BRIDGETOWN: Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has called for the dismissal of Central Bank Governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell, accusing him of making “irresponsible and cavalier” statements in relation to the Value Added Tax (VAT) system.
“Barbados is facing an apocalypse and Dr. Worrell is now the chief horseman of our apocalypse,” said Arthur last week after Worrell said that the VAT, which has been enforced in Barbados since 1997, was unnecessary.
Worrell said the VAT had “absolutely no advantages” for Barbados, describing it as a “mess” and “a complicated tax to operate”.
Arthur, who was head of government when the tax measure was implemented, said the VAT debate is being introduced as a “distraction from what should be facing us at this time (and) what is necessary to stabilize and to save our economy and the society”.
Arthur said that in 1994, the late Prime Minister David Thompson indicated his intention to introduce a VAT from January 1, 1995.
“I supported a Value Added Tax in Opposition and looked forward on becoming the Head of Government in 1994 to introduce it, but I was advised that the (then) Deputy Governor Worrell opposed it. I asked him to document for me his reasons, and he did send me a letter on it, and I must tell you, there were two consequences: one is that the reasoning was so vapid that I knew then that I would never be able to appoint Dr. Worrell as a Governor of the Central Bank.
“Secondly, every time I wanted to find something to laugh at, I took out Dr. Worrell’s letter to read it because he was effectively advising that we should have taken the 11 pre-existing bits of taxes and reform them, rather than introduce the Value Added Tax, so that this is not new territory for Dr. Worrell. This is a longstanding fascination that really does not draw upon any particular empirical, or theoretical, or conceptual foundation,” said Arthur.
Arthur said that contrary to Worrell’s stated position, the VAT has been successful.
“If this was Dr. Worrell’s only indiscretion, I think we could dismiss it,” said Arthur. “But how long are we going to dismiss the series of indiscretions that this man has been perpetrating?”
Arthur said that Barbados had reached a stage where it could no longer take Worrell’s advice seriously.
“It seems as though he prides himself on the extent to which he is unorthodox as happened for example in his altercation with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund,” said the former prime minister.
Arthur said his advice to the Freundel Stuart government is to ignore Worrell.
“What I thought he would have been telling us is how he got the Central Bank of Barbados into this now paltry state where it is now losing money, even while printing money and he is sending home 60 workers,” said Arthur. “I thought the (Central Bank) board would tell Dr. Worrell he needs to send home one person. And that one would be Dr. Worrell.”