Wealthy businesses ‘not giving back’
Government backbencher Trevor Prescod has complained there are too many organisations that accumulated wealth in Barbados over the years, but are now not giving back when it is most needed.
The former minister, who is the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser and Special Envoy on Reparations and Economic Enfranchisement, said that were it not for Government’s interventions to help poor people, Barbados would “see the same thing in 2020 that we saw in 1937” – civil disturbances.
The St Michael East MP said there were “certain institutions in this country that extract the wealth from the first day of slavery, still own the lands, still own the businesses, still [take] the money out of the resources of this country, and put it into their expansionist programme abroad, and they don’t even want to give back a cent”.
“It shows you they never had any interest in the development of the poor people . . . . Their only interest was continuing to exploit and abuse poor black people,” he said as the House of Assembly debated $22.5 million in supplementaries for programmes to assist vulnerable Barbadians.
Prescod said Barbados was “now at a crisis point, not only because of COVID[-19] but because of the mechanisms at the highest level of the control of capital and the availability of capital to ourselves as a Government”.
“You are now seeing a whole population declining rapidly into a state of poverty that they have never seen since the 1930s. All the figures even before COVID indicate that we were declining at a rapid rate. Then COVID came along and the situation is worse,” he said.
Prescod also said there were companies that not only did not give anything to the poor, but made the lives of their loyal employees difficult.
“When the workers want to leave those institutions they do everything so they don’t have to pay them . . . compensation for the services and they pull the energy out of these people for the entire lives that they had, especially the ones who claim to have been the most loyal people,” he said.
“And then we are watching poor people every day, as MPs, coming to our houses asking for help. People can’t pay their light bills, people can’t pay their water bills, people can’t pay house rent, conflict emerging between landlords and tenants, as a consequence, they can’t honour their payments.” (SC)