Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford demonstrated the importance of leaders maintaining their integrity while handling national crises, said Government Senator Lisa Cummins as the Upper House paid tribute to the former prime minister on Wednesday, a month after his death.
She said despite the criticism he faced during his tenure as prime minister, he made sacrifices in his political life to protect the country’s finances and economic structure.
Cummins said she had grown to respect Sir Lloyd’s decision to cut public servants’ salaries by eight per cent in 1991 to prevent a devaluation of the Barbados dollar and help stabilise the economy during a testing economic period.
“As I started to delve into what he had actually done that I disliked so much as a schoolgirl because of how I saw it impacting my household, I remember saying in a class with colleagues, who are still colleagues today,… ‘history will write kindly of him for the decisions that he made’,” she said.
“It is very easy when you are sitting on the outside of it and you see A plus B and you think it is equal to C, to think that all the Government has to do is this but what the Government is doing is that, when, in actual fact, the Government has the whole alphabet soup that it is playing with, and it has to make critical decisions that are not always going to be popular.”
The senator added that despite losing the favour of Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters and being criticised by political opponents, Sir Lloyd was calm and stuck to his plan, which spoke to his integrity.
“It is his resoluteness, his commitment to decision and the fact that he had known he had made the right decision, that I came to take a moment over the years to understand his impact,” Senator Cummins said.
She highlighted that the benchmark set by the veteran politician and other Barbadian leaders regarding the courage required to make difficult choices still benefits the nation today.
“Barbados has had the distinction of being blessed with leaders who, in times of crisis, make difficult decisions that . . . may not be popular with all. I’m certain there were those who in the eight per cent cut felt the same way I did, and there were those who when there were cuts in the 2018 restructuring did not like the fact they had to take a haircut either.
“But in the interest of national development, we as a people have always historically made the sacrifice in the interest of national development, and we have always had the benefit of leaders, including Sir Lloyd Erskin Sandiford, who then made sure that the decisions were being made,” Senator Cummins said.
Senator Kevin Boyce recalled the last time he saw Sir Lloyd, Barbados’ fourth prime minister who died on June 26 at the age of 86.
“What I saw was a man at peace with himself and content. He really seemed content. He was surrounded by his loved ones, he was able to wax poetic and enjoy himself. Considering all that went before, perhaps it gives an understanding that all the difficulties which he would have endured politically; personally with the loss of his daughter, as Seneca said, ‘these difficulties strengthen the mind’, or as Confucious said, ‘a man is perfected by the trials by which he faces’,” Senator Boyce said. (SB)