Barbadians believe the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) should pay a steep price at the polls for its handling of the economy.
Following this week’s announcement by Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes that the island’s foreign exchange reserves stood at a 22-year low of $410 million, or 6.6 weeks of import cover, well below the recommended 12 weeks, residents were holding little hope for a recovery under the watch of the DLP administration.
In fact, a random survey by Barbados TODAY found a deep thirst for an immediate general election, with some pointedly calling for a change in Government in order to get the country on a new economic path.
“If I have a say, this is the end of this [Government] for sure,” an angry Curtis Moise told Barbados TODAY, adding that he was fed up with what he deemed to be inconsistencies by the administration.
“Pretty soon you are going to see them coming around, fixing roads ‘til just about elections . . . . All I see them doing these days is fixing roads and hiking prices. That is what my Government is doing,” the disgruntled Barbadian added.
Moise slammed the administration for taxing “their way out of a dirty, dusty and muddy economy”, while he dismissed party politics as detrimental to the country.
“This Government had no right getting back in but Barbadians vote for party and not policy
. . . . They could choke us to death but . . . it isn’t going to influence the way anybody vote,” he said resentfully.
Fifty-nine year-old Wayne Dowridge said he expected that the poor state of the economy would influence the result of the next general election, due by the middle of this year.
Dowridge contended that it would be difficult for the DLP to win a third term because of its performance, especially considering the dramatic fall of the foreign exchange reserves after the party assumed office in 2008.
“To get three terms in Barbados you have to do extremely well and I don’t think these guys do that good. They barely get in last time and I could see from afar . . . I would give them about seven seats. “I give them ten years and I don’t know if I could give them another five because I think they would have to do better . . . . I think you need to get somebody else and that whole party would got to revamp,” he emphasized.
With the Central Bank Governor reporting one per cent growth last year – the IMF reported 0.9 per cent – Adrian Caitlyn argued that the DLP Government lacked vision and creativity in fostering growth and building industries.
Caitlyn ripped the decision to first introduce, then raise the National Social Responsibility Levy, describing it as “scraping the barrel”, and complained about the level of taxation that Barbadians had to endure.
“All you could think of was taxes?” he asked, while reasoning that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party should be given the opportunity to remedy the country’s financial woes.
“I hope everybody come out and vote. I hope it is a big [turnout] because really and truly we at the bottom right now,” Caitlyn argued.
Similar sentiments were shared by Barbara Green, who described the state of the country’s finances as a “mess”.
“The people need a change and for me I think I need a change. The country is in one mess . . . . I never seen it like this in my entire life,” the 60-year-old said.
However, Tara Jean-Pierre viewed the situation differently, arguing while the austerity measures implemented last year would not solve the economic problems, neither would a change in Government.
“You don’t need to be an economist to know that you [don’t] have a new Government in May and things are going to be sunny in June,” Jean-Pierre said.
She said while extenuating circumstances might have led to the economic crisis, Government’s tardy response made things worse.
“Where we are now is more concerning that ever because from the time the economic downturn started we were being told that this year is going to be hard and next year is going to be better . . . and every time it is getting worse.
“All of it may not have been this Government’s fault – it may be things they inherited and it may be the state of the financial situation globally, but I think that we took too long to make any decisions,” the concerned citizen said.