BLP COLUMN: The Dems are panicking
Fri, June 01, 2012 - 12:00 AM
BLP legacy: in the five years before the BLP left office in January 2008, some 19 000 landowners stopped paying land tax because of its policy of exempting owner-occupied properties valued less than $125 000, with most of the remainder on the residential tax roll benefiting from reduced rates.
There are increasing signs that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is in utter panic.
Emotionally shattered by the recent professionally conducted CADRES poll which confirmed informal knowledge that the Dems and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart were being being popularly and decisively rejected for Opposition Leader Owen Arthur and his team, the DLP has suddenly discovered a need to try to seem to be communicating with the largely disgruntled public.
Nowhere is this more applicable than with Stuart. Placed last in the leadership rankings by people participating in the poll, the normally politically semi-reclusive and quasi-reticent Stuart has suddenly become very high profile and talkative, even at the level of constituency branches.
But while he is now being seen and heard more frequently in a strictly political context, what he has been saying has had nothing whatsoever to do with major issues devouring the attention, concern and finances of the public such as a ravaging cost of living, the CLICO scandal, rising unemployment, business contractions and the glaring lack of inspiring and credible political leadership from him and his colleagues.
Instead, we have been getting a mixture of nationally unimportant verbal bluff and gruff not only from Stuart, but also from Minister of Health Donville Inniss, with the latter appearing to be trying to vigorously project himself to the forefront of the wide open DLP leadership contest in which Stuart appears mortally wounded.
DLP insiders feel that despite being far ahead of others in the poll, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is seen as being at a distinct disadvantage in the narrow-minded views of Dems who never forget that he did not attend one of the older secondary schools.
But while this political backstabbing accelerates and intensifies behind the scenes, Stuart has suddenly become a frequent speaker at branch meetings where speakers seemingly vie to outdo one another in talking tough while shivering in their boots at the prospects of going into an election tainted by a miserable economic and governance performance. It’s a prospect worsened by the intimacy of the late David Thompson with the leadership of the discredited CLICO financial success mirage and an embarrassing string of broken election promises.
Which is why it is felt that the DLP's choice to maintain an increased VAT rate that has already raked in some $60 million more than projected, is only to cynically make any reduction closer to the coming general election seem as though the electorate is being done a massive favour.
Meanwhile, Barbadians are possibly being impoverished for shallow and narrow partisan political reasons.
Arthur and the BLP warned early that a country could not successfully tax its way our of recession.
Unlike the DLP, being dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the European Union and others have now come to accept that view.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.
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