The Budget That Did Not – Analysis of Chris Sinckler’s Sophomore Plan: Barbadians await voting soon…
Readers who like to track items such as “This day in History” will find (Tomorrow – August 17th) that King Charles IX of France (13) it is said – was declared an adult. He became King at age 10 but was dead by age 23. It is also said that on his last day, 30 May, Charles called for Henry of Navarre, embraced him, and said, “Brother, you are losing a good friend. Had I believed all that I was told, you would not be alive. But I always loved you… I trust you alone to look after my wife and son. Pray God for me. Farewell.”
Following Tuesday’s budget, Barbadians received no such encouraging words of hope or confidence that tomorrow and the year to come – may be better or even brighter. This monumental let-down from a DLP, which a few years back – promised “a pathway to progress!” It is even more painful finding-out the hard way that the same Moody’s prediction – made months ago (which the DLP and the Central Bank, tried to downplay) is absolutely correct. The bottom-line is: Barbados has a Government it can no longer trust or afford.
Despite having contributed significantly to the mess in which Barbados now finds itself – the DLP’s party-first-approach was one that says, ‘doing what is right for Barbados is not in the interest of the DLP and would most definitely cause the DLP to be completely annihilated at the next election. It therefore explains why the DLP rolled-out the gravy-train – even with junks of the fatted calf on it – while trying not to upset Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.’ The DLP admitted that things are ‘tough and hard’ but what did it do? In his exuberance, the Finance Minister tried to give the impression that in addition to other things – the DLP increased the Reversed Tax Credit from $750 straight to $1300 in its 2008 Budget – to mitigate the impact of the recession. Clearly not true because the global financial crisis started around October 2008 and the budget was on July 7, 2008.
It is therefore clear that the DLP understands Political Survival 101. Its panic-mode, desperation-budget, is proof. When public consumption and investments are cut back, private consumption and investment, especially under current circumstances – will not compensate. The way how Government Paper will be treated, effective January 1, 2012 – may not be enough and does seem to constitute some form of ‘quantitative easing.’ The point remains that the DLP’s 3-year dangerous mismanagement of the Barbados economy, has resulted in increasing unemployment and massive under employment and has also caused way too many to be in debt and facing economic uncertainty, even after this budget.
In addition, having already been forced to cash-in Government Paper, an alert Barbadian Private Sector would have seen that there is a lack of demand for products and services and therefore have little incentive to invest. The budget did little to address this, neither did it give confidence and hope that this situation will change between now and the next Estimates. The DLP’s iron-fist immigration policy also did tremendous damage to the Barbados economy. This explains why the DLP is still pinning its hope on the economy of USA, Britain and Canada improving – in the hope that they will travel, invest or send remittances again.
An election fatted-calf energy grant of $5 million and throwing in a free NHC unit may also be a little too late. At the end of the day, the facts will still show that the DLP is borrowing money to repay debt. This is a government that tried to reduce the deficit from 7.2% but succeeded in increasing it to 10%. Therefore, what the Government needed to have announced was: a growth strategy; initiative to reduce the cost of living; a job creation strategy and clearly thought-out measures to put Barbados on a fiscally sustainable path. The word: “CRIME” was not even mentioned.
In the absence of such and since this could very well be the last Statement of Financial and Economic Policies (Budget) before the next General Election, it is not a question of who has been in Parliament longest and has most experience or even – who knows the most about Economics. Rather, it will come-down to: who sounds more convincing and who presents the best opening and closing arguments. It is about believability; confidence, debating skills and who has the capacity to offer realistic hope for a brighter future, especially in circumstance where the DLP-Political Stockholm syndrome, has become an obstacle.
The story of the burial of ‘Julius Caesar,’ inclusive of the character of a mob and the strategic error of having allowed Mark Anthony to speak at the funeral with dagger and blood-stained clothing – come to mind. The question is: who will be the BLP’s Mark Anthony? The contribution of the person who will speak last for the BLP (that is: immediately before the PM and the Finance Minister brings the debate to close) will be even more critical than who speaks first.
Perhaps there was no kiss of death and no fatal squeeze. It is why the BLP must now present a strong case and compelling opening and closing arguments. If the BLP falters in this Budget Debate, then the DLP will go into its Conference on a high and occupy the high-ground in coming weeks.