Increase in non-contributory pension by 45% a bad idea: Arthur

This country’s too main political parties are being urged not to take Barbadians for a ride, as doing so could prove detrimental for Barbados.

The advice is coming from Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who warned that putting unrealistic promises in their manifestos in order to win the May 24 election could backfire. He made the remarks while speaking to the media earlier this week during a press conference at the offices of Barbados Today.

The outgoing Member of Parliament for St. Peter raised the issue as he suggested that some of the proposals in the Barbados Labour Party’s recently launched manifesto, coupled with the BLP’s admission that they have not ruled out seeking help from the International Monetary Fund, are in fact sending mixed to the electorate.

“You cannot have a problem designed not to go to the Fund, but is to go to the Fund and I am hearing that mixed message that we might go to the Fund, but we’re going to do these things. The things that are really being proposed, massive increases in spending, massive reduction in taxes without any concern as to how you’re going to pay for them, could not fit within a Fund programme,” he maintained.

He continued, “So if the Labour Party has in its mind it might want to go to the Fund, it cannot ask the people to expect these things. It would have to tell the people that there would be a period of at least three years when the Fund would be helping us with foreign exchange to stabilize the economy, but it would be asking us also to make difficult decisions in respect of how we spend the people’s money,” he said.

Arthur made the point while contending that what the BLP has been promoting in this election is reminiscent of the promises made by the then David Thompson led Democratic Labour Party in 2008. He mentioned this as he contended that there is a distinct difference between a manifesto aimed at securing a win and one for which the goal is to govern the country.

“You can have a manifesto that is intended to win a government, but it is not a manifesto that is intended to run a country ...,” he said.

He made the point while noting that the economic climate in Barbados today is very different from that of 2008. He explained that while the DLP was not able to follow through with all of its promises, persons accepted it because they “had money in their pockets”. Today, he lamented, the same cannot be said. Having had to hold strain for 10 years, former Prime Minister Arthur said persons are now looking for relief and hope and he warned that if they do not get what they need, the consequences could be dire.

“… The next government that promises these things that can’t deliver may find that it triggers social disorder in this country. Many people are at their breaking point and I don’t think they are prepared to be taken for a ride either by the Barbados Labour Party or the Democratic Labour Party,” he maintained.

The former three-term prime minister contended that that reality is what he believes is responsible for the rise in third parties. The “anti incumbency feeling” in Barbados, he said, is affecting both parties.

“Mr. Stuart and them have explained to the public what apparently was done wrong. I hope that too they can face up to what they are doing wrong, and that when they come with their manifesto it would address what I just said needs to be addressed.

The first order of business really has to be to save the economy, especially to save the offshore sector and stabilize it, and to put us back on a stable footing. But we can’t go on a frolic or a financial gallop,” Arthur told the media.

He is therefore urging the parties to have frank discussions with the people, and ask them to understand the circumstances to help “mobilise Barbados to save itself”. (JRT)

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