The local economic situation appears not only to be taking its toll on Government, but on Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s support in his St Michael North West constituency.
When Barbados TODAY visited the constituency Friday afternoon, many residents, who voted for Sinckler in the last election were undecided, some continued to have a soft spot for him, while others said they had no intention of giving him their vote again.
“I have no problem with him [Sinckler]. All I care about [is] my little pension I worked so hard for . . . . Once I get that, I don’t care what they do . . . but Sinckler don’t give me no trouble . . . I have no problem with him,” said 84-year-old Nazilta Ferdinand of Straker’s Tenantry, which is located a stone’s throw away from Sinckler’s constituency office at the corner of St Stephen’s Hill and Black Rock Main Road.
However, in nearby Straker’s Road, the MP’s stewardship was given a failing grade by one outspoken young professional, who wanted to be identified only as “Marcus”.
He pointed to an apparent “disconnect between the people in this constituency and their representative”, adding, “I can’t remember when last I saw him”.
The resident also complained that despite being represented by the Minister of Finance, there was presently no natural gas supply in the area, though there were mains running at the top of this gap for more than ten years now.
However, he was not about to lay total blame for the island’s economic woes his representative’s shoulders. In fact, he suggested that Sinckler’s hands were tied by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his other Cabinet colleagues.
“I think the problem is more or less the Prime Minister himself not being more apparent and making a bigger appearance so that the country would know what is going on instead of this folly that we facing all the time not knowing, not knowing, not knowing . . . and it creating a lot of animosity and a lot of apprehension,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Referring to comments by the former Irish Central Banker Dr Patrick Hanohan during his visit here this week, the well-informed constituent said it was critical for Government to have open communication with citizens, identify problems early and embark on coherent medium term goals.
“He [Hanohan] talking more like a prime minister than we prime minister,” the Straker’s Road resident said, while advising the Prime Minister to come clean on the true state of the economy instead of leaving it to Sinckler and others to do what he felt Stuart was elected to do.
“For this alone, I think Chris is going to have a problem in the future, even in trying to win back this constituency because of the people he has to sit in Cabinet with. I believe he got the best intentions, but at the same time look at the others around him,” he added.
Barbados TODAY also came upon 73-year-old Judy Gibbs and her 90-year-old friend Eileen Bovell as they sat in Gibbs’ verandah having a lively conversation.
At the mention of Sinckler’s name, Gibbs immediately responded saying, “He’s my man”, her way of expressing her support for her parliamentary representative. However, her obvious personal liking for Sinckler does not translate into an automatic vote for him in the next election since the Straker’s Road resident said she was currently “undecided” about where to put her ‘X’.
While complaining about a rat and centipede infested, abandoned wooden house that is in a dilapidated state next to her home, and calling it a health hazard, Gibbs said she was waiting to see who would come to her rescue.
“I spend all my money in rat poison,” she complained, while revealing that on one occasion she had even stepped on a rat while moving around in her home.
Bovell, who said she had voted for Sinckler in the past, was however adamant that she would not do so again.
It was the same with Andrew Haynes, even though he appeared to be equally unimpressed with the Opposition.
“Nothing ain’t done down here,” he said with respect to Sinckler’s stewardship.
However, he argued that while change may be good, he was yet to be assured that Sinckler’s replacement would be “somebody [who is] really in contact with de community and their wants and needs”.
The uncommitted voter emphasized that “to find a caring body now to show concern” was turning out to be a challenge. Over in Deacons Farm, which has been a stronghold of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), there was no question who Tyrone Lewis would support when the election bell rings.
“We don’t have no criticism of Sinckler because everybody down this side is in favour of him. You know, a fellow would mek a lil mistake, but everybody down here in favour of him. He is a good man,” Lewis told Barbados TODAY, while relaxing and having a drink with a friend at the village snackette.
However, his drinking buddy, who did not want to be identified, expressed a completely different view.
The Deacons resident, who said he once voted for Sinckler, Friday described him in terms which simply could not be published, but were strong enough for us to understand that the Minister of Finance did not enjoy his backing.
Contrastingly, one resident of Fernihurst told Barbados TODAY he had nothing bad to say about Sinckler.
“If he were to run tomorrow, I would vote for him,” said the constituent, who was sitting at home.
However, a woman who said she was a loyal supporter of Sinckler, complained of not seeing her representative.
“When he comes around here, he comes to special places cause I don’t see him . . . plus I working,” she said, even as two other women openly expressed their desire to see him go.
“He is not one of my favourites. He doesn’t behave properly. He comes at Christmas and pick out special houses he goes to,” one of them complained, while revealing that she had voted for him in the last election.
Her granddaughter, who never voted for him, was adamant she would never do so.
“He makes promises he doesn’t keep. He tell yuh he gine do something and it never gets done,” she said.
Elections are due here within a year.