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The No-confidence Motion


SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

The No-confidence Motion

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The following is the full text of the Opposition motion of no-confidence debated and defeated in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Whereas under the Constitution of Barbados the Minister of Finance is charged with the responsibility for causing the preparation of annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for public services.
And whereas the said minister is also responsible for the development of policies and programmes which would enhance the fiscal stability, economic growth and the general well-being of the national economy;
And whereas Section 3 of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, Cap 85 provides as follows: ‘3 (1) Subject to this act, when (a) the imposition of a tax; or (b) an increase in the rate of an existing tax, is contained in any budgetary proposals, then from the date specified by the minister in such budgetary proposals . . .
(1) the imposition of such tax shall be effective as if an enactment had been made or passed imposing such tax and the tax shall be payable as from the specified date.
(2) the increase in the rate of the existing tax shall be effective from the specified date and the existing tax shall be payable at the increased rate as from that date;
And whereas the Government of Barbados published a Medium Term Fiscal Strategy In March 2010 and a Revised Medium Term Fiscal Strategy in November 2010;
And whereas the Minister of Finance repeatedly assured the nation up to March 2013 that the Revised Medium Term Fiscal Strategy was “on track” and the economy was stable, but has subsequently publicly admitted that the said Revised Medium Term Fiscal Strategy has failed to achieve its objectives and that it was necessary to have the strategy “brought back on track” by the implementation of yet another strategy, now called a “Medium Term Adjustment Strategy”;
And whereas on August 13, 2013 the Minister of Finance, in Budgetary Proposals made to the House of Assembly, outlined a package of revenue-raising measures and expenditure cutting measures;
And whereas the Minister of Finance announced the imposition of a temporary Consolidation Tax on gross income in the absence of legal authority being vested in the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to collect the said tax and without appropriate definition of ‘gross income’;
And whereas since August 13, 2013 the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, without legal authority has purported, by advertisement in the print and electronic media, to change the rates of tax announced by the Minister of Finance and to impose penalties and interest on taxpayers for late or non-payment of the said tax;
And whereas the said minister on the said date and in the said Budgetary Proposals also announced the imposition of a Municipal Solid Waste Tax without the requisite legal authority to collect the said tax;
And whereas the accuracy of the rate of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax has been publicly questioned by the Hon. Member for St James South and the Minister of Finance did not respond publicly thereto for six weeks;
And whereas in the said Budgetary Proposals the Minister of Finance announced a reduction in the rate of Value Added Tax on tourism accommodations or direct services with effect from October 1, 2013 but has not defined the meaning of ‘direct tourism services’;
And whereas the purported imposition of the temporary Consolidation Tax on gross incomes and on the Municipal Solid Waste Tax has created a climate of uncertainty, confusion despondency and despair among taxpayers and property owners in Barbados;
And whereas on August 13, 2013, the Minister of Finance acknowledged and admitted a sharp decline in the foreign reserves held by the Central Bank of approximately $300 million in three months;
And whereas the said minister openly confessed that ‘it would be reasonable to decide that much of the decline would be attributed to a decline in the level of overall confidence in our economy by foreign and domestic investors alike’;
And whereas such loss of confidence is directly attributed to the fiscal and economic policies pursued by the said minister and the Government of Barbados in defiance of the warnings and recommendations of several persons and organizations locally, regionally and internationally; 
And whereas the said minister on August 13, 2013 announced reductions in expenditure totalling $50 million in respect of temporary officers, substitutes and acting public officers, together with further large arbitrary reductions in transfers to statutory boards and Government-owned corporations;
And whereas such reductions were announced without prior study or evaluation and were accordingly announced without due care; And whereas the Minister of Finance has presided over the significant accumulation of arrears owed by this Government to diverse persons and entities locally regionally and internationally;
And whereas the Minister of Finance floated a new bond issue of US$250 million on the international capital market to assist in financing the deficit 2013/2014, together with a further issue of US$250 million to re-purchase existing bonds at a higher rate of interest than that applicable upon redemption;
And whereas the said minister made a Ministerial Statement to the House of Assembly on October 15, 2013 concerning the withdrawal of the bond issues, but did not inform the House that the bond issues were under-subscribed at the original closing date viz. September 30, 2013 and on the extended closing date of October 1, 2013;
And whereas the Minister of Finance has not clarified or corrected in a proper manner or at all any of the errors, omissions or deficiencies in the tax measures mentioned herein;
And whereas the said errors, omissions or deficiencies have undermined the authority, prestige and credibility of the office of Minister of Finance and have negatively affected the standing, reputation and credit worthiness of Barbados locally, regionally and internationally, and continue to cause a loss of confidence in the Barbadian economy and the Government of Barbados; 
Be it resolved that this House condemn the Hon. Minister of Finance for his incompetence in devising and implementing budgetary proposals announced on August 13, 2013, and for his failure to explain, correct or take appropriate legislative action to clarify the purported incidence of the taxes imposed and to provide the requisite legal authority for the relevant entities to collect the said taxes;
Be it further resolved that this honourable House condemns the Hon. Minister of Finance for his mismanagement of the Barbados economy and the fiscal affairs of the Barbados Government;
And be it further resolved that this honourable House has no confidence in the Hon. Minister of Finance and Member for the constituency of St Michael North West;
And be it finally resolved that this honourable House call on the Hon. Prime Minister immediately to relieve the Hon. Member for St Michael North West of his portfolio as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.

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