By Sharon Austin
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- The government of Barbados is currently reviewing the functions of 19 statutory corporations with a view to consolidating their operations.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, made this disclosure on Monday evening during a press conference to discuss this island’s economy.
Sinckler said a government-led committee was currently meeting with representatives of those institutions and the ministries of civil service and finance.
“The final report will be presented to Cabinet shortly and implementation, following wide and intense discussions with all of our social partners, will commence in April, 2014,” he stated.
He added that, of those 19 institutions, “Some will go out of business, others will merge with each other and perhaps where it is feasible and makes sense for private involvement in the operations of any of those institutions that will be undertaken as well.”
Sinckler took umbrage at the criticism levelled at government’s National Environmental Enhancement Programme, which he described as the welfare to work programme, designed to wean people off public assistance and help them build their confidence as well as participate in the mainstream of the economy.
“The programme had an outstanding rate of success, where, over the first period, from 2008 to 2012, only one person dropped out and that was because of illness. We did that programme to give dignity to people in Barbados… It was always known by the majority of the workers, if not all of them, that this was contract work…a programme to help people transition from welfare to work,” he insisted.
He contended that the government’s programme to allow school children to travel on Transport Board buses without paying a fare was not a political gimmick.
“That had to do with saving a class of young people in this country who were under fundamental threat from forces out to do evil rather than good,” he charged.
Saying that he could not be specific about the particular issue because he was sworn to secrecy, the minister continued: “But I can tell you that if we did not intervene in that particular way, the public of Barbados would have seen some things… The vast majority of people don’t know what was going on in bus stands in Barbados…”
He emphasised that a government with a heart, made up of ministers with a heart and interested in the development of their country would take decisions, even if they had costs, to protect citizens.