“NO HOPE FROM SINCKLER” Budgetary preview & Kadooment Post Mortem

BLP Legacy: Enabled the Barbados Development Bank to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs; completed nationalisation of the public transport system; and legalised minibuses.

It’s rough and tough

With only days to go before the climax of Crop-Over 2011, Barbadians unlike in past years are not now caught up in frenzied discussion as to who should win the calypso monarchy, road march or top costume band competitions. Instead, what they are mostly talking about is how rough and tough everyday existence is for the vast majority of individuals, families and businesses.

More debt

That is why, pressured and demoralised they had been hoping that Finance Minister Chris “Unclear” Sinckler would have provided them with words of encouragement and hope when on Tuesday in the House of Assembly he piloted legislation authorising him to raise to a stunning $1.75 billion the amount that can be borrowed in Treasury Bills and specified Tax Certificates.

{FILE IMAGE} "Gone were the subdued tones and highly controlled manner he had recently been projecting in public appearances and in their place were the usual loud and boisterous characteristics of the past..."

Sinckler still unclear

But by the time the measure was passed by the House, the public at large would have been neither further enlightened as to the real state of the economy nor uplifted about our future economic, financial and social prospects. Instead, they could only have been thrown into deeper uncertainty and confusion since Sinckler sought to paint an economic picture of growing improvement on paper that had nothing to do with their daily experiences of struggling to make ends meet in virtually all areas.

Conduct unbecoming a Minister of Finance

Rather than by words, deportment and attitude going all out to seek to stop the flow of steadily receding confidence in his policies, Sinckler only succeeded in intensifying the decline. Gone were the subdued tones and highly controlled manner he had recently been projecting in public appearances and in their place were the usual loud and boisterous characteristics of the past. We can only conclude that that veneer of gentility had been shattered by the implications of the BLP’s endorsement two days before of the charismatic, affable and able attorney-at- law, Gregory Nicholls, to run against him in the next general election.

Commercial Banks skeptical about government paper

Also to be factored in is the demonstrated loss of confidence by commercial banks in their reluctance to invest in government’s long-term loan devices. But above all, how much of it would have to do with a reported extended Cabinet meeting last Monday (not Thursday) when, unlike with previous Finance Ministers who were routinely allowed to brief colleagues on Budget contents just prior to public presentation, Sinckler was reportedly required to give a preview. Therefore the noticeably lack of vigorous and widespread defence of him in the House on Tuesday.

Sinckler a colossal failure

But Sinckler’s promise to unleash on the Opposition in the coming Budget debate his tongue “sharpened on four sides”, does not change the fact that his Minister of Finance track record is widely seen as a colossal failure. The people are looking for a Finance Minister of calm assurance and competence with policies to restore economic growth and to protect living standards. More bravado, bluster and harangue will not do it. That is why there is the popular clamour for the return to government of Owen Arthur and the BLP with their proven recent record of nearly 14 unbroken years of prosperity and economic stability.

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