EDITORIAL - No time for delays
Mon, 08/22/2016 - 12:00am
MOST of the discussions in Barbados last week centred around the Budget which the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Honourable Christopher Sinckler, presented in the House of Assembly.
For the most part, the Budget was considered a package of measures for these times of economic challenges and uncertainty which continue to affect Barbados. As a result, the debates focused mainly on what results this budget can bring to ameliorate the social and economic conditions of Barbados and Barbadians, and indeed whether it will be far reaching in terms of its aims and objectives.
Our wish, however, is that the Minister, the Government and whoever else has a hand in dealing with the proposals, will implement them and as efficiently as is possible.
In one of the radio discussions immediately following Mr. Sinckler’s presentation, the point was made that no fewer than ten policy measures announced in the June 2015 Budget are still to be implemented. A quick reaction coming from a listener was that the implementation of 90 per cent of the proposals was an achievement, and as such it makes no sense complaining about the 10 per cent not done.
The bigger picture, however, is that a lot of the things announced in a Budget – by both the previous government and the present one – do not come to fruition in the space of a single year.
This has given rise to the claim that Barbados continues to suffer from an implementation deficit, where a lot of things are not done even though they are passed off as policy. Zeroing on this, Prime Minister, the Honourable Freundel Stuart said last Thursday night in his contribution to the debate, that he will be seeing to it that the various measures announced will be enacted.
He mentioned in particular that the funds expected from the National Social Responsibility Levy will be channelled to the areas earmarked for such. This levy, to take effect from September 1, is expected to raise $142.0 million in a full year.
It is important to note that the proposals contained in the Budget would have been arrived at after being carefully studied, and involved discussions and consultation on the targeted areas for which they are earmarked. If therefore there are delays in getting the resources to the affected areas, then it will be just a case of spinning top in mud. For instance, Dr. Dexter James, the CEO of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which is to receive financing from the levy, spelt out in a lecture around the time of the Budget what can happen when things go off course. In the lecture he said, among other things, that “if at all these funds are mingled with the Consolidated Fund”, it is unlikely they will come to the QEH.
The other measures to grow the island’s foreign reserves, fix the economy, ensure that there is further growth and that the fiscal deficit is brought down to the stipulated target of 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product by March next year, all call for Government to work overtime to see that these things are done. Many promises have been made in the past, only to come to naught.
Right now, there is no time for delays as this would work to the detriment of the country.