Agriculture Minister explains his recent silence
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, and Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick has been explaining his absence from the limelight since January.
The outspoken St Philip West member of parliament for the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) admitted during a constituency meeting in St Lucy last night that he had been deliberately trying to stay clear of controversy, while noting the last time he spoke out publicly against the Government’s economic strategy, “people did not understand that you can love your political party, but still say to your party ‘I do not agree’”.
However, Dr Estwick contended that “as adults that is what we have to respect, but not what you are supposed to hate”.
“I have said to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and he understands, he is trained in philosophy and I am trained in philosophy and the old archaic monarchial system of Cabinet collective responsibility has been superceded by modern philosophical thinking of utilitarian approaches.
“Not everybody has to agree, but [can] benefit from the dissenting voice; that strengthens the collective. Under these circumstances Stuart understood what was going on,”
Dr Estwick said.
As for the current economic strategy, which he had earlier complained was headed down the wrong path, the Minister of Agriculture said: “I am confident that with different approaches to resolving matters that we are on an approach that once we stay in the zone of the arrangements that had been prescribed by the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank, it is not a matter whether we would come out, but the time frame for coming out.”
Taking a swipe at the international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, Dr Estwick, who once held the portfolio of minister of economic affairs, said: “Some people have very short memories, because I remember back in 2003, I was challenging Standard & Poor’s publicly in Barbados.
“I remember in the Lower Green, The City, saying that I do not agree with how their assessments are made because I am not the kind of fellow who will be a hypocrite to myself or a fraud to my intellect; it is not going to happen.
“I am confident that there are still a number of things that the Government can do and I am confident that we are going to get them. I am also confident that if we can make the adjustments we can get out of this difficulty a lot faster. I was not afraid to say what I said then and the time will come very soon when I will have to say what I said again.
“I am aware that when I said what I said it was not meant to be anti-DLP. It was not meant to hurt the party but to guide them in a different perspective, see the two perspectives. One path led to the World Bank, the IMF, but I am saying, ‘hold on, there is another approach’.”
Dr Estwick noted that prior to 1981 when the Barbados Labour Party was in office, the then-Prime Minister Tom Adams was about to go to the IMF for a standby arrangement.
“The Cold War was on and when Adams went for that standby agreement he was up in Yugoslavia and Russia borrowing money. But I hear people speaking rubbish saying that, ‘we should wait on the IMF, wait for Standard & Poor’s’ and I said, ‘that is foolishness’.
“I now understand what the Right Excellent Errol Barrow meant when he said we are friends of all. He meant we are now a mature country. Use your friendships, use diplomacy, do not go begging with cap in hand,” Dr Estwick added.
He also suggested that there are other sources of funding besides the International Monetary (IMF) and other international financial agencies.
Responsing to a question from Barbados TODAY on the status of negotiations on the US$5 billion loan from the United Arab Emirates, the St Philip West MP said: “A team of persons from the United Arab Emirates led by persons from Abu Dhabi and Dubai were in Barbados and they had fruitful discussions and those discussions are ongoing.”
No further details were given on the matter.