The Freundel Stuart administration has been accused of excluding the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) from the planning and execution of activities marking the island’s 50th anniversary of Independence.
The accusation was levelled against the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government by Opposition BLP Senator Dr Jerome Walcott during this afternoon’s debate in the Upper House on the Appropriations Bill 2016.
“I’m not going to argue this evening about if $7 million is enough or too much. I’m not going to get into that. What I am concerned about is the apparent politicization and partisanship in terms of the planning and the execution of events related to the celebration of this 50th anniversary of Independence,” Dr Walcott said.
He argued that the celebrations should be “a national effort” and both parties needed to “put historical aspects behind us.
“This is 50 years post-Independence. The Democratic Labour Party formed the Government for 26 years and, whether they like it or not, Madam President, the Barbados Labour Party formed the Government for 24 of those 50 years and was involved, to a large measure, in the post-Independence development of this country.
“And I don’t believe that in terms of planning this that the Barbados Labour Party should not have been invited to have a representative or someone as part of your planning committee. But that is a matter for those who are involved.”
Leader of the Senate, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean fired back, stating that Dr Walcott was misleading the Senate.
Dr Walcott acknowledged that while 50 years represented a milestone that should be celebrated, he had some harsh words for the Government which, he said, was celebrating in the face of major social development challenges in the sectors of health, education, housing and sanitation, among others.
“The issues of mounting garbage as we celebrate 50 years of Independence, where we cannot even seem to get the sanitation working; the matter of housing, where throughout the length and breadth of Barbados, … persons who are seeking adequate housing are often paraded across the newspapers; public transportation where commuters wait for hours some days complaining they can’t get to work; children can’t get to school because of the inadequate transportation…
“Celebrate by all means, but be mindful of our true state and let us endeavour to do much better as we go on,” Dr Walcott said.
His criticism came one week after Opposition Leader Mia Mottley slammed Government during the Estimates debate in the House of Assembly on the $7 million budget allocated for the jubilee celebrations. (MCW)