It is of concern to many having to observe the charade playing out in the Lower House in the form of a No Confidence motion. The leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley has readily admitted that her side anticipates the motion will be defeated because the government side has the numerical strength and will toe the line. However, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, if we understand her correctly, believes there is merit in a No Confidence motion to force government to publicly address several concerns expressed by Barbadians.
There is something very wrong about a government elected by the people being forced to communicate with the people through a contrived exercise. It is obvious this lot who ran on a transparency and corruption platform in 2008 with the late David Thompson as leader has since jettisoned that approach for one of governing by stealth. One can only speculate how Mara Thompson the widow, taciturn M.P. for St. John and anointed replacement feels about the state of affairs. There is a reasonable expectation by some that she would have become an advocate for many of the issues her late husband enunciated.
Several issues were raised by the leader of the opposition in the No Confidence motion which any responsible government should want to offer coherent responses with a general election less than two years away. There is the issue of the prime minister signing the Cahill agreement before the matter was fully discussed (with supporting agreements) by Cabinet. How about the decision to increase (reinstate) the salary of parliamentarians by 10%? Several accusations about Mark Maloney and companies in which he has an interest flouting Town Planning rules were made. The decision by government to withhold the Article IV Consultation report. These are a few of the legitimate questions raised by the Opposition that represent the concerns of ordinary Barbadians.
Another issue of equal concern -Mia Mottley referred to it in her presentation- was the decision by the Governor of the Central Bank to release the Central Bank Economic Review for March 2016 on the same day the No Confidence motion was scheduled to be debated. There is the growing perception the Governor of the Central Bank has become too political in his role as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados. Surely Novaleen Brewster who has responsibility for corporate and communication business at the Central Bank would have advised the Governor to change the date? The report was already overdue by two months and the correct decision for Governor Worrell to have made was to issue a press release BEFORE the No Confidence motion was debated to inform public discourse. It is worth mentioning the accusations by the Opposition about the ‘sanitized’ language used by the Governor in his delivery of the report and omission of data has done little to ease the perception in some quarters the Governor has generated too much baggage in the role. BU will not repeat the point that at 70 years old his contract should not have been renewed against the decision by government to retire 60 year olds in statutory corporations. What we will say is that his antics and decision making continue to detract from the office of Governor and by extension the work of the Central Bank.
The second observation by BU was accurately summarized by BU member are-we-there-yet as follows:
It seemed somewhat surreal to me to observe the order of the speakers last night. The BLP speakers followed one after another. Then Kellman got up in a rather flustered manner and made his disjointed contribution. Then the other DLP speakers spoke, one after another, until the sitting was adjourned to Thursday.
I was wondering if perhaps the DLP plan was for no one on that side to speak and Kellman took it on himself to upset that apple cart forcing the other speakers to follow him or if it was indeed planned for the way it unfolded. In any case, can anyone recall if there was a previous occasion where on a debate on any matter, so many members of one side spoke and then a number of members of the other side spoke outside of a situation with a 27 to 3 majority.
Was this a strategy by the DLP to hear all the relevant arguments by the Opposition and then have 48 hours to prepare a response or did Kellman fortuitously force them into it?
It will be most interesting to see how the DLP speakers will react tomorrow. Will they avoid the numerous bombs cast by mainly Mia and Toppin or will they take them on frontally? What will be Freundel Stuart’s defence to the almost concerted and plausible attacks on his credibility and leadership acumen launched on him by every BLP speaker so far that has also put the lie to the assertion that the BLP is a grossly divided party?
BU’s simple observation is that if government intended to be effective in its rebuttal of the No Confidence motion then responses should, in great detail, address concerns raised by the Leader of the Opposition.