Children in Barbados will not starve or go naked once Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has anything to do about it.
Stuart made that clear himself today as he fended off Opposition Barbados Labour Party criticism that his Administration rushed to Parliament today for funding to start a special $400,000 child maintenance fund he promised three to four years ago.
The St. Michael South MP was speaking in the Lower House this morning as the supplementary resolution dealing with the matter was debated.
He said the BLP should be the last to talk about Government’s effort in this regard since, despite now offering solutions to the problem, it had done nothing to solve it in its 14 years in office between 1994 and 2008.
“This has been a big challenge and … whether maintenance is paid or not children have to eat. Children do not eat because maintenance is paid, children do not wear clothes because maintenance is paid, children do not go to school because maintenance is paid, they have to do these things whether or not maintenance is paid for them by the persons whom the courts have ordered to pay maintenance,” he said.
Stuart said the Government he led was not into quick fixes, and intended to do more to help children and others in need.
“This is not a quick fix Government, this is a Government that looks at issues, evaluates them within the context of our belief, commitment and policy that Barbados is not just an economy but it is also a society,” he stated.
“And the truth is … that there are very few things in our everyday lives more precious than the mind of a child and when children are not treated properly you create long term problems; people bring problems and challenges from their childhood into their mature adulthood and create problems for societies where none need exist if you have a vigilant state and if parents discharge their responsibilities.
“So we have decided, and we make no apologies for it, this is absolutely necessary within the context of all that is going on in Barbados today.”
The Prime Minister also knocked the BLP for failing to deal with the problem Government was now trying to resolve, saying that party “refused to fix it and therefore it fell to this Government to have to deal with it”.
“And what better time to deal with it than at a time when the world is going through its worst crisis in a hundred years, when more hardships are descending on societies than at any other time in the last hundred years?” he asked.
“Single parents in this society are facing acute challenges, challenges of housing, challenges of employment, and of course challenges of maintenance for their children and so on.
“We are not nearly as bad as other societies far more volatile and experiencing a lot of social convulsions and so on, but let us face the facts, there are households in Barbados that are hurting and this Government has taken cognisance of that fact.” (SC)