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Saturday, April 22, 2006 

Level of debt frightening
Web Posted - Sat Apr 22 2006
Opposition Member of Parliament Dr. David Estwick has labelled this country's public sector debt as "frightening".

Speaking during yesterday's lunchtime lecture in the Errol Barrow Memorial Gallery at the Democratic Labour Party's headquarters, he said that the entire public sector debt of the country was about 100 per cent of the GDP, in fact terming the island as "bankrupt".

"I want to make the charge to this administration that they are making a fundamental economic mistake to attempt to solve the problems by monetary policy adjustments in Barbados," he said.
He pointed to the cash-flow problems of many government departments as evidence of the creation of a structural deficit in the country.
"Every single department in operation in Barbados is in debt," Estwick said, while pointing to the National Housing Corporation, the Barbados Water Authority, the Caribbean Broadcast-ing Corporation and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

He later added that the Prime Minister had increased interest rates which made it more difficult for some to borrow, "But at the same time that he is doing this in an attempt to make sure that you do not spend as much on consumer items and as a result therefore cause a flight of foreign exchange, the Prime Minister on the same hand is reducing taxation so as to give corporations and individuals more money in their hands to spend ... It does not make sense. It cannot function like that."

Saying that Barbados faced a problem with foreign exchange generation, he stressed that something had to be done to address the situation.
Later in the event, Estwick touched on the problems being experienced in the Accident and Emergency department and said that most of these had to do with the lack of numbers in staff.

"Since 1985 in the Haynes Commission report, they [staff] indicated the hospital was overcrowded. After subsequent renovation of Accident and Emergency there was no improvement in the time of waiting. So it cannot be equipment or quality of environment. It is staff," he said.

Stating that VAT generates $600 million, he suggested that some of this money should be used to increase staff numbers so that citizens could get discharged at a reasonable time.

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