“The task ahead is not for the 30 elected or the 21 appointed, but for the 300,000 who live in Barbados and those of our citizens living in the diaspora.”
Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, in delivering the traditional Throne Speech today, signaling the launch of a new session of Parliament would have aptly set the tone for the country in terms of what is urgently needed in the months and weeks ahead, as all brace for unwanted austerity.
Over the past month in particular, the focus has been on the personalities that made up the general election campaign as party openly jostled against party, party against independent and individual against individual all in the quest to garner political votes.
Thankfully the process never got bloody, but there were those very regrettable moments which we wished could somehow be taken back as the campaign fever seemingly got the best of the ‘blues’ and ‘reds’ in particular.
As the May 24 date approached, there was also no mistaking the obvious tension at times, both within and outside of the various party headquarters, given all that was known to be at stake.
In the end the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was able to seal a remarkable victory which was testimony to the very classy and mature campaign it waged against a seemingly moribund Democratic Labour Party – its main contender.
However, with the domestic economy on the brink, it is time to put the election result aside in the hope of building back Barbados; a country that is not only home to the reigning ‘Bees’, but the ‘Dees’ as well, who must be able to quickly dust themselves off and get back into action for the good of all concerned.
With the International Monetary Fund already on the doorstep it is useless hurling insults at each other over who is mostly at fault. From where we sit, there is enough blame to around, but the blame game will help us not.
What will, is facing up to the reality of our dire economic circumstances – which have already landed us in perilous and undesirable territory known as credit default – and to come up with creative ways of minimizing the fallout from expected onerous strategies that will no doubt make life tougher for all.
Certainly now is definitely not the time for any drunken stupor by either the conqueror or the conquest.
We all are duty bound to make Barbados great again. Not just the 111,968 voters who cast their ballots for the winning BLP or the 33, 985 who voted for the DLP. The road ahead also demands input from the 4,188 Barbadians who voted for Solutions Barbados, the 1,965 for the United Progressive Party, the 580 for the Coalition of United Parties and the 1,059 for Natlee and the other independents.
Indeed, the 40 per cent of the electorate who stayed away from the polls cannot also now opt out of this island’s future growth and development, particularly if we are to turn around the ailing economy and ensure a balanced budget by 2019.
For surely no one group has any monopoly on ideas and as we go forward we must not be arrogant or haughty but open to constructive criticism and opposing views, especially those which constructively show up the folly of our ways.
As the Governor General said today in outlining the priorities for the Mottley Government, it has come to office in a period of “unprecedented economic uncertainty” with a stagnant economy, decaying infrastructure and an escalating cost of living, not to mention the crime situation.
With that said, she also acknowledged that the “most pressing issues before it” include the high unacceptable national debt and the foreign exchange situation “which negatively impact Barbados’ macro-economic position”.
This will require the development of our own comprehensive Barbados economic route recovery and transformation plan but most of all it will require personal sacrifices and concerted action by all.