BLP COLUMN: BLP alternatives
BLP legacy: introduced a Home Owners Allowance for income tax purposes and a Reverse Tax Credit for individuals earning less than $13 000 a year; reduced the basic rate and the higher rate of personal income tax; and introduced Income Tax Allowances for new shares purchased in public companies and investment in Mutual Funds, Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Venture Capital Funds.
Barbadians are regretting the demand that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart break his near silence on public affairs.
For now that he has begun to speak more frequently in public, they have become annoyed at being lectured, chastised and patronised. Rather than hearing of policies and programmes, they are being browbeaten by condescending pseudo-sermons as to how they should think, feel and behave.
People have rightfully concluded that literary references in quaint language merely indicate a widely read speaker and not original thought, and above all that they do not substitute for Stuart’s much requested national vision.
As a result, even on major occasions like his recent address to the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), we were subjected to tiresome further repetitions of previously announced plans for a new sugar factory, greening Barbados and developing alternative energy.
Barbadians are therefore making unflattering contrasts between Stuart’s lack of governance substance and the stimulating presentations by Opposition Leader Owen Arthur that excite hope for themselves, families and nation.
Contrary to what Stuart thinks, Barbadians have not been looking to him for “miracles” or “ready-made answers.”
All they demand is structured, coherent, uplifting and visionary leadership with hopeful alternatives of the calibre being consistently provided by highly regarded economist Arthur that can stop Barbados being the worst performing economy in the Caribbean while Guyana’s economy has grown all through the international recession, recording more than five per cent growth in 2011 along with Haiti.
Having broadly sketched alternative approaches in earlier addresses to the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) and the BCCI, former Minister of Finance Arthur at his recent presentation to the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) provided more detailed alternative policies clearly demonstrating why he was able to guide Barbados to nearly 14 straight years of economic growth.
The three-term former Prime Minister set the country abuzz with a wide range of proposals that stretched from an urgent “major change and reversal” of fiscal policy,” especially in relation to punitive taxes on personal income,” health care, education, increased Government capital spending to spur growth, no printing of money to finance deficits, and a higher level of telecommunications development.
Arthur’s comprehensive outlook also dealt with new major thrusts for the international business, financial and tourism sectors, and his revolutionary concept for building-out the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies as a University Town “creating jobs, earning foreign exchange, and linking local communities to financial streams”.
He told HRMAB: “At a time when other middle income developing countries, at our comparable level of development, are succeeding in extracting growth from the same difficult economic arena in which we operate, we are being asked to accept a new and strange form of passivity and powerlessness.”
The BLP’s alternatives show this must be rejected.