Mottley: Show us the CAF agreement

Government put the “cart before the horse” in bringing a resolution before the House of Assembly today to borrow US$25 million from First Citizens Bank Limited to fund the initial deposit required to become a “C” member of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF).

That was the contention of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, who also warned that if Barbados suffered another downgrade the interest rate on the loan would increase.

While Mottley made it clear that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was not opposed to membership of the bank in principle, she argued that the Freundel Stuart administration should first enact legislation to establish a relationship with the lending agency.

She also complained that not a single Opposition member of Parliament had seen the agreement on joining CAF, which she deemed to be “unacceptable”.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley

 “This is not a country run by fiat, by voice alone; this is a country run by the rule of law. This Parliament has guarded jealously the right to determine what this country ought to belong to in relation to the membership of entities, particularly those relating to banking and financial entities,” Mottley said.

She noted that in 1970 Parliament had dealt with the Caribbean Development Bank Act, which not only committed the Government to join the regional lending institution, but also set out the agreement establishing the CDB and the terms of its relationship with the island.

Prior to that, in 1969, she noted that the country had joined the Organization of American States.

 “What is of importance to this Parliament and each member is that the statutory framework for which we are borrowing in the name of the people is not known to the Parliament today,” Mottley said.

The St Michael North East MP argued that desperation was the order of the day and this explained why the money resolution had been brought before the House of Assembly before the Bill setting out the relationship with CAF.

  “You cannot behave like a political popped kite in relation to the legal obligations . . . that are entered in on behalf of the people of Barbados. There is a Parliament that we just celebrated [its] 375 years of democracy that sets out the law,” Mottley explained.

The Opposition Leader also questioned the terms and conditions of the loan from First Citizens Bank Ltd.

“In this term sheet that is before the House of Assembly, there is a provision for a number of clauses that really reflect the perspective of the private sector and the market as it relates to Barbados’ credit worthiness. We now have clauses that indicate that should there be a further downgrade of Barbados’ credit rating the price of the loan will increase,” she said.

“Under these circumstances, the people of Barbados must be concerned.”

During his wrap-up of debate on the resolution, Sinckler responded to Mottley’s concerns that Government had not brought the articles of agreement in relation to CAF to Parliament.

“Getting a loan from First Citizens Bank to pay the investment fee in an institution does not join you to the institution. There are certain steps that have to be taken before you join an institution. And you can’t come to Parliament to lay articles of agreement for which you have not signed. It’s the most nonsensical thing I have ever heard coming from a person who is supposed to be a senior member of this house and a senior counsel,” he said.

“We have had provisional application into the CAF, we have not joined it yet. There’re no articles to bring here to the House as yet. Once we have done so, we will bring the Bill, which would include not only the articles of agreement for joining the CAF but . . . the Privileges and Immunities Act of Barbados to allow for those persons in the CAF to have the necessary privileges and immunities that all other institutions get around here.”

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