With Barbados currently facing serious economic and social problems, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) today issued a sober warning to Barbadians that these issues will not simply disappear overnight, even if it wins the next general election.
The word of caution came from General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott, in an interview with Barbados TODAY following a press conference called to announce the agenda for the BLP’s 77th annual conference this weekend.
While describing the current state of affairs in the country as one of “great hopelessness and despair in our population, especially with the youth” and highlighting what he said was “intolerable” joblessness and unemployment, Walcott said his party simply does not possess any magic wand.
However, he feels without a shadow of doubt that the BLP can do a much better job than the incumbent Democratic Labour Party and would confront the situation “more effectively and efficiently” if it were to form the next Government.
“ . . . I am not saying that we will wave a magic wand and everything will be resolved, but we certainly have ideas in terms of managing the economy and we have said so from as far back 2009, that the Government was . . . [moving] in the wrong direction and . . . that years after other countries are out of recession that we would still be struggling and the evidence is all around us in the Caribbean, where countries have come out of the recession and we, who were the beacon at one time, are still struggling,” Walcott said.
As he served notice that the party’s election machinery was in full gear, he said: “We would certainly do things differently. We have an approach in terms of how we would be approach matters and we assure that over time we would be able to manage the matters effectively and more efficiently.”
The theme of this year’s conference is “Returning Hope to Our People”.
Walcott said it showed that the BLP had taken into consideration the state of affairs in the country, while pointing to recent economic downgrades by rating agencies, the unresolved issues of CLICO, health care and its costs, which are all issues up for discussion by delegates at the October 23–25 conference.
“And of course there are the issues that confront us everyday, the state of our roads; the absence of proper garbage collection; the water woes; our environmental concerns . . . these are the issues that made us say that in Barbados now there is this sense of hopelessness and there is a need to bring back hope and life to Barbados,” said Walcott, who is also the chair of the conference committee.
Senator Wilfred Abrahams disclosed that this annual conference would be one with a difference where a youth forum will be held on the first day under the theme “leh we reason; silence broken”.
Political leader Mia Mottley is also down to deliver a “comprehensive address”, which Abrahams said would focus on the concerns of the people and the solutions.
The BLP will also be discussing a “Covenant of Hope” which is “going to bind the Barbados Labour Party and all its members and all members must have a say on it.
“Following the conference the final covenant will eventually be presented to the people of Barbados as a binding commitment between the Barbados Labour Party and the people,” Abrahams said.
In explaining the need for such a covenant, he said: “The Democratic labour Party has really and truly thrown the concept of the manifesto into such serious disregard by their almost comprehensive failure to not adhere to any of the promises that they made in the manifesto that people don’t want to hear manifestos.
“A manifesto carries no weight anymore based on what we have dealt with recently, so going forward we are not going to be content in just putting things in a manifesto, we are going to bind ourselves wit ha solemn oath,” Abrahams insisted.