Bringing a Budget of hope and pain

 Next Tuesday Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler will stride across the yard of Parliament armed with the all important Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.

No doubt Barbadians are anxiously awaiting the measures, which will impact their everyday lives be it with trepidation or jubilation.

It is an open secret that the Barbados economy is in peril. Over the last few months, virtually every analysis from the economic experts at home and abroad has been clear- the country sick, the country ain’t well.  We have been warned to expect bitter medicine.

As recent as two weeks ago, Minister Sinckler himself acknowledged that the overall situation was far from satisfactory, though he maintained that the country was on the right fiscal path.

All the while though, the calls for the country to seek an urgent helping hand from the International Monetary Fund have been growing louder and louder,

Against this backdrop, Sinckler served early notice that the looming general election will not have any bearing on his financial package and therefore none should expect any major giveaways.

“You can’t give away what you don’t have.

“We are a responsible Government and we will do what circumstances dictate in the environment that we are in,” he told this media house.

It’s anyone guess what the minister’s caution portends for citizens feeling the pinch of a prolonged economic downturn in every way.

Yet it’s not hard to guess.

The Central Bank’s report on economic performance for the first quarter warned of the need for further “belt tightening”, amid lingering concerns about the state of the island’s foreign reserves that were said to have risen slightly from $681 million last December to $705.4 million at the end of March this year – still below the 12 weeks’ benchmark.

And even with economic growth in the order of two per cent for the period, the spiralling fiscal deficit maintains a crippling stranglehold, with data showing the debt at an estimated six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the projected 5.8 per cent.

The situation certainly does not invite any stakeholder be it worker, household, or business to make a wish list. And while for most that would simply add up to relief, clearly Sinckler has no choice but to tread cautiously.

What Barbados needs from the Minister of Finance on Tuesday is a credible, realistic, sustainable plan to stimulate economic activity, reduce spending, increase revenue, restore growth and build confidence to position Barbados in this new dynamic global environment.

We do not need another grandiose speech, a lecture on what the former Barbados Labour Party did not achieve during its 14 years of prosperity, or a recap of the punishing effects of the 2007 global recession.

We do not need bells and whistles and salacious charges hurled across the House.

What we need is a frank update on the current state of affairs and the onus is on the Government to utilize the full three days of debate to set a clear agenda of how it intends to breathe life into a dying economy.

Equally, the Opposition has the duty of not only probing and pushing to ensure the Democratic Labour Party gets it right in the interest of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, but it must too present alternative medicine to ease the pain.

What really matters, are measures that affect Barbados’ path over the longer term – decisive action that will determine whether we remain on a slippery slope to disaster or whether we begin the upward climb to light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Crafting a budget is one of the most important tasks a government performs and at the very least, a sound budget will inspire all Barbadians to get down to the business of lifting our beloved island from the doldrums.

3 Responses to Bringing a Budget of hope and pain

  1. Tony Webster May 27, 2017 at 2:29 am

    An excellent synopsis of the magnitude of what lies ahead, come Tuesday: a one way street approaching a fork in the way ahead: viability, reality, and rolled-up sleeves to virtually re-design Bim, or a prettified but essentially anachronism of a highway to hell.

    There is no other way of securing this country’s future. This is the time for real leaders; real Bajans to stand up; put country first; have a conscience for out children’s future…and for citizens to vote country first. Thereafter, we all will require our share of heavy lifting.

    No joke; no more jokers.

    PS: our new found Chinese friends, are clever folks, and evidently have a lot of skin in this game. Beware dragons….even if they seem to be smiling.

    Reply
  2. mikey May 27, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    @Tony Webster, It is time that You tell your friends and acquaintances that both DLP and BLP have done this country a disservice as seen in the current economic morass and quicksand we are currently struggling to survive.
    I am and will continue to encourage people to chase out both parties and get new fresh ideas going forward in the form of a third party called Solutions Barbados or a combination of third parties.

    Reply
  3. Tony Webster May 27, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    @Mikey…you are close to the truth: as both have, have had, ( and have so demonstrated) that their share of capable administrators….as well as louts, incompetents, hangers-on, and past-masters of the “art of the deal” that would make Donald blush.

    If God would but hear our prayers, we should see the best of each come together to form the New Barbados Party, under an inspired leader. Unfortunately, to actually achieve this , would be as easy as two porcupines attempting percolation, each on the back of a horse, caught mid-stream in a flood, with one saying “come over to me” and the other vociferously saying..” No, my pad, not yours”.
    Q.E.D.; apologies to original authors; and again seeking divine intervention….and assisting porcupines in great need.

    Reply

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