Rather than criticise them and effectively create two Barbadoses through partisan politics, authorities need to empower the agencies and organisations established to help ordinary citizens.
Democratic Labour Party St. Michael West Central MP James Paul gave that advice to other parliamentarians this morning as members of the Lower House discussed and passed the Social Investment Fund Repeal Act 2013.
“We have to be very careful that in our attempt to try to … make a point we do not inadvertently create two Barbadoses,” he cautioned during his contribution.
“Clearly when you look at the experience of Government over the last five years this Government has taken particular pains to try to ensure that the needy in this country are taken care of. We have developed programmes to try to ensure that those persons who are most likely to fall through the cracks are taken care of, so it is really incredible to hear from the Opposition the pleadings that we hear coming from them.
“We talk a lot about public sector reform and if we are serious about it certainly the institutions that are designed to assist the needy in our country need to be empowered even further to try to ensure that particular support that they need should be given,” he added.
Paul also said he had a problem with criticisms leveled at civil servants working at state agencies helping people affected by poverty and other difficult situations.
“I really think that generally we have very good people within the Welfare Department, we have very good people within the Community Development Department who are responsible for working with groups in the community and I believe that generally that our civil servants will be responsible in trying to ensure that the funds reach those groups which are most needed,” he said.
“What I do not understand is why are we reaching the position where we question the ability of our civil servants to administer those funds in a manner which is responsible. And that is what I hear coming from the Opposition, that we are questioning whether or not our civil servants can manage the funds within the philosophy that we want them to be managed.”
The parliamentarian criticised what he saw as the Barbados Labour Party approach to fighting poverty, saying it was a style which undermined the confidence of institutions established to do the work in the community.
“As a matter of fact…, you have institutions such as the same Welfare Department, the same Community Development Department … when the Barbados Labour Party was in power what we found is that many of the social groups that we had in our community basically did not show the kind of vibrancy that they showed before,” he said.
“… I think that we need to be realistic and we need to be honest with ourselves in terms of understanding that sometimes we have too much Government interventions in the activities of the communities to the point where we erode community self confidence in terms of doing the things which are necessary in order to help to develop themselves, and that is the essential point that we need to make.” (SC)