Stop the lofty promises!

Stephen calls on political parties to get real with the electorate

Outspoken economist Jeremy Stephen is urging political parties contesting the next general election, constitutionally due by the middle of this year, to level with the public about the bitter pill that has to be immediately administered if the country is to stave off imminent economic collapse.

In the face of dwindling foreign reserves which the Central Bank said were only $550 million in September last year, over $100 million in foreign debt and interest payments due in the final quarter of this year,  as well as a low credit rating that could affect any future foreign market borrowing, the University of the West Indies lecturer told Barbados TODAY he was concerned about some of the lofty promises being made on the campaign trail, while warning that the island could not afford to continue on its current economic trajectory.

In this regard, he zeroed in on the promise made by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley during the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) 79th Annual Conference last October to repeal the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), should her party win the election.

While describing as “ill timed” the recent hike in the NSRL, which was raised from two per cent to ten per cent of the customs value of locally manufactured and imported goods, Stephen further cautioned that a sudden repeal would be equally detrimental.

“Although I would have rightly predicted that the NSRL would have failed, the problem is that repealing a tax is so structural and it is extra revenue,” he said, adding that while it was true that earnings from the dreaded NSRL had not kept up with the rate of Government expenditure, “repealing it would essentially be creating a big hole too soon.

“It is my personal view that a sober campaign does not speak of largess, and the general public might not understand when you put a new tax to replace the other one,” Stephen said in an interview with Barbados TODAY.

However, the former head of the Barbados Economic Society stressed that even though unrealistic campaign promises had become part and parcel of the political landscape, it was especially dangerous to raise the expectations of the public during times of dire economic hardship.

He suggested that while the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the main Opposition BLP both had “the skills to get the job done . . .  the problem now are mandates.

“While I understand it is politics, one must consider how it is reflected and impresses upon people. This could end up being a serious problem if you don’t manage the expectation of the citizens properly. It could result in an undermining of your policies. In these very harsh economic times you have to be very upfront with people because it is only then you are going to have the room to very radical and try new growth measures,” Stephen said, adding that neither the BLP nor the ruling DLP had displayed the type of resolve necessary to speak the harsh truth.

“There is a dire need for fiscal reform on the accounts of expenditure and it is going to come down to having a very sober Government,” Stephen said in echoing a warning issued by former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell earlier this month.

“The sole objective of the next Government must be to steady the ship and to be strong and aggressive in their ideas in terms of growth,” he added.

However, he said, “given our history I don’t see either side as being terribly sober. I don’t see either side being overly sober given the dialogue I have been getting from the main political parties.

“I really hope I am wrong about the things I see; as a matter of fact I want to be wrong,” Stephen said, while also criticizing the behaviour of the present Government.

21 Responses to Stop the lofty promises!

  1. Greengiant January 16, 2018 at 3:33 am

    You have finally awoken my brother. Neither of these two parties are ready to lead us out of this slump.

    They still believe they should do or say whatever they need to in an effort to regain power, then deal with the consequences.

    • bk January 16, 2018 at 9:05 am

      yup time to get rid of both of them, blood sucking parasites.

    • Big Man January 16, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      Mia, Mia ,Mia, stop the lofty promises
      Tom Adams promise to remove the 5% sales Tax in 1976, he won the Government on that promise and did remove the 5% sales Tax but then DOUBLE the Stamp Duty and TRICK all the BLP yard ducks that educated but have no common sense.

      NB The Sales Tax was 5% in 1976 Tom Adams remove it, Owen Arthur change thee name to Vat carry it way back up to 15% now it is 17.5%
      So we gone from paying 5% in 1976 when thee yard ducks wanted it removed to paying 17.5% in 2018 and everybody cool
      Yuh call it Politricks

  2. hcalndre January 16, 2018 at 4:03 am

    Promises and lies got the DLP and the island in this mess, even the sewage had to fine a way out. I am anxious to hear what they have to say to the people this time around when the sleeping lion awakes.

  3. Sharon Taylor
    Sharon Taylor January 16, 2018 at 5:02 am


  4. Freeagent January 16, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Bajans be aware. Remember the promises that were made during the North American elections in 2016, and see/hear what those promises are now producing.

  5. fedup January 16, 2018 at 7:26 am

    I am 71 and I am yet to come across a political party that never promised. Stinckler get pun d radio and promised tuh look at d road rax fuh seniors.. he eyes mussee still please shut up.

  6. jrsmith January 16, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Our real problem for the future , to succeed , first we must rein in our politicians , make them to be accountable to our black masses ……. We the people need to be able to remove any politician from government if they are failing to perform for the people … Would bajans ever think we would be able to trust our politicians ………………..Look where we are at ,after 2 terms of a government ,( doesn’t matter what comes out they mouths),because most of the time its lies ,, what matters we the people need to make them be afraid , of the fact they can be easily be remove from office, as easy as they are voted in…………………………………
    What’s scary in Barbados, just consider this said government is return to office after the coming elections, what would bajans do , put up with another 5 years we all might as well pack a bundle and head of to the jungles in Africa………………….

  7. Falernum January 16, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Citizens should call for a suspension of elections while we resolve this serious socio-economic crisis affecting us. In place of the sham that democratic elections have turned out to be in many countries, Barbadians should propose a Meritocratic selection of leaders based on special training, experience, communication skills and international credibility instead of on their popularity which is so easily purchased in a contest between only two real choices. The country needs to put into a neutral “receivership” rather than party elections certainly until they both resolve their own internal issues

  8. Nathaniel Samuels January 16, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Did you even wonder why he did not mention your party? I guess it is because he sees nothing, absolutely nothing coming from your party. You are the party that will get rid of everything and start from scratch. How idiotic and asinine.

  9. Angela Eunice Knight
    Angela Eunice Knight January 16, 2018 at 9:37 am

    the season of truth has been over a long time now ….so while true comments …season over..

  10. The Elephant January 16, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Sand Elephants almost always get blown down by winds of change…Vote Solutions Barbados 2018

  11. Kathy January 16, 2018 at 10:32 am

    You know many Bajans have very short memory but i try very hard ro remember what happened in the past so that I know what to side step in the future. So tell me how comes that more rhan ten years ago when everything was rosy and sweet that we sell off all the assets we had. I just asking because I know that You does only sell what you value when you meet up on hard times unless you have a bad habit. Just saying.

  12. milli watt January 16, 2018 at 11:32 am

    he talkin bare chalk…….. I got an election to RUN and WIN. will deal with governing the mob after I trick dem

  13. Andrew Simpson January 16, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Drink some Falernum to begin with. Abandon the Westminster system, cancel the elections and institute a new governance model that can efficiently manage an incorporated Barbados; sectoral leaders connected to an engaged citizenry through a direct digital participatory democracy platform which encourages all patriotic Human Resources to unite together, in the right direction, with less waste, more productivity and greater prosperity to be shared between all our people.

    • milli watt January 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      @ Andrew ohhhhhhhhhhh I see you are an elitist masquerading as a savior. Nope I’ll pass

  14. Tony Webster January 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Lord havus mercy! I never thought, for a second, that I’d ever find myself quoting a “very stable genius”…but having read all these hyper/ frantic/ fantastical comments…I think we should all tek a break, and “let’s see what happens”.

    Even before de bell ring, a lot of ppl going to raise their b.p.l. to A&E levels…careful now.

  15. Alex Alleyne January 16, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    “Level with the public about the bitter pill” that has to be immediately administered”.
    None of the politicians on the out side running for Office ain’t saying so.
    Reading the messages from all of them , I hear loud and clear “we can fix everything”, from sewage to economy to potholes and off to WICB & LIAT.
    Maybe they will also take a “swipe” at the leaders of the World that they don’t like.
    Put us ALL in office we can/will do it all. ANY PARTY as long as we “clean out the DPL”.

  16. Sheron Inniss January 16, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    I agree with Mr Stephens. I don’t want dictators but I want people who recognize that right now it is absolutely necessary to separate wants from needs.

    I want those who spend foreign exchange to import food that can be grown here to be stopped. I am tired of hearing about all of these things we have signed to. Either we remove ourselves or get people to understand the importance of leaving them in the supermarket.

    I am no economist so I want to know why we have to pay for goods and services from Caricom neighbours and the OECDs in $USD?

    I want us to buy from our Caricom and OECD neighbours before we go further afield. I may be wrong but I believe it should cost less.

    I want a smaller parliament and no senate or GG.
    I want to see ideas of anyone, because all of us who can vote are the government implemented in a timely manner.

    I don’t know what to call it but I know that what we have is broke and has been for a long time.

    For sure we need accountability and an overhaul of the present system of unnecessary statutory boards. The army in occupation also need revamping with the removal of dead weight. Give a full days work for a full days pay or go long home.

    There is so much I want for my country Barbados. I live in hope.

  17. Greengiant January 16, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    @Nathaniel Samuels: The only words in your vocabulary are asinine and idiotic obviously. The economist has spoken our exact words though. “It can’t be business as usual, and while changes has to be made, our point is these changes though thorough, can be made over time for maximum effect and minimum hardship”.

    Some of you really believe when a party say they will immediately remove the N S R L? I also heard a former leader rubbished our proposal of abolishing the many taxes, replacing them with a corporate tax of 10% before profit. Haven’t heard the economist on this theory. The reality is that most Barbadians are prepared to accept what the D L P or B L P says before they consider real change. It’s fear of the unknown. Politically, I fear the known fact that neither party has what it takes to lead us right now. They only want power, and are even canvasing to hear what the people want so as to prepare their manifestos.

    They have been infiltrated and don’t even know, and it’s shameful how they’re operating. One accusing the other of vote padding, when they themselves were the architects of vote padding decades ago. So which ever one you are supporting they’re are as pathetic as the other.

  18. Mark Adamson January 17, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Is this the same Jeremy Stephen that falsely predicted after the last downgrade that the government got from Standard and Poor’s last year that before the end of last year will get another downgrade (, October 19, 2017)???

    Is this the same Jeremy Stephen that falsely predicted a few years ago that the government will be forced to seek budgetary support from the IMF or turn to the privatization bogeyman between May 2014 and the end of March 2015 (, May 24, 2014)??.

    Is this the same Jeremy Stephen that a few years ahead suggested publicly that it would be better off if the government seeks alternative sources of funding that could be used for investment purposes and closing financial gaps, and who later too publicly revealed that it he that was one of the architects in Dr. David Estwick’s 5 billion UAE alternative funding proposals??

    No wonder so-called economists have little or no credibility in Barbados and elsewhere.


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