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DLP COLUMN: Is Owen for real?

DLP COLUMN: Is Owen for real?

Fri, November 09, 2012 - 12:00 AM

A cursory look at the recent address by Owen Arthur to his party faithful would pique the interest of many of us. But, a more in-depth assessment reveals so many inconsistencies that one is left in total disbelief. Little wonder many Barbadians are still trying to wrap their heads around the new positions he has adopted. The electorate is now asking: is he for real or is he living in fantasy land?

This surely cannot be the same person who a few months ago in the Budget debate touted something completely different? He has made an about-turn and is now espousing views contrary to what he was saying all along, even recently.

Barbadians are fully tuned in to the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) strategy of winning an election at any cost – gimmicks and all.

Seems as though the BLP is the proverbial weathercock on critical issues, once they are challenged on ludicrous pronouncements.

For example, only recently that party was chiding the Government for taking long to decide on a new hospital ”when we already left plans there for one”. Now, lo and behold, Owen Arthur says no new hospital!

In the Budget debate, BLP parliamentarians said Government should spend more on health and education. But before the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry recently, there was a different tune: “Government must reduce spending on health and education; provide more incentives to the private sector so they can invest in these areas.”

Well if Government followed that advice totally, the small man would suffer.

Earlier this year, the BLP’s other “Great Economist” said we must drastically reduce transfers to state entities – Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the Transport Board, the Urban Development Commission and the Rural Development Commission – and ultimately privatize them. When they realized people would be dismissed en masse, they quickly reversed: “No, we will just eliminate wastage and make them efficient.” Well, drastically reducing transfers is a euphemism for massive retrenchment.

We are glad to see that some, like the Barbados Economic Society and scholars, are suddenly seeing through their malarkey and challenging them to be realistic. We urge others to scrutinize them, speak up and show up their illogic.

Mr Arthur, when we give back all allowances to the middle class (not to low income earners – they never had them in the first place); lower land taxes; return VAT to 15 per cent (Britain raised its to 20 per cent); subsidized petroleum and so on, where will the money come from to run the country? Surely the fiscal deficit that you have been yammering about would skyrocket and land us in the clutches of the International Monetary Fund.

Your planned giveaways remind us of the heyday of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, when in another desperate move to win power at any cost, the BLP came up with the “brilliant idea” to develop two cities in St Thomas and St George. They even promised to put a sea in St George. Remember that local version of A Tale Of Two Cities?

Barbadians are not stupid. We are rational. We can separate fact from fiction, and realism from fantasy and expediency. Prime Minister and Party Leader Freundel Stuart and Team DLP offer a sensible and realistic alternative, not fantasy, in these troubled times. Join us this weekend as we journey to St Peter. Stick with the Dems!!!

• Douglas Leopold Phillips is a pseudonym for the Democratic Labour Party.

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