Joe: Who will pay the price?
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, Bishop Joseph Atherley, is asking Government to look into any probable malfeasance during the ten-year tenure of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
During his 95-minute Budget Reply yesterday Atherley asked how Barbados got to the point of having a $1.7 billion debt, in spite of taxpayers providing $22 billion to Government over that time.
He said Barbados needed “clear signals from this Government as to how the state will behave in relation to the market and to private players in the market, and what are to be the absolute parameters within which state principles will operate, and what unvarying and unyielding measures of accountability will be put in place to counter any tendencies towards misdoing”.
The MP for St Michael West said Barbados had recently come out of the dark experience of seeming relations between state and private players in the market, of which Barbadians were not particularly proud, and a change in the modus operandi was necessary.
“All Barbadians, even some visitors, are being asked to pay the price to get us out of this mess, but I have another issue. What this Budget did not tell us is who will pay the price for getting us in this position in the first place?
“Barbadians want to know that somebody, some entity, some group, pay the price for getting us into this mess. If it is a question of bad policy, the electorate has spoken and dismissed the last administration. If it is a question of corruption, misdeeds and ill-doing, Barbadians want to know what the current administration is going to do about having someone pay the price for their pain.”
The Opposition Leader said the borrowing of the Owen Arthur administration between 1994 and 2008 should not be an issue, since Barbadians knew where the money went.
“But we have nothing to show for $22 billion in taxation over two terms. No buses. No trucks. Bad roads. This Government must understand the people want to know why there are contracts to seemingly favoured beneficiaries,” he said.
Atherley urged the Mia Mottley administration to act now.
“The time is ripe, as the Government seeks to correct the problems in the economy, it also sends strong signals that it is about eliminating the potential for and predisposition of principals who act on behalf of Government to create their own private fortune on the backs of the taxpayers, while the people of Barbados suffer pain . . . .
“Under the last administration it was more about Government, its principals and its partners in the private market than it was about governance in the interest of the people of Barbados. (BA)