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Answers needed

As I indicated recently, the People’s Empowerment Party considers Government’s recent “Public/Private Sector Consultation” to have been a shallow public relations exercise on the part of the Freundel Stuart administration, rather than a genuine national consultation on our country’s economic woes.

If one examines what actually transpired at the so-called “Public/Private Sector Consultation” it becomes clear that there was no genuine dialogue, nor any serious brainstorming of ideas, about possible solutions to Barbados’ economic dilemma.

Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, can clearly discern that the Stuart Administration has already decided that it will be jettisoning a significant number of Public Service officers. The Administration therefore had no intention of genuinely discussing anything with the Private Sector: all it wanted to achieve was to go through a highly publicised exercise that it would be able to use in the future to claim that its imminent savage retrenchment measures were forced upon it by the Private Sector and other social entities!

This is extremely unfortunate because what Barbados desperately needs now, more than anything else, is to bring together a sizeable grouping of its most capable and committed citizens to brainstorm a way out of the economic crisis that has engulfed our nation over the past 5 years.

Indeed, if we did have a genuine national Consultation on the economy, we may well find that there is a viable alternative to a policy of mass retrenchment of Public Service workers!

It is against this background therefore that the PEP would like to recommend the staging of an alternative national consultation on the state of the Barbadian economy.

Indeed, our specific recommendation is for the organisations and institutions of Barbadian civil society — inclusive of the political parties, trade unions and churches — to join together to stage a National Consultation not merely on the state of the economy, but on the finding of concrete solutions to Barbados’ current economic predicament; solutions that seem to have totally escaped our Government.

If the Barbados Government is not prepared to engage in a serious participatory search for solutions to our economic problems, then we, the non-governmental entities, must take up the challenge and do so.

The PEP wishes to state publicly that it is ready and willing to partner with any one or more of the other representative civil society organisations to urgently organise and stage such a national consultation.

In our view, such a consultation — held over a two- or three-day period — should brainstorm measures to:

(1) Reduce Government’s recurrent annual expenditure;

(2) Ease the financial pressure on the ordinary Barbadian citizens;

(3) Reduce the country’s annual foreign exchange expenditure;

(4) Stimulate local production, commerce and employment;

(5)Identify all those national assets that are capable of earning foreign exchange;

(6) Generate new and/or enhanced streams of foreign exchange earnings; and

(7) Foster intimate working partnerships between

Government and key private sector producers. An incomplete list of outstanding and committed citizens

that we would like to see at such a consultation is as follows: Sir Roy Trotman, Cedric Murrell, Dr. Frances Chandler, Lynette Holder, Dr Tennyson Joseph, James Husbands, Muhammad Nassar, Dr Andrew Downes, Sir David Seale, Bobby Clarke, Anderson Toppin, Hugh Mc Clean, Timothy Boyce, Dr Henry Fraser, Mia Mottley, Rawle Brancker,

Ryan Straughn, Anthony Johnson, Annalee Davis, Peter Adonijah Alleyne, Keteurah Babb, Richard Stoute, Anthony Gabby Carter, Sir Kyffin Simpson, Alister Alexander, Clyde Mascoll, Mac Fingall, Varia Williams, Andrew Pilgrim, Marian Hart, Bishop Wilfred Wood, Roy Morris, Senator John Watson, Jean Holder, George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite, Sir Hilary Beckles, Grenville Phillips, Andrew Bynoe, Shantal Munro-Knight, Ken Hewitt, Anne Hewitt, Patrick Hoyos, Peter Miller, Jeff Kinch, Ralph Bizzy Williams, Matthew Farley, Bobbi Mc Kay, Lionel Weekes, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, Elombe Mottley, Sue Springer, Kammie Holder, Kim Tudor, Dr Pedro Welch, Wayne Onkphra Wells, Allison Sealy-Smith, Phil Phillips, Carol Roberts, June Fowler, Richard Cozier, Stedson Wiltshire, Jerston Clarke, Grey “Doc” Broome and Elsworth Young.

We are conscious of the fact that some of the personalities listed above are persons who shun the spotlight and attach a great premium to their privacy, but these are not ordinary times — Barbados is in serious peril, and we therefore believe that we are entitled to request of every Barbadian citizen and resident that they answer the call to national duty and give freely and willingly of themselves to their country.

— David A. Comissiong

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