When faced with a challenge, it is normal human reaction to focus all our attention and energy on the situation at hand in order to try to bring about the resolution we require. On the face of it, few persons would challenge such an approach.
However, in every situation we face, whether as individuals, organisations or even nations, it is never prudent to lose sight of the big picture. In fact, to do so even in the face of a crisis, can result in even larger problems in the long run.
Against that background, we choose today to examine a statement made by Member of Parliament for the constituency of St. Thomas, Cynthia Forde, in the House of Assembly yesterday. During her contribution to debate she raised questions about the decision of Government to spend money on repairs to Ilaro Court, the official residence of the Prime Minister.
As we understand it, Forde’s position is that in the current strained economic circumstances, where everyone is being asked to make sacrifices, there is nothing wrong with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the current occupant of the residence, holding a little strain. Again, on the face of it that would seem like a sensible position to take.
And anyone familiar with the ex-educator turned politician knows she is a most practical person, whose every decision appears to be encased in concern for Barbadians generally, but the working class in particular. There are many other decision makers and people of note in this country who would do better if they took a page from her notebook.
However, on this occasion we would wish to disagree with the goodly lady. Ilaro Court is a valuable, important and historic piece of public property that should always embody and symbolise the pride that we feel when we talk about “these fields and hills beyond recall”.
It is a place with a rich history and it is also a location where we treat some of our most distinguished guests. We can never have any excuse for this gateway to Barbados’ hospitality ever being in anything but pristine condition.
It is therefore important that even while the national budget is constrained that appropriate sums still be expended on the upkeep of this property. In fact, we invite the St. Thomas MP and all her colleagues from both sides of the House to look at some of the most recent photos published by Barbados TODAY of functions at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence — especially those that captured the main entrance to the building.
It shows very clear signs of decay, which become particularly pronounced when the main subjects of the photos are posed on the steps in their finest wear. That cannot be the kind of image we want to expose to the world, given the nature of the events held there, the many parts of the globe from which the guests travel and the fact that hardly anyone ever enters the compound of Ilaro Court without a camera of some sort.
So, like MP Forde, we admonish Government to spend our scarce resources prudently and to ensure that like never before we get the greatest bang for every buck. But in being prudent we must be wise, because the dollar we foolishly try to save today may cost us five tomorrow.
We say that against the background that Barbadians ought to recognise that Ilaro Court is not just a place of residence for our Prime Minister, but it is a place of work for a number of our citizens. As an employer, Government has a duty to set the example for providing the best possible working environment. The staff at Ilaro Court deserve no less.
Unfortunately, in too many other Government offices, it can never be said that the state’s example is worthy of emulation.