While Government struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic it still has a responsibility to ensure that other matters of national importance are also addressed.
So says Senator Lisa Cummins who acknowledged that while controlling the spread of COVID-19 was first and foremost on Government’s agenda, it could not be the only goal.
Speaking during debate on the National Payment Bill, 2020, in the Upper Chamber today, Cummins said there were other sectors that needed urgent attention.
“We are in a space where the Prime Minister describes it well; we have to learn to walk and chew gum confidently. There are many people who would say, ‘Oh wha dem in dey dealing wid dem tings now, people out pun the road and people suffering and people need this and people need that’.
“Those things are all true, those things are all important. There is a Ministry of Health and a Prime Minister’s Office and a COVID Monitoring Unit and all of the various arms of Government that are on a day-to-day basis, seven days a week, sometimes 24 hours a day focusing on the issues of the day, ensuring that we are able to keep businesses afloat, ensuring that we are able to keep Barbadians safe, ensuring that we are capable at the same time of protecting lives and livelihoods,” Cummins pointed out.
“There are people who come to work in the country every, single day to do that; that is the walking. They are walking the road everyday but that does not mean that we are also not simultaneously meant to take responsibility for walking and chewing gum and so the agenda for the Government of Barbados must continue simultaneously to deal with the short-term challenges that are before us, dealing with the planning that is required before, dealing with the mitigation before us in a real and meaningful way, but simultaneously planning and continuing to implement a structural transformation agenda that this Government came to office giving a commitment to.”
The Minister of Tourism and International Transport maintained that Government could not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for not getting things done.
“The people of Barbados will not forgive us if we come to the end of a period of time where we have to face the polls again and we say that we didn’t do X, or we didn’t do Y because of COVID, or we didn’t do this or we didn’t do that because of COVID. There will be those things for sure, because there are many things that are completely out of our control that we will not have been able to deliver on, but this is not one of those things.
“The reform of our financial system, the reform of our financial institutions, the reform of our financial system’s architecture, embracing new technologies, embracing innovation in all of our processes, those are things we cannot say we did not do because of COVID. So this Government has not rushed this process, this Government has not jumped the gun on this process, this Government is walking and chewing gum, serving our short-term objectives of keeping people safe while still maintaining the interest of a country that has to survive in a post-COVID environment,” Cummins assured. (RB)