No matter how long a night lasts, dawn has to break. There is nothing called everlasting night or everlasting day either, and I am pleased that we’re beginning to see some light; but we have to continue our vigilance, our discipline and our sacrifices.
–– Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at a service held at the Vauxhall Methodist Church, Christ Church, on Sunday to signal the start of a week of remembrance for the island’s first Prime Minister and National Hero Errol Barrow.
Truer words have hardly been spoken by our dear Prime Minister; and most fittingly have come as we reflect on the contribution of our founding father Errol Walton Barrow, whose day is being celebrated tomorrow.
With the onset of the global recession in 2008, there have been times when it seemed the downturn would never end; when no matter what we did or what our officials said, things somehow were getting worse, and the brakes had permanently failed on our national train, which was speeding to derailment.
Even our cricket descended into the dumps, leaving in its wake a bunch of mediocre players and administrators, and a string of debt, including our part in the US$41.97 million which the India Cricket Board of Control says the region owes for the abandoned October tour.
But at last, it seems, there is light at the end of the dark tunnel –– economic hope, that is, according to the latest report issued in December by the Economic Commission For Latin America And Caribbean (ECLAC) in which it forecasts a region-wide resurgence.
ECLAC also projects economic growth in Barbados in the order of 1.5 per cent this year, which is a bit modest when compared to the latest Barbados Central Bank projections, but generally falls in line with what the Governor and the Ministry of Finance have both been saying of late on the state of the domestic economy.
While there can still be no denial of our challenges, all are of the view that our recovery is about pickup pace, led by a rebound in vital tourism, as
major source markets, particularly Britain and the United States show encouraging signs.
It is no wonder Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is pushing up his chest so much these days and boasting all around town of increased airlift, visitor arrivals and fully booked hotels.
Even Sue Springer is finding it hard to be negative these days.
Addressing the annual awards ceremony for workers in the Mango Bay Group last week, she acknowledged: “During the past three years we have had a bellyful of negativity, recession, depression, rough economic times. We have all felt it in one way or another and, unfortunately for some, in a number of ways we all wished that over a period of time this would just go away, but it lingered like a pile of rotting garbage, eating away at us like a cancer if we allowed it.
“However within every cloud there is a silver lining, and the truth is one of the best things that can come out of these circumstances is that we can together grow and get better . . . . Our industry has been struggling. We have only now begun to see a slight growth.”
Ms Springer said new flights, and old ones with increased seating capacity, coming to Barbados this year would result in an additional 35,000 people
visiting the island.
Too bad, all the recent tourism success does not yet spell a new dawn for the Four Seasons hotel project –– and, lest we forget, the thousands on our island who are still without jobs, including our recently retrenched civil servants who remain anxious for word on their outstanding pay.
Certainly, Prime Minister, their dawn has not yet arrived, even though they would sooner have it break, just as the hundreds of Barbadians who were hoping and praying that your Government’s 19-month Fiscal Consolidation Programme was about to come to an end.
But, lo and behold, your Minister of Finance scuttled any such hope in his Ministerial Statement last December in which he announced that the programme would be extended for another year –– garbage tax and all!
Speaking of which, how low will ministers in your Cabinet be allowed to go on before there is a fresh dawn in your administration? June Fowler and the scores of CLICO policyholders want to know, as do former workers of the National Conservation Commission, UWI students awaiting word on promised bursaries and your very own Dr David Estwick.
The year 2018 seems too long a wait, but as you rightly said, Prime Minister, “no matter how long a night lasts, dawn has to break”.