Despite 18 consecutive downgrades, depleting foreign reserves and mounting fiscal deficit, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is contending that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government had accomplished enough through its social welfare programmes to earn a third term.
Addressing Saturday’s DLP conference themed, Facts, Sealy urged Barbadians to stay the course and not to cast their votes for the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) just for the sake of change.
Not only did Sealy suggest that the BLP had nothing meaningful to bring to the table in the current climate of economic uncertainty, but he insisted that the DLP was the change, borrowing from a February 2008 speech by then US Democratic Party hopeful Barrack Obama.
“I think we have an excellent case to make to the people of Barbados. Barbadians are still waiting to hear why they should vote for the Barbados Labour Party. That is their job and they haven’t been able to make a case other than the fact that there should be change. Change? That’s exactly what we have been doing,” the Minister of Tourism told party supporters at the Queen’s College auditorium.
While he did not offer a detailed explanation for the country’s economic standing, Sealy held up the DLP’s record on social policy and tourism as an example of the change to which he referred.
“We have made changes in the way we have administered our social care, modernizing the social welfare net; we have done amazing work at the level of the Constituency Councils; we have the most productive Minister of Labour this country has ever had in at least a half century in the Honourable [Dr] Esther Byer-Suckoo. This is change. The change is here already, the change has been occurring and the change can continue to occur,” he argued.
Despite increased taxation, the severing of public workers and the imposition of fees on Barbadians pursuing further studies at the University of the West Indies, which led to a significant drop in enrollment, Sealy was adamant that the Freundel Stuart administration was operating with “a social conscience”.
We came to office in January 2008, [and] no sooner we came to office the price of oil was over US$100 per barrel and the world went into a tailspin. We said to the people of Barbados that we have to manage in the most horrible of global economic circumstances but in the face of that we appreciate that Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society and we will put people first,” Sealy contended.
He also admonished the DLP faithful to hold their heads up and not be deterred by the rumblings of discontentment, as a lot could happen before the election bell tolls.
“We have the change right here before us and I have full confidence in the people of Barbados. There is nothing we are hearing now that we didn’t hear before. Remember there was all of this confidence going into the last election by the Barbados Labour Party. Remember they had it in the bag, you know. So don’t panic,” he stressed.