“What Free Services?” by Henderson N. Bovell

Having already subjected those 28,000 or so, who are employed legitimately in Public Service of Barbados, to increased VAT; Excise Tax on petroleum products; increased water rates and light bills, as well as increased road tax; land tax and cost of living and soon, a garbage tax – it would seem that the wicket is being rolled for public servants (and the so-called middle class) to be made to feel other than patriotic, if they do not again subject themselves to further DLP trademark 1991-styled, austerity. Isn’t that political-bullying?

Seasoned and well-reasoned professionals like Clyde Mascoll and Owen Arthur have consistently made the point, as regards public policy, that there must be (1) clarity of purpose and (2) certainty of incidence. In contrast, despite the sound advice given - it would seem that the 'Dems' are only now being shamed by the detrimental impact and the share folly of their political programme and fatted calf doctrine, on Barbados.

Seasoned and well-reasoned professionals like Clyde Mascoll and Owen Arthur have consistently made the point, as regards public policy, that there must be (1) clarity of purpose and (2) certainty of incidence. In contrast, despite the sound advice given – it would seem that the ‘Dems‘ are only now being shamed by the detrimental impact and the share folly of their political programme and fatted calf doctrine, on Barbados.

My thesis is simply that, despite having triggered a meltdown of the Barbados economy and manufactured the fiscal crisis now facing the country – the DLP refused sound advised from well reasoned and experienced professionals – long before the crisis facing the country was this severe and – as early as its first 100 days in office – when it increased the price of diesel by an alarming 77%. It was never about Barbados! From the outset, the priority for the DLP seem to have been to “slaughter the fatted calf” for dems.

You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise that Barbados is imploding and grinding to a halt. Magic; excuses and blaming will not help – sound leadership will. It is also now clear that you cannot run Barbados based on charm. Therein lies the dilemma.

Instead of adding “value,” the DLP has diminished and devalued Barbados: robbed the people of their hope and happiness and punished their success with the most draconian taxation ever in the history of this country.

In fact, instead of putting Barbados on the ‘pathway to progress it promised,’ the “Dems” have succeeded in putting it on: “the highway to poverty.” The poverty rate being some 19%, with a recent study showing another 11%, at the brink.

The Government is clearly in panic mode precisely because even die-hard-dems are disappointed that it failed to take evasive action and implement corrective measures - despite sound advise offered by seasoned professionals. The Government now faces the prospect of a further downgrade below "junk," hence the panic.

The Government is clearly in panic mode precisely because even die-hard-dems are disappointed that it failed to take evasive action and implement corrective measures – despite sound advise offered by seasoned professionals. The Government now faces the prospect of a further downgrade below “junk,” hence the panic.

Panic mode also because, ‘blaming some global financial crisis,’ has been over-used and the country is now aware that of some thirty-five other countries in this hemisphere (and from being ‘the number one developing country on the planet’) Barbados is now at the bottom of the “junk pile.” Frankly, Barbadians do not like the society the DLP is creating.

The people are aware that the DLP has caused the economy to shrink and Foreign Reserves to nose-dive from more than $3.7 billion in 2008 to less than $1 billion in September this year – with more than $400 million in foreign reserves lost since June.

As Owen Arthur would say: this is like watching a scary horror movie in slow motion. I mean, after telling Barbadians that their country is "stable" - for them to so soon after the February general election, find-out that government's fiscal deficit is $117 million worse than 2012, which was bad or that the economy is down by 0.7% and predicted to fall by a further 1.1 per cent in 2014 - is a real DLP horror story.

As Owen Arthur would say: this is like watching a scary horror movie in slow motion. I mean, after telling Barbadians that their country is “stable” – for them to so soon after the February general election, find-out that government’s fiscal deficit is $117 million worse than 2012, which was bad or that the economy is down by 0.7% and predicted to fall by a further 1.1 per cent in 2014 – is a real DLP horror story.

If DLP operatives are now suggesting that so-called, “free services” received by a so-called: “middle class” should be cut, perhaps it is because (having been told that the economy isstable“) they too are shocked to learn that despite having increased VAT by 2.5% or from 15% to 17.5% – VAT receipts are down by $35 million and that Corporation Tax is also down $59 million.

Just one question! Did this so-called ‘middle class‘ lobby the DLP for (a) free bus rides for school children (b) free camps so dems could benefit from millions in catering and other fees (c) government funded football or (d) Constituency Councils to shore up the DLP’s support base within Communities?

Surely it was foreseeable but did it not bother the “DLP/union operative” that – in an environment where the DLP was causing the economy to shrink and revenues to be down (while the debt and deficit were raging out of control) engaging so many Dems to work in the Public Service – could not be justified?

Seriously! How would any responsible Government ever hope to convince anybody that employing more people in the Public Service, where an economy is shrinking and the government was making savage budget cut – constitutes financial prudence? Again! A DLP political programme!

Must the entire country now suffer even more because of the DLP’s “fatted calf doctrine, aka political programme?”

Those who seem to have been hand-picked to benefit from a serving of the ‘cow‘ – are already signalling to the Government to tax everything left to be taxed.

But, what should the DLP tax exactly: visits by ordinary Barbadians to’ the beach; Polyclinics; the Public Library and to the Garrison?

Is the “DLP/union operative” also recommending that the DLP make parents pay for Primary and Secondary education; pay more for school meals and that is should also increase bus fare; NHC rents and road tax?

The country is aware that the warnings and offer of assistance and sound advice by the BLP – was ignored and rejected by the DLP. They were the ones who accused the BLP of preaching gloom and doom.

It is why there has to be a point beyond which such DLP arrogance and reckless mismanagement - should constitute "criminal negligence" and a crime against the State, especially when the country is told: "things stable."

It is why there has to be a point beyond which such DLP arrogance and reckless mismanagement – should constitute “criminal negligence” and a crime against the State, especially when the country is told: “things stable.”

You know the crisis in Barbados extends beyond the Government and that the country is in serious trouble, when – faced with close to a billion dollar deficit – part of the social partnership suggests that government should cut free services to the middle class, as the solution.

One union seems to have even forgotten its fiduciary responsibility to workers and behaves as if its new and sole mandate is to protect and defend the Government from the same Public Servants and therefore remains silent on whether the allowance of the same Public Servants – haven’t been unconstitutionally confiscated.

Henderson N. Bovell is a former Chair of the National Assistance Board; Mr Bovell is also a noted social commentator and contributor to Radio Call-In programmes

Henderson N. Bovell is a former Chair of the National Assistance Board; Mr Bovell is also a noted social commentator and contributor to Radio Call-In programmes

Worse, it’s an apparent attempt to now make public servants feel other than patriotic – if they do not now lay prostrate for more Government austerity, even though they do not have a choice.

It would seem that since the DLP or its operatives and apologists can no longer blame “a global financial crisis,” they have selected a new target and scapegoat: the same middle-class they have already taxed into poverty.

The poor cannot be morally blamed or logically taxed, and so the vote to the Welfare Department was slashed, so too Reversed Tax Credit by 50%.

This may in fact be – the moment for the so-called middle class and patriotic Barbadians to change the course of the history of Barbados and put their country on a secure path.

Making Barbados strong again is a cause worth fighting for.

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