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Mia: More hard times

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

Mia: More hard times

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Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is predicting harsher economic times for Barbadians over the next six to 12 months.
Mottley made this prediction on Sunday night while addressing the St Michael North East branch of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) at The Lawrence T. Gay Primary School on Spooner’s Hill, St Michael.
Expanding on the gravity of Barbados’ economic situation, the St Michael North East MP said: “I met with a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday and many of you would have seen the Press statement that they put out a day or two ago.
“They had a mission here for ten days. What is going to have to come down in this country in the next six to twelve months is going to be so gruesome in terms of adjustment that government as we know it, government as we have come to know it, will not be able to remain the same as we go into the future.”
Mottley did not provide any details. However, in a release last week, the IMF outlined its support for the Government’s effort to bring down public debt.
The Washington-based team said those actions were critical to maintaining stability and growth in the country and to support Barbados’ external credit rating.
Marcello Estevao, chief of the IMF mission that just finished its annual review of the economy, said: “These measures could be accompanied by further actions to limit the impact on the poorest.”
Speaking to party faithfuls, Mottley said: “And this next election is not going to be about fancy promises. This next election will be about the people capable of doing the job. It will be about doing the job while building the platform for the next 20 to 30 years. “It will be about understanding the economic development model that Errol Barrow and Sir Grantley Adams had when I was born in 1965. It will be about the development model Tom Adams used and that Owen Arthur was able to come in on the cusp at the end of it.”
She noted that during his tenure Arthur had to preside over the dismantling of the system when the preferential markets, subsidies and quotas were removed.
Mottley suggested that Arthur should be commended for starting the process of the restructuring of the Barbados economy in a way that did not cause any dislocation for the ordinary Barbadian.
“We worked as a government to that end. We went through a period where our exports dropped in 1998/99, 2000/2001 and by 2003 our exports were going like that again to the point where they were back up to what they were at the high point of 1985 under Sir Harold St John – over US $500 million,” Mottley recalled.
Addressing the issue of the fall-off in Government revenue, Mottley argued that when a government was not earning money it became a challenge to pay for what it used to pay for before.
She said: “Free health care is going to be at risk. Free tertiary education, low bus fares and subsidised housing under the National Housing Corporation (NHC) framework are at risk.
“Now we will not lose all of them, but we will have to make adjustments to one or two of them in order to survive.” (WG)