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AS I SEE THINGS: Why silence on issues?

Brian Francis

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FORMER PRIME MINISTER OWEN ARTHUR, in his address to the Barbados Labour Party’s St Michael Central and North-East constituencies last weekend, said that the country was in a state of drift. He was also of the opinion that nothing significant was being done to address the problems that plague the economy and that policies to put the country on a path to recovery were severely lacking.Dr Don Marshall, while moderating a recent Down To Brass Tacks call-in programme, lamented the fact that the economy was in its longest and worse recession and that Government would soon have to consider ways of raising revenue to close the huge fiscal deficit it faces. Dr Marshall also questioned how long the Government could continue to maintain its social programme in light of the gap between revenue and expenditure. In communities across Barbados, ordinary Barbadians are also asking the question: what is government doing to address the problems as identified by some of the more popular figures in the country? State of the economy Unfortunately, Government seems content to say little. After the great public relations blitz of the past two years, Government is now strangely silent on these pertinent issues. The country needs to know what the true state of the economy is and what by way of policies Government intends to do to resolve the economic and financial challenges that confront society. This information must be provided urgently by the people charged with such ministerial responsibilities.Creation of policiesClearly, it is one thing to blame the former administration for every conceivable shortcoming. But it seems extremely difficult for those currently in leadership roles to stand up and be counted when it matters most – in the creation and implementation of sound economic policies to keep the ship of state steady in the current rough tides of low growth, high unemployment, huge debt, and unsustainable fiscal deficit.Usually, when faced with economic challenges of the kind now existing in Barbados, a Government will call upon all citizens to make the necessary sacrifices to steady the ship and seek the best possible advice from all available sources. I cannot say with certainty that the country has been called to such action by those in authority with any level of seriousness.Mr Arthur has urged Government to “go back to the policies that worked for Barbados between 1994 and 2008”. Hasn’t Professor Michael Howard suggested that Government adopt some of the tax measures contained in the 2008 BLP Manifesto? When it comes to accepting unyielding advice, why the inertia?