The governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is being warned to prepare for the mother of all battles come the next general election, mainly because the people are hurting.
Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss is admitting that the DLP will have a tough time convincing Barbadians to give it a third term, based on its performance on the economy.
“I can say to you that this upcoming election will perhaps be one of the toughest as a political party. It is not going to be easy to convince folks to see things our way,” Inniss told Barbados TODAY this week.
The Member of Parliament for St James South said voters were concerned about a range of issues, including the economic problems, high taxes, the removal of some allowances, the imposition of university fees, unemployment and health care costs.
These created an “element of despair” among his constituents – and the country – despite efforts to “offer hope”, he said.
“I am very mindful that the economic challenges over the last couple of years are very real to many of my constituents. I am not burying my head in the sand,” Inniss stated.
The legislator, who in the past has been critical of the administration’s commitment to communicating with the public, repeated a plea for his parliamentary colleagues to have serious conversations with their constituents on the issues affecting them.
“. . . people [must] feel a higher level of confidence, not in myself as a parliamentary representative, but in themselves more importantly, and in our country. These are the kinds of conversations you need to have with constituents and the nation,” Inniss said.
Speaking at a meeting of his constituency branch in February last year, a critical Inniss said if it were up to him all Cabinet ministers would be required to hold regular press conferences and be open to fielding questions from the media about the performance of their ministries.
Back then he had lamented that such was not the case, while stating quite matter-of-factly that “Government’s communication with the country leaves a lot to be desired”.
“Quite frankly, I would like to see ministers having more press conferences, and I am not speaking about any staged events, but sitting down with the open media fielding questions. Anybody can ask me anything about anything in my ministry as long as it is not a national security or a confidential matter I ought to be able to answer,” the two-time parliamentarian said then.
Inniss said he was eager for the fiscal deficit to be reduced to a manageable level, even though he was aware this could result in some of the more vulnerable being displaced, and for some state entities to be privatized, merged or closed, pointing out that Government subsidies were too high. He also wants more effective and manageable ways to finance health care and other social services.