Government Using Throne Speech to Signal Fresh Guard

The eagerly awaited second session of parliament is set to restart today from about 10AM- see Order Paper. The decision to prorogue parliament from the 8 August 2020 caught political pundits by surprise and has been the source of robust debate.

The Government has determined that it is necessary that we take fresh guard. The Parliament of Barbados will be prorogued on the 8th of August, 2020, with us resuming in a new session on the 15th of September with a new Throne Speech and with a new direction as to where we must go in order to meet these extraordinarily different circumstances from the original Throne Speech of two years ago

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Even before the pandemic struck the global economy, Barbados had been struggling with a non performing economy. The Mottley government took an immediate decision to enter an IMF program (BERT) on winning the governbment in 2018 that included a restructure of domestic and foreign debt with the contracted services of White Oak. The big concern was carrying the risk of low foreign reserves with a junk status credit rating and a high debt to GDP load- reported in 2018 as the third highest in the world.

If was not difficult for the Barbados government to manage an economy in free fall and at the same time whip confidence in a proud people who were suffering from economic fatigue, along came COVID 19. The prime minister in her wisdom- time will tell- decided to leverage the parliamentary tools at her command “to take fresh guard”.

It would be remiss of the blogmaster if the minority view offered by the contentious Pachamama in this forum was not added to this commentary.

We have been telling this PM, here on BU and through back-channels, that this ‘reset’, so-called, is highly misconceived.

Our suggestion is that an election should be called to ‘reset’ the political-economy. Not the farcical and ritualistic contrivances as planned for sometime this week.

Her sequestration, seclusion, on the gold coast should have been unnecessary as neither she nor those beating a trail to meet with her has anything of material importance to tell her beyond pomp and pageantry.

Pachamama

We are living in an unprecedented time. We are attempting to navigate uncharted waters. The challenges confronting Barbados is not a binary problem to solve. Those who enter the debate by injecting absolutes should be viewed with suspicion.

The blogmaster urges the Prime Minster and other leaders in civil society to ignore the power of this moment at our peril. This and future generations will be affected by decisions taken today.

And in the visitation of the winds,

Who take the ruffian billows by the top,

Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them

With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,

That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?

Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose

To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,

And in the calmest and most stillest night,

With all appliances and means to boot,

Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Part II, 1597

– See Parliament TV

407 comments

  • What nonsense Ezra Alleyne is talking? His reference to the recent Queen’s Speech as a masterpiece of political craft is, to put it politely, silly? The Queen’s Speech should be about the nation’s new economic direction, following the impact of CoVid, instead it was nearly three hours of waffle.
    His nonsense about the government inheriting an economy is party propaganda; it did that over two years ago and has gone on to make things worse. His almost weekly reference to Walter Bagehot will give the impression the great man would recognise the UK constitution in 2020. It is tiring and nauseous.
    Is the Queen the ultimate power in the UK? Therefore, why the reference? Ezra gives the impression he is well versed in constitutional law, but his writings do not display any of this knowledge. In fact he is a one-eyed man in the land of the blind. He was the expert on the CBC show on the speech and failed, in my mind, to display his expertise.
    The independence constitution did not make Barbados a de facto Republic, it confirmed Barbados as an independent sovereign state, a grown up who had left its parents’ home.
    His claim the speech contained proposals for reordering and rebuilding the economy says more about his economic illiteracy than it says about the speech.
    References to George Pilgrim were malicious and wicked. Pilgrim did not react to the Queen’s Speech because he is not party leader.
    It was a long and boring speech with repeated policy proposals and nothing that speaks to the medium and long-term future of the nation.
    Ezra should take a break from ranting about the constitution. Bagehot died nearly 150 years ago; admittedly that is what Ezra Learned at law school in London in the 1960s, but the complexity of the British constitution has moved on. He needs fresh reading matter.

    Like

  • The speech was 2hrs 10 minutes.

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  • @Hal
    99/100
    Based on David’s review I penalized you for stating the incorrect time

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  • “Trade unionist Senator Caswell Franklyn had been criticising Government, saying it was hurting workers by changing legislation which left them with only four weeks to apply for severance.”

    don’t mind that shite, if Caswell don’t stay on top of these traitors in 12 months ya will hear those victims of government crying just like the NIS victims and the disabled who are still not getting their money….never listen to the liars of parliament.

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  • Jobs plan thumbs-up
    Experts back Govt programmes to get people back to work

    by SHAWN CUMBERBATCH
    shawncumberbatch@nationnews. com
    GOVERNMENTS’ PLAN to put Barbadians back to work will positively impact 12 500 people, says special envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados Avinash Persaud.
    The financial analysis also expects that “the return of confidence that this massive reemployment will trigger could add even more jobs”.
    The employment creation effort, as prosposed in the Throne Speech under the $300 million Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation Programme (BEST), and $40 million 12-month COVID-19 relief programme, was welcomed by Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados president Lydia McCollin, who said it represented “money that is well spent in the circumstances”.
    Persaud told the DAILY NATION that the authorities estimated that “employment reengagement part of the BEST Programme will save over 6 000 tourism jobs, or around half of the broader tourism sector jobs”.
    “A further 4 000 jobs will be created by the Green Investment Plans of BEST and the COVID Relief Programme. I estimate that there will be an additional 2 500 jobs created indirectly from this activity, making a combined jobsimpact of around 12 500.”
    Lasting impact
    Persaud explained that on their own “these two programmes will offset at least half of the lasting impact of COVID”.
    “The plan is that a series of previously announced projects will tackle the other half,” he said.
    “These include the $250 million HOPE affordable housing plan announced in the Throne Speech, the $100 million public investment programme announced in the supplementary budget measures, and the $1.4 billion of planned private sector investments in new hotels and renewable energy like the Green Energy Park. These plans will collectively get Barbados back to work, training, and investing in the future.”
    He also stressed that “the reality is that not everyone is affected by COVID or affected as much”.
    “The international business sector has held its own and Government tax revenues have held up in that area. Some hotels and villas – with the emphasis on some – and in part as a result of the 12-month
    working visa which has caught the world’s imagination, are reporting good bookings from October,” said Persaud.
    Without need for support
    “They will be able to re-engage their staff without needing or wanting Government investment in their firms.”
    McCollin’s assessment was that “the economic measures outlined by the Government cover several key sectors and address many of the specific challenges caused by the almost total closure of the tourism sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
    “ICAB supports the objectives of the stimulus programmes, which are to save businesses and to preserve jobs. It is our view that the $300 million to be spent in the BEST scheme for hotels and tourism facilities, and the $40 million to be spent on the COVID relief programme of job creation for 12 months, represent money that is well spent in the circumstances,” she said.
    “The financial support to the tourism sector will reduce the possibility of the loss of businesses in the sector. Among the several conditions associated with the financing, we are particularly supportive of the direct link to job retention and the requirement to buy local inputs from farmers manufacturers, artists, etc.”
    McCollin added that “at a macro level, we support the decision to adjust the ambitious targets in the BERT programme”.
    “The decision to pause for two years, the long-term debt reduction target will create some of the fiscal space to support the stimulus programmes announced in the Throne Speech,” she said.

    Source: Nation Newspaper

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  • Target worries
    BERT committee fears financial goals may not be met
    THE SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP body tracking Barbados’ economic reform fears Government is in danger of missing its targets in the next financial year.
    In its seventh public report since being appointed, the BERT Monitoring Committee (BERT MC) also voiced disappointment that “several anticipated projects have not proceeded as initially anticipated”.
    The BERT MC, which is co-chaired by Barbados Private Sector Association chairman Edward Clarke and Barbados Workers’ Union General Secretary Senator Toni Moore, raised the concerns yesterday in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative effects.
    The latest report covered the period ended June 30, which coincided with the seventh set of targets under Barbados’ Extended Fund Facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
    The BERT MC noted for that period that “despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic [Government] has continued to achieve all of its performance targets and, in particular, the primary balance surplus of one per cent of GDP and the growth in net international reserves to levels well above the programme target”.
    However, it added: “The severity of the impact of COVID-19 and the resultant significant levels of unemployment coupled with the shrinking of GDP are the principal risks to the programme and the committee is concerned that, even with the lowering of the fiscal surplus
    target and the supplemental funding expected, it will be a significant challenge to meet the targets established for the coming fiscal year.
    “Close monitoring and further collaboration and negotiation with the IMF may be necessary as the uncertainty surrounding the recovery of the tourism sector remains very significant.”
    Clarke told the DAILY NATION prior to the release of this latest report that because of the challenges he was not surprised by the Throne Speech announcement that the debt reduction component of the IMF programme would be suspended for two years.
    “I think looking at the kind of debt that we have added since COVID, as well as the decline in GDP, your debt to GDP will not go down. And with forecasted negative growth for this year and next year, we will be worse than we were pre-COVID,” he said.
    “Over the next two years I think that it is important that we try to maintain the fiscal side of the equation, but it would be extremely difficult to lower your debt to GDP ratio at this time in this economy.”
    Government had agreed with the IMF that public debt would not exceed $13.4 billion. At the end of June the stock of total debt, including Central Government’s domestic and external debt, Central Government’s guaranteed debt, and arrears, was $12.4 billion versus the agreed cap of $13.4 billion.
    The watchdog body also noted in its report that “the continued elevated levels of unemployment raise concerns regarding social implications that the country may face as
    the periods of unemployment benefits come to an end”.
    In light of this, it said it was “critical that the counter-cyclical measures announced so far to mitigate the situation are implemented as a matter of urgency and it is disappointing that several anticipated projects have not proceeded”.
    The BERT MC found comfort in Barbados’ “healthy international reserves position, together with the successes achieved in the domestic and external debt restructurings to date”, which it concluded “stand the country in a much stronger position to meet these challenges”.
    The entity noted that since its last report, it “has continued to receive reports from the Government . . . on its progress for each of the months of April through July 2020 towards the targets agreed in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) agreed with the IMF”. (SC)

    Source: Nation

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  • BERT WOES
    UNEMPLOYMENT AND STALLED PROJECTS A CONCERN
    by Marlon Madden
    The local team tasked with monitoring the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme is raising concern that Government will find it increasingly difficult to meet its targets for the coming fiscal year.
    The BERT Monitoring Committee made this prediction in its latest report for the period April to June, while adding that Government may need to go back to the IMF to seek further tweaks to some target dates.
    “Close monitoring and further collaboration and negotiation with the IMF may be necessary as the uncertainty surrounding the recovery of the tourism sector remains very significant,” the team said.
    Lauding Government for achieving its performance targets for the review period, especially the primary balance surplus of one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and growth in the international reserves, the committee said this continued to be achieved in spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    However, the team, which is made up of representatives from the private sector, labour union and creditors’ group, said it was concerned about some challenges ahead.
    “The severity of the impact of COVID-19 and the resultant significant levels of unemployment, coupled with the shrinking of GDP are the principal risks to the programme,” it said.
    The monitoring committee also said it was concerned that, even with the lowering of the fiscal surplus target and the supplemental funding expected, it will be “a significant challenge” to meet the targets established for the coming fiscal year.
    “The continued elevated levels of unemployment raise concerns regarding social implications that the country may face as the periods of unemployment benefits come to an end.
    It is critical that the counter-cyclical measures announced so far to mitigate the situation are implemented as a matter of urgency,” it added.
    The team also expressed disappointment that several anticipated projects have not proceeded as initially anticipated.
    “However, it continues to be comforting to know that the healthy international reserves position, together with the successes achieved in the domestic and external debt restructurings to date, stand the country in a much stronger position to meet these challenges,” the team concluded.
    Government has met all of its fiscal and performance targets to the end of June.
    However, of the five structural benchmarks that were set to be achieved by the end of June, two of them have been met while the deadlines for three have been changed.
    The deadline for Government’s actuarial review of the civil service pension system with a view to reform it has been changed to the end of this month.
    A December 2020 deadline has now been set for Government to table a revised public pension law to enhance the sustainability of the public sector pension scheme, as well as for developing a plan to recapitalise the Central Bank of Barbados and address medium and long-term challenges for the National Insurance Scheme stemming from the debt restructuring.
    The relocation of the ASYCUDA World under the control of the Customs and Excise Department and ensuring that realtime access is available to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), Ministry of Finance and Central Bank was met.
    Structural benchmark outlined for the BRA office was also met by the end of June.

    marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb

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