A comment over the weekend by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart about who was responsible for the island’s troubling foreign reserves problem generated quite some reaction from Barbadians.
To loud applause from party supporters as he addressed a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) meeting at the St Michael School on Sunday, Mr Stuart posited: “When you hear that our foreign reserves are under pressure, it is because of what we import and because of what you all go on the supermarket shelves and see. It is not that anybody in the Government is stealing foreign currency and carrying it and putting it under their bed.”
He went on: “The 130,000 vehicles on the streets of Barbados, not one is manufactured here in Barbados. They were all bought with foreign currency out of Japan and those other countries from which we may buy motor vehicles from time to time. That is where the foreign currency goes with that kind of importing.”
Not unexpectedly, Barbadians took to social media in droves to comment on the Prime Minister’s statement, and while some sought to ridicule the country’s leader, many complained that he was in effect passing the buck.
In fact, there was a sense among many of the posters on Barbados TODAY’s website that Mr Stuart and the DLP never accepted responsibility for any of the country’s ills.
“Here he is again blaming someone else,” one poster, Arthur Collymore, stated.
“This bunch of DLP clowns refuses to accept responsibility for anything,” added someone with the moniker, The Gatekeeper.
The attempts at insult aside, the commentors have a point when they say this administration fails to accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
In fact, up until the weekend Mr Stuart was blaming the global economic meltdown, declared over several years ago, for the current economic problems.
We have heard blame placed on a Caribbean-wide phenomenon for rising crime, on the organizers of racing at Bushy Park, St Philip for the increasing number of deadly traffic accidents, and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party for virtually everything else. But somehow, there is hardly ever a mea culpa from this administration for anything.
While there is some truth in Mr Stuart’s statement about spending, it represents just part of the picture. Over the years respected economists have advised Government on the way out of the economic malaise, but it never listened.
Persistent printing of money by the Central Bank over several months would also have impacted negatively on the foreign reserves.
Therefore, by seeking to blame everyone, whilst seemingly attempting to as absolve itself of any responsibility after nearly ten years in office, comes across as a little self-serving.
It also suggests that the administration either does not understand, or accept, its fundamental role to provide solutions to our problems, including those it has inherited. That is why they offered themselves, and why we elected them.
Sometime before the middle of next year the DLP will ask us to give it a third straight term. How it intends to make its case on the economy remains unclear. However, deflecting responsibility will not cut it for us.
We want to be presented with creative programmes, not excuses. We want to know how the DLP will lead us out of this deep hole, not blame mongering. We want to be comfortable that those who want our trust and respect will be honest about their own failings, not avoiding responsibility. We want a Government that will deliver our yearned-for better life through sound management of the economy, not one that points fingers.
If the DLP wants another term in office, it has to do better.