Shut up and drive
Opposition Leader criticizes PM for response to downgrades
She has been calling on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to speak up on national issues.
But after hearing his response to the two latest economic downgrades suffered under his watch, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley wants nothing more than for the Prime Minister to simply shut up and drive.
Mottley said as much in a statement Thursday in which she seemed completely dumbfounded by Stuart’s reaction to the Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgrades.
“I never thought that I would have to come to the country to ask Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to stop speaking, but of late his public utterances are even more offensive than his customary silence of indifference,” Mottley said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon in which she said Stuart’s “reprehensible” response was more upsetting to her than the downgrades themselves.
“This is not the first time that a Prime Minister has presided over a downgrade of our credit rating, but it is the first time that we are afflicted with a leader who does not understand the gravity of the problem,” the Opposition Leader said.
“The Prime Minister has demonstrated a total ignorance of the subject matter. Indeed, his response places Barbadians at risk of being viewed internationally as either economically illiterate at best, or at worse as contemptuous and arrogant,” she added.
In an apparent dismissal of the ratings agencies, the Prime Minister Wednesday warned that Barbados had long passed the days when it needed external validation from “metropolitan capitals”.
And while likening the grading of an economy to the marking of an examination, he also made it clear that he was not about to let anyone from outside — let alone any external marker — “shame” Barbados into thinking it had failed.
To do that, he said, would belie the country’s proud boast of 50 years of Independence and take it back to a day when approval was needed from outside.
“The Prime Minister is saying that to take credit ratings seriously is to question our independence. What Prime Minister Stuart does not see, but what the average Barbadian who pay bills understands, is that if you run your affairs so badly that you are dependent on the people lending to you, then you do lose your independence.
“If you want to be independent, you need to run your affairs so that you are not dependent on anybody else,” Mottley said.
“The sad fact is that when Government runs its affairs so that it is forced to beg on special terms with Swiss banks like Credit Suisse; or is forced to beg Sandals to come to Barbados on whatever terms Sandals wants; or forced to fog off this country’s state assets – it is this Government, this Prime Minister, that is stripping Barbados of our independence,” she added.
She also charged that Stuart has done more damage than any other Prime Minister in the 50 years of an independent Barbados, while warning that the “ignorance” could affect borrowing by Barbadian companies, and their decision to have their headquarters here.
“We saw this lead to the re-domiciling of our oldest company, Sagicor, previously Barbados Mutual, to Bermuda,” she said, while urging Barbadians to come out and join her Opposition Barbados Labour Party in Jubilee Gardens on Saturday for its march of disgust.