FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Sinckler’s leaking glass
I listened in disgust last Tuesday as Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler seemingly attempted to make those who express concern about Barbados’ future feel guilty, by accusing them of seeing the glass half-empty instead of seeing it half-full and helping to fill and overflow it.
What’s the point, minister, when we sacrifice to help fill the glass, but your administration seems bent on boring holes in the bottom of said glass and emptying it? None of you politicians can convince me that there still isn’t unnecessary spending (wastage) in Government departments. Please reveal to us details (not just vague statements) of where cutbacks, apart from layoffs, have been made. My experience is that public funds have always been and still are treated like manna from Heaven. When will we see an end to the extravagances in Government?
There continues to be considerable energy wasted discussing the method used in the layoff process. Cabinet has apparently dictated “last in, first out” while the departments are doing their own thing. I have a much fairer proposal: “Should never have been in, first out; next those legitimately hired but who ‘do nothing’; and finally those who hardly work”. That should achieve way more than the 3 000 layoffs targeted. In fact, the corridors of Government should be quite bare after this exercise, and with those left who actually do work, we should have an efficient and effective Public Service that will assist in getting things done rather than telling us why they can’t be done.
As far as I’m aware, there are stringent rules for hiring in the Public Service, so it should be quite easy to distinguish between those who’ve been hired legitimately and those whom “the minister send”. These rules are even a bit ridiculous at times. For example, there’s dire need for an additional plant pathologist at the Ministry of Agriculture to replace one who died years ago. But I’m told that the person who is next in line for this post is not a pathologist, so the lab remains without the pathologist, while a person from another discipline will be promoted to that post.
Nowadays, I get the impression that if you don’t agree with what’s going on, you’re deemed to be disloyal to your country. In fact, someone who was concerned about our future told me they were thinking of emigrating but were concerned that it might seem disloyal. It’s because we love our country that it’s so upsetting to see it being destroyed. Minister Sinckler noted something to the effect that while we Barbadians are being so negative, those from outside are positive about Barbados’ future. Funny that while he was saying this, I was talking to a St Lucian who remarked: “I see your Government is bringing Barbados down.”
I believe that Minister Sinckler, towards the end of his presentation, encouraged persons to invest in Government paper, which was the subject of the resolution being debated. I trust that in the near future he won’t take his usual U-turn and make some flippant apology to those of us who have put our pension funds into said Government paper, only to have the funds devalued or “shaved”, as has been reportedly done in St Kitts and apparently looks about to happen in Grenada. We all remember how we were told that all was well and then the bombshell of the deficit was conveniently dropped after the 2013 election when the Government was safely “in the bag” for this administration. It’s not easy to have confidence after that type of experience.
I agree with Miss Mia Mottley for asking that the continuing bad practice of the National Insurance Scheme buying more and more Government paper at an interest rate which is not the most beneficial to the department be halted immediately.
Finally, it boggles my mind how Government could justify a whole day in Parliament to discuss increasing the limit of funds to be raised by Government paper, which we’re told are not needed at the moment, when there’s so much important legislation that has been placed on the back burner. I’m further baffled by Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell’s statement that the Credit Suisse loan wasn’t needed and isn’t being used; it was only borrowed because people were panicking! All this shakes our confidence even more!
• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator.