that needed to be addressed.

On the issue of the reserves, Struaghn said the reason it was at the levels reported by the Central Bank was due to government’s borrowing last December and March this year, and he questioned “what are they going to do December this year [ if the government continues to spend like it is]?

“So the question is are we then going to continue to go into the market to borrow, on what can only be concluded as onerous terms, just so we can say that we have reserves up there?” questioned Straughn.

marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb

 

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Mia pleased with today’s marchhttp://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/mia-pleased-with-todays-march/ http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2014/07/25/mia-pleased-with-todays-march/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:18:32 +0000 http://www.barbadostoday.bb/?p=98092 Opposition Leader Mia Mottley says the “massive” turnout for today’s anti-Municipal Solid Waste Tax march shows the Freundel Stuart administration that Barbadians were willing to stand up against “a bad tax”.

Mottley told a news conference at the end of the trek to Government Headquarters that the letter she delivered to Prime Minister Stuart urged him to set up a new governance mechanism, which she contended the country needed.

“Today was to set out … I have written the Prime Minister a letter, it is a genuine letter; let him have the opportunity to read it, let him have the opportunity to respond. You would know that we have called for the new governance mechanism too many times. But this is not a case of us now wanting it, this is a case of the country needing it,” Mottley added.

Earlier, while on the march, she told the supporters today’s event was the first in a series.

At the news conference, the Opposition Leader said the demonstrators, numbering between 3,000 and 5,000, were sending a message to the authorities that they wanted to be heard on the levy, which she is urging Prime Minister Stuart to repeal.

Asked what she took away from the march considering attendance she replied: “That the people of Barbados want to be heard, that this is a bad tax, that they feel that their government is ignoring them. When last has this number of people stood up for anything in Barbados?”

“They tell me when people had passed Harbour Lights, people were still down by Bethel Church. But I didn’t see it. Suffice it to say that I know for sure that these numbers have not stood up in Barbados as one for anything and we keep saying people are frightened and it is probably true,” Mottley pointed out.

She said she understood workers employed by the Financial Services Commission were instructed not to get involved in today’s protest march.

“Don’t mind you can’t tell people what to do in their lunch hour, don’t mind you can’t do it because there is freedom of assembly. There is too much intimidatory tactics. But the people have said, irrespective of what you do, there are some of us who are prepared to stand up, and to those who did not come together, we give you comfort that we will hold their shield broad enough to cover you, so that we can move forward peacefully in this long journey to the hope, to restoration,” Mottley continued.

The Opposition Leader complained about the treatment meted out to her when she arrived at Government Headquarters to present a letter to the Prime Minister, regarding the tax.

“The Members of Parliament and caretakers accompanied me, along with a few ordinary citizens; and when we got there [Government Headquarters] we were told that we could not carry the letter to the Prime Minister’s Office. I didn’t expect necessarily to see the prime minister, although I must tell you that if I was prime minister of this country and somebody came to me, I would come to them and greet them, because it is common courtesy and especially if you are holding a constitutional post,” added the Opposition Leader.

“Regrettably the prime minister’s s security came, you were there, you heard how he addressed me, you heard how he addressed the crowd that was there, and before that got out of hand and bearing in mind that we had a couple thousand people in the hot sun, we felt that after 10 minutes of waiting, we left the letter there and came out; because it wasn’t fair to the people outside who were waiting.

“As [soon as] we got in the yard, somebody told me that somebody was coming, but by that stage we were then walking,” she noted.

Mottley told reporters this did not surprise her. “This was not something that happened out of mid-air. These are the kinds of things that we say are wrong with the governance of this country. There has to be a tone of leadership that raises this country, not diminishes each of us,” she contended.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

 
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