Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart
There was a time not too long ago when Barbados was looked to for leadership on the regional front. We were told we were a country fighting above its weight. There was a time when a president of the USofA, or two, would visit our shores, today they pass us by. Sadly in recent years we have lost our way spiritually, economically, politically, morally…
Barbados Underground does not agree with the view that because the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) won the last general election it means all citizens, which includes the BU family, should agree with all policies being enunciated by the government. Rubbish! The DLP won the last election by a two seats margin and a little over four thousand votes made the difference in the total vote recorded at 152, 593. Of growing concern is also the large group of Barbadians who continue to ignore the right to vote.
In the lead up to the 2008 general election what led BU to be supportive of the David Thompson opposition was his promise to communicate with the people and to lead a government committed to being transparent.. Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur had assumed a dictatorial approach to managing Barbados which offended the BU household. Sadly Thompson died in office before he was able to achieve anything of note.
It has now become an expected landmark in political analysis, no matter where you are from, that the first 100 days of any new administration are the most important roadmaps to the programme that that administration intends to follow for that parliament. Given that we are now only a few days away from the 100-day point with the Freundel Stuart DLP administration, what objective indicators have we got as to how the administration intends to govern the nation. In other words, cometh the moment, cometh the man: can Stuart be our Moses? Is he equipped with the vision and tenacity to lead us out of the mire that we have found ourselves in?
For most of the last government prime minister Stuart and his supporters spent most of their time blaming the previous BLP government for the state of the economy, and they were right. The Arthur government spent 14 of the most prosperous years in global economic history and left the Barbados economy with serious current account and deficit problems. But, five years later, it is a poor excuse for finance minister Chris Sinckler and his advisers to continue to blame the BLP administration for the mess they are in.
They have had more than enough time to deal with the problems, more than that, they have had long enough to come up with credible ideas, a workable vision, to take the nation forward in these tough times. So far, there is not a single transparent idea to emerge from the prime minister’s office, the ministry of finance or indeed the central bank. Almost every statement, every speech, every interview they give catches them on the back foot, defending their incompetence and paucity of ideas. Not only that, they have somehow managed to turn every legitimate criticism, no matter how positive, in to a party political issue – to criticise is to be part of the opposition.
Submitted by Dear Loving Person
“With general elections not due for another five years though, team Barbados urgently needs to address the economy and does not need so much political rhetoric.”
Sanka Price described as the omniscient editor
The above is an unsolicited bit of advice from Nation columnist, Sanka Price, posing as he often feigns to be the omniscient editor, who is attuned to the pulse of the nation. He would be well advised to take some of the same medicine he is prescribing. His “weakly” contributions are precisely that – partisan political rhetoric, being passed off each time as objective, analytical prose. I wonder if he reads the texts presented before he affixes his name. If he did, he would realize that his opening sentiments are acutely applicable to him.Talk about ‘spitting in the wind and it lands in your face.’ Well, his contribution in today’s issue was a classic example.
He is being used to fight other people’s battles, as week after week his dislike and condemnation of the DLP administration are patently obvious. The February elections are barely three months behind us, yet his drawn campaign swords remain unsheathed. But, he is not alone in this misguided effort to seek to derail this administration, rather than face the stark economic reality that is confronting EVERY OTHER country in the world – including the US, the UK, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, etc.
Submitted by Napolean Bonaparte
Absenteeism on the rise in Barbados
Have you all heard? Latest findings coming out from a recent HR symposium proposes that Barbados has the highest rate of employee absenteeism in the Caribbean. Who Bajans? Is that right? Surpassing the land of the humming bird fete today call in sick tomorrow? All ya really sure you got that one right? So were we dreaming then, when we recently saw an award being accepted on behalf of Bajans, for being number 38 in the World on the social development ladder, number 3 in the Americas? Wait lazy people wearing two different shoes nowadays then, (brand name) ‘industrious’ on one foot, ‘shirkers’ on the other? Such a skewbald would surely tumble someday, being confused and not know which foot goes first.
Could all this have anything to do with Bajans been under a ‘trance by chance‘, like the one of the recent bus riding pensioner and her rude awakening from what could befall? Too much phantasmagoria maybe? One day we hearing we doing well, next we need to “shift and adjust” like a lesson of a confusing schematic inculcating too much to pedants, who still recovering from an unaccustomed downward economic fall. “You all had better do this, don’t mind us, ”. If the shoes fits… Like a call to curtail perks and privilege of statutory corps, but an unwillingness to lead by example. Sounds familiar?
Too much double standards man, some given license to sleep, while others sheeple. Any wonder some still stuck in gear? Sheeple will always follow.
See NISE Report on Absenteeism
The sudden, but not unexpected, death of Baroness Thatcher, one of the most dynamic if divisive of Britain’s post-war political leaders, and her grand ceremonial funeral have marked a staging point in the continuing story of Britain. Those who remember her elevation in to the Edward Heath cabinet as education secretary, when she gained notoriety as ‘Thatcher, Thatcher, the milk snatcher’ and then made the sudden jump to takeover of the Tory party then led it to government in May 1979, might have missed out some of the most important signals of her political drift to the right.
For me, 1979 was a time to remember: it was when Ken Livingstone carried out a post Greater London Council election coup to take control of the Labour-led authority; the exciting launch of Root magazine at Regine’s, later the Roof Garden. It was an exciting time. For Britain’s embattled black community, it was also a threatening time. Thatcher’s ideological guru, Sir Keith Joseph, then social security secretary, had developed a Social Darwinian view of single parents, the poor and those who some now call the underclass. It did not take very much imagination to figure out that the black community, no matter what, were part of this problem section of society; and, like now, the key debate was about immigration. In fact, Thatcher had given a television interview in February 1978 in which she talked about being ‘swamped’ with immigrants. Although Enoch Powell had made his well-publicised speech ten years earlier in April 1968, the debate about race and immigration had not moved from the public agenda and, to a large extent, Thatcher’s television interview set the tone for the next decade.
Submitted by Napolean Bonaparte
Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance has unveiled a $600 million stimulus
….what you waiting for? – Rouser
It is now almost two months and counting since the results of the 2013 Elections. By now, one would believe, that the euphoria of the occasion would have ceased and an awakening to reality ensued. Instead we were occasioned with the now accustomed, rather nonchalant and evergreen eulogy emanating from Church Village echelons that has obviously signalled the honeymoon is not yet over.
As one punter puts it, how much longer can Barbados remain out of gear? Could we then interpret the blank complaisant as a not knowing of what to do next or the calm before the inevitable storm?
Could the patient further afford the diapason. So far we have heard news of a $600 million instead of a once suggested $90 million stimulus package to help jump start the economy, but nothing further as to the devil’s details. Could the privatization card be once more in the mix then? Could there be that yet another request for intermediated ‘silence in deals’ as with the recent $120 Million bond repayment?
Submitted by Napolean Bonapart
Barbados Parliamentarians 2013
Call it a think bank, tank or what ever you like. It is time Barbados put aside all political differences and like true sons and daughters of this beloved soil, start putting all shoulders to the plough. Past is past and if we truly loved this blessed land, we would all agree that Barbados is at the cross roads. We are already seeing the escalating crime and other cracks, that are sure signs of pending trouble ahead.
From all indicators, contributors to this blog have shown a capableness, and some a willingness, to help the powers that be, lift this country out from the negatives. Already the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Mia Mottley has once more extended the olive branch in Parliament, a sure sign of a willingness to work as one. Lets all hope for true acceptance. Doing otherwise would be sure folly, given the 16- 14 status.
Barbados Members of Parliament 2013
Submitted by Flag Watcher (formerly Check-That-Out)
Attorney General’s Constituency Office in St. Philip South
Not being a Bajan I am not familiar with laws governing the removal of or election posters and other paraphernalia after the big event; but from what I have read they must be removed when it is over.
In a drive through St. Philip South on March 7, I came across a sign at a Constituency Branch Office the Attorney General. I am sure signs identifying constituency offices are quite legitimate; but expect the “Dems Now – Dems Again” flags/banners would be considered election material.
While a specialist in corporate and international law, it seems Chief Law Officer of the Executive Council may not be familiar with Barbados election laws, or may not have visited his Constituency Office since February 21.
I think that now dat Dems in again, someone shud tell he (in the words of Ronald Reagan) tek dat flag down.
The newly elected DLP government has now spelt out its programme for this parliamentary session and, it is fair to say, it must be seen as the best shot this government has in its armoury. In the Queen’s Speech, the nation was told: “The centre piece of Barbados’ economic strategy will be the creation of a Renewable Energy Revolution which will enhance the competitiveness of the productive sectors by reducing energy costs, reducing the fuel import bill, creating new jobs and helping to lower the cost of living.” It continues: “My government will therefore immediately prepare a Renewable Energy Bill to bring in to effect the relevant budgetary measures of 2012, and establish a Bds$15m “Hotel Refurbishment, Energy Efficiency and Food Production Fund” within the National Insurance Scheme investment portfolio….” This is waffle. Does it mean that the objective to to provide wind, solar and wave energy within the next five years? Does it mean that privately-owned run-down hotels badly in need of refurbishment can now depend on taxpayers’ pensions contribution to be refurbished? Does it mean the government now has a food security policy, if so what is it?
The other important reference is that on technology. It states: “To further drive economic growth and social development, it is important that Barbados be at the cutting edge of the new information technology.” How does it plan to do this? Not by training young people in the various aspects of the new technology; not by introducing technology across the entirety of the public sector; but by reducing the cost of the internet and broadband to households with a tax reduction.
Mia Mottley, Leader of the Opposition
Now that Minister of Agriculture David Estwick has been sworn in the political pundits will wait for The Estimates Debate to continue with the speculation. Unfortunately for the Stuart led government the slim 2-seat majority will continue to exert the weight of public scrutiny. Not sure if the public will ever achieve a comfort level in the current circumstances. This is a new political path for Barbados.
During all the post-general election debate the leadership transition from Arthur to Mottley – the heir apparent in the eyes of many – has avoided deeper discussion. This is the second bite of the cherry for Mottley since her removal by Payne, Marshall, Toppin, Clarke and Duguid – the so-called Gang of 5 – which paved the way for the return of Owen Arthur. The result of the 21 February 2012 is now history, it saw the defeat of Arthur and the BLP.
BU had hoped in the wake of all that has happened the disaffected members of the ‘Gang of 5” would have rallied behind Mottley, and in the process send a message to the world that old wounds were in an advanced state of healing. Unfortunately for Mottley the report of an 8 to 5 vote exposes a deep division within the BLP parliamentary group. And yes members of the group are entitled to vote conscience even though in the highest chamber of the land the idea of doing similarly is dispensed with.
The 2013 General Election is behind us and the analysis is being processed by those interested to determine the factors which led to the final result. There is surprise that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) ran a media campaign which was more effective in persuading voters. One DLP TV Ad capitalized on the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) blunder of introducing the privatization issue to the campaign. BLP supporters have accused the DLP that the Ad misrepresented their position.
Now that the general election is over, and the nation has indicated its distrust, or indecision, of the two main parties, the marginal majority held by the DLP must, nevertheless, be treated with the respect and seriousness which the urgency of the nation’s predicament deserves. It is, however, an opportunity for the DLP government to start afresh, and, whatever the impulse, the prime minister must take a firm grip on policy and drive through his ideas. This is now his government, the electorate have given him a mandate and it is his moment to make history. He now has an opportunity to write his name in the nation’s story comparable to that of Errol Barrow or even Grantley Adams. Equally, he can go down as another Bernard ‘Bree’ St John or Erskine Sandiford, as someone who made very little impact on the nation and who is remembered for all the wrong reasons. After appointing his Cabinet, the first thing the prime minister – and at the time of writing only the attorney general has been appointed – should do is draft a ten-year development plan, with radical pathways for dragging Barbados, kicking and screaming, in to the 21st century.
Reforming the Public Sector:
Some civil servants, in their arrogance or ignorance of democracy, boast that while politicians are there for short periods, they are there for a working life. One of the first things the prime minister should do is to dis-abuse them of this nonsense. However, this does not mean entering territorial fight with senior civil servants; the changes must be carried out with civility and professionalism on both sides in the interest, most importantly, of present taxpayers and future generations. The failure of politicians and civil servants to work effectively together will in any case impact on the quality of service the general public receives. But, it is to improve the efficiency of this service that changes must be made.