Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is not the only one clamouring for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to announce the date for the general election, constitutionally due by the first week in June. It seems that some within Stuart’s own camp are growing increasingly anxious as well.
In fact, during last night’s opening of the campaign office for Democratic Labour Party (DLP) St Michael North candidate Kim Tudor none other than Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler expressed strong hope that Stuart would ring the election bell sooner rather than later, saying, “I pray to God that the Prime Minister, at the right time, will call the elections so we can wash them [Opposition] off with licks”.
Despite the recent economic problems that have bedevilled the Stuart administration, an upbeat and confident sounding Sinckler also suggested that while the final decision on the poll rests with the Prime Minister, there was an “army” of DLP supporters waiting to take on his political opponents.
“When this Democratic Labour Party caravan hits the road, when the people’s army hits the road, be prepared,” Sinckler said in issuing a warning to the Mottley-led BLP, his party’s main rivals.
“Get out the way, Mottley. Get out the way, [Kerrie] Symmonds, [Santia] Bradshaw, [Ronald] Toppin. The people’s army is coming for Barbados and Barbadians so that we can continue to lift our country up,” he said in calling some of the DLP’s political opponents by name.
During last night’s meeting, DLP candidate for St Michael North East Patrick Todd, who is set to directly challenge Mottley’s re-election, also expressed strong confidence of a DLP victory in the upcoming poll, which could be called any day now.
“We have more work to do so we’re just going to get the elections out of the way,” Todd said, adding that “when the Democratic Labour Party is returned to office after the general elections in a few weeks, we know that there is more developmental work to be done under this Democratic Labour Party administration”.
Their confidence in the country’s progress seemed contrary to the thoughts expressed in an open letter issued by Mottley to the Prime Minister late last night.
In it, she appealed to Stuart – whose five-year term automatically expired on March 6 but who is afforded a further 90-day window under the constitution to complete the electoral process – to ring the bell.
“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,” Mottley said, adding that “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.
“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,” she added before proceeding to list a litany of issues, including “sick buildings, mounting garbage, the Supreme Court shut down, [and] few buses on the road”.
“Our farmers are crying out, retailers and Bajans all over are choking to death under the strain of the NSRL [National Social Responsibility Levy], 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 eight years,” the letter adds.
Mottley also charged that the Central Bank was now seeking to have the National Insurance Scheme repatriate funds to shore up the island’s faltering reserves which, as of December last year, stood at a 22-year low of $410 million, or 6.6 weeks of import cover, well below the recommended 12 weeks.
“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,” Mottley added, while pleading with the Prime Minister to call the election and to stop the “bleeding” in the country.
Stating that it mattered not who was victorious in the 2018 poll, the BLP leader said it was more important that Stuart gives “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,” she added.