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Sinckler’s ‘tightrope’ Budget walk

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Sinckler’s ‘tightrope’ Budget walk

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MINISTER OF FINANCE Chris Sinckler was clearly walking a virtual tightrope between rising consumer demand for relief and the harsh reality of fiscal prudence at a time of economic depression and double-digit unemployment when he presented the 2012 Budget on Tuesday.
He may well have succeeded in disappointing his more severe critics while avoiding the tremors of economic instability with a general election looming on the horizon and likely to occur before Christmas.
It is not for me to say whether the Budget was “responsible” or “irresponsible”. Those who constitute the political Opposition to the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) would not be expected to offer any applause for Sinckler’s fiscal balancing act in striving to achieve economic growth with jobs.
Alternatives to his approaches would have already come from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) before you read today’s column.
For his part, Sinckler clearly had a hard row to hoe in remaining focused on national priorities amid the constant expressions of disillusionment and disappointment flowing from varied quarters, not the least being the vital private sector.
Internal dissent
Sinckler’s burden was not lessened by a fact that’s well known to the Barbadian public – irrespective of party affiliation – that the national Budget was being crafted in the face of ongoing internal dissent (if not open squabbles) at both party and Cabinet level. Worse, amid speculations in some quarters that whether or not the Dems survive the dreaded one term being scripted for it by the Bees, Sinckler may well have had his last hurrah as Minister of Finance with the presentation of the 2012 Budget.
On the other hand, should Arthur replace Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, there will almost certainly be a change also in who heads the Barbados Central Bank. The recurring controversies involving current Governor Dr Delisle Worrell over statistical data on economic growth and unemployment rates, as well as fiscal initiatives, are fairly well known.
Truth is – as Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) president Dr Warren Smith has made clear in his assessment of performances by economies in the CARICOM region during 2011 – with the exceptions of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Haiti, the other CARICOM states did not fare well. Indeed, some did pretty badly.
The forecast outlined in the CDB’s report for 2011 is that international developments will continue to shape outturns in 2012, with prospects for the region “closely mirroring the global outlook”.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email [email protected]