It must be an illusion! The political, community and sectoral leaders who have been saying that Barbados’ economy is in crisis and headed for collapse have to be fooling the citizens.
Why? We have never seen Barbados this quiet! It is as though our entire island is at rest — peacefully asleep. Now, we are not agitating for unrest or social dislocation, but surely, when people are in crisis, when they are in fear for their very existence, when they feel their future is threatened it is not unusual for them to at least speak out — or more appropriately, shout out.
When it comes to media organisations in this country we are the new kids on the block — we have no power to wield like the titans in our midst, and we therefore are courting no fight with the Government, after all they have might on their side. But we would be less than honest with ourselves, our readers, our country, if we did not question this most explicit silence that is accompanying the apparent inactivity that is attending our country.
Where are our Cabinet ministers? We have been seeing and hearing a lot from Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss, while Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Minister of Transport Michael Lashley and Minister of Health John Boyce have passed through the spotlight on occasions, but where is the rest of the elected Government?
There is nothing occurring in the vital tourism to shout about — but yet collectively we go about our daily business like “Saga Boy”, just cooly bopping along.
There was a time when if nothing else was taking place, there would be at least some public and private sector construction projects underway to keep the economic wheels greased — but just peep in at our construction firms, both big and small, and see all the equipment lying idle.
In fact, where there are roads being built the construction pace appears to be so unnaturally slow we have to wonder if there is something sinister taking place.
We can’t blame the current Government or the recession for the state of our sugar industry, but surely it could not have missed our national attention that the 2013 harvest came and went without a whisper; and all we have to look forward to in 2014, based on current projections is an even more insignificant crop.
It seems like the expectations of Barbadians are now so low that even the things we used to complain about incessantly we don’t even bother to cry over now.
Take, for example, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Have the inefficiencies of the QEH been addressed? As far as we know, while management has scored some successes, it’s still not unusual to wait 12 to 16 hours in the Accident & Emergency Department, and little old ladies are still into their second year of constant rescheduling for all kinds of surgeries. So what’s going on?
The issue of a new hospital versus the QEH is not even a point of discussion anymore.
We had an election on February 21 and there was such urgency to address the issues that Parliament was not convened for the Throne Speech until March 6. The Estimates were tabled one week later, and the following week the Estimates debate took place — then Parliament proceeded on Easter holiday.
The House of Assembly reconvened on May 7 and met again on May 14 — then adjourned until June 11, just short of four weeks later.
Could we be worried about a fiscal, or any other, crisis?
What are the major matters that are supposed to be engaging out ministers at this time that would cause Parliament to take a back seat? What are the issues that are engaging their attention at this time that would lead to ground-breaking action to jump start the engines of the economy when the doors of the august chamber are reopened in two weeks?
God help us all if the only reason Parliament is not meeting now is because the MPs just simply don’t have anything to talk about.
So often we look at our neighbour to the south-west and wonder how the government of Trinidad and Tobago can function when each week there is a new scandal — and of major proportions at that. Today, we are forced to take a fresh look at the phenomenon of scandals, and conclude that at least they occur when something is happening. No activity, hence nothing to form a scandal!
Maybe, a scandal or two in Government here would do us some good, because there is something frighteningly eerie about the quiet that has engulfed our country. But governance is about more than the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. We have in the current Parliament the largest number of Opposition members of any session since Independence, so where is the noise from “the other side”? Parliament is, to all intents and purposes on its second vacation since the February 21 elections: Is the Opposition on holiday too? With 14 members of Parliament on the Barbados Labour Party side, surely the Government should not be setting their agenda.
We need to figure out soon what will set off our national alarm clock, or we may not wake up for a very long time!