It’s the final few hours of 2018 and most of us are either reminiscing on the highs and lows of the past 365 days that seemingly went by in a blur or we are busy making New Year plans to achieve our heart’s desires in 2019.
Whatever side you are on, if you are reading this editorial, give thanks. Some cannot reflect or make plans, having ended their life’s journey before the dawn of a new year.
That’s all the more reason to look forward to a new tomorrow with faith and optimism.
It is in this vein that we offer Barbados our best wishes for a successful and productive 2019. Our hope is that the island will bounce back more prosperous, more stable and better positioned to weather any challenges ahead.
In many ways, the past 12 months were defining for Barbados. We faced multiple challenges and celebrated multiple wins.
Nothing stands out more than the political tsunami that swept the Democratic Labour Party from power and the island’s first female Prime Minister and the Barbados Labour Party into Government.
The island’s economic turmoil, crime, the south coast sewage crisis, water and garbage collection woes equally dominated headlines.
No doubt there is much-unfinished business to tackle in 2019 if Barbados is to become a better place to live for all of us.
So, here we offer a few expectations – not complete – of things we would like to see happen in 2019.
Certainly, like most Barbadians, we are anxious for an economic turnaround. The Mia Mottley administration has successfully negotiated an International Monetary Fund deal in record time, we have received our first upgrade from an international rating agency in what seems like eons, and our foreign reserves levels are back to respectable levels. Our hope is that the tough restructuring measures, including the layoffs of Government workers and the introduction of new taxes, will bear fruit and the economy will get moving, resulting in more jobs and a reduction in the high cost of living. May Government continue to provide a cushion for the most vulnerable and ensure those who need it most can enjoy a good standard of living.
Oh, that 2019 be the year when Barbados records less crime. Unfortunately, 2018 ended with reports of some violent acts. While our police force performed admirably at all levels, they can’t do the job alone. What must be reinforced is a zero-tolerance approach to crime and violence. Police must be empowered with adequate manpower and resources to get the job done. The Government must strengthen legislation to deter would be criminals, the courts must deliver speedy justice and the public must cooperate with law enforcers to stamp out deviance and identify perpetrators.
In 2019, we hope that the long-running woes on the South Coast will end—permanently. Thousands of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent and while there is light at the end of the tunnel, Barbadians just want a fix.
Next year would be particularly satisfying if authorities could ensure that the Barbados Water Authority and the Transport Board significantly improve the delivery of services. Frequent water outages, particularly in the north of the island, and the long queues of passengers who are forced to wait two, three and four hours to be transported to their destinations have no place in modern Barbados. Tough decisions have to be made at both state entities. The current conditions demand that things change and change for the better, particularly if the public is expected to pay more to keep these services up and running.
Most of our expectations point to Government, but there’s much for Barbadians to do in 2019.
All and sundry should commit to a cleaner Barbados. Our natural beauty is constantly defiled by some who take for granted how blessed we are as a tiny nation. Stop littering; reuse, reduce and recycle. Protecting our environment is critical to our overall wellbeing.
Secondly, Barbadians must resolve to take charge of their health. Lifestyle diseases are claiming too many lives. Let’s be more mindful of what we eat and try harder to get moving.
And last but not least, let’s give new meaning to being our brother’s keeper. In this wheel called life, we are all valuable and we need each other. So let’s respect, support and encourage each other as we figure out a way to move Barbados forward.
Here’s to a blessed, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to all.