Go home!

Former prime minister lists several indiscretions by Central Bank governor

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has released a detailed charge sheet against Barbados Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell, accusing him of a series of intellectual and other indiscretions which he believes warrant his urgent dismissal.

Former prime minister Owen Arthur
Former prime minister Owen Arthur

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Arthur zeroed in on yesterday’s pronouncements by the Governor in relation to the Value Added Tax (VAT) system, saying Worrell’s statements were both “irresponsible and cavalier”, and deserving of his head.

“Barbados is facing an apocalypse and Dr Worrell is now the chief horseman of our apocalypse,” warned Arthur, after the Governor told a news conference that the VAT, which has been in force here since 1997 and which has been credited over the last 17 years with raking in billions into the Treasury, was both unnecessary and unsuitable for  the island.

The Governor went on to state that the VAT had “absolutely no advantages” for Barbados. In fact, he described it as “a mess” and “a complicated tax to operate” –– one that creates all kinds of controversies regarding what you exempt and what you don’t.

Though not surprised by the Governor’s statements, Arthur, whose former regime had actually introduced the VAT nearly two decades ago, is concerned that they are being used as a “distraction from what should be facing us at this time”  and “what is necessary to stabilize and to save our economy and       the society”.

He pointed out that there was a long history to the Governor’s comments, noting that as far back as 1994, in his Budgetary presentation, late Prime Minister David Thompson had indicated the intention of the Democratic Labour Party Government at the time to introduce a VAT from January 1, 1995.

“I supported a value added tax in Opposition and looked forward on becoming the Head of Government in 1994 to introduce it, but I was advised that the [then] Deputy Governor Dr Worrell opposed it,” Arthur recalled.

“I asked him [Dr Worrell] to document for me his reasons, and he did send me a letter on it, and I must tell you, there were two consequences: one is that the reasoning was so vapid that I knew then that I would never be able to appoint Dr Worrell as a Governor of the Central Bank,” said Arthur.

“. . . And, secondly, every time I wanted to find something to laugh at, I took out Dr Worrell’s letter to read it because he was effectively advising that we should have taken the 11 pre-existing bits of taxes and reform them, rather than introduce the Value Added Tax, so that this is not new territory for Dr Worrell. This is a longstanding fascination that really does not draw upon any particular empirical, or theoretical, or conceptual foundation,” the former Prime Minister said.

Arthur, who is a trained economist, emphasised that contrary to the Governor’s stated position, the VAT had been “the tax of choice” and “it has more than performed the purposes for which it is intended in Barbados”.

“If this was Dr Worrell’s only indiscretion, I think we could dismiss it. But how long are we going to dismiss the series of indiscretions that this man has been perpetrating?”

He proceeded to outline his detailed list of other charges against the Governor saying “the notion, for example, that the economy was stable was consistently put by Dr Worrell and the notion that there were no alternative policies that could be pursued”.

“We now find that that has been really a piece of intellectual folly,” said Arthur, adding that “Dr Worrell has gone on record, in papers published, saying that Barbados was stable because we were about to invest in, and produce $265 million US of ethanol”.

“He has gone on record as saying that we don’t have a debt problem . . . [and] as trying to develop a new methodology for measuring unemployment that people have dismissed out of hand.”

He emphasised that the current argument by Worrell against the VAT was only “a foolish distraction”, adding: “The notion that a Minister of Finance should be now forced have to stop doing what has to be done to save this country and to have a fiscal convulsion –– because that is what it would be to remove the tax and replace it with whatever else –– is irresponsible and cavalier.”

The Member of Parliament for St Peter further cautioned that the island had reached a stage where it could no longer dissociate an aspect of the “very horrible circumstances” it faced economically from the nature of the advice that Worrell had been advancing.

“It seems as though he [the Governor] prides himself on the extent to which  he is unorthodox as happened for example in his altercation with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund,” said Arthur.

“[However], my advice to the Government is to ignore Worrell and I hope the Government of the Bahamas [to whom Worrell has offered similar advice on the VAT] will ignore him and really let us focus on that on which we are focusing.

“What I thought he would have been telling us is how he got the Central Bank of Barbados into this now paltry state where it is now losing money, even while printing money, and he is sending home 60 workers.

“I thought the [Central Bank] board would tell Dr Worrell he needs to send home one person. And that one would be Dr Worrell,’ Arthur said.



8 Responses to Go home!

  1. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne May 9, 2014 at 5:01 am

    The politics of attrition. In order to win the government; the DLP had to discredit Mr Arthur and all he stood for. Unfortunately the DLP did not prepare a plan to take this country forward, the focus was on Mr Arthur and wining. They won and now we have this sordid mess. A country operating like a train with no brakes going down a steep hill; all on board heading for certain disaster. This is the unfortunate consequence of the DLP plan for Barbados, embraced by so called respectable organisations and individuals and sold to the electorate. Any serious organization would have dismissed this group of managers but somehow we, Barbados Inc, continue to have faith in them as they take us back to the Middle Ages. We like it so. Good luck Mr Arthur.

  2. Cheryl A Rollins
    Cheryl A Rollins May 9, 2014 at 6:55 am

    We must also blame the electorate who are just as responsible for the mess that we are in today. They are the ones who took to the polls and elected this party to lead us down the pathway to poverty. Well done!!

  3. Nelson Darwin
    Nelson Darwin May 9, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Better to scrap personal income tax and focus on better administration of VAT.

    With VAT, the more you consume, the more tax you pay. The fairest situation.

  4. Philip Matthews
    Philip Matthews May 9, 2014 at 11:32 am

    All the talk , 17.5 %VAT is Pure Madness , Even the 15% the BLP placed on the people was hard , instead of cutting Vat and reducing splurging in sports , both government in their greed just juck it into the people of Barbados , they must of known that All Bajans do , is grumble when the Government is raping them .

  5. Philip Matthews
    Philip Matthews May 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

    not but broken promises from the DLP!

  6. Philip Matthews
    Philip Matthews May 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

    not but broken promises from the DLP!

  7. Cheryl A Rollins
    Cheryl A Rollins May 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I think the Governor should stick to gardening. It would work out for the best.

  8. dd smith May 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Who is in control in Barbados, everyone seems to be say and doing what they like.
    The central bank governor behaving as like he is running a rum shop, a politician making rude comments about a honourable member of the opposition, a police force behaving like school kids, and a government waiting for divine intervention. and bad news after bad news, if bajans don’t be careful they are going to be living like eastern Europeans, on potato soup.


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