Everything is fine and dandy in Barbados. The economy is growing at a rate that would ensure jobs are available to all and sundry; local businesses are blossoming and foreign investors are rushing to our shores in droves with new projects. The society is at peace with itself while violent crime and indiscipline are things of yesteryear.
There is no corruption or even the slightest sign of malfeasance in Barbados’ public administration. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) machinery, under Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s pragmatic and proactive leadership, has been sublime and purposeful. The DLP is well set under Stuart to be elected for a third term.
Clearly, the preceding statements point to a delusional disorder that has become associated with some DLP spokespersons. They read as fiction and the fantasy held by the ‘Sleeping Giant’. However, to ordinary Barbadians not steeped in the illusion being cast by the DLP’s unbelievable boasts, the DLP remains a party stupefied and oblivious to the burdens facing Barbadians.
Today, the people are crying out for better having reached the end of their resolve. Political pundits must ask what is prompting the loud cries of dismay being heard in almost every nook and cranny across Barbados. Why is the DLP’s rhetoric so much at odds with the actual mood of Barbadians?
In October 2015, it was stated by the then Governor of the Central Bank that “foreign reserves remain adequate, and economic policy and the future development of the economy remain firmly in our own hands.” Fifteen months later, not only has Barbados witnessed the wretched axing of that Central Bank Governor, but any positives drawn in relation to economic turnaround, have been badly diminished with the trends pointing in dangerous directions.
The unsustainable printing of money and the mountainous public debt are suffocating the economy and strangling the society. Indeed, Barbados’ foreign reserves have been drastically depleted, falling to around 10 weeks’ stock. The Governor warned last September that: “We need to compensate for the large fiscal deficit of recent years, and to restore foreign reserves to levels that provide a cushion against future shocks.”
Last month, he cautioned that “the reserves are what protect us against the devaluation of our currency” and that our macroeconomic managers “need to dampen spending” to ensure that there is protection for “the country’s reserves of foreign exchange.” Advice ignored by the DLP administration.
This sluggish and bungling DLP government is imperiled by its weakness of inadequacy and ineffectiveness. The Stuart-led Cabinet has collectively failed to forge significant economic growth or diminish the uncertainty which has kept investors at bay and the society on edge. The Cabinet is clumsy at public policy and especially woeful with the macro-economy.
Plainly, the DLP administration has been unable to lift the Barbados nation to higher levels of achievement. The DLP’s big shots, failing on several aspects of governance, are supplanting national interest with their crusade to save themselves. For example, last week culminated with the economy and the plight of Barbadian people being upstaged by the humiliation of the Governor of the Central Bank.
Responding to this disgusting state of affairs, last week the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley urged Barbadians to join in a National March of Disgust and Rally on March 11. The people are no longer willing to suffer indignity or scarcity, and this chagrin has led to the announcement of the Barbados Labour Party-organized march signalling that enough is enough.
It is routine to hear men, women, and our youth daily lament about Barbados’ rapid decline. Even within the inner sanctuary of Cabinet, Ministers Dr David Estwick and Donville Inniss have been critical of the DLP’s actions. After two terms in office characterized by myriad crises and failures, the DLP has reached the point where it no longer has the moral authority to be critical of any group or political party.
Barbadians are complaining that Prime Minister Stuart repeatedly displays lack of empathy to those bedevilled with problems stemming from the DLP’s mismanagement. Bothersome to Barbadians is Stuart’s hugs to tourists, and speeches in New York, but silent contempt when there is local consternation.
By way of comic relief, the DLP’s propaganda machinery is to launch a campaign called ‘Facts’ (maybe, preceded by the word alternative). This campaign is ironic given the experiences and realities daily afflicting Barbadians. Against a stern reluctance to meaningfully account for the true state of the Barbados economy, DLP operatives are determined and operating like cavalry. The targets to be slashed are the Leader of the Opposition and the BLP, despite the arrival of new political parties.
The DLP’s General Secretary last week, for example, preferred to slice away at Mottley and the BLP instead of encourage the DLP’s leadership to reconnect with the people or call the elections. The typically calm George Pilgrim sobbingly got sweaty and whimpered ‘disruption’ and ‘opportunism’ at Mottley.
The DLP spokesman is blind to the bondage felt by Barbadians as they reel from the weight of DLP-imposed taxes. Barbadians are disgusted with bad policies, secret deals, and lack of accurate information coming from PM Stuart and the DLP administration. Moreover, Jepter Ince’s worthless talk about the Barbadian dollar having no value, and the misguided young man’s claim that the BLP is engaging in fear-mongering are signs of the DLP’s worry.
Donville Johnson, a jolly old chap, suggested the calibre of candidates that the DLP will throw to the public are winners; but such pronouncements are distractions. The utterances are cleverly calculated to shroud out the DLP’s paltry performances and many broken manifesto pledges.
On page 1 of the DLP’s 2013 Manifesto, the document apart from calling for a return to office, reads: ‘FIRST TERM FOR PLANTING, SECOND TERM REAPING’. The highlighted catchphrase can reasonably be interpreted that by now, Barbadians would have seen the DLP deliver on jobs. Barbadians sacrificed so that they could reap their just rewards. Few persons would argue for a third DLP term when there has been no harvest.
On March 11, the country will register the many ‘grievances and concerns which demand that something must be done’ to remedy an unbearable situation. The nation is crying out for hope and real leadership. Yours truly will be marching to show disgust. All Barbadians, regardless of political persuasion, ought to get up, stand up, and march.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)