Opposition Leader Mia Mottley took the Freundel Stuart Government to task yesterday over its handling of several pressing issues, including the economy, charging that as a result of a lack of leadership, “brand Barbados has broken”.
Leading off debate in the House of Assembly on an Opposition-tabled motion of no confidence in the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration, Mottley said many Barbadians were suffering and things in the country were falling apart while Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stood “powerless”.
Making out her case, a passionate Mottley divided her presentation into point form on issues relating to agriculture, housing and lands, public service governance, health care and education as she demanded questions from the Government.
Raising a stink about the garbage situation in the country, Mottley said “Barbados is too filthy”. She said an “unacceptable situation” had developed where garbage was now being collected in open back trucks which, she said, was a threat to workers on those vehicles.
“A country that needs 35 trucks to service the country daily, has been averaging, for the last two years or two and a half years, anywhere between ten to 17 or 20 trucks a day and, more often than not, closer to the ten or so,” she said.
Putting the blame on Government’s controversial $25 tipping fee for the “unheralded dumping across this country”, Mottley said almost on a weekly basis, St Thomas and St James Central Members of Parliament were complaining about the problem of illegal dumping across the entire island.
“I have to then ask myself how can a Government focus more on the priorities of a [proposed] Cahill [waste-to-energy project] rather than on the daily needs of Barbadians to have their garbage collected, to have their county debushed and to do the simple things that would protect them from the public health menaces that face us on a daily and weekly basis,” said Mottley.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader also took a swipe at Minister of Health John Boyce, saying he was disinterested in his portfolio. She said there were various patient care issues that needed to be urgently addressed at the main Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and at the Government’s polyclinics.
“If you don’t have insurance or you don’t have cash to pay for health care, God help you in Barbados in 2016,” Mottley said, adding that people were afraid of going to the QEH for treatment because of a shortage of medicine and deplorable conditions.
“We understand that you have to make adjustments but it cannot be to put the people who could least afford it to be put at the mercy of the elements in this country,” said Mottley, making it clear she was not raising the issues because of an approaching general election.
Asking who was to be blamed for the issues facing the country, Mottley said it was not by accident that Barbados was becoming “a country of breakdowns”.
“It can happen one year and you get away with it, but when you have two, three, four, five years of that kind of endemic under-providing in maintenance, you get what we are getting in Barbados now where everything is breaking down,” said Mottley.
The St Michael North East Member of Parliament criticized Prime Minister Stuart for not taking a more hands-on approach to addressing the water problems facing the island, saying she was shocked over his failure to visit some of the affected communities and speak with residents.
Mottley said while it was okay for Government to outline a medium or long-term strategy for addressing the water woes, it was equally critical to have a short term plan to bring relief to the situation.
“Why does the Prime Minister believe he can remain silent and detached on a fundamental issue as water without which there would be no life? This is what sums up this Government more than anything else,” said Mottley.