BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 12, CMC – Nearly a year after she led the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a clean sweep of the 30 seats in the elections, Prime Minister Mia Mottley will present her administration’s first national budget on Wednesday.
“Suffice to say that next Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I will deliver the annual Budget of the country and will do so as we for the first time, take the second reading of the annual Appropriations Bill, bringing together a process that was hitherto separated for all of our previous experience,” Mottley said as she addressed the official opening ceremony of the St Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway late Monday.
“And the reason for it is this: numbers make no sense unless I can show the country and we can agree as a country where we are going with respect to taking the country both economically and socially as a society,” Mottley said.
In her address, she made reference to the establishment of the Standing Finance Committee, which for the first time saw Ministers and public officers being questioned by members of Parliament about their respective ministries and how monies allocated to them would be spent.
She said also that her administration would do all it can to ensure the viability of the sugar industry.
“The first claim on the country’s biomass cannot be foreign investors of whom we know little, but has to be the sugar industry of Barbados, so that a sugar factory can be powered 12 months a year to become a viable financial proposition, being able to stabilize the sugar industry.
“More than anything else Barbados has to stem the decline of the sugar industry by making sensible financial decisions that can make the industry profitable again at all levels,” Mottley said.
She told the ceremony that she will “speak at greater length next week Wednesday … where we will map out not just what may be a revenue shortfall, but more importantly where Barbados is and where we must take it to ensure that the future is secured, sustainable and prosperous, not just for a few but for all”.
“It is investments like this, married with policy decisions like the ones we are making to secure the sugar industry, and the timeliness of action as we are doing with the support systems that we are putting in place that would make the definable difference to confidence returning to this country,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
In his address at the ceremony, the owner of St Nicholas Abbey, Larry Warren, said the plantation’s arable land was being maintained for future cultivation “in whatever form the sugar industry eventually evolves into”.
“It is a passion of mine to see the industry viable and sustainable without government’s support. I’m saying this not just because it’s a good thing, but we have such a huge investment here in St Nicholas Abbey and our mission is to maintain not only the house, but the entire land of the plantation which has not changed for 350 years.
“So it’s in my interest too, to see sugar cane come back to this plantation and this is really the driving force, but also of course for the island,” he added.