The already battered image of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) took a further beating this week after the utterances and actions of some Government ministers only served to attract more criticism from members of the Barbadian public.
Minster of Youth, Sports and Culture, Stephen Lashley, was the first to feel the public’s wrath after he said the time had come for the Government to listen to the concerns of citizens. In fact, he believes that it would be “very foolhardy as a Government not to recognize that persons are concerned”.
He said the Government needs to take the concerns of Barbadians seriously and listen to them. “I’m of the view that as the concerns are made known, we as a Government have to be able to respond to those concerns in a manner that is reasonable and respectful to Barbadians,” he said.
One reader commented: “A perfect example of how these politicians see the people of Barbados. In their eyes, “we the people” are the Number 3 in the number 1 (DLP) and number 2 (BLP) business. They will continue to flush us down the drain. We are going to jump from one to the next with same/similar results that shift from here to there. “
Another reader dismissed Lashley’s statement as a slap in the face. “After nine years of virtually giving the Barbados public the proverbial middle fingers, you now think you can turn around and say you ready to listen? The only thing you will hear from me is the almighty cheer when each and every one of you Cabinet ministers lose your seat in the coming election.”
“The worst set of politicians that the DLP ever produce. MOST of these DLP politicians are yes men. When they (were) in Parliament, not one of them did not disagree with Sinckler. One man is going to make DLP lose the government. Just because a lot of you ain’t man enough to tell the Minister Of Finance in Parliament ‘I don’t like this budget. Take it back because it’s going (to cause) hardship on the people of BARBADOS’, some of you politicians, you have to be careful going around to people house begging for votes next election. A lot of people are angry with this government,” yet another annoyed reader said.
The onslaught continued when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart confirmed the statement made by Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer Suckoo that Government may strengthen the laws to enable the authorities to enforce contributions to the National Insurance Scheme by self-employed persons.
Addressing the NIS 50th anniversary awards ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Stuart pointed to NIS figures that showed only 3,500 people who describe themselves as self-employed being registered with the scheme. He said 20, 000 were estimated to be working for themselves in the informal sector.
A concerned reader said: “I do understand what he is doing. However, can he and his colleague convince the employer . . . who suppose to be paying National Insurance on the behalf of the employee gets paid in. . . . These is things you should be emphasizing over.”
Another reader chastised the Government for constantly dipping into the NIS funds to do other projects. “How about the millions that they does take up from NIS and don’t pay back? You forget about the increase VAT that was supposed to cover everyone? You forget about the increase road taxes that don’t go towards fixing the bad roads? It’s impossible to get everyone to pay NIS. It never happen nor it will never happen. Everything was increased in this country over the last nine years. Ask them where all that money gone. Every morning that you wake up, the first thing you hear on the news is these people bullying people for money.”
The final blow for the week came when Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett, claimed that vagrancy had become such a major issue during the last BLP administration, that Government was forced to build the Clyde Gollop Centre in Hindsbury Road, St Michael to accommodate male vagrants.
Reactions were dismissive. “So are you trying to tell people that the increase in vagrancy in the last 9 years, under your administration’s tax and spend policy, but deliberately did not factor in the needs of Barbadians, are all the fault of the BLP? Even if it was so, and your administration recognized it to be so, wuh one can only think that the proliferation got to be attributed to the ignorance of your government, who have ignored the plight of the people for the last 9 years.”
Another reader just wanted the Dems to get on with running the country. “Even if it was true, don’t make sense bringing up old crap when the new people running the island making things worse. If they thought things were so bad before, why did we waste money on a 50th celebration last year when we didn’t really need, put up a bunch of false Christmas trees in town when that same money can go towards unfortunate people, pay certain celebrities to help spread to encourage foreigners to come to Barbados when those celebrities already have a crap load of money. . . . The new government is just too superficial.”