The opposition Barbados Labour Party caretaker for Christ Church East, Wilfred Abrahams says he is “exceedingly concerned” about numerous social issues currently plaguing the country.
And Abrahams, an attorney by profession, is placing the blame of such issues including the heightened industrial climate, crime, and Child Care Board, squarely on the shoulders of the Government.
“Things are difficult in Barbados all around and people look at the economy and think that the lost of jobs or the industrial action is systematic in itself but it really isn’t, things filter down,” Abrahams, told Barbados TODAY.
He maintained that the social ills affecting the country began when Governmentcarried out its “wholesale cuts across the board.”
“No thought was given as to how you make cuts and how you reduce staff and how you position entities, then what happens is government effectively give every department a hair cut and that seems to be what the Minister of Finance did. He decided that the government needed to save x-amount of dollars and he cut apercentage from every ministry,” Abrahams argued.
He was referring to the government’s retrenchment exercise in which some 3,000 public sector employees were sent home at the end of 2013.
Abrahams made the point that such a move, would ultimately lead to seeing “our society fragment and deteriorate in a very short space of time every single day.”
“You cannot divorce one thing from the other. As things become more desperate in the country, as less people have jobs, as people cannot get access to funding, as people are on the breadline, as people can’t feed their families, then crime will happen, people will start to steal and rob.
“I am not justifying it, I condemn it fiercely, but the reality is those of uswith jobs and a secure income can sit in our ivory towers and cast blame onpeople. But the reality is somebody will do whatever they need to do to feed their family, so we can’t just look at the crime, we have to look at what is causing it,” he added.
Abrahams added that the situation is seemingly out of control because the Freundel Stuart administration has not put the necessary infrastructure in place for the police to arrest the situation.
He again stressed that those situations do not occur in isolation and “it just came into sharp relief last week.”
“It goes all around, the Sanitation Service Authority don’t have enough trucks, we have the problem with garbage in Barbados, so the industrial unrest is going to happen. When you take a decision to cut off the top, with no real plan or foundation for doing it, no adherence to the commonly accepted policies regarding those things then you have problems.
“A lot of these situations that are sparking this industrial unrest is not that something new is happening or that the unions or the parties are trying to impose new rules on the government is that the rules and the accepted procedures have always been there, is that this government is now refusing to follow,” he said.
He explained that the situation has also manifested itself in issues affecting the island’s child protection agency.
“I mean the Child Care Board, I am not excusing them for what happened but youhave a department that is perpetually understaff and underfunded and you have increasing incidents of child abuse in Barbados.
“I think the government’s hands are dirty on this one. Now, I don’t want to use what happen at the Child Care Board as a political tool or political advantage but I believe our children are the most vulnerable in our society and they are the ones that require the most protection.”
Abrahams further argued that the problem is such that it did not deteriorate over night and the relevant authorities need to take the necessary steps to remedy thesituation.
“The responsibility of the Child Care Board is actually to the children of Barbados not the Government of Barbados. So if it was necessary to expose shortcomings in the Child Care Board or expose the shortcomings in resources they shouldhave done it. Their constituents are the children of Barbados. I don’t think that pride or the protection of the government image should take precedenceover the safety of over children.”
“I am exceedingly concerned about what is happening in Barbados,” Abrahams said.