Former PM says region can’t afford regular strikes
Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean cannot afford the “luxury” of frequent government shutdowns “for the pleasure of it”, and all parties must forge consensus in order to avoid “making gridlock the normal and familiar feature” of governance, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has warned.
In delivering the keynote address at the Second Annual Retreat of the National Partnership Council of Jamaica, Arthur presented a strong argument for the introduction of Social Partnerships in small, developing countries. He stressed that they add value to the work of the partners and to the overall national developmental endeavour, by making consensus building, rather than divisiveness, a major force in national life.
“There are some nations that are rich enough to waste their democracy by shutting down their government from time to time, for the pleasure of it, by making gridlock the normal and familiar feature of the functioning of their system of governance, and by making opposition to everything proposed by their leader the main political strategy of key political institutions.
“In the Caribbean, we cannot afford such a luxury, especially since the countries have to grapple with a range of threats that go beyond the ordinary and which threaten to overwhelm them. For us, there can be no sensible option than to embed harmony and co-operation at the centre of our governance, and to do everything necessary to ensure that the partnership works,” the former Prime Minister told the audience.
Arthur insisted that the Social Partnership has contributed massively to Barbados’ progress over the past two decades, becoming the chief agency by which the economy was stabilized and its decline reversed.
Speaking on the topic, “The Social Partnership: Making the Decisive Difference”, Arthur contended that the tripartite grouping placed great emphasis on problem solving as part of their co-operation, noting that while Barbados had been cited as one of the success stories regarding the functioning of Social Partnerships, the country was now in dire straits.
“This is due not so much to any failings of the concept of a Social Partnership per se, but in large measure to the significant departure from its proper use. Barbados is now mired in a most debilitating economic crisis which is imposing incredible strains on the social fabric of the country, and engendering new forms of social disharmony,” the St Peter MP contended.
Arthur suggested that the crisis has persisted because there has been no substantial or successful effort to build a national consensus as to how to resolve the crisis, while communication between the partners has broken down.