Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, was in New York this past weekend and faith, hope, collaboration and working together were among themes she emphasized in an address to about 100 Barbadians living in the Big Apple at a town hall meeting organized by the New York branch of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Asked by a member of the audience what would be her priorities if she were to wake up tomorrow and find herself as prime minister, Mottley mentioned adjusting the pricing of energy, changing the tone of Government, and reining in what she described as runaway national spending especially in relation to servicing debt.
She said: “The first thing we would have to do is stop the bleeding. A country cannot continue to spend at the rate we are spending. We are spending about 30 cents in every dollar. If you add the principal, it would become 70 cents in every dollar. This is unsustainable at the household level and government level.
“The next thing we have to do is to change the tone of Government. We have a Government that refuses to accept criticism or a different opinion. There is a form of tribalism that has led members of the DLP to ask, is this the party we have supported over the years? Indeed, we have a Government that does not recognize that we need to respond to the majority of people, be it at home and abroad. “
She went on: “Within the first four weeks of becoming Government, we are going to do something about the current energy pricing. It is having a serious negative effect on households and businesses and by extension our water supply. Fifty to 60 per cent of our water supply requires electricity to pump it out of the ground. There is a little reprieve right now, because prices have dropped but the truth is, it is not going to remain this way.
“Another thing we need to do is taking care of those who have literally seen the worst days in the last two years. Thousands of Barbadians unemployed and we need to ensure that every household in Barbados has access to some revenue or money. I have already warned members of the Labour party that we are going to have to work 12 – 14 hours a day in order to stabilize the situation,” Mottley said.
Addressing the meeting at the St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Brooklyn as part of the annual Caribbean month celebration, Mottley said Barbados did not have “a deficit problem [but] a courage problem”.
“If we keep hope alive, faith will come,” she said, frequently repeating the “Keep Hope Alive” rallying crying of black US civil rights leader, Rev Jesse Jackson, when he addressed the 1988 National Democratic Convention.
Mottley hinted that it could become the sound track for the BLP’s next general election campaign to persuade Barbadians that it has the answers to the issues Barbados is facing today.
Edmund Hinkson, parliamentary representative for St James North, and Barbadian trade unionists Barbara Young and Earl Philips, also addressed the lively town meeting.