Friday, April 12, 2024

Sinckler smashes hope


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NEVER BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF BUDGETS IN BARBADOS had so many people waited in hope for so long only to receive so little of substance and benefit to their deprived practical and psychological lives.
For while they were desperately looking forward to words, actions and policies of inspiration and relief, all they got from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was more than four tedious hours of hopelessness and despair. More of what they had consistently gotten from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in its four and half years as Government.
But even before Sinckler spoke in the House of Assembly there were early signs that low expectations had enveloped the DLP. Not only did its parliamentary representatives appear to project an aura of dispiritedness, but for a time its less than two dozen supporters gathered outside the gate threatened to be outnumbered by the media representatives on duty for the occasion.
A further ominous indication of the negativity that was to follow was when Sinckler at the very beginning of his third Budget speech could do no better than turn for inspiration to the lyrics of Jamaican reggae singer Admiral Tibbett rather than the vision and oratory of his present political leader and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, or those of the recently departed David Thompson or even DLP founding father Errol Barrow.
From there on matters got progressively worse as Sinckler resorted to his well established tactic of blaming the poor state of the lives of Barbadians on international economic problems in general and the record of the BLP that ended nearly five years ago, while ignoring the fact that other activist countries in the world and region were recording economic growth, thereby showing that the DLP had committed itself to being a passive, helpless and hapless Government, convinced that it was incapable of doing anything that could make life better for our people.
So the listening and watching public able to endure Sinckler’s lengthy litany of lamentation to the point where he presented his actual Budgetary Proposals got nothing that would improve the rough and tough nature of the current lives and existence of individuals and businesses. There was nothing in them that brought relief to ever rising prices, unemployment and poverty, high costing water, electricity, gasolene and diesel and the chronic and worsening problems in the all-important tourism and international business sectors. Nothing to quickly grow the economy and reduce inflation that has risen by 30 per cent in four years while wages remain virtually frozen.
There were token and highly futuristic gestures to a few. There was nothing definitive and hopeful for the 35 000 CLICO sufferers and the Al Barrack debt problem, for which a June solution had been promised, while legitimate concerns had arisen over the intended assault on the NIS funds. All that remained for Sinckler to say was, “may Barbados rest in peace”.
At the time of writing Barbadians were expectantly awaiting the BLP replies, especially those of  Mia Mottley and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur, who as Finance Minister brought 14 years of tax relief while growing the foreign reserves to $2.8 billion by the end of the BLP’s term, demonstrating that there is hope with the BLP and better can be done.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a psuedonym for the Barbados Labour Party.


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