Elected and appointed public officers must have a stronger sense of patriotism even after they leave the service, says Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss. Delivering the keynote address at the Week of Excellence Symposium Thursday morning, Inniss admonished public servants to “journey to work for love of country and not self”.
He cautioned that “too often we worry about getting our politicians in and out of office, and [spend] too little time on safeguarding the nation”.
It was the closest he came to supporting the decision of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who has accepted an offer from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to lead the Government’s economic advisory team.
Arthur’s decision has been seen as betrayal by some, in particular members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which he led for more than two decades before quitting the BLP in 2014. However, many others, including avid supporters of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) who had previously castigated the former Prime Minister over his economic policies, have welcomed his decision to rise above partisan politics in the national interest.
Thursday, Inniss did not mention Arthur by name, but while speaking on the topic, Private Sector Productivity: Its Impact On The Business Climate, he cautioned that while elective politics was finite, the will to see Barbados prosper through the ages was not.
“We politicians would come and go, hopefully I would stay, but our nation Barbados must simply grow,” he told the gathering at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
“So friends I am satisfied that while our resources may be finite, our patriotism and will to succeed as a nation is infinite and that is what will make the difference in the new Barbados,” he stressed.
Inniss, who is Arthur’s constituency representative in St James South, also implored past, present and future Government officials to consistently seek new avenues to ensure the forward momentum of the country.
“If as policymakers in the public sector we do not lead by example then I am afraid that the entire system can become rather rotten. If as ministers we do not respect other people’s time and resources and communicate in a consistent and persistent manner and constantly seek new policies and programmes, then we are simply warming seats. That perspective of course must go for ll past, present and future ministers,” he said before zeroing in on the economic priorities of the day.
“We have to get our deficit down, we have to make decisions on a more timely manner, we have to earn more foreign exchange and we have to have a more efficient public sector,” he said.
Political scientist Peter Wickham has described Government’s move to appoint Arthur as its Chief Economic Advisor as an admission that it is economically incompetent. He told Barbados TODAY on Wednesday that the move defied logic and appeared destined to do more harm than good to the DLP’s political standing.
However, Arthur had earlier told Barbados TODAY, in an exclusive interview, that having answered the call of other regional governments, “I could not possibly be giving advice to other people and say no to a good and honest overture to me to give advice to the Government of Barbados.”
So far the Mia Mottley-led BLP has been mum on the development.