Outspoken former St Michael South-East MP Hamilton Lashley has some advice for his former leader, the current Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Lashley suggested that they not only abandon the current programme of 3,000 plus public sector layoffs, which he said was seriously hurting members of the working class, but also that they turn their backs on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which he contended has been “loitering in Barbados for too long”.
Lashley, who during his 18-year political career was regarded as the poor people’s champion and remains active in his community, is very concerned that Government’s ongoing retrenchment programme is having a negative impact on the dispossessed workers in the country.
“Out on the street poor people are hurting the most and I don’t want anyone else to home,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that, “it is hard”.
He is therefore telling his former DLP colleagues that they need to start to engage Barbados’ lucrative “third sector” that includes several wealthy expatriates, many of whom have made this island their home, and can assist in its recovery efforts in a serious way.
It is in this respect, Lashley said he could well appreciate “certain aspects” of the alternative economic plan that has been put forward by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick for saving the Barbados economy without engaging “the usual suspects” but he said where he parted company with Estwick was on the minister’s suggestion that the island approach the United Arab Emirates for funding.
“I don’t feel we have to go to the Arabs for a cent,” said Lashley.
“There are many wealthy expatriates resident in Barbados who like the country and would offer assistance.
“Are Barbadians aware that the country has attracted such wealthy individuals as billionaires Bill Gates and Eugene Melnyk; racehorse owner Kenneth Ramsey who has entered his horse Major Marvel in this year’s Gold Cup race; British composer, Baron Lloyd-Webber; daughter of former US president Bill Clinton, Chelsea; the Maria Holder Memorial Fund and the Sandy Lane Trust, which has as one of its directors Derrick Smith and part-owner of the up market Sandy Lane Hotel among others?”
The former parliamentarian went on to say that since coming to Barbados the Maria Holder Memorial Fund had set aside $109 million for projects to be undertaken on the island.
Maintaining that Government should tap into these sources of funding to address the fiscal deficit, Lashley said: “These expatriates like the stability of the country and enjoy living here if only for a part of the year. They do not want to see the country fail and would offer assistance. Government should convene a meeting with some of these wealthy expatriates and explore this area of funding.”
The former grass-roots politician, who formally retired from active politics back in 2012 on account of ill health but remains a member of the DLP, went on to attack the policy prescriptions of the IMF, while expressing the view that in its dealings with Third World countries, the approach was usually clinical.
He also pointed that nearly all of the Third World countries that had entered into IMF programmes never emerged with their economies intact.
“We only have to look at the experiences of our sister countries Jamaica and Guyana to bear out my arguments. After many years, Jamaica is still in an IMF programme and fighting desperately to regain equilibrium in its economy. Unfortunately, Guyana is in a similar position up to this day. Structural adjustment programmes did not bring sustained growth even to countries like Bolivia in South America that adhered to IMF structures,” said Lashley, who also insists that the United States, Britain and Canada are not without fault for Barbados’ economic crisis.