Supporters of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) are adamant that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart should not be pressured to call an early election on the basis of this week’s grim economic reports.
In fact, they contend that whether or not the upcoming poll results in a change of Government, it will take some time to turn the island’s economic fortunes around.
Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes on Wednesday urged the authorities to maintain a tight rein on spending in light of falling foreign exchange reserves and a lingering, crippling fiscal deficit.
The International Monetary Fund similarly warned that the economy would further slow down and the cost of living would rise.
Chris Walters, a member of the DLP for more than three decades, told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the Astor B Watts Lecture at the DLP’s Belleville headquarters this afternoon that the current Government had inherited a tough recession and it was doing its best to keep the country afloat.
“If you look at the economy of Barbados over the 50 years of independence, this is just a phase. It is not the first and it won’t be the last. We will ride it out and we will come back again,” Walters said, rejecting suggestions that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party had the wherewithal to chart a new direction for the country.
“What can the Opposition do to make the economy better?” he asked, warning that the DLP would not be easily dismissed in the upcoming general election.
“We shouldn’t have won it in 2013. A week is a long time in politics. And never believe that you can’t win because you might surprise yourself,” he said.
Similarly, Lance King from the constituency of St Michael South Central urged Barbadians “to have a little patience for things to get better”.
He maintained that an immediate election “can’t fix the economy”, and that whoever wins the ballot, constitutionally due by the middle of this year, would continue to struggle with the economy because of the country lacks resources.
“The great North America almost went to its knees with this recession. If the great countries felt it, what about Barbados, a poor little nation in the Caribbean?” he asked.
Fitzgerald Jordan from St Michael South argued that the DLP was good for the country, and he challenged the BLP to declare how it intends to fulfil promises to give Barbadians an ease if elected.
“Come to the people and tell them what you will do for the country, and I still say this is the best Government in power,” he stressed.
Jordan maintained that despite the recession, the country was still functioning and hence there was no need for a snap poll.
“When it is the Prime Minister’s time to call elections he will call it. Nobody can’t make the Prime Minister call an election,” he added, as he predicted that “the Democratic Labour Party will win back the Government”.
Retired educator Jeff Broomes, who delivered today’s lecture, marveled at the “impatience of some people”, as he stated emphatically that Stuart had the right to determine the election date.
“I don’t know why people would want to usurp his authority that he has to call it now or next week or next year or next month. Whenever the Prime Minister calls it, as every Prime Minister has done before, we will do what has to be done,” Broomes told the party faithful.
In fact, Broomes suggested that calls for an immediate election were unfair to the Mia Mottley-led BLP, which he charged would not be able to do “a quarter of the things they say they are going to do”.
The former school principal maintained that an election was not the answer to the economic problems, stressing that the focus must be on boosting productivity at a time “when the focus seems to be less on giving your ultimate best and more on unpunctuality, absenteeism, long lunches, distractions and, oh yes, unreasonable, non viable and unaffordable 23 per cent salary increases”.
The latter was in reference to demands by the National Union of Public Workers for a 23 per cent pay rise.