BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday June 1, 2017 – Opposition Leader Mia Mottley yesterday evening did more than crunch numbers in reply to the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presented by Finance Minister Chris Sinckler the day before. She unraveled what she called wanton acts of corruption by the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
A fiery Mottley wasted no time in getting to the heart of the issue after she rubbished the financial package as the most “vicious tax grab” ever, charging that it would further cripple the limping Barbados economy.
On Tuesday, Sinckler announced a series of taxes and levies that will take effect on July 1, including a National Social Responsibility Levy that will be five times what it currently is – increasing from two percent to ten percent; a two per cent tax on the purchase of foreign exchange; and an increase in the excise duty on petrol.
“$291 million for a National Social Responsibility Levy…$140 million in the two percent commission on foreign exchange, $50 million in excise tax and $481 million in additional taxes. Where is it coming from?” Mottley asked, charging that Barbadians had been handed “an effective de facto devaluation of their social and economic existence and a de facto devaluation of the Barbados dollar by the measures announced by the Minister of Finance.
Economics aside, Mottley waded into the Government for its handling of several controversial projects, insisting that the Freundel Stuart administration had much to account for.
Armed with documents, she tackled the Government’s handling of the $700 million controversial Cahill waste-to-energy project which was abruptly abandoned after a strong public backlash
Mottley claimed that while Sinckler, Environment Minister Dr Denis Lowe, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, and Minister of Energy Senator Darcy Boyce had been in the spotlight as having signed the agreement with the Guernsey-based Cahill Energy for the plasma gasification plant in Vaucluse, St Thomas, Prime Minister Stuart was the first person to approve the agreement dating back to September 13, 2013.
“To this date, the ministers and Cabinet of Barbados will not share with the country the contracts that were signed in their names,” Mottley said.
“And if you think that Cahill is gone, ask them about the company that wants to buy Cahill and bring another form of waste-to-energy to Barbados, for which the Government of Barbados is still obligated under this power purchase agreement signed by those four ministers to buy the power at kilowatt hour that they have agreed to,” the Opposition Leader told Parliament.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader also raised eyebrows about the conduct of some Government ministers.
“There are about four or five ministers in here [Parliament] who really have to ask themselves some questions. When people ask, ‘how can you drive a jeep belonging to a company that provides services to your ministry and gets work from your ministry and believe that is okay?’”
Mottley assured the House, a BLP government under her stewardship would adopt a no-nonsense approach to corruption, which would involve the passage of anti-corruption legislation.
She also promised to prohibit the printing of money by the Central Bank of Barbados to pay wages and finance Government’s programme, and to strengthen the powers of the Auditor General.
Mottley also vowed repeal the controversial Barbados Revenue Authority Amendment Act to provide for a different way of addressing tax compliance, and form a Get Barbados Moving Again committee which she would chair.