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Sinckler rejects Opposition’s ‘alternative Budget’
Referring to the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals which he delivered in the House of Assembly on Tuesday as “transformational”, Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Christopher Sinckler, has suggested that the Opposition’s proposed “Alternative Budget” is not at all feasible.
Speaking just after midnight to wrap up the Budget debate, the Finance Minister suggested that the Opposition had tried through its representative Mia Mottley, Member of Parliament for St. Michael North East, to present an alternative budget, though he claimed this was denied on the Opposition’s part.
“The Honourable Member, on hearing the comprehensive and far-reaching transformational policies that we outlined on Tuesday afternoon, having finished her speech three weeks ago, rushed out to write down a few things on paper and called it the Labour Party’s Alternative,” Sinckler declared.
“This is what we are going to do: ‘We are going to create a $500 million dollar tourism development fund’. Now if in the glory days of the Labour Party, when honey and milk was flowing and all of that was happening and people were living high on the hog as we call it, they did not create a tourism development fund, but in a fiscal crisis which they say exists in Barbados today, the Honourable member says the Labour Party will create on return to office a $500 million dollar fund?” he scoffed.
“We started off with a $500 million dollar fund, then we went to a $25 million dollar account for agriculture, then we went to paying the pensions,” he further charged.
Minister Sinckler also took issue with what he said was the Opposition’s proposal to reinstate pensions to people who have recently received letters of abatement.
“It means you have to reinstate all of the people as a matter of equity… now there are 1 500 people who currently have to be abated. The Member for St. Michael Northeast said we are going to give them back all of that money and the Honourable Member said that [after previously stating] that the NHC was bankrupt and an insolvent institution with not a single cent. So how are you going to do these things?” Sinckler questioned.
“This is what we are getting: Widen the VAT basket, fiscal incentives for hospitals which we already do, but another one is, you are going to give a tax credit for health insurance premiums up to $6 000… You know where they are going with that.
“So we have a tax credit from the Honourable member of St. Peter for education, a tax credit for Clico, we are going to give tax credits for health insurance policies, allowances, for travel and entertainment.
“All of these things you are going to do in a small country, with a small Treasury and a small Central Bank. You are just going to take up money, lick out hand, open the gate and let everybody take what they want, only because you want to win a government, so you say anything,” Sinckler charged.
The Finance Minister also took to the Opposition task for what he said was their constant ridicule and criticism of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOC). He noted that this was “the worst part” of their speech, since they constantly gave the impression “that we can go through life subsidising oil”.
“They are always at this company,” he remarked.
He then noted that it is left up to Barbadians to decide which Budget they want to embrace.
“I am saying to the people of Barbados tonight, be careful whom you court…because, when you are hearing them speaking, we know exactly what they are up to. Sweeten the pot and then kill the calf when the time comes. That is exactly what they are up to. So it is left to the public of Barbados to make the determination if these policies are possible,” the Finance Minister stated. (RSM)