Owen says standards at risk
Barbadians may be forced to settle for a lower standard of living as Government seeks to close a $1/2 billion gap between its revenue and its bills.
Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur made this charge Wednesday night when his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) held a public meeting in Massiah Street, St John.
“The standard of living that we have known through sensible public spending is under threat, and even as we speak, decisions are being made to change that standard of living,” Arthur told the gathering.
“For the first time in our history, a major reduction in your standard of living could become the most important policy of [Government].”
The former Prime Minister said the major problem facing Government was that it had allowed a $116 million surplus in 2007 to become a massive deficit.
In 2010, Government’s revenue fell to $2.2 billion and expenditure (including wages and salaries) was tagged at $2.8 billion “so in the year ended December 31, 2010, the Government had to borrow $538 million just to pay ordinary bills”, Arthur stated.
Arthur said the onus was on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to “forget the politics of piffle” in the St John by-election campaign “and to come and condition you, the citizens, for the sacrifice that you may have to make”.
Stuart should also be talking about the solutions to the country’s economic problems, Arthur said.
“We now live in a country that has lost 10 000 jobs in three years, where prices have gone up by 20 per cent in three years, where people are drawing down money from the banks, where one in ten loans in the banks is not performing,” he reported.
“I am telling you as well that this country has a problem in its public finances that is the most staggering in this country, but it is not only a public finance problem, it is a problem that will affect how each and every one of you will live as a citizen of this country.”
Arthur’s address followed Central Bank of Barbados Governor Dr Delisle Worrell’s report on the performance of the local economy during 2010.
Arthur said that despite Worrell’s talk of growth prospects, the economy remained in trouble, with a 0.4 per cent contraction last year. (TY)