Friday, April 12, 2024

Owen:It’s a ‘fiscal folly’

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Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur labelled Government’s Estimates Of Expenditure And Revenue  2012-2013 “fiscal folly”.
And like the principal spokesperson for the Barbados Labour Party, Mia Mottley, he too accused Government of devising the Estimates “to give effect to a political programme for purely electoral purposes”.
Arthur made the charges yesterday as the debate entered its third day.
“The motivation behind the Estimates before this House [is] largely political – intended largely to give effect to a political programme for purely electoral purposes – and do not bear a serious relationship to the objectives and the requirements of national development”, Arthur said.
He charged that the problem with the Estimates was that there was no harmony but what he called “an imbalance in favour of partisan objectives”, adding that where there should have been “creativity and boldness to rise above the crisis and offer hope, you have inertia instead.
“Things are being deferred; fundamental decisions that must be taken to restore stability are not being taken . . . inertia and lack of creativity are simply not the tools that the Barbadian people must expect of their Government at this critical time”, he said.
In reference to the proposals in the Estimates, Arthur submitted that Government was commending itself on a rate of growth of 0.5 per cent but he argued that such a rate could not build a good society or raise people’s quality of life.
He said the rate of inflation was too high, unemployment was rising and there was a severe problem in fiscal affairs.Arthur, an economist, further questioned why Government had “discarded” its original medium-term fiscal programme, which he admitted was working.
“The Government tells us its fiscal strategy is working. And even though it says it is working, it has discarded it to be able, on the eve of an election, not to control expenditure in the interest of stability of the country but to go on an expenditure binge that can undermine all of the efforts that have been made over the course of the last three years to restore stability to our affairs.”
He explained that in the revised medium-term fiscal programme there is to be zero reduction in expenditure but after the election there are to be cuts in expenditure to the extent of $75 million per year.
But, he declared, “Even the zero per cent change in expenditure is a joke because this year expenditure is to be increased by almost $300 million.
“So at a time when the Government should be controlling the expenditure in the support of restoring stability to our fiscal affairs, the Government is going on a fiscal folly.” (MB)

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