As Owen Arthur has contrarily to Sinckler but rightly said that, “growth and development are also best promoted through sound policies which have a clear purpose, and which carry with them a strong probability of successful incidence.” Sometimes lack of accuracy and variance from objectivity by sweet-sounding and boastful politicians in government can boggle the mind enough to cast any pronouncement they make into a grotesque category more suitably considered to be a blatant lie.
Like me, many believe that the constant blame-game regarding the commissions and omissions of the BLP and its 14 years in office has lost much of its earlier punch with Bajans and their everyday realities. The fast growing poor and diminishing middle-classes need to see an administration that can deal with the biting issues of the day, and find workable options and solutions. The out of work and underemployed need a government that would innovate, and seek out policy directions that can make things at least bearable rather than going from bad to worse on a day-to-day basis.
Bajans do not feel it is right or a panacea for the DLP administration to fret, day in and day out, about what the BLP did or did not do during its term of office since the well-being of the country was evidenced in the fact that by December 2007, Barbados had risen to the status of being the number one developing country in the world. Nor do Bajans get any comfort in hearing about what Greece, Spain, or any other country that is experiencing self-imposed hardship which may have been exacerbated by the international economic recession unless it there are positive lessons to be learnt from those who now hold the reins to power and action.
Too many Barbadians have been left without hope to hold on to given the peculiarity of challenges facing Barbados as an economy and society. This Bajan sense of what is happening in their world, also calls for the administration of the day to be aware that Barbados does not have the luxury of a Germany or the backing of a powerful European Union. In this year’s budget when the Minister of Finance mistakenly labelled BLP’s policy orientation to “years of inflexible economic modelling,” he managed to inadvertently expose the DLP’s hand.
In real terms, the statement was an exposition in the type of political spin and propaganda that is uncalled for as Barbados must grapple with the realities of the day. Barbados has to seek out a sense of sustainability from whatever paths it chooses to address the dire situation impoverishing the population and causing deteriorating conditions in the economy; these consequences could be long-term and far outlast the time that Sinckler or the DLP may enjoy being at the helm of government.
To a growing number of carefully discerning Barbadians, there is acceptance in Sinckler’s claim that the economy has been “cruelly exposed by a most virulent and deep rooted recession.” The onus, therefore, has to be on the DLP-led government of the day to be decisive and timely with its approaches to the macroeconomic, fiscal, and investment policy options for Barbados. Instead of harking on the possibility that Bajans “may want to wish away” the recession, it would serve better for the Minister of Finance and Prime Minsiter Freundel Stuart with his largely inherited Cabinet, to accept the challenge to make a positive difference for Bajans given the realities that have come to compound and impoverish many livelihoods.
The DLP has horribly failed to listen to the people and various stakeholders and then try to find out ways of truly devising and implementing what many have been saying are urgent requirements. Teasingly and perhaps unwittingly, Sinckler said that Barbados requires “sensible neutral economic policy interventions that avoid extremities.” What he does not say is that expensive litigation and a Commission of Inquiry, ludicrously budgeted football competitions, and the wastage being encountered through the undemocratic and contestable work of the Constituency Councils will not halt Barbados’ downward slide nor will increased domestic taxation remedy the country’s economic woes. Nevertheless, there is unreserved agreement for the Minister of Finance when he accepts that a “platform for medium and long-term structural reform characterized by a well-balanced and diversified economy” is indeed essential for Barbados.
With considered determination and pragmatism, the Leader of the Opposition – Owen Arthur – has revealed the significance of Sinckler’s statement. Arthur bemoans the fact that the DLP’s “pursuit of policies to maintain and expand the scope of Government’s activity,” such as the DLP-led administration’s more incestuous attachments to the constituency councils, were born out of questionable motives and agendas. That there were the untimely and ill-advised provisions of state-sponsored social entitlements, and that the Stuart-endorsed Cabinet relies exclusively on state-centralisation ably demonstrated by an unrelenting clasp at heavily subsidised but non-profitable state and quasi-state operations, have setback the DLP’s own Revised Medium Term Fiscal Strategy. Thus far, the outcomes have been detrimental and counter-productive to the very things that Sinckler advocated as being responsible governance.