Dr David Estwick is not a happy trooper.
And today he reopened public discussions about his political future and that of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), after he made an impassioned statement to the Press in which he warned that he could no longer sit silent within the Freundel Stuart administration with the stability of Barbados economy under threat.
The Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management did not field reporters’ questions on the matter but he appeared to distance himself from his own administration’s approach to handling of the economy, while cautioning that now was “not the time to be pig-headed”.
He also stressed that the interests of Barbados must come first, as he served notice that he would have more to say in the coming days. Estwick, who is a former spokesperson on finance and economics for the DLP, spoke out at the official handing over of the first of three molasses tanks to the Government by Preconco Limited.
Saying he was the only Government minister who served as chairman of the Cabinet committee on economic policy and chairman of the infrastructure committee of the Cabinet, Estwick hinted that he was not pleased with the way the economy of Barbados was currently being managed.
“Very soon I intend to enter this national debate that is now raging on public finance and economic issues. I have a family in Barbados and I love this country. I have no intentions of leaving it and going anywhere,” said a passionate Estwick.
“It would be a dereliction of my duty as a Barbadian not to outline to Barbadians my perspective as a [Government] minister and as a citizen of this country. Why the Barbados economy is having its macro economic challenges, whether or not our present path is the right one or the wrong one and what is the path I think should be pursued,” said the former Minister of Economic Affairs and Economic Planning. Over the past few months a number of suggestions have been put on the table with regard to how Government could lower its spend and increase revenues.
Though no specific mention was made of the current retrenchment plans by the Stuart Government, Estwick appeared unhappy with the decisions, suggesting that some options to deal with the economic challenges may have been overlooked. “I can no longer sit silent when this debate is raging on and when the outcome of any action may seriously undermine the stability of this country. This is not the time to be pig-headed or this is not the time to close off options. This is the time for innovation. This is the time for creativity and this is the time that every single option must be evaluated clinically and surgically in the interest of Barbados,” stated Estwick.
“I am going to make my statement very, verysoon on what my position is . . . . I was a manbefore I got into politics and I [will] stay one if I am out of it. But I am going to do what I have to do honestly and diligently in the interest of Barbados, and in the interest of my children and grandchildren to come,” he said.
In reaction, well known political scientist Peter Wickham told Barbados TODAY Estwick’s statement should be viewed “ in the context of previous statements he has made” that were not very different.
In fact, Wickham said: “I think Dr Estwick’s statements should not be taken too seriously. I don’t think anyone needs to get overly enthusiastic about anything he has to say because he has done it before”.
Wickham noted there were two previous occasions on which Dr. Estwick “expressed reservations about the administration in which he is serving and on neither occasion it has come to anything.”
Wickham said he believed the fact that Estwick did not express reservation about serving in the DLP administration on this occasion meant that he had every intention of continuing to serve “even though he may have some differences of opinion” with other members of Government.
“I am not sure what caused this recent need for him to express himself, but we will sit and wait, but I am not too concerned or perturbed that what he is likely to say will be anything politically seismic,” said Wickham.