Everybody does not hate Chris; just the waiting
MINISTER OF FINANCE Chris Sinckler can – and must – do better.
Rather than deal head-on with the latest report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week, the minister, during an impromptu chat with members of the Press outside Parliament on Tuesday, seemed highly dismissive of the IMF and its October 17 assessment.
“I have read their Press release. I met with them while they were here. That’s the IMF’s view,” he said when pressed by reporters about the grim report.
For the first time in recent history the IMF had actually called for a two-year wage freeze; yet Mr Sinckler, in an attempt to distance himself from the fund’s analysis, suggested the institution was effectively engaging in rhetoric.
“. . . There is nothing new about what the IMF has said,” he asserted.
But for us, the greater sin committed on the day by the goodly minister was when he sought – for reasons of convenience no doubt – to interchange the word “restraint” with “wage freeze”, knowing full well that there is more than a subtle difference between the two financial terms.
Yes, times are indeed difficult and the global economy continues to be on a decline.
And yes we agree that this is not the time for any form of political hoodwinking.
In the face of the economic crisis, the Government has articulated the need for wage restraint, but has stopped short of publicly stating its position on an official wage freeze, despite very strong urgings from top economists – including Sir Courtney Blackman and Charlie Skeete – to do so.
On the many occasions this year that THE?NATION has put the question directly to him, the minister has simply refused to say the F-word.
We, just like him, are anxious to see this economy rebound, and for a sense of normalcy to return to the marketplace. We therefore have no interest in the cheap political potshot, or participation in the blame game.
Now is also not the time for shooting the messenger, but for dealing with the message.
The Minister of Finance therefore needs to come clean on the Government’s economic policy and indeed step from behind the temporary veil of uncertainty.
Apart from that of a definitive wages position, many other outstanding questions remain unanswered, such as: why has the Central Bank of Barbados been allowed to publicly dis the Barbados Statistical Services?
And have the Minister of Finance and his colleagues, by their silence, now rendered the latter to be inefficient and irrelevant?
We would like to know the true state of unemployment in our country, and is the Central Bank indeed financing the deficit?
And now that the private sector, the IMF, the Opposition Leader, the NIS, the Four Seasons head, and everyone else have spoken, what is the plan for recovery of our sick economy, and how do you intend to respond to calls for immediate cuts in social spending?
Have the fish not gathered more than enough, Mr Sinckler?