Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was greeted with incessant boos and jeers as he entered Parliament this afternoon, minutes before the commencement of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s official Budget reply.
A large animated crowd, comprising mostly supporters of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), gathered at the gates of Parliament and was quite vocal about its disgust with the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
While it has become customary during this annual fiscal exercise for supporters on both sides of the political divide to greet their elected representatives as they enter the hallowed chambers, today marked one of the few times that members of the Government bench were openly subjected to continuous expressions of derision.
Arguably, the loudest of these expressions of contempt were reserved for Stuart, who remained unfazed amid the shouts as he exited his vehicle and made his way into the Lower House.
When questioned about their reasons for booing the Government bench, members of the crowd stressed that their actions had little to do with their support for the Opposition and more to do with the hardship that had been inflicted by the ruling DLP administration in Tuesday’s Budget.
“It is not only going to affect me, I have a circle of family, I have friends that are mothers who can’t even afford to send their children to school right now.
“That Budget is not for poor people and today speaks for itself. I have never seen anything like this in my 50 years on this earth. Last year when we had the Budget, it was not like this . . . and people are showing who they want to run the country. Right now we need God to work a miracle for us,” said one woman, who opted not give her name.
“Those people [Government] put ten per cent back on their salaries while we ain’t get a raise in nine years, but we have to suffer while they living free and good,” added Omar Anthony in a clear reference to Government’s controversial decision to reinstate the ten per cent pay cut, which Cabinet ministers and other parliamentarians took almost two years ago.
“This is too much now. I wanted this Government to know that they have to go. I want all 30 seats. All of them must go. They suffer Bajans too long now,” added an angry Selma Mathews.
“Yes, we have respect for the office of the Prime Minister but it is clear that the Prime Minister has no feelings for me and my family, so he can’t have my respect. So I join in and boo he too,” added another member of the crowd, who spoke to Barbados TODAY anonymously.
In stark contrast, cheers rang out loud and long as Mottley, flanked by her parliamentary colleagues, made her way into the chambers to present her three-hour response to yesterday’s equally lengthy presentation by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Midway across the courtyard Mottley raised her hand in acknowledgement of the supporters, a gesture which drew even louder cheers.