Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams Wednesday drew the ire of the Leader of Government Business for suggesting that this island’s 50th anniversary celebrations are simply too political and that the intention was really to boast the image of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
Speaking in the Senate on the resolution in recognition of the Golden Jubilee, Abrahams argued that even though the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) held power for 24 of the 50 years that this island has been independent, which is almost equal to the 26 years the DLP has held office, this was not reflected in the 50th celebrations.
“A lot of people feel or believe that the celebrations are political, that the celebrations are being used to boast the image of the Government,” said Abrahams, arguing that this perception “could have been avoided and may still be avoided through a consultative process if everybody was brought in”.
However, this drew an immediate response from Government Senator Maxine McClean, who chairs the 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations Committee.
She said though the 50th anniversary calendar was being organized by the Government of Barbados, there was a wide ranging committee representing many interests.
“To say that it is intended to be partisan is misleading the Chamber,” McClean insisted.
However, Abrahams was still not satisfied that enough was being done to make this jubilee year a truly memorable one.
Describing himself as a “patriot”, the Opposition spokesman suggested a number of ways of creating a “lasting” 50th impression, including investing in 50 young entrepreneurs, offering fully paid tuition to 50 university students or planting 50 trees.
“The parade is going to come and go, the fireworks are going to come and go. Let us truly do something or somethings in our 50th year of independence that endure forever; that leaves a lasting impression that people can say this was done or I saw being done,” he urged fellow senators.
“I would like for us to have an enduring effect, something that 50 years on somebody can point to and say this was done for me on the 50th anniversary or I am here because of this, that was done of the 50th anniversary,” he stressed.
While not calling it a total waste, Abrahams suggested that a portion of Government’s announced budget of $7 million for the independence celebrations could have been better spent on areas of need, such as such garbage collection.
“There are other areas that need more urgent spend of money. Had we brought five garbage trucks at $250,000 a truck, the Sanitation Service Authority would not be in the mess it is in now. Barbados would be cleaner. We are behind the ball and we are not going to catch it before Independence. There is no way that this country can be de-bushed and made pretty before Independence,” Abrahams said.
Highlighting the water shortages that plagued the island for the majority of the year and the recent sewage problem on the south coast, the Opposition Senator warned, “If we have water issues in our country and we have an issue that sewage is running free in our streets, that is a recipe for disaster”.
He also contended that citizens were being disrespected by local authorities who he charged were hiding behind problems.
“If something has gone wrong then confront it, own it, fix it. You get more props from fixing the problem than you get from hiding from it,” he advised.