Upfront the Sinckler way
NEW?MINISTER?OF?FINANCE?Chris Sinckler yesterday pledged to be “upfront and honest” with Barbadians about the stark reality of the economic situation facing the island.
“Under my leadership in the Ministry of Finance,” he told the House of Assembly during his Budget presentation, “there will be no hiding of the truth from the people of Barbados, because the effort I will call for to return this country to financial stability and ultimately sustainable economic growth cannot be met by half the population. It must be met by all our citizens.”
Sinckler’s pledge appeared to be in keeping with the advice of Sir Courtney?Blackman, first Governor of the Central?Bank of Barbados, who in a newspaper report yesterday urged the minister to tell Barbadians the truth that the island was in an economic crisis and that tough financial measures were called for.
“In the preamble to the Budget,” Sir Courtney said, “I expect the new Minister of Finance to explain to the public, clearly, strongly and frankly what the situation is. Don’t tell them that things are not so bad.”
The minister outlined the background to the recession which was triggered primarily by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States that led to the collapse of large financial institutions, the bailouts of banks by national governments, and downturns in stock markets around the world.
He said what most countries did not anticipate was the length, virulence and devastating impact of the recession.
According to him, the anticipated return to moderate levels of economic growth behind the massive stimulus packages had not occurred, and instead the economic recovery in some countries had been slow and tepid, shallow at best and non-existent at worst in others.
Sinckler said that from the outset the Democratic Labour Party (DLP)?Administration set out to defend Barbadians’ way of life and protect their standard of living.
“We surmised that while we did not have the financial resources to introduce a huge stimulus package as many in the Opposition were telling us to do,” he said, “we still had a duty to make strategic interventions that would contain the expected economic decline and limit its potentially debilitating impact on the people and of businesses of Barbados.”
To that end, he added, Government devised two critical economic intervention plans: the Medium Term Fiscal Plan and the Medium Term Development Plan on which several public consultations were held, particularly with the public and private sectors as well as the expanded Social Partnership.
He said the main short to medium term objectives were to contain external debt and protect the foreign reserves; return the island to fiscal balance in a reasonable timeframe; keep intact and strengthen the social safety net; strategic investments to build productive capacity; and returning the economy to a sustainable growth path in the shortest possible time. (AB)