BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 11, CMC – Opposition Leader Owen Arthur is warning of a “fiscal cliff” in Barbados and accuses the Freundel Stuart government of putting the country in that crisis.
Addressing a political meeting of his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on Sunday night, Arthur, who is seeking to regain the government he lost in 2008, said that the decision of the government to call the general election so late could have an effect on the economy particularly as it relates to the government’s Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
Arthur, an economist and former finance minister, said that the Constitution dictates that the Estimates have to be laid and debated in parliament by March 31.
But he told supporters that with the February 21 elections, the country is faced with a constitutional predicament similar to the ‘fiscal cliff’ situation in the United States.
According to the BLP leader, parliament must authorise the money that is to be spent by government by the end of March and with just five weeks between the elections and that date, the new government will have a difficult task on meeting the constitutional requirements.
He said that law requires that the Estimates be prepared, laid in the House of Assembly and on the Order Paper of the House for at least one week, before it is debated and passed in both houses of parliament.
Arthur told supporters that the Estimates had not been laid before the parliament was dissolved and if the new administration cannot meet the March deadline, it would not be able to pay wages to temporary workers or pay its bills.
Arthur warned supporters to expect problems if the new government decides on a restructuring of the ministerial portfolios after February 21, saying it may also not have funds to carry out its function.
He said the new government would have to prepare Estimates, which would normally take six months to prepare, within a matter of days following the polls.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler has been telling supporters in the St Michael North West constituency why he should be returned to office as part of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
“It is about doing things and not about getting MP on your name, and that is what too many politicians like to do. I have to say be careful with who comes around pretending that they are a candidate running in constituencies,” he told supporters on Sunday night, recalling the days when the constituency was once considered the laughingstock of Barbados.
“We were reduced to that, not because of anything we did, but because the former representative of this constituency, Clyde Mascoll decided that he would set political history by becoming the first leader of a major political party and Leader of Opposition to cross the floor.”
“When I came into office I surveyed and I saw that was a particular brand of neglect, because when Mascoll should have been looking after your interests he was busy looking after his own. While he was doing that housing, roads, people were being neglected.”
The finance minister said that during his tenure, the constituency has benefitted tremendously, adding “we achieved what we had to achieve and some people are angry.
“However, I don’t care if they are angry, vex, upset or whatever. Let them be upset with the 15 roads that were repaired and re-surfaced in this constituency. Let them be upset about the 22 streets light. Let them be vex about the 25 houses Urban (Development Commission) repaired for the people in this constituency and more to come, and let them be upset about the transfer of titles,” he added.
The DLP is seeking another five year term in office. In the 2008 general election it won 20 of the 30 seats at stake.