Brace yourself!

Sinckler warns there’s more austerity to come

If Barbadians thought they had seen the back of Government’s Fiscal Consolidation Programme, they had better think again.

This strong word of caution this evening from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler as he prepares to make his much anticipated Budget presentation in a matter of weeks.

Without revealing his full hand, Sinckler today declared in an interview with Barbados TODAY that what he had originally announced back in 2013 as a 19-month adjustment programme, involving more than 3,000 public sector lay offs along with some much-dreaded tax hikes, was “not over by a long shot”.

In fact, he served notice that more adjustments would have to be made, even though he ruled out the likelihood of Government embarking on another major public sector retrenchment exercise at this time.

At the same time, the Minister of Finance warned that it simply could not be business as usual, particularly at state-run statutory corporations. However, he assured that the current focus would not be on retrenchment as Government seeks to reduce “chunk by chunk” annual transfers in the amount of $200 million to these mostly loss-making entities. While stressing the need for greater efficiency at these state-run entities, he revealed that his ministry currently had before it proposals for an overhaul of the operations of the loss-making Transport Board, which he said neither called for any increase in bus fares nor full privatization of the state entity.

However, he did stress the need for greater public/private sector synergies and more focus on efficiency.

At the same time, Sinckler is not ruling out the possibility of increased taxes, while stating that his primary concern was to ensure that the country did not slip back into an unmanageable deficit position.

“We are working with it ever cautiously. . . . It doesn’t mean that you are going to go and have a whole set of taxes increased. It may mean that we will look at what we already have and we will see if there are any areas where we can give reductions. If there are, we will do so. If we can sustain without bringing back any of those taxes that we have allowed to lapse, we will do so, but if necessary where possible, we will make adjustments accordingly to ensure that we maintain that balance,” he said.

In light of the latest economic report released yesterday by Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell, Sinckler acknowledged today that the current level of growth in the order of 1.3 per cent was simply “not good enough”.

He also blamed the slight decline in Government’s revenue during the first six months of this year on the removal of the Consolidation Tax, which formed part of the initial fiscal consolidation programme, but only came to an end on March 31 this year.

However, he said the current economic situation was neither worrying nor depressing since Value Added Tax information for the period was still coming in and information to do with major tourism projects such as Wyndam, Sandals and Hyatt still needed to be factored into the mix.

In view of concerns expressed by the private sector, Sinckler also assured that planned adjustments to foreign exchange outflows would not limit their ability to carry out foreign currency transactions. In fact, he said those adjustments were more for Government than individuals and private entities.

Asked to explain the continued heavy reliance by Government on financing from the Central Bank and the National Insurance Scheme, which was also reflected in the Central Bank’s reporting, the Minister of Finance said it was due to the fact that the country’s deficit was still high.

“That is why we have to continue to do our fiscal consolidation, because until you complete that job and close that circle and Government continues to run a deficit at an annualized level of five per cent, you are going to be in the market, and the only way you are going to come out of the market is to ensure that your expenditure and your revenue bear closer relation to each other than what is currently the case.”

Pressed on the matter, Sinckler said the austerity programme was not over “not by a long shot”. In fact, he stressed that “it can’t be over, not when the deficit is still at a level of five per cent”.

He added that the aim was to close the fiscal gap by 2018/2019 “down to around 2.5 and certainly no more than three per cent”.

“So we still have another two-and-a-half percentage points to knock off that deficit,” he told Barbados TODAY.

17 Responses to Brace yourself!

  1. Sophia Als
    Sophia Als July 21, 2016 at 12:49 am

    While other sleep at night…this man sit and think what taxes he can make up

  2. Marilyn Cook
    Marilyn Cook July 21, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Now yuh see why “Everybody hates chris?”

  3. Adrian Reid
    Adrian Reid July 21, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Sir tax a lot at it again, DEMS NOW , DEMS NEVER AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!

  4. Nico HL Beckles
    Nico HL Beckles July 21, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Watch n see a breathing tax gine pop up, people dropping left right and center he gine come up with a funeral tax

  5. Nikki Vs Nicksie
    Nikki Vs Nicksie July 21, 2016 at 1:32 am

    This is why I say… #alllivesDONOTmatter

  6. Ashanda Coward
    Ashanda Coward July 21, 2016 at 2:47 am

    Mmmm i wonder if some realise that taxing is a part of life render to Cesar what is Cesar also we are not the only with taxes have you ever seen the amount of international countries, the amount of taxes they pay mmm.

    • Sonia Romain
      Sonia Romain July 21, 2016 at 2:52 am

      The majority of those international countries are better develop than Barbados…them can afford to tax as much as they want

    • Ashanda Coward
      Ashanda Coward July 21, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Its not like we could stop it because most bajans dont stand up for anything so whatever it is they would talk today but things remain the same

  7. Pamela Bowen
    Pamela Bowen July 21, 2016 at 4:04 am
  8. The Negrocrat July 21, 2016 at 6:21 am

    They take more and give less.

  9. Sherlock Holmes. July 21, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Why don’t you just give up this job? You just are not getting it right,i have been always of the opinion that Dr Estwick is the better man for the job, you have been failing miserably in my opinion.

  10. Colin Daniel July 21, 2016 at 7:12 am

    A couple budget ago, some one said that you can’t tax your way out of a deficit. Another comment was that austerity does not work. Check and see who made these comments.

  11. Green Giant July 21, 2016 at 7:32 am

    “D E M S NOW, D E M S never again” couple years ago some of us was calling for the heads of the BEES. A day in politics is indeed a very long time.

    The people are seeking solutions and desperately so, that desperation leads to political vulnerability, BEES and vulnerability leads to danger, these politicians are using the vulnerability of the people to acquire the power, and financial enhancement they so desperately seek. It’s a simple formula (Vulnerability divided by desperation + Power = financial enhancement.

    We thought Clyde was ignorant when he crossed the bridge to oppose those he lead previously. Take note, another former leader is now in conflict with those he once lead. They know they can do almost anything and be forgiven because we have short memories and always let our desperation make decisions for us. We are in deep trouble not because of our leaders, but because of our failure to lead ourselves.

  12. carl July 21, 2016 at 7:34 am

    That’s why they want back their money. To prepare them for what’s to come. They top up their salaries first so again we will be hit hardest.

  13. Alex Alleyne July 21, 2016 at 8:22 am

    In these time where “artisans” are ripping off the ravage person who trying to bring their homes up to speed with the “JONES” , here comes the mighty TAX man again.
    What else will you tax, who else will you tax , what else can you cut , tell meSIR ???????.

  14. eddy murray July 21, 2016 at 8:25 am

    As I asked when these men, the PM and the MOF and the CBG said we have turn the corner, I ask them if it was one of those blind corners that we can be found all over Barbados.
    You see when you have people sleeping, and when they wake up with a nightmare, they say it was a bad dream, so we now seeing the night mare from the corner.

  15. Charmaine July 21, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    “Hardears you won’t hear, own way you will feel!”

    Why wunna don’t come straight out and tell the people of Barbados the truth?
    How have you not yet figured out that you CANNOT tax your way out of this fiasco; or that printing money ain’t helping the island?

    Mr. Tax-a-lot, who are your advisers? PLEASE go have a conversation with Mr. Jeremy Stephen, Mr. Ryan Straugh, Mr. Owen Arthur, and some of the other economists who were all trained on the hill. The people trying to help you but you have your head so far up your a** that you can’t hear nothing.

    YOUR austerity measures (making people suffer while you prospered) failed ….M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-Y.


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