Cuts to continue well into April
Rationalisation and layoffs under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Programme will continue well into April, says general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union and co-chair of the BERT Monitoring Committee, Senator Toni Moore.
In addition, said fellow cochair and chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Edward Clarke, most of the layoffs in the private sector were in the construction industry, which was hard hit in the last six months of 2018.
Both Moore and Clarke were speaking as the BERT Monitoring Committee, which was responsible for scrutinising Government’s progress in reaching the targets agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), debuted the contents of its first-quarter report at a media briefing at Sagicor Building in Wildey yesterday. The committee is made up of representatives from the private sector and labour.
Senator Moore revealed that about 953 people had been laid off from state-owned enterprises and from central Government in the latter part of last year and the cuts will continue well into April.
The process was continuing, she said, with the rationalisation of the Rural Development Commission and the Urban Development Commission, while negotiations are still under way as Government seeks to amalgamate the Barbados Tourism Product Authority and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
“The process is still of concern in a number of areas because, as has been stated before, we understand haste; we understand the need in some respects, not all respects, for something to be done, but yet how they have been implemented or how the process has been undertaken remains a cause for concern,” Moore declared.
“That is where our negotiations are seeking to pace and temper the arrangements in such a way that we don’t achieve only the objectivity of speed, but we deliver a Barbados that still has its principles and legislation governing the employment relationship intact once we are finished.”
Meanwhile, Clarke said even though he did not have specifics, the majority of job losses in the private sector were in the construction industry and he attributed this to a fall-off in construction.
“There is no doubt that the last quarter of the year was weaker than we expected and that has had an impact on businesses in Barbados, and construction industry has not seen any growth in the last six months.”
Other businesses suffered cash flow problems, he said. But he offered some hope.
“We expect that that will change with Government’s commitment to settle the arrears, to settle the VAT (value added tax) refunds, because one of the parts of the IMF agreement is that there must be no arrears on current transactions.
“So Government has to maintain a current level of their payables and we would expect that would be a significant improvement to business in Barbados. And we would expect that would pick up with the new projects that are to come on stream.” ( HLE)
Members of the BERT Monitoring Committee
co-chair Edward Clarke; co-chair Senator Toni Moore; CTUSAB president of Edwin O’Neal; Bankers Association president Donna Wellington; and Private Sector Association representative Greg McConney.
(Picture by Heather-Lynn Evanson.)