Approximately six weeks prior to the implementation of the current budget, the Deficit Committee of the Social Partnership presented a three to five-year Action Plan to reduce the fiscal deficit, which addressed:
- Investor confidence restoration;
- Debt restructuring;
- Tax reform to strengthen revenue collection;
- Reducing duplicate efforts in the public service;
- Closing inactive projects;
- Establishing a revenue court; and
- Accelerating IT implementation.
The members included representatives from the union, public and private sectors, many of them at the top of their industries. It also included the efficiency review performed by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
I reviewed the plan and appreciated the significant level of thought and expertise. It is not a quick fix, neither will it guarantee a turnaround in this country but it was most certainly comprehensive and an excellent start to addressing the deficit discussion.
I also immediately saw why this plan was shelved. The effort required to execute is unprecedented and would take an extremely strong and determined administration to execute it.
Collect outstanding monies owed to Government? According to the Auditor General’s report, the current debt has jumped to 1.3 billion and there has been little evidence of any effort to collect. The recent budget seeks to raise 567 million, which is 43% of the amount outstanding.
Has anyone sought to understand why this option has not been even partially considered?
- How difficult is it to collect 43% of funds owed?
- If this money is uncollectible, why is it still on our books, giving a false impression about where we stand as a country?
- If it is to be written off (at least $741 million), can someone explain why so many entities received significant loans that they have not repaid?
- Can someone explain why ordinary Barbadians must now pick up the slack?
If there were issues with the deficit plan presented, we should have discussed them without dismissing the entire plan as "noise".
Are the unions concerned about lost jobs? Instead of advocating for workers to keep jobs that duplicate efforts, can they instead lobby for retraining in areas suffering from backlogs? This would help to reduce unemployment and hopefully increase our ranking in the ease of doing business.
This is not a DLP, BLP or other new party issue. Regardless of the party in power, if a decision is made that is largely considered to be detrimental, have we not a right to try to change it?
I supported and attended the march last month to join in expressing the shared level of frustration felt across this island. I support and loudly applaud the countless companies that expressly gave the support that was critically needed to exercise (or not exercise) the right to express dissent without fear of repercussions.
Now that we have marched, let us not see this as the end, but as the beginning of a new attitude in Barbadians to throw off the cloak of passivity and to make ourselves heard.
Krystle Howell, CPA, CIA and Secretary for the Institute of Internal Auditors Barbados Chapter also hosts Krystle Clear, is an avid artist (Krystle's Kreations on Facebook) and a lover of dance. She can be also be found on Facebook on Krystle’s Corner.