Leader of the Barbados Labour Party Mia Mottley has appealed to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to set a date for general elections.
In a strong letter, Mottley lamented that Barbados was drifting and citizens were suffering, citing a litany of woes including sick buildings, mounting garbage, poor transport, and the crippling impact of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) on businesses and households.
Here is the full text of the letter.
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to you on behalf of the 274, 000 resident Barbadians. You were elected, on 21st February, 2013 to lead for five years. In the estimation of the people, your mandate has expired.
I feel compelled to draw to your attention the fact that our beloved Barbados is literally crumbling and grinding to a halt as a result of your tardiness, indecisiveness and inertia. While you refuse to set a date for elections, every artery in the country’s body is malfunctioning and many of our people are suffering as a consequence.
I know you will say that the Constitution permits you to remain in office for another 90 days beyond the 5 year anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament. This was effectively 2 weeks after that 2013 election date and, as leader of the Barbados Labour Party, I have acknowledged and respected your right, in law and only in law, to extend the setting of a date for elections. The Barbados Labour Party, is ready for the elections. We have been for several months now as you would expect a serious and credible institution of 80 years to be.
Indeed, unlike your party, our full slate of 30 candidates was finalised and communicated to the public over one year ago. I gather that even with a new candidate named for St. John, there still could be adjustments to your slate of 30. The point remains nonetheless, that I am ready and my party is ready. So, for us, an extra month can do no harm. It is our country Barbados that is hurting whilst you procrastinate.
Let us take headlines in the last two weeks’ newspapers for example – sick buildings; mounting garbage; the Supreme Court shut down; few buses are on the road and of that despicably poor number, we just lost one to fire and many more to failing engines. Our farmers are crying out, retailers and Bajans all over are choking to death under the strain of the NSRL, hoteliers are not making ends meet, trade unions are on their knees begging for action on matters affecting their members who are buckling after no salary increase for 8 years.
Prime Minister, I can go on and on.
The Central Bank is now seeking to have the NIS repatriate funds, second tier reserves, to shore up faltering reserves. This is after your Minister of Finance introduced his 8th Plan of Action.
Our international rating has been downgraded 23 times and we are unlikely to avoid a further one, as the assessment is about to be done in this 90-day period and your Government has done nothing to fix our condition and stem the haemorrhaging.
Prime Minister, our country is drifting and our people are suffering. Our institutions are reeling. Problems abound and you appear indifferent to the realities of the plight of our people. Our condition is just getting worse. I am not even minded to speculate now as to what these 90 days are all about. You and your Cabinet are not attempting to solve any problems.
I am asking you, in the name of all that is good and righteous, call the election and stop the bleeding. At this stage, what matters is not whether you or I emerge victorious, but that we stop the slide. That we breathe new life and hope into Barbados and Barbadians.
Give the people a chance to choose the government they want for the next five years. By denying them this opportunity, you are suffocating them in the current chasm of indecision, drift and neglect. You are placing further at risk, families and businesses who may not recover from the continued exposure to this national recession and crisis.
As you settle this date, I appeal to you to bear in mind the anxiety of parents and students for there not to be a clash between exams and voting in the same school compound. This distraction would be truly unfortunate given that you have had more than 5 years to choose a date.
Prime Minister, this is no laughing matter. Your silence on critical national issues is offensive to many. Projects have been stalled because of the uncertainty.
Regrettably, the average Bajan can make no sense of this inordinate delay. They believe you are doing this only because you have the power to do so, as there is no other reasonable explanation, given the state of the country and that there is no attempt to solve anyone’s problems.
There is no place in Barbados for this indifference to our country’s condition. As I said, one way or another the people will decide, but this is not what this is about.
Let us give our country a chance, let us get on with the business of fixing our country and allow our people to get on with their lives.
Barbados has been good to us. We must now be good to Barbados. Set the date Prime Minister.
Yours sincerely, Hon. Mia Amor Mottley Q.C., M.P.
Political Leader, Barbados Labour Party