Stop the fighting!

Inniss advises Social Partners to end row and help fix the economy

In a stern rebuke of the Social Partners, Minister of Commerce, International Business, Industry and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has called on Government, the labour movement and the private sector to stop quarrelling and get to work to fix the economy.

And in what appears to be a direct message to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Inniss said the trade unions should be engaged in a discussion on how to ensure ordinary Barbadians move “from being employees to being shareholders”.

In an address Wednesday at the 45th annual general meeting of the Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity, during which he sounded like a man with leadership ambitions putting forward his policy position, the unpredictable minister presented his vision of a “new Barbados” where high taxes were no longer, state agencies were fewer and workers were wealthier because they were also business owners.

With the Freundel Stuart administration involved in a major row with the unions and the private sector over the country’s economic direction, particularly the taxing National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), Inniss called for a truce and for all sides to redirect their attention to finding answers to the country’s fiscal problems.

Donville Inniss

However, he made it clear that Government could not expect to grow the economy by imposing more and more taxes on Barbadians, although he suggested that the austere measures presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on May 30, which included a rise in the NSRL from two per cent to ten per cent, a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions and rises in the excise duty on petrol, were necessary to clear the approximately $540 million deficit.

“I, like most of my colleagues in Government, remain satisfied that additional direct or indirect taxation is not the sustainable solution to our macro-economic challenges. Such fiscal and related monetary policies can only be temporary measures designed to balance the Budget in a relatively short space of time without causing significant social dislocation,” Inniss said.

In making reference to the wages bill, Inniss hinted at public sector job cuts eventually, but said the severing of workers would have to be done on a phased basis.

“The Government wages bill can be significantly reduced next month by a significant reduction in staff compliment, but we are all aware of the social and political consequences of such an action. I have no doubt that such will occur, but perhaps more over time than in one action,” he said.

Inniss’ speech came a day after Stuart announced he would meet with the unions and the business community, who attracted an estimated 20,000 people to a march on Monday aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to hold urgent talks on ways to tackle the fiscal problems without the NSRL, which prominent businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams said is equivalent to 27 per cent Value Added Tax.

The talks, which are tentatively scheduled for August 18, will be broadcast live, the Prime Minister also revealed Tuesday.

Inniss Wednesday pictured himself meeting the trade unions in a frank discussion about the state of affairs.

He said he would talk about merging, restructuring or closing several state enterprises that were “just not socially or financially viable for society at large as currently structured and operated”. He would also discuss “as a matter of urgency [how] to move more of our citizens from being employees to being shareholders”.

“If I was afforded the opportunity to meet with the trade unions, this is what I would be discussing – not just salary increases or the NSRL. This is also how we work towards an expansion of our tax base and a reduction in taxes whilst at the same time creating intergenerational wealth. I want to see clerical officers talking about share value and dividends – the things owners talk about – not just about vacation leave, sick leave or pensions,” he stated, adding that in his picture of a “new Barbados” more time would be spent discussing dividends and less on taxes or salary adjustments.

“The new Barbados must see my generation passing real wealth onto the next generation, not just a motorcar and 4,000 sq ft of land. I know that things are rough now. None of us can deny that. I feel the pain each day. I sense the hopelessness and despair that are freely expressed these days. I know of the real challenges in meeting basic needs. I experience the challenge in finding meaningful employment among our youth,” the minister stated.

ryangilkes@barbadostoday.bb

7 Responses to Stop the fighting!

  1. fedup July 27, 2017 at 6:29 am

    He talking tuh d youth dat he fail in getting dem gainfully employed?

    Reply
  2. chris hill July 27, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Sir you dont know the struggle that your party put the greater society under. i am sure you have no problem fueling your car because you get your fuel from the gov pump at spring garden, at the market you don’t have to put back because all you have is a few dollars, you don’t have the educating your child’s university education because you will get UWI to tek them in anyway, you don’t have a duty issue because your goods leaves the port through the back gate, you don’t have road tax because the disk is delivered to your desk. Donville go back to the drawing board.

    Reply
  3. Carl July 27, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I’m with you Chris Hill. They get fat salaries and allowances along with concessions as ministers which trickle down to their family who are given a ‘free pass’ by virtue of who they are. It is the ordinary ‘man in the street’ who feels it, having to make our reduced salary stretch to purchase more expensive items and provide for ourselves and our families with even less than we had before. They don’t lead by example. They don’t consult the people in their plans but expect us to literally pay for their errors.

    Reply
  4. outsider July 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Mr inniss check with your leadership,who is lack of communicating with the unions and the voting public of Barbados it,s so obvious he have know intention on being a future leader

    Reply
  5. Lee July 27, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Cross the floor Minister Inniss. You’ll have support.

    Reply
    • hcalndre July 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      @Lee; cross the floor to get to the bath room, have you read what the man said, that he feels the pain of the people and still vote for every tax that his government impose on the people.

      Reply
  6. Tony July 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Minister Inniss needs to put his vote where his mouth is. He continues to criticize his government’s high tax policy but still votes for them in parliament.Whited Sepulchre.

    Reply

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