BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday October 31, 2011 – Barbados’ Finance Minister Chris Sinckler and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur have locked horns over the state of the economy.
Arthur has charged that the economy is continuing on a downward spiral due to poor government policies, but the finance minister said economic conditions have improved.
Sinckler told a media conference Sunday that while the recovery is not as robust as government would like, the country remains on track to record one percent economic growth in 2011.
“While we still have some way to go to restore our levels of output to those levels consistent with the pre-crisis period, the sky is not falling on us and the earth has not opened up under our feet. We are making progress and the overall trajectory of our economy is going in the right direction,” he said.
“Our objectives as a country over the next six months to a year must be to sustain current and forge new strategies to expand our economy; stay on course with our programme of debt reduction through fiscal consolidation; protect and where possible create new jobs for Barbadians through higher levels of foreign direct and domestic investment.”
But, Arthur accused the government of wasting money while unemployment continues to rise, and called for a change in policies.
He also accused the administration of considering extending a public sector wage freeze for another two years.
“We have been informed that the unions agreed to support a wage freeze which has been in effect with the understanding that there would be no job losses in the public service.
“Despite public posturing that there have been no negotiations between the unions and the government for a new settlement. Rather, we are hearing of recommendations to extend the wage freeze which has been in existence for two years to another two years. This would be unconscionable,” he added.