As public service job losses –– thousands of them –– stare us in the face, the Prime Minister, by his own admission, is yet to make a determination on the way forward in saving this country from economic collapse with or without the sacrificing of Government employment, or other personal hardship. In a kind of dry wit, Mr Freundel Stuart has let it be known that Governmental decision is still Cabinet-driven. And Cabinet is yet to decide.
To be fair, there is no easy task ahead for Mr Stuart and his administration, and while some imprudent decisions by them –– or no decision at all –– will have contributed to our current dilemma, this quandary is not without major input from external forces over which we have had –– and still have –– minimal influence or no control whatsoever.
We are at the crossroads; and the direction we take from here could seal us a fate of misery, or bring us to a destination of some light. There is little gain at this point in pummelling on the head Mr Stuart and company, though it would be useful and consolatory if these leaders of ours were more confiding in the people over whom they have charge.
It may be that the Barbados Economic Society is right –– and the unofficial voice of Standard & Poor’s –– that the one way to deal effectively with our national deficit is to cut public service jobs, the remuneration for which accounts for approximately 54 per cent of Government’s revenues. It certainly is practical in economics and accountancy, but by no means convivial to the community. The social fallout from letting go 3,000 workers –– the number being bandied about –– will be dreadful.
This is clearly the concern of the Stuart Government, having committed itself –– prematurely, some say –– to “no job cuts”, and having the Erskine Sandiford administration’s imbroglio of the 1990s and its consequent disaster for the Democratic Labour Party to reflect upon. The truth is this is not a time for party politicking; and the acrimonious toing and froing in Parliament we have grown tired of. It seems we have come to the moment of urgent national reconstruction.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley on an occasion before had suggested a national committee, constructed from both sides, putting heads together for a consensus forward. Was she genuine? Would Prime Minister Stuart seriously consider it?
Only last week we have had another Opposition Barbados Labour Party member of Parliament, Gline Clarke, suggesting the working together of the two parties “for the good of the country”. But it was not without a most interesting critical note.
Mr Clarke did not think the Government had the answers to the problems ravaging our economy; nor was he sure they lay singularly on his side either. This could be the stage where a Democratic Labour Party-Barbados Labour Party collective would be most propitious.
Let us together get our economic structure strengthened and our famously acknowledged stability secured. We can fight for the partisan spoils later.
No matter what, the road ahead will not be without some relinquishment –– until we are out of the woods. The task of saving Barbados rests not only on the shoulders of the politicians. The people too must play their part.
They need not lumber about lost, crestfallen and in sackcloth and ashes. They can be prudent about the things they would wish for as against those they need, leaving luxuries for sometime later; in their purchases they can give priority to things Bajan; they can give thought to more personal cost management; they can make a more communal effort on the things they decide.
We must never veer from our ancestors’ teaching that better is possible and within our reach, with the right attitude and hard work, and with God’s help.
We need –– now more than ever –– as former Prime Minister David Thompson once declared, to wrap ourselves in our National Flag in these times of challenge and would-be adversity. We need to be possessed of the
self-belief and resilience, and fortitude in sacrifice of our foreparents.
If indeed we shall be craftsmen of our fate, continually writing our names on history’s page, we will need to set our seed the example of being judicious and shrewd at these critical moments –– when it matters most; when direction is
to be given; when hope is to be found.
There could be no iniquity in any National Committee made up of our two major parties working specifically on a way out of our debt crisis. Candidly speaking, the two sides will have both contributed to it. There could be debate
on how our financial management might have been handled more appropriately
by one side or another; but we are now past that point.
We need right now –– if only temporarily –– some political committee of national unity. There is the urgency of a coming together to rescue our beloved Barbados from all impending doom –– without rancour, and in the absence