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Barbados ‘back in business’

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Barbados ‘back in business’

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The just-delivered national budget should send a message to the international community, investors and credit rating agencies that Barbados is “back in business”.
This is the view of chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to Government, Dr Frank Alleyne, University of the West Indies political economist Dr Don Marshall, and political scientist Peter Wickham.
“For the international community, the Government is saying quite clearly, look, we’re going to put our financial house in order, so that when the opportunity comes, when the global economy rebounds, we are ready to participate in the benefits of that resurgence,” Alleyne said in a Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio/TV programme last night.
Earlier, new Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler presented the long-overdue budget, announcing some concessions to the business community but also increasing taxation and raising bus fares.
According to Alleyne, the major message the budget holds for the Caribbean is that Government will not allow the economy “to deteriorate and become a drag on the rest of CARICOM”.
Marshall said the budget would have done well to “assuage the fears” that credit rating business Moody’s “may have”.
The budget comes ahead of next month’s planned reassessment of the Barbados economy by Moody’s, Marshall noted.
Wickham said the budget acknowledged that “the message of the international community that we need to get down to business has been received”.
Alleyne, Marshall and Wickham comprised a panel that discussed the highlights of the budget, whose presentation was long delayed by the illness and subsequent death of former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance David Thompson.
While speaking favourably of the major proposals in the budget, the panel questioned why Sinckler cancelled a concession that helped the credit unions improve their membership and financial strength.
Alleyne said he would have preferred to see the incentive remain, while Wickham wondered whether scrapping the measure was “worth the political risk” which Sinckler took.
According to Wickham, “some credit unions are still very much fledgling” and need the help.
Alleyne said the major issue now would be implementation of the budget measures. He pointed out that successive governments had a questionable record on implementation and this was evident in the area of agriculture.
He charged that some budget proposals turn up year after year “like a recurring decimal”. He called for the establishment of a special committee to oversee implementation of budget measures. (TY)
Here, Post-budget debate at Starcom 92.9 FM.  From right, Harold Hoyte, Editor Emeritus, The NATION; Andy Armstrong, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Dr Winston Moore, president of the Barbados Economics Society; David Ellis, moderator; Bobby Morris of the Democratic Labour Party; Clyde Mascoll of the Barbados Labour Party and Colin Jordan, president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.