EDITORIAL: Nothingness, no; but much to mull over
To some extent, Opposition Leader Owen Arthur’s reply to this year’s Budget was predictable. To have hoped for a less partisan approach was idealistic.
Mr Arthur, in his more fiery and passionate moments, dismissed Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presentation as nothingness, resting upon the planks of bogus accounting, distortion and a diet of misinformation only.
The former Prime Minister suggested that this undermined public knowledge of the true state of Barbados’ economy.
And as has been his constant lament of late, Mr Arthur did not let up the opportunity to put the question to the Speaker of the House yesterday of the different picture painted by the Central Bank’s statistics on the growth in the economy from that by the Department of Statistics, which is mandated by law to collect and publish information on Barbados’ national accounts.
There is, quite because of Mr Arthur’s undying digging, still some doubt in the public’s mind about the seeming disparity in figures by the two abovementioned entities. And the in-house meetings between the Department of Statistics, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Ministry of Finance over the issue did nothing more than come to agreement among themselves.
We are still to learn whose figures prevailed, or what adjustment there might have been to them all. The Minister of Finance to the relief of us all will surely address this in his wrap-up tonight.
As possible as it is that the country could be in danger “of falling behind and of being left behind”, as the Opposition Leader warned, we cannot share his view that Mr Sinckler’s prescription presentation to stymie such, with all the partisan pronouncements there were, was a three-hour exercise of nothingness and empty rhetoric.
Mr Arthur is of the view the Budget offered little relief to Barbadians, whose standard of living, according to him, has plummeted. We have already said there have been some steps taken by the Minister of Finance towards ease and stimulation, and we advise that whatever opportunity might arise from the minister’s proposals every Barbadian should grab it. It is better than griping.
Still, Mr Arthur’s review of the Budget must not be set aside for any traces of partisanship it may possess. Parliamentary debate has made our society strong, and long may it remain so.
We allude finally to Mr Arthur’s offering that the present Government had fought and won an election on a promise to cut the cost of living. We dare to say that a change of Government may have nothing to do with what the winning party itself may have put forward.
It is not an excuse made; it is a realization of the often ironical vagaries of political life.