Former Opposition Senator Crystal Drakes is keeping any future plans for elective politics close to her chest but says Barbados has not heard the last from her when it comes to economic matters.
“That I will not disclose. I will not disclose that at this time,” the former senator told Barbados TODAY in an interview on Sunday regarding her future on this island’s political landscape.
“At the moment I have no future plans, I am living my private life. The role that I had was one that was selected, not elected,” she said of her three and a half years in the Upper House.
“So, I can only tell you I will live my private life as best as possible and be a good citizen,” said Drakes, who described her stint as opposition senator as “instrumental”.
“The role that I played at the time I think was instrumental. The country needed some kind of alternative view even if it was for constructive criticism or if it was to augment what were the government’s plans at the time so that it would be better for the country.
“I never really saw my role as being purely opposition because I am of the view that Barbados needs to move forward in a way that is progressive for all and in order to do that some of the older styles of politics we have to find a way to strike the balance where we recognise that we have to have unity and then where it is necessary to have criticism, so I think that was my main position, what was always best for the country whenever any type of legislation was being passed in the Senate,” she explained.
Drakes was selected as one of two opposition senators by Bishop Joseph Atherley who crossed the floor to become opposition leader following the 2018 general election in which the Barbados Labour Party won all 30 seats.
However, in the recent general election of January 19 Bishop Atherley failed to win a seat in Parliament with his Alliance Party Progress (APP) and neither did the main opposition Democratic Labour Party, leaving the country with no elected opposition member in the Lower House.
Despite this Drakes tells Barbados TODAY that the country has not heard the last from her in her capacity as a trained economist given her interest in sustainable development.
“I am involved in several organisations – an NGO (non-governmental organisation) that I started back in 2015 called Blue Green Initiative Inc and I am also a part of Regenerate Barbados – those are two organisations that are committed to environmental and social sustainability in Barbados. One of the things that we have to look at is how do we redesign our economy that it is better purposed, one; for environmental health and for the wellbeing of all. So, you haven’t heard the last of me in that regard,” she said even as she touched on her economic vision for the country.
“We all know that we are coming to the end of an IMF (International Monetary Fund) programme and we have all heard that we are going to have some difficult decisions to make and I think those difficult decisions were facing us even in 2018. I think one of the first things I said to the press when I was named to be opposition senator is that we have to make sacrifices and I think we are in a more dire situation at the moment because we have to find our way out of the economic hole that COVID has placed us in.
“So we have to find a real comprehensive plan on how we bounce back to where we came from and then to move forward, if not we face stagnant growth for the medium term, which will not be good for the country because it will be a drag on things like foreign reserves.
“It will then beg the question on things like if we go back into a new IMF arrangement after this extended fund facility and then also looking at things like the public sector. The public sector as you know it has to be transformed, there is no question about that. How it will be done that is not my decision, but it has to be one that is more effective and more efficient and utilizes a lot of the skillset that we have … in Barbados that we have invested heavily in, in terms of the education at the University of the West Indies.
“So, lots of changes to come. I don’t know how the Prime Minister and her Cabinet will go about implementing those changes but what they will have to do is bring Barbadians along with them because with any change there will be resistance,” she added.
Asked whether she would consider serving in the Senate again if considered, Drakes responded: “that is not something I have thought about. I served for three and a half years and I think that I served well, I think so, I did my best, and that decision is not up to me.” (FW)