In a near three-hour presentation on Tuesday, Finance Minister Chris Sinckler announced several cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures for the next year.
But Mottley in her rebuttal, told the Lower House that Sinckler has passed up an opportunity to address the real issues affecting local households.
“How do you come with a mid-year review in October but seek to prescribe medicine today in August?
“What you need is detailed analysis … what you have instead is a rush to judgement, a piecemeal patchwork join up, join up set of initiatives to meet the condition of the Democratic Labour Party’s survival, rather than the country of Barbados’ survival and stability,” Mottley said.
She said the two per cent National Social Responsibility Levy which is aimed at financing health care services, saying it was introduced last year, only under another name.
“We now have a National Social Responsibility Levy to give a fancy name for a three-letter word called tax and to try to hide it behind the provisioning for health care because he feels that he can make it more palatable to Bajans if he does that.
“But he didn’t tell you and remind you that in last year’s budget, in 2015 he did the same thing. The same Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) that is to benefit this year, was to benefit last year too, from the cess on gasoline and diesel remaining for another year in order to finance the QEH. The poor National Insurance Scheme had to go and finance a bond for the QEH too,” Mottley said.
She raised the issue of the increase in non-contributory pensions, which will be increased by $BDS40 (One Barbados dollar =US$0.50 cents) monthly effective October, accusing Sinckler of withholding information about the true state of the government’s finances from the public.
“This minister would have announced an increase of non-contributory pensions by three million dollars but he didn’t tell the country that they have not paid the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) for the pensions that they already owe since April 2015, for the last 16 months the government of Barbados has not given the NIS a cent of reimbursement for paying the old people’s non-contributory pensions.
“He didn’t tell the House that he owes them money for the contributions for employees. He didn’t tell the House that he has not paid a cent in rent for any of the three buildings that the government either rents or the one which it has to pay for CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) , and that the arrears to the NIS is now $330 million and climbing. He didn’t tell the country that separate from the arrears to the NIS the University (of the West Indies) is owed another $200m again,” Mottley said.
Mottley further told parliament that the measures announced will not achieve their stated objectives “without significantly undermining economic growth and investor confidence”.
The debate is continuing.