Atherley: Heavy debt and no growth a bad mix

Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley wants to know where the money will come from for Barbados to help propel economic growth in the next financial year.

He told the House of Assembly yesterday it was laudable that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley was trying to lay out such plans, but he was not sure she could be successful. Not when, he added, the country would have to dig deep for $818 million in debt it now owed to entities Government had borrowed from to prop up the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Prime Minister has indicated clear goals to protect the vulnerable at all costs and to spur capital works projects to ensure employment. That is not to be scoffed at, but outside what comes from the hands of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], that $818 is more than [what] will be spent on health, education, people’s empowerment and agriculture,” Atherley argued as the 2021-2022 Estimates Debate entered the second week.

Bad enough

“That is the economic reality Barbados is facing. That is what we cannot ignore. This country will have to pay $818 million in debt in the coming year. The debt alone is bad enough, but what is worse is that it is unmanageable.”

The Opposition Leader said that juxtaposed to the massive debt was a lack of employment opportunities for many young Barbadians, which would in turn stymie economic growth.