When leadership is badly needed at the front

This DLP Government will always appear to be uncaring and insensitive because maybe it is, or maybe it just don’t understand the dynamics of the day. How can you as PM authorize a cutthroat budget to the citizens and then next day walk into a car dealership and drive out a brand new Mercedes Benz? It is all about the optics, whether the car was a gift from the King of Persia, it is about, ‘how it gine look’. . . . [Therefore], I better not see . . . [him] in VVIP at Puff o’ Color, I don’t care if his ticket was free, it is all about the optics.”

Comedian Eric Lewis best summed up the outrage of ordinary Barbadians this week, in a Facebook post issued in response to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s decision to step out immediately after last week’s austerity Budget and get a brand new $700,000 luxury car.

As Lewis rightly put it, in the midst a $542 million “cut throat” budget it is hard to fathom how in this nightmare of an economy, with a $537 million hole to fill, anyone, much less our Prime Minister, could be dreaming of having a new car, far less going out and purchasing one.

Yes, it is true, as the Prime Minister told reporters here on Wednesday, he doesn’t actually own the vehicle – so it is not exactly true to say that he personally has a new ride.

This, itself, is cloaked in such arrogance!

The Americans have a term that originated with the infamous Watergate scandal of 1972: “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

Mr Stuart’s decision to purchase and flaunt a three-quarter million dollar car could be excused as insensitive, but his reaction to criticism of the decision –– the cover up, if you may –– is shocking.

By virtually saying to Barbadians they should shut up and let him drive in luxurious comfort in a vehicle for which they paid, while they must crumble under the weight of an austere Budget, is to completely ignore the suffering his own administration has imposed on the population.

Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense understands that whenever Mr Stuart is called upon to demit office he will be forced to leave his official vehicle and all the other prime ministerial trappings behind, so it really is not necessary for us to be to be told by our Governmental leader that “I don’t own MP2; I’m driven in it”.

Equally irrelevant is whether the new vehicle was on order since 2016, 2017 or indeed 2007 at the start of the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s current tenure which can best be summed up as nine years of economic famine in which the country was forever craving a return to the days of plenty.

And just when we thought that it was impossible to sink any lower, alas, there would be more fire and brimstone offloaded on us in the father of all local austerity budgets, pregnant with painful backbreaking measures which Barbadians will be forced to endure over the next nine months.

Among them the dreaded 500 per cent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy that is to be applied from the first of next month on both imported and locally manufactured goods at a rate of ten per cent, up from two per cent last year.

Most unsettling is the fact that Mr Stuart would have stood on the floor of Parliament last Thursday night lecturing Barbadians about the need for national sacrifice and for them to put their proverbial shoulders to the wheel in the best interest of Barbados, only to kick down the very gate he had constructed to stop the Government’s jockey, “which has gotten too heavy for the horse”, from bolting the stables and going on a rampage.

At this stage it matters not to us if the late David Thompson drove a Mercedes Benz or whether his predecessor Tom Adams had a Cadillac or whether Sir Marston Gibson, our Chief Justice, or Madame Justice Sandra Mason will get to keep their vehicles long after they have exited the bench.

But amid all the appeals for pay increases by the trade unions; as well as the unanswered calls for relief by the private sector; the warnings from and of the International Monetary Fund; Credit Suisse and our current credit squeeze, it would have been prudent for Mr Stuart to do as Mr Lewis suggests and to hold off on buying a new car right now, even if it meant getting one or two replacement parts for the relatively new Benz he would have inherited in 2010.

It is a slap in the face to have a Prime Minister telling all and sundry to curb their spending and then as Lewis puts it, embarking on his own unbridled spending.

We are not suggesting the Prime Minister should be driving around in a Suzuki swift.

But was it really necessary to commit more than half a million dollars to a Mercedes Benz S-Class luxury ride with Barbados already sitting on the IMF doorstep, hoping and praying that a miracle will arrive to stop it from actually having to ingest the dreaded pill that has already been prescribed for us all?

Didn’t he learn a single thing from Errol Walton Barrow, who not only saw the need for tertiary education that the current DLP administration seemingly stopped at nothing to dismantle, but also drove around for years in a beat up Mercedes Benz?

Surely, leadership must be by example and if Mr Stuart would have us believe that he
is not one for any form of extravagance, then we would respectfully suggest that he calls up Mrs Debbie Simpson first thing on Monday morning and say to her that in the spirit of national sacrifice, he would wish to trade in his S-Class for a more conservative vehicle
that is reflective of the type of sacrifice his Government is asking everyone else to make.

It may not win him the next election at this stage, but it would certainly guarantee him and his party a bit more political respect, especially given that Mr Barrow had wisely said that “conspicuous consumption by politicians, particularly undertaken at the expense of the taxpayers, is not development”.

When the rest of us are being forced to cut our cloth to suit the tight and turbulent economic waters we are drowning in, Mr Stuart cannot keep taking Barbadians for a costly ride.

11 Responses to When leadership is badly needed at the front

  1. Divine Duchess
    Divine Duchess June 9, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Too late for me to be reading any bs….uugghh this entire place maddddd ic

  2. Sandor Barker
    Sandor Barker June 9, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Well written

  3. Sunshine Sunny Shine June 10, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Stuart is no leader. He has established that fact all by himself with his ignorance. He is not an example setter and he certainly is not any person you want your children to role model. In short, he is wicked is shyte.

  4. Alison June 10, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Excellent article from the author! This week’s response from the PM was loaded in arrogance and blatant disrespect for the challenges faced by many of the Barbadian public! It would serve that party best to invest in a Public Relations expert that can help shape some of the obnoxious responses coming out of this government on key matters that affect the livelihood of our Barbadian people.

  5. Tony Webster June 10, 2017 at 9:10 am

    The trappings of power….can easily become those that trip-up those intoxicated with arrogance. An aged, yet very much operational, cream-coluured, and very vintage Mercedes registration M50…. used to quietly park near me every evening, c.1980.
    No problem. None. Nuff respect due, and nuff freely given.

  6. Meakaid June 11, 2017 at 2:05 am

    We are not suggesting the Prime Minister should be driving around in a Suzuki swift.

    So wait…
    Wuh wrong wid driving bout a Suzuki Swift?
    You ever drove one?
    Dat mentality is wuh got we in duck’s guts now.

  7. Meakai June 11, 2017 at 2:07 am

    We are not suggesting the Prime Minister should be driving around in a Suzuki swift.

    So wait…
    Wuh wrong wid driving bout a Suzuki Swift?
    You ever drove one?
    Dat mentality is wuh got we in duck’s guts now.

  8. Wayne June 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Once Barbados could be seen as a vision of hope for unbiased reporting, now it appears that it has adopted the format of the Barbados Nation and Fox News. The highlighted words in the introduction is Barbados Today and Editorial. With no reference to the writer, should we assume that the body of work is the opinion of Barbados Today? If so, would it be considered as responsible reporting get to classify and connect the purchase of a vehicle that obviously was commissioned prior to the budget, For any of us to comment on an article, it’s mandatory that we register /identify,however the editorial is cloaked in clandestine. The Car Is Not The Property Of MR. STUART, It’s the Property of the Office of the Prime minister, regardless of who is elected indiscriminately . Black, White or Candy stripe. Straight, Gay or Transvestite .

    • Leroy June 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      If you read that entire article and cannot understand that purchasing a $300,000 car while taxing ppl to the brink and berating people about an obese jockey and the economy is in the toilet is extremely bad optics and I may add hypocrisy.

      What is wrong with you?

  9. Helicopter(8P) June 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Electronic fuel metering and weight reduction along with better emissions controls going into the next five to seven years may have been the advise given to the PM .Who knows? We all know that it’s the people’s car given to the Prime Minister through our government transactions. Which ever party gets to hold the helm; the leader gets the ride of his life.

  10. greengiant June 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Then if the B L P wins the government their leader should maybe sell the Benz, place the proceeds in the treasury, and drive a nice cheap sedan from Simpson motors.

    That will prove to the people you don’t support spending what you can’t afford. RIGHT?


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