Lock-down of ‘exchange’ system by the Treasury Department is squeezing business owners at the Port, resident complains

The pressure on the Treasury to pay salaries by Friday, December 16, as announced by the Browne Administration, is squeezing the business community, a disgruntled citizen is reporting.

The man says the practice of “exchanges” – in which the Government accommodates the businesses it owes by facilitating the clearance of their goods at the Port – is currently “on lockdown,” as the Treasury tries to make good on the Prime Minister’s promise.

Accordingly, he says, some of these businesses are finding their hands tied, as most exchange arrangements are not being honoured at this time.  

However, while he alleges that certain interests closely aligned to the Cabinet are “at war with [Junior Finance Minister Lennox] Weston right now,” the man says that at least two other businesses continue to receive the concession.

Another businessman confirms that these two businesses are, indeed, exempted from the Treasury’s restrictions.

In the meantime, he explains that his enterprise is one of those on a quarterly rotation with the Government, and so his exchange is not yet due.  

However, he is not discounting what is being reported, he says, because he is aware of the Administration’s desperate attempts to dispatch salary payments to the banks by Wednesday.

Treasury sources, meanwhile, had no comment when asked why the exchanges were halted and when they will resume.

Earlier this week, another source claimed that Finance Minister Gaston Browne had asked Treasury officials to “find the money” to allow “some sort of bonus” to be paid to public-sector employees in time for Christmas.  The source alleged that the officials said it was not possible.

Meanwhile, United Progressive Party Political Leader Harold Lovell has called out Browne, reminding him he had promised back-pay to public servants by the end of this year.