Confronting realities

DLP column 220814 - confronting realities

Last weekend the DLP successfully concluded the 59th Annual conference. Following is an extract from the speech delivered by party President and Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P.:

The truth is that the time has come for us to confront certain not always pleasant realities in Barbados. A little history can help us here.

The Democratic Labour Party was formed just ten (10) years after the issuing of the Moyne Commission Report into the disturbances of the 1930’s. That Report was made public in July, 1945, sixty-nine (69) years ago.

The most cursory or casual reading of that Report will disclose that whether you were talking about health or education or housing or public transport, or facilities for the aged, or nutrition for children or adults, or access to water, or protection for workers, or a proper network of roads, or availability of work, or a respectable level of wages or any other social amenity, very little had changed in Barbados between 1838 when slavery ended and 1937-1938 when the disturbances happened, that is over a hundred year period.

It took the efforts of newly formed political parties and trade unions to reverse and correct many of those social and economic short comings. The formation of the DLP 59 years ago has to be seen in that context. The response of the DLP in particular to the depressing story contained in the Moyne Commission Report was: The provision of free secondary education; school meals for children at primary schools; equalisation of pay for men and women at the workplace; a national insurance scheme; modern and revolutionary succession legislation to protect the rights of single women in their relationships; severance pay for workers; easy access to university education; modern housing; easier access to water and waterborne facilities; a guaranteed work week in the agricultural sector; modernisation of the economy and the development of the tourism sector; construction of a number of secondary schools to increase the number of places available to our young people; the establishment of a community college; a hotel school and a polytechnic to broaden opportunity for our young and not so young; amongst many other initiatives.

These initiatives were undertaken generally at a time when men and women were casual labourers since they worked by chance. During the sugar cane crop season, they worked with the plantation or the sugar factory. Out of crop, they either worked farms at the plantation for very modest wages, worked occasionally as artisans or maids or did not work at all.

It is for people in this precarious situation and for their children that the state in Barbados assumed full responsibility in those times.

In the concluding sentences of his 1971 Budget Speech, Prime Minister Errol Barrow said, in part, as follows:

The decade of reconstruction has been successfully negotiated. It has not been easy. The society which we have inherited bears within it many social and economic contradictions which material advantages such as we have secured cannot alone eradicate. Those of us in public life ought to concentrate on the upliftment of our people who still have such a long way to travel rather than devoting our efforts to the personal destruction of those whom we envy. Some of us will have to mark time to allow those who have been kept back to catch up with us.”

The question that confronts the DLP in its 59th year of existence and Barbados in its 48th year of independence is this. In 2014, does the state in Barbados owe the same duty to the graduates of secondary and tertiary institutions, living in modern housing with water borne facilities, driving one or other of the 113,000 motor cars on our roads, and in generally steady white collar or blue collar employment as it owed to the man or woman wending his or her way to the cane fields or the farm with broad-rimmed hat, crocus-bag tied around the waist and a hoe or fork across the shoulder having just left a modest chattel house without running water and often on rented land?

If the duty of the state is viewed as the same in relation to both categories, the next question is – can the State afford it?

Those two questions could have been framed differently, that is can the State in the year 2014 and beyond, pursue its social democratic agenda in the same way in which it pursued it in the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s and in the first decade of the 21st century?

 

Having empowered the majority of our men and women through education and expanded opportunity, are we still under a duty to treat them as though they were not empowered?

Job vacancy

Vacancy: Opposition Leader

VACANCY – LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

A few weeks ago in the article titled ‘Its Friday Mia!’, her bluff was called regarding the change of strategy from attacking The Minister of Finance to the Prime Minister. As usual, nothing happened.

 

In that article as well it was predicted that there will eventually be a political obituary entitled ‘The Self Destruction of Mia Mottley’. The Freundel Stuart administration in protecting Barbadians from the self aggrandizing megalomaniac BLP members have created many a political duppy and Ms. Mottley seems adamant that she wants to join this group. The irony is that like Ceaser, she has to fear that by the Ides of March she too might become politically irrelevant.

 

Regarding leadership, Mia has failed dramatically. As the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, she, after being part of the planning committee, has decided to ‘boycott’ the 375th anniversary of the Parliament of Barbados, which is one of the oldest Parliaments in the entire Commonwealth. Imagine the embarrassing implications this has for the Barbados Labour Party, that their leader would boycott a grand international occasion that involves the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Prince Edward that helps the image of the country just to try to divert attention unto herself and claim she is doing it for Barbadians. So the question is, does anyone care if she goes?

 

Persons have seen the value of recognizing the 375th anniversary and have even encouraged Bridgetown to have attractions and good store prices as well as encourage cruise ship passengers to come and see a momentous occasion as we highlight heritage tourism, but of course it would shed a positive light on the Government instead of herself, so she puts her foot in her mouth, once again. We imagine that Leader of Opposition Business Kerrie Symmonds and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur would be there though, showing their face for imminent appointment of a new opposition leader. Of course, she could always be two faced as usual and show up after reading the article.

 

The situation is so dire that the rank and file of the Barbados Labour Party have started to show dissent in many ways, far from a united front, far from having a leader at all.

 

Information has been going around from credible sources that after claiming that the unions are not doing enough to represent the workers of Barbados, she is going around behind the scenes trying to get their support to talk at her ‘People’s Assemblies’ which the nation and the BLP supporters are growing tired of. Her advisors are sitting back and laughing with glee as she sharpens her own knife to be plunged in the back of her political career. Her desperation is apparent. Will she ever learn?

 

It is clear that due to the recession the BLP see and opportunity and everyone is trying to break for themselves. Their representatives have praised our policies, including the soon to be established Revenue Authority. Seeing the eventuality of the vacancy, they have once again began to pick sides.

 

It is reported that when she goes to meetings she can only get her minions to follow her, in particular a political neophyte, a political duppy from the south and one referred to as a ‘dilapidated chattel house’ by her predecessor, who might be auditioning for the role once again.

 

Indeed she, it is reported, has been asking persons to speak on information that they should not have as it has yet to be laid before Parliament. Imagine the dangerous implications this could have on persons.

 

The time is running out. Her situation is dire. It has been her last chance to prove herself and she has been failing miserably and like crabs in a bucket, it will not be long before the crabs in the bucket begin to claw and pull her down as they rise.

 

We wonder if she was ever exorcised of the demons Owen had referred to. He certainly doesn’t seem to think so with his recent ‘Not me and Mia’ comment. Gilded and arrogant he is perhaps sticking around to have a second coming as he desperately wants to be Errol Barrow, a man whose stature he cannot even begin to compare to, much less copy.

 

In light of the imminent end, we urge Barbadians to wrap themselves in the flag in these difficult times. We are Barbadian first and foremost. The constant attempts to create tension and agitation to force a result will not work as at the end of the day the power belongs to God, not man. It is not the will of the people, whether DLP, BLP or neutral to have an election at this time. Only that of the power hungry Mia, who will be looking for a new role in her political life as there is an imminent opening for the Vacancy of Leader of the Opposition approaching.

dlp election victory

First Year Achievements

First Year Achievements

 

One year ago today, the people of Barbados went to the polls and elected the Democratic Labour Party for a second term of Government. We went to the people of Barbados and gave an account of our stewardship in the first term and shared our plans for the development of Barbados as we continued on our pathway to progress. The people of Barbados accepted our manifesto and chose to go with the Dems again for another term.

 

After serving for one year we continue with a track record of achievements.

 

Ever focused on the development of our people and country and the restructuring of the economy of Barbados during the year we have passed some ground breaking legislation and established policies which would see Barbados being a leading small island developing state.

 

In June, The white paper on ageing was laid by our Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, The Hon. Steve Blackett. This outlined the policies to help guide the establishment of measures to adequately cater to the country’s ageing population. With a growing ageing population policies are required to safeguard the rights of older persons; provide legal protection, promote and preserve the dignity of older person, while creating an enabling environment that is safe and free from exploitation and abuse of others. Currently 13.7% of the population is over the age of 65 years and this is expected to rise to 20.4 percent by 2025. The policy was dedicated to the memory of Barbados’ late super centenarian James Sisnett.

 

In August the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, The. Hon. Christopher Sinckler presented the 2013 budget. The budget outlined a 19-month Consolidation and growth Strategy. In the budget we held ourselves accountable for the timely implementation of the measures. So far we have stayed on track being the first administration in Barbados’ history to make serious headway in removing the implementation deficit which has plagued previous governments.

 

In October the Minister Culture, Sports and Youth, The Hon. Steven Lashley brought the long awaited Cultural Industries Development bill to the House of Assembly. This bill forms one of the components in the growth initiatives for the economy of Barbados. Finally the Cultural Industries had a bill providing the same suite of incentives which were made available to grow the tourism industry. This bill opens the doors to the development of a new economic sector in Barbados. Already we can see the benefits of such legislation and recognise that when it is fully implemented and utilized it will create new avenues for employment and economic development for Barbadians, especially the youth.

 

Another ground breaking piece of legislation was the Electric Light and Power Bill which was piloted by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in December. This legislation provides for the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources thereby building another sector for economic growth and development in Barbados. It provides businesses and households with an opportunity to sell energy in to the national grid. This legislation forms part of the growth strategy for Barbados. It will reduce the fuel import bill and create employment opportunities for Barbadians.

 

Outside of Parliament team DLP have been steadily at work. Our Minister of Tourism and International Transport, The Hon. Richard Sealy successfully closed the deal to have the Sandals brand established in Barbados. We are already beginning to see the benefits of its presence with the planned US$65 million investment over the next few months in the “Sandalisation” of Sandals Casaurina. We are also seeing a bumper winter tourist season and talks of increased airlift for Barbados for the 2014 winter season. Things have already started to pick up. Soon we will have the establishment of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority to further enhance the product of Barbados.

 

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. The Hon. David Estwick will soon complete the deal to start the work on the New Sugar Factory at Andrews which will establish a Sugar Cane Industry in Barbados and creating a tremendous stimulus to the agricultural sector in Barbados. Only this week ground was broken on the long awaited pipeline project by the Barbados Water Authority which will inject some $30 million into the economy over the next year.

 

The DLP administration has continued the good work into its first year of a second term. The team is working hard continuing on the pathway to progress for you, the people of Barbados.

 

IMF artilce 4 report

It’s Friday, Mia!

IT’S FRIDAY, MIA!

 

 

The Government of Barbados is pressing ahead with the people’s business. Whilst no individual would want to be laid off, persons have accepted that it is a necessity for the survival of the country and for their future and their children’s future. They have started looking at innovation, entrepreneurship, retraining and creativity in order to continue to make a contribution to their country and enhance their livelihood.

 

Contrary to the picture the fans of the BLP are trying to paint, i.e. laid off persons are now left with no hope and outside naked to the elements, persons who would have had to be laid off would have received and/or due to receive packages which would include necessary vacation and severance payments, gratuities where applicable, as well as the NIS to support them for 6 months whilst they put their skills and creativity to use to continue to make a living.

 

The Government has invested $10 million in a retraining fund as an option for these persons who were laid off and those who pursue it will receive a stipend, as outlined by the Prime Minister of Barbados in St Andrew last Sunday.

 

The Leader of the Opposition, perpetually living in her own world, in her usual bullying way of issuing idle threats, has once again called on the PM to remove the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Chris Sinckler or else she will then proceed to attack him.

 

Now the folly of the logic is quite laughable. Firstly, the BLP and their cronies do nothing but attack the DLP and the Prime Minister in particular in their forums and the print and social media. Therefore it’s not anything we are not used to. Secondly, she seems to have a very short memory of that horrible exercise she called a no confidence motion which in turn had the opposite effect of showing that her colleagues in fact have no confidence in her. We already have the public declaration of ‘Not me and Mia’ from the patron saint and saviour of the Barbados Labour Party, Owen Arthur.

 

This methodology of thinking of this political power hungry paranoiac as brilliantly described by the Prime Minister during the launch of the James Tudor Institute of Politics must not be taken lightly. Indeed it shows us just how dangerous her way of thinking is. An eminent persons group in her mind is a throwback to the glorification of the bourgeois class and highlights the oppression mentality that she has; illustrating that she does not believe that Barbadians are not fit enough to control their destiny and the ‘mistake’ made at the polls can be corrected by those who she would see fit to circumvent government and advise on how the affairs of the country should be run.

 

Additionally, the hypocrisy of Mia and the members of Parliament for the BLP continue to reach new levels of ignorance and show their motive each and every time. In Parliament on Tuesday they were challenged to table an amendment to the Constitution which would allow a reduction of salaries to be possible in order to help to save some of the jobs and the Government would support it. They refused. They spoke about showing solidarity with the people for Government to take a cut in their salaries and the Government in turn proposed to take a 10% cut in MPs salaries across the political divide and they refused to support it. Now, are these people who really care about their country or seeking cheap political points through rhetoric?

 

As the wise old people say, it makes no sense arguing with fools, because you can never do right in their eyes. It makes no sense arguing with empty rhetoric which still does not provide alternatives but simply relies on who can holler loudest and longest to try to convince persons that they are leaders. There has been no clearer indication in history of empty vessels making the most noise as what is currently going on with the BLP.

 

In times like these, we get to see the character of people. Those who would put their country first and those who are only out for themselves. We get to see those who would turn their backs and join bandwagons of perceived courts of public opinion (created by them for their own benefit), and betray their ideals like political prostitutes and harlots. But the future of Barbados is bright and there will be more to come from the greatest political party in the Western Hemisphere. We ask simply for the three of the most important features in human life – faith, patience and kindness. It is not the time to tear down the positives and cause confusion. We have made it through before and we shall again, and all hands on deck will be needed as we take Barbados forward.

 

So its Friday Mia! What will you do? Nothing again? Continue to bring resolutions to waste time instead of something constructive? Continue to commit political suicide? At this rate we can predict in the near future that there will be a political obituary titled ‘The Self Destruction of Mia Mottley’.

 

 

captions blackman on arthur

Corrective Measures

Corrective Measures

 

It is worth repeating- Sandiford’s structural adjustment programme of the 90s right-sized the public service of Barbados. It is worth stating that the Owen Arthur administration from 1994 started the process of inflating the ranks of the public service of Barbados. Growing the government; to the detriment of the private sector of Barbados – an unsustainable economic policy. He failed to take the advice at the turn of the century to reduce the size of the civil service by 10,000 spread over 10 years. The warning signs were there. But he failed to take the corrective measures.

 

Owen Arthur would not want anything to do with Mia Mottley’s eminent persons group. He knows that such a group would point fingers at him for failing to continue the restructuring of the Barbados economy which he had inherited from Sandiford. Like the prodigal son, for 14 years he partied, feasted, and feted spending the surplus revenue from the VAT and money borrowed for a rainy day, wasting billions of dollars on dead-end projects (Greenlands, Dodds Prison, Highway Expansion, Kensington, Crab Hill Police Station, and Eastry House). He also presided over decisions which left us with very little space to manoeuvre: the sale of the national bank, the insurance company and selling off the private sector of Barbados to foreign interest. Not to mention the first three downgrades of Barbados’ credit rating.

 

When you are managing an economy in good times you are expected to make provision and savings for hard times. Arthur did not do this. This was his greatest failure as a leader. He did not have the vision or foresight to adequately prepare for the future.

 

In 2008, the Barbados Labour Party was voted out for their mismanagement of public funds. Do we remember the cost overrun bill which stood at over a billion dollars? That was money which was wasted, spent and not saved. What a difference it would make today if the Owen Arthur administration had been able to save that money for a rainy day! One of the things which make the Singapore economy great is that they actually save their surplus budget and set it aside for a rainy day. The Arthur administration, which had the opportunity, never did it. When Ms. Mottley advised him as the Minister with responsibility for Economic Affairs she too did not have the foresight to suggest such. What a difference it would make to civil servants if those rainy day savings were available now.

 

Not only did Arthur fail to save, he failed to invest in projects which would put the Barbados economy on a sustainable growth path. Why is it that we have to wait until now in 2014 for the Sanitation Service Authority to invest millions to construct a Waste-to-Energy plant? Why didn’t Arthur invest the millions spent on Greenland on such a project?

 

Why is it that we have to wait until 2014 to invest millions of dollars in the construction of a purpose built designated cruise pier to expand Barbados’ potential in cruise tourism and also create a hub for the expansion and development of our cultural industries in Barbados?

 

Why is it that we had to wait until 2013 to revolutionise our energy generation capacity in Barbados by passing legislation and creating a suite of investment incentives to grow the renewable energy sector in Barbados?

 

Why is it that we had to wait until 2014 to put serious plans in place to revitalize the sugar industry in Barbados? By building a multipurpose plant capable of producing a number of by products from sugar cane we will be developing a sugar cane industry.

 

Why is it that we had to wait until 2013 for the Sandals brand to join the Barbados tourism product helping the country to boost airlift from the Canadian and UK markets? Soon, Sandals will be investing over US$65 million into the economy creating over 1000 jobs in construction during the “sandalisation” of Sandals Casuarina.

 

Why is it that we had to wait until 2008 to recognise that NHC was wasting millions of dollars trying to build office complexes and could do a better job of building housing accommodations for Barbadians?

 

The answer to those questions – the Owen Arthur administration lacked vision. They did not know then how to restructure the economy of Barbados and they cannot offer today a solution to the economic challenges which the economy is presently facing. That is why Owen wants nothing to do with the eminent persons group. That is why in his opinion Mia was just about political gimmicks. He knows that the only thing that comes from her mouth is, “march!” Marching does not solve economic or financial crisis.

 

To all Barbadians we are making sacrifices to put the Barbados economy back on track. It is our hope that the sacrifices which are being made now will be brief. The Barbados economy will revive and you can help it to grow. We encourage you to grasp the opportunity for training and re-tooling during this time. Sharpen your skills and help us to build a stronger and more sustainable economy and society. We need to put our minds and talents to creative uses. We need to produce, we need to be creative, and we need to be innovative.

 

Errol Barrow

Words from Barrow

Words from Barrow

 

 

The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow was truly a political legend in his time. Even today his words are still relevant and speak to the current situations which we face.

 

Barrow faced a terrible world economic recession in the 1970s. It was not created on the shores of Barbados or as a result of any economic or policy decision which his administration implemented. Nonetheless, he had to manage the economy and put measures in place to reduce the impact on the people of Barbados.

 

It is interesting that the observation of Barrow on the modus operandi of the then opposition is very similar to that of the Opposition today. One thing which we must warn the opposition is that the people of Barbados have come a long way since the 1970s. Every Barbadians has access to what is happening across the globe. They know about the impact of the economic recession on the UK, Europe, USA and the Caribbean. Barbadians are well aware of what is happening and what needs to be done to fix the problem.

 

What may have worked for the opposition then, certainly is not working now. That is why for the past week the leader of the Opposition and her cohort have been hailing insults and threats at the unions, the churches, and the average Barbadians. All because the Barbados Labour Party has been marched to a sorry place in the political wilderness where all right thinking Barbadians dare not go.

 

Arthur is on to something and we invite him to share all because we know that there is more in the mortar than the pestle.

 

Until he speaks, we will share with you words of the Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow which are very relevant today, some 38 years after:

 

A description of the Opposition by Barrow

 

“Speaker after speaker, and every single one of them spoke and everyone of them said that the Government was responsible for the perilous state to which we had come, preaching the politics of distress, trying to make everyone unhappy that they did not know when the roof was going to collaspe and when the whole country would be brought to a further state of peril. That is a very good political statement to make on the eve of an election. Everything that was said in here during the past two days was said not so much in answer to the proposals which I made in my speech on the 30th July, 1976 but with one ear carefully tuned towards the electorate. I am not criticizing them for that. I should like to say it is the major preoccupation of the Opposition because they all have their private undertakings, they are not engaged in the business, the difficult business of running a developing country like Barbados, like my Ministers and I have to be engagd upon day after day. They have their lawful private undertakings and therefore they can indulge in the luxury of criticism which is the peculiar prerogative of an Oppostion party. So I am not criticizing them for making political speeches; I am not criticizing them for that at all, but to pretend at the same time that their speeches are not political and that they are the saviours of mankind and that they are saving this island from corruption….”

 

 

The Position of the Government by Barrow

 

“I should like to make our position clear. We are concerned about the management of the economy of this country on the principle of the maximum social advantage in the allocation of the resources of development of this country for the benefit of the citizens of Barbados. We are not concerned about the petty personal ambitions of politicians either on our side or on the other side, and we will continue to do our duty to manage the economy of this country through good weather, through bad weather, through economic crises and through times of boom and through times of recession to the best of our ability, and I can say in our performance, in our dedication to our principles of providing equality of opportunity and a higher and better quality of life for all the citizens of Barbados, that we have a record of which we may be justifiably proud…”

 

Contribution By Errol Walton Barrow to a Special Meeting of the House of Assembly which was held on Wednesday, 4th August, 1976 to further consider the Appropriation Bill.

 

The Democratic Labour Party remains steadfast in our resolve to guide the nation through these unprecedented economic difficulties, and has faith that the Barbadian people and the nation will be stronger and more resilient than they were before these difficulties arrived. We are stronger working together than fighting apart.  

chicken little

On with the people’s business

On with the people’s business

This will be a year of change for the nation and people of Barbados. The Democratic Labour Party is diligently pressing on with the people’s business. Having outlined a path for stabilization and growth for the nation, these plans are being rolled out and implemented.

The Prime Minister piloted the new electric light and power act 2013. The act revised the laws relating to the supply and use of electricity; promoting the generation of electricity from renewable energy, enhancing the security and reliability of the supply of electricity. The passage of this act is in line with the administration’s commitment to create growth strategies with the creation of the green economy.

The administration continues dialogue with the social partnership as it seeks to make what it sees as unfortunate but essential and necessary decisions as it relates to reining in the financial cost in the operations of central government.

Preparation is on the way for the start of the work for the New Sugar Point Cruise Pier. Cruise tourism arrivals have continued to grow increasing by 11% over the 2012 figures with some 490,999 cruise passengers arriving in Barbados for 2013. With the build out of the new Pier Barbadians would have a more expansive and attractive facility to sell our services, products and culture. This will create the impetus for growth in the cultural industries on the island.

Output from non-sugar agriculture rose by 11%, indicating that Barbadians are heeding the call to grow more food locally. Further, business and other services increased by 2 percent. Barbados is on track to return to steady and sustainable growth.

The recent report by the Governor of the Central Bank on the current economic performance indicates that the bottom has not fallen out of the economy as the leader of the opposition would have hoped. Yes, the economy did contract in 2013 by a mere 0.2%. A government which was able to control the decline in the economy after our foreign reserves dropped from an average of 19 weeks of import cover to the lowest of 13.4 weeks of import cover deserves some credit for appropriately managing the situation. At the end of the year we were able to restore the foreign reserves to 15 weeks of imports.

This DLP administration deserves credit for sound financial and economic management of the economy of Barbados during the economic recession. We have done an effective job to stabilize the economy and minimize the decline in growth. When compared to previous economic recessions which the country has faced over the years, there is no precedence for such challenges in the Barbados Economy.

We did not adopt a mentality like “Chicken Little” (we leave you to decide who is Barbados’ “Chicken Little”) preaching doom and gloom and warning friends about economic peril. Instead we moved with great haste to develop and implement measures to correct the situation and place the Barbados economy on a sustainable growth path.

We in the Democratic Labour Party firmly believe that, “Cocky Locky”, “Henny Penny” and “Turkey Lurkey” have all lost confidence and faith in “Chicken Little”as well.

The DLP firmly believes that a strong opposition is integral to maintaining strong democracy. As a party that has been in opposition we have always encouraged the sharing of different views, both internally and at times publicly.  We would never purport to believe that all people should agree all of the time. As a party we know the importance in offering opposing views.  Our Prime Minister would have made the point, on more than one occasion, that if everyone agrees with you – you are most likely doing something wrong. However, on this occasion we will acknowledge that the former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has made some valid points as to why he no longer has faith and confidence in Ms. Mottley as a leader.  

The DLP encourage Barbadians to ignore the apparent dethroning of Mia Mottley and the subsequent dissolving of the BLP.  Focus on being the best we can be in 2014 as we reposition ourselves as a nation and a people. We will show the world that Barbados will continue to punch above its size.

 

Sugar Point Cruise Facility

No Gimmicks

No Gimmicks

During this week it has been heartening to learn of the favourable discourse between union officials and the Ministers of Finance and Labour to discuss the cuts within the public sector. Barbadians generally understand what this DLP administration is trying to achieve and recognise that it needs to be done in the interest of the country. Generally we get the sense that the country is calling for a serious approach to dealing with the matter at hand. As we have always stated, the stakes are to high to be concerned with political gimmicks or playing politics.

 

The Democratic Labour Party administration, led by Prime Minister, The Hon. Freundel Stuart, has been focused on ensuring that the targets and policies of the 19-month Fiscal Consolidation Programme are met and implemented. We are not about gimmicks but about serious business.

 

During the 1990s’ structural adjustment programme former Prime Minister Sandiford took the necessary steps to bring Barbados’ public service to a mangeable level. In 1981 public sector employment levels stood at 23,700 person. With cuts to 2000 casual and temporary workers the Sandiford administration reduced the level to 22,800 by 1993. The Barbados Labour Party, led by Former Prime Minister Arthur came to office in 1994. By 2000 the number of persons employed in the Public Service had again risen to unsustainable levels. Nearly 4000 persons were added to the public service taking the levels to 26,700.

 

During the period of the late 1990s, Arthur created a number of statutory corporations such as Urban Development Commission, Rural Development Commission, The Commission of Pan-African Affairs, and the QEH while the airport was made into a company. This led to the further expansion of the public sector wage bill.

 

With 54 cents in every dollar of government’s revenue going towards wages and salaries this is definitely unsustainable and government again has to take the necessary steps to reduce the public sector wages bill.

 

In the structural adjustment programme of the 90s one of the methods used to reduce the wages bill was the 8% pay cut. Although this was heavily criticized at that time, we all see today how its implementation was able to restore the Barbados economy to a growth path. However, due to decisions made by the Arthur administation passing legislation preventing government from reducing the salaries of civil servants, government’s hands are tied. We cannot easily embrace this suggestion being put forward by the unions at this time.

 

Further, Arthur’s last minute attempt to buy political votes prior to the 2008 elections resulted in the automatic appointment of a number of temporary workers in the public service. This has further constrained the hand of the government and placed additional burden on Government’s wages bill.

 

With the uncharacteristically rapid decline of the foreign reserves, we were forced to take action. In June 2013 government convened a national consultation on the economy with the focus of putting the economy back on track. The outcome of the consultation formed the basis for the August 2013 budget which introduced government’s corrective measures in the 19-month Fiscal Consolidation and Economic Growth Programme.

 

This is not an IMF induced programme. However, during the December 2013 Article IV consultation, the IMF endorsed the measures being taken by the government to cut expenditure, grow the economy and bring about necessary cuts in the civil service.

 

The DLP is on the right track to restore growth to the Barbados economy. We are having constructive dialogue with stakeholders to implement the tough measures and minimise the impact on those affected. We have started that consultation long ago with stakeholders to identify strategies to restructure the Barbados Economy. We have introduced our home grown policies such as the recently passed Electric Light & Power Bill and income tax amendments which will grow the alternative energy sector in Barbados.

 

As we go through the necessary process to reduce the public sector, we are aware of hope on the horizon to grow the private sector to take up the slack. Government has signed off on the proposed financing arrangement for the new Sandals Beaches Hotel at Almond with the Chinese Government. The coastal work in preparation for the new cruise terminal at the port has already begun. Both the IADB and the Chinese Government have expressed interest in financing the Pier Head Marina. Cabinet will take a final decision on the financing in a few days. The construction of the waste-to-energy facility at Vaucluse will bring in US$300 million in investment. These and other projects will contribute significantly to grow the Barbados economy in 2014 and beyond.

 

The Barbados economy will turn around, – not through political gimmicks, but hard work and dedication.