More on Owen’s politics
ABSENT, ABSENT, ABSENT. That was the response of Owen Arthur’s economic team to the recent presentation by Paul Volcker, a former head of the United States Federal Reserve.
Mr Volcker delivered a lecture to a full house at the Frank Collymore Hall on Tuesday and his endorsement of our agenda has not gone down well with Arthur’s economic team.
The former central banker noted that “emerging economies had learned better than the US not to borrow to build reserves and to maintain stability. Barbados has maintained a stability and a confidence and a degree of political harmony that would have otherwise not been possible”.
The never-ending attempt by those on the other side to savage the attempts by the Democratic Labour Party smacks of political hypocrisy. The harsh reality of this Government’s first six months in office can best be chronicled by listing all the messy financial public transactions left by the Arthur dream team.
At the top of the list is the scandalous and unable-to-use Greenland landfill, the unprofitable Gems Project, the Warrens seven-year building complex, the $150 million Kensington Oval and Dodds Prisons. In addition, there was the $120 million “no contract” ABC Highway project.
The cost of the highway project ballooned to $150 million within a year after it began and kept climbing. The runaway 3S-led project was brought under control by then Prime Minister the late David Thompson, who sought to manage taxpayers’ money more prudently.
We were also stuck with the task of settling the outstanding 14-year issue of pensions for former Barbados Defence Force members. This matter had a price tag of nearly $30 million.
As a young administration, we also had to find nearly $30 million for the Transport Board, $33 million to clear a National Housing Corporation overdraft, and the $50 million that had already been racked up by the Barbados National Oil Company. We immediately had to pump $5 million into the cash-strapped Enterprise Growth Fund and $10 million into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
These matters have all been lost on the Barbados Labour Party and Owen’s economic team. It is quite unfortunate that, at a time when we seek to promote an agenda driven by pride and industry, the Arthur-led Opposition remains focused on a mash-up-and-buy-back policy.
Its mission is to give the public the impression that the projects listed above represented prudent financial management and that it has the solutions to lift us out of recession. The hard facts will indicate that it is because of the Opposition’s reckless macroeconomic strategy that we find ourselves having to settle millions of dollars in accumulated debt which they left on the backs of taxpayers.
There is no doubt; the actions of the Opposition have compromised the financial strength of our small open economy. The Barbados Labour Party wasted taxpayers’ dollars and now has the temerity to ask voters to allow it the privilege of continuing in such a manner.
We appeal to all taxpayers and voters – let not your heart be fooled, peel back the most recent pages of political history and reacquaint yourself with the facts. Voters, be warned!
• Douglas Leopold Phillips is a pseudonym for the Democratic Labour Party.