New way of governing

Not so long ago in this space we spoke of the honeymoon period new governments have traditionally been allowed to enjoy as they settle in to do the people’s business.

No less was expected after the Freundel Stuart Administration was narrowly returned to office on February 21 after a bruising general election battle. And no one could honestly argue that the second term government was not given the initial space and time its predecessors have enjoyed to get its feet wet. It is certainly clear now that the honeymoon is over and the reality of better or worse has set in.’

Disingenuous would be the appropriate word to use if we suggested that if the general election result had favoured the Barbados Labour Party instead of the ruling Democratic Labour Party that there would have been a magical transformation of Barbados.

Our problems, particularly those of an economic and financial nature, are simply too deep to resolve immediately.

While that is the case, however, the voices of concern and in some cases despair are being raised again now with the general election politicking a fading memory. It would be unwise for Government to ignore these cries, even if they misguidedly believe they are being influenced by the Opposition.

As influential as Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley might be in helping to shape public opinion, and as loyal and as determined her supports and well wishers might be in seeking to make Government’s life difficult, there are actually folks in this island whose views are not shaped by either.

Rather than trying to restrict or stop criticism, Government should be countering it, or some would even say shaping it in their own way. If it fails to do so the next six months will feel like six years.

The national economic consultation being held in two weeks is the perfect opportunity for Stuart and company to seize the moment, and have a truly national conversation on the issue that is most concerning to Barbadians — economic hard times.

Government will enter these discussions in the face of some major bad news, including the fact that the main economic lynchpin, the tourism sector, continues to under perform.

The major evidence of this is the 6.5 per cent drop in long stay tourist arrivals between January and the end of last month.

Then there is the not so unexpected, but still unwelcomed, news that the performance of the 2013 sugar crop is the worst anyone can remember. Granted much has been made of the Barbados Island Inclusive Programme intended to increase visitor traffic during the traditionally slow summer months, but coming after a disappointing winter period it would take a real miracle to turn things around. And then there are the plans to transform the sugar sector into a sugar cane industry. Unfortunately this has been talked about ad nauseam and will offer no immediate improvement.

And immediate is the operative word here. People want to know what is going to happen now because they are afraid to visualise what might be in store during the next six to 12 months.

Business as usual, in this case also known as governing like before the general election, will not suffice.

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