Stop this wallowing in our mess
Yesterday’s triple-notch downgrade news has left us all in a mood for answers. From the private sector leaders to the ordinary man in the street, everyone is looking to Government for an explanation.
Is it true, for instance, the Moody’s downgrade will cost us at least $2 million more in interest payments on our current loan of US$225 million from Credit Suisse? Did we not anticipate this? And how do we intend to respond to it?
Why is the Government’s wage bill increasing, having sent home some 3,000 workers this year? Does this mean more layoffs are pending?
Why is the deficit still increasing, and why is the Government still financing it through the Barbados Central Bank? Didn’t the Governor say we had more than enough reserve cover? Who is telling the truth? Should someone or some people be fired?
These are just some of the burning questions. But will any of these answers be forthcoming? Only time will tell.
So far, there has been nary a word from the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and if our Prime Minister Freundel Stuart remains true to form, we could hardly expect he will have anything to say on the matter either.
Funnily enough, the Prime Minister was yesterday quite vocal in the House of Assembly, where he appeared to be in his element as he spoke at great length, giving historical credence to an otherwise hollow tribute session to the late Opposition Barbados Labour Party stalwart Lionel Craig. On that occasion, there was hardly any brickbats, mostly bouquets, as politicians on both sides of the divide came together to reflect on “Lammy’s” contribution to the domestic political landscape.
What stood out, though, was the Prime Minister’s stout defence of the political class and his uncharacteristic attack on the “snobs and elites” in this country, who, he said, “don’t want to dirty their hands by even having to shake the hands of ordinary people”.
“They want to sit in ivory towers, use their wealth or their station in life to qualify them to preside over the destiny of people,” said Stuart, who went on to declare: “I am proud to be a politician. If politics is messy, I enjoy the mess. If politics is dirty business, I am prepared to be dirty in order to uplift the interest of the people of this crown.”
As surprising and ineloquent as these words seemed at the time, coming as they did from our oratorical master, they did offer some level of comfort. For one, it was reassuring to be told, in the wake of The Alexandra School and National Conservation Commission fiascos, that we have a leader who is actually prepared to get his hands dirty and that his primary mission is “to uplift the interests of the people of this crown”.
Such intentions can at times be drowned out by a prolonged deafening silence, especially when “the people of the crown” are literally screaming for “help” from their leader, evening calling out his name, but to no avail.
After all, nature does abhor a vacuum. And when such occurs, it does leave people to ponder if the Prime Minister even knows what is taking place right under his nose. It is no wonder that all sorts of proposals are currently being thrown up in the air, including some that the Prime Minister personally frowns upon, such as a radical change in our governance system that would effectively “push politicians out of the way, undo what was done in the early 1950s, set aside and let privilege and status take over from the democratic procedures to which we have all subscribed and for which we have all fought”.
We are minded to agree with the Prime Minister that now may not be the best time for such, but given we are now in a very “messy” situation economically, Mr Stuart and his team need to do much more than just wallow in it.
We yet look to the Freundel Stuart administration for solutions to our present problems; and the best hope they could actually offer us is by speaking directly to the mess we are currently stuck in.