This is not Barbados’ first economic crisis, nor will it be the last, and the country does not need an eminent persons group to get it through the current challenge.
That was the message of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last night as he insisted that the people in his Cabinet are “eminent enough” for him and can get the job done.
He was speaking at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last night at what was billed as the premiere of the 2014 lecture series of the James Tudor School of Politics, as part of the Errol Barrow memorial activities.
Shooting down a call by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley for an “eminent persons group” to take Barbados out of the current crisis, Stuart said such a group which ran Barbados up to 1951 was discarded with the introduction of universal adult suffrage.
“And now the masses of the people can choose who they want to preside over their destiny. I am not interested in any eminent persons group. Chris Sinckler is eminent enough for me. Denis Kellman, John Boyce, Richard Sealy, Michael Lashley, these all are eminent enough for me, because they come with the sanction, the endorsement and the approval of the masses of the people of Barbados,” he said.
“What we are going through in Barbados today is no different from what Errol Barrow went through, what Tom Adams went through, and what Erskine Sandiford had to go through. The difference is that whereas the global economic downturns that affected the previous three lasted two years – 18 months, two years – this is the longest and most drawn out economic downturn the world has seen since the great depression in the 1930s.”
“We have done this before, and the same resilience, the same strength of character that saw Barbados through those challenges, will see Barbados through those challenges again,” Stuart added.
Rousing the party faithful, Stuart adopted a feisty posture, sniping at the Opposition as he compared past national challenges to today’s happenings.
“During their time, they did not have to deal with a power-hungry political paranoia,” he said.
Reflecting on adjustments introduced to deal with the economic challenges of the early 90s by then Prime Minister Sandiford, Stuart described the resistance at that time as “twisted logic” which he said is being applied now against his administration.
“Those people who were affected by the decisions he took portrayed him as an enemy of Barbados at the time,” Stuart said of Sandiford, and contended that the doubters later sought to honour him.
“Of course those who so portrayed him, hustled to confer a knighthood on him in expiation of their guilt. And today, so many years later, we now hear what a great leader Erskine Sandiford was.”
Pointing out that the current unemployment rate of just above 11 per cent is half that of Barrow’s time, with current inflation at slightly over 10 per cent contrasting the 40 per cent of 1975; and the current fiscal deficit not being at the nine per cent of the Tom Adams era, Stuart declared: “So Barbados is not about to unravel, never was about to unravel. But we have serious decisions to make, and we are making them”.