“Crunch time has come” for Barbados. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, saying there were no dissenting voices in his Cabinet before or after the presentation of last week’s austerity Budget, said the island had to stay the course because it had “a stubborn crisis” to navigate.
He made the comments yesterday as he rallied the support of Democratic Labour Party supporters attending the party’s annual conference at its George Street Auditorium headquarters.
“Crunch time has come and we have to make sure that the business of the government and the objectives of the country are achieved,” he said.
Stuart, who was returned unopposed as DLP President, said his administration had no choice but to pursue the $436 million fiscal consolidation programme outlined in the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals and that all of his ministers were on board “in respect of what we were going to do”. “And everybody is still on board in respect of what we have determined we have to do,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the task ahead was difficult, but that his team was undaunted, knowing full well there were no shortcuts they could take.
“We are not daunted, we are committed to the cause of ensuring that Barbados remains viable, its economy remains viable, that it remains socially balanced, that it remains environmentally sound and that good and transparent governance is practised,” he told the party faithful.
“But when you listen to the other side, you get the impression that there is some basic wand somewhere that can be just wielded or waved and all things would be put well.
“If that was so President Obama would know, if that was so David Cameron the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would know, if that was so the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper would know it, if that was so other Prime Ministers in the Caribbean would have heard about it as well.”
Stuart said contrary to what Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley wanted Barbadians to believe, he was not leading a “spiteful government” seeking to “undo all the good that Barbados had been able to do over a long number of years”.
“She made it very clear that she didn’t want to hear anything about what is going on in the world outside, we don’t live in Spain, we don’t live in Greece, that she was concerned with what is happening in Barbados,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter to her that the economy of the United Kingdom is still under immense pressure and that United Kingdom is… our primary source market four tourists. In the United States of America, our second largest source market for tourism, challenges continue.
Stuart also said he sat in CARICOM Heads caucus and he did not hear one upbeat story.
“It was a choice between pain and more pain,” he said. “The impression is being given that somehow all is wrong with Barbados and all is well with the remainder of the world. Not true!.” (SC)