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Atherley, Straughn butt heads over BOSS

Atherley, Straughn butt heads over BOSS
Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley. (FILE)

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Government and the Opposition clashed over the BOSS (Barbados Optional Savings Scheme) yesterday and who was really benefiting from the initiative.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn revealed in the House of Assembly that $18.7 million in BOSS bonds had been issued up to the end of October.

He added public servants held $5.1 million while the remainder had been sold on the secondary market and were held by pensioners, pension schemes, credit unions and other institutional stakeholders.

He was responding to Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley’s claim that support for BOSS “has not been overwhelming”.

While introducing the Central Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Straughn said there had been a favourable response to the BOSS scheme and a large portion of the bonds had been taken up on the open market.

But Atherley said the BOSS scheme was “just a euphemistic attempt to get the Central Bank to fund some of Government’s recurrent monthly expenditure, salaries and wages for public servants”.

Under the scheme introduced in June, aimed at raising about $153 million over 18 months, Government gave public servants earning above $36 000 annually the option of agreeing to have a portion of their pay converted to bonds over the period.

Pensioners and public servants earning under $36 000 per year were also offered the option of purchasing the four-year bonds, with a five per cent interest rate.

Straughn dismissed Atherley’s assertion that Government was using Central Bank financing to pay public servants, saying it was “entirely false”.

However, Atherley said he was not convinced by Straughn’s explanation. (GC)