BRIDGETOWN: Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is defending the policies of his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government and is promising Barbadians that the projects outlined in the 2013 national budget will be implemented, despite the ongoing economic situation in the country.
Addressing DLP supporters at the party’s annual conference last Sunday, Stuart said that his administration is also moving to decrease the “implementation deficit”, a source of criticism of his administration.
“The Minister of Finance has put in place…a set of programs and policies to be pursued and, as Prime Minister, I will ensure that the phrase ‘implementation deficit’ will become something of the distant past because people will do what they are supposed to do,” said Stuart.
He told delegates to the conference, the first since the party was re-elected in the February general election, that he had full confidence in Finance Minister Chris Sinckler.
Stuart said the situation confronting the island requires strong leadership and that his government was dealing with the matter against the background where the population felt that things would always be easy.
“It was not going to be a cakewalk to get them to accept that there were going to have to be some fundamental changes,” said Stuart. “The Minister of Finance and the Cabinet rose to the occasion and we conducted those consultations. I am proud of the men and women in the Cabinet of Barbados and I have seen their willingness to go beyond the call of duty to ensure that Barbados is put right.”
Stuart also announced that the government had to take measures to deal with a drain on the foreign reserves, particularly after being warned by the Central Bank.
“At the end of April (of) this year, signs appeared that our foreign reserves could be placed under some pressure. Until April, people could go comfortably to the commercial banks to secure foreign currency…they then had to go to the Central Bank.
“The Central Bank of Barbados wisely advised us to sit up and take note and wisely advised us that we would have to take some corrective measures because this situation could not be allowed to get out of control,” he said.
Stuart told supporters that contrary to statements in the public domain, the DLP had contested the last general election on a platform of truth.
“We did not win it by going out there and promising the Earth and the sky to people, promising things which we could not deliver,” he said. “We won it with a simple campaign of being open and honest with the people of Barbados. We made it clear that the world was going through a very difficult period but that despite that period, we explained that we were facing challenges and…despite what others were facing that we were holding our own.”
Stuart said the policies were intended to protect households and businesses from the harshest realities of the prolonged recession and ensuring that the foreign reserves remained healthy enough to allow Barbados to be able to pay for its imports and to meet its obligations.