Lashley wants IMF out
FORMER MINISTER Hamilton Lashley has dismissed the idea of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) playing a larger role in Barbados’ affairs, charging it was part of an “evil axis” that had pushed Government to the point of cutting 3 000 public sector jobs.
“The IMF is part of that axis of economic evil formed by Britain, the United States and Canada,” the outspoken social activist told the SATURDAY SUN yesterday.
“The IMF has been loitering in Barbados too long. Its officers don’t have anything good, not only for Barbados but the other islands of the Caribbean, except devaluations, job cuts, pay freezes, reduced imports and cutbacks in social services.
“To many people, their presence here is symbolic of economic disaster. They are no more expert on economics than anybody else here. It is about time we ask them to leave. We don’t want any IMF help. I believe we ourselves can fix the economy of this country.”
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said yesterday that an IMF team would soon be examining “the fiscal and operational challenges of some of our key statutory entities”.
“Very shortly” the IMF could be identifying a team of experts to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the direct and indirect tax systems here with a view to advising Government on major reforms necessary in tax policy and administration, Sinckler said in a statement read in the House of Assembly.
Sinckler also announced that 3 000 workers in central government and statutory corporations would lose jobs between next January and March 1.
Lashley charged that the economic policies of Canada, Britain and the United States had so crippled the Barbados economy that Government had little choice but to retrench workers.
He said Britain’s controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) had made travel to Barbados a lot more expensive, forcing many Brits to go elsewhere and Barbados to lose millions of dollars in badly-needed foreign exchange.
He charged that the United States had caused Barbados’ rum exports to be “dramatically reduced” by subsidizing production in the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to the point where their output and prices were well below Barbados”.
He said too that Canada’s tax and other policies on the offshore business sector had forced many Canadian companies to pull out of the island, causing Barbados to lose valuable tax dollars.