Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is cautioning Barbadians against rushing to change the Government simply for the sake of change.
Reacting to the crushing defeat of the Perry Christie-led Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in last week’s general election in the Bahamas, Sinckler said this was by no means an indication that Barbadians should do the same to the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
The victorious Free National Movement (FNM) captured 34 of the 39 seats in the Bahamian parliament, including that of the incumbent prime minister.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY Sinckler contended that history had shown the Bahamian electorate to be a fickle one, and last week’s result should have no bearing on the Barbados election due within a year.
“Bahamas is Bahamas and Barbados is Barbados. I don’t think our country votes like that. Bahamas has actually changed governments every five years since the last three or four election cycles, so that must tell you something,” Sinckler said.
In the last two years the incumbents have been defeated in general elections in Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, with Antiguans also changing their government just under three years ago.
Although Opposition Barbados Labour Party leader Mia Mottley last week warned supporters now was not the time to be giddy in the wake of the FNM’s victory, some observers point to the various election results as winds of change blowing across the region, suggesting Barbados could be in its path.
Sinckler said when the Bahamas election result was taken in conjunction with the recent defeats of the other incumbent governments, it was clear the people of the Caribbean were searching for solutions.
However, the minister cautioned Barbadians to be careful that they did not turn to the wrong people for those answers.
“People change and then they change back and then you change again, so that must tell you something about what people are expecting and looking for and whether those expectations are being met. The question is whether when you change you get what you expect from what you change to,” Sinckler said.
“I was recently watching the television and realized that a lot of people who voted a certain way in November during the United States [presidential election] would like to take back that vote all like now. The electorate is all-powerful [and] at the end of the day, it is their choice, and that is why democracy is such a great thing. It’s Government by the people, for the people and of the people,” he added.
Despite concerns about the Barbados economy, Sinckler said he was confident the Freundel Stuart administration had done enough to merit a third term in office.
As recently as last week, in its report on the first quarter of 2017, the Central Bank of Barbados warned of the need for further “belt tightening” amid lingering concerns about the state of the island’s foreign reserves which rose slightly from $681 million last December to $705.4 million at the end of March this year, still below the 12 weeks’ benchmark.
“The choice is of course up to the public because you are only in Government for as long as you are allowed to be in Government. We believe that the parties who are contesting will engage in a free and fair election and the outcome is the outcome. We have a record to run on and we will put that case to the people fact by fact and then you allow the chips to fall,” Sinckler stressed.