While dismissing previous comments by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith that the local economy is robust, lawmaker Delores Christopher yesterday questioned her government’s commitment to local businesses when compared to those from abroad.
“We got to face things squarely in the face. ‘Our economy is robust’. I really didn’t look up the word [robust], but I believe I know what it means. I believe it is not as ‘robust’ as we are saying it is,” she told the House of Assembly during her budget presentation.
Up to January last year, journalists asked Premier Smith if he still thought the economy was at the time ‘robust’. He replied:“It is indeed.”
While continuing her presentation in the House yesterday, Christopher noted that a number of people who work for Government still are unable to get pay in a timely manner.
She added that the situation – sometimes compounded by inept civil servants – is stressful.
“It is taking too many phone calls after a voucher is submitted for people to get paid their money. This is a serious problem. You work for the government and the one thing you have to make up your mind is that you might not be paid anytime soon.”
“I don’t like to have to say it, but it is the truth. Right now, I can’t deal with too much stress, and this thing is stressing people out…” added Christopher.
Foreign companies don’t give easily
Christopher, who represents the Fifth Electoral District in the House, also called for more focus to be placed on small businesses in the local economy.
“I don’t know if we understand the importance of small businesses to our community; to our economy. A little entrepreneur trying to survive. I want to stress it a little bit, because today everybody believe businesses here want too much money; they this and they that. I can hear; I understand. But those businesses here provide jobs; they provide jobs for school leavers – young graduates. And they also contribute to [social programmes] in the community.”
“I know we can’t write to the overseas businesses to ask them [for contribution]. Tell them you want a job and see how far you will get. So, we still have to encourage and be sympathetic and support small businesses,” Christopher further told the House.
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