GUEST COLUMN: The Way Forward
TWO OF MY COLUMNS previously written seem to have attracted much attention lately. The first was entitled Cabinet’s Collective Responsibility and was published in the WEEKEND NATION of November 6, 2009. I wish to quote the following from that column: “Let me begin by saying that in our system of governance, we the people chose the persons that we wish to politically manage our country, once we win the majority of the parliamentary seats. And, they are always accountable to us.“Our first and most important choice is the person to lead us. And, in our system of Government, we give that person certain responsibilities, rights and privileges. Included in these is this person’s right to select the Cabinet.“That Cabinet is made up of elected and selected persons and achieves its maximum possible when it works as one united team.“[As it relates] to turf rights in the context of collective responsibility. For instance, every member of Cabinet must welcome constructive criticism, ideas and suggestions from all their colleagues because in a real sense, our Cabinet must be seen as the most senior chapter of Team Barbados.“[Barbadians] expect every member of our Cabinet, individually and collectively to measure up to this.” The other column, A House Divided was published on February 12, 2010 and I quote briefly: “Families, churches, sports organisations, businesses, NGOs, unions and political parties must always be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand nor can any group achieve its full objectives.”I also referred to the Hon Dr David Estwick’s statement in relation to a wage freeze. On that occasion he went on to strongly suggest that we need to cut the cost of Government. My recollection was that our Prime Minister subsequently spoke on this matter as something that would have to be considered.The time has surely come that the cuts in expenditure that the Government has applied as they relate to ministries, statutory boards and other groups having to live with, in some cases, significant reductions, is equally highly laudable. But, in supporting Dr Estwick, I believe that it would resonate with the Barbadian population if our Government can reveal whether, after careful analysis, the time has not come to examine the reduction that can be obtained in cutting the cost of our Government by examining as frankly as possible as to whether we have too many ministers, too many officials employed.Additionally, in view of all the economic circumstances and as has been done in the corporate world, that those in the Government who travel must do so at a reduced expense by travelling economy class (granted, there may be occasions in which this cannot be done). It takes nothing from you but sends a message to the country that you are prepared to lead by example.I hope that in the fullest sense of the word that Team Barbados will go beyond achieving the objectives of this column in what in 2010 is likely to be a more difficult period for Barbados than 2009. One can applaud the outstanding work of the Honourable Stephen Lashley and the recent achievements of the Honourable Richard Sealy and others.And during this challenging period, our vice captain, Deputy Prime Minister the Honorable Freundel Stuart, must expect and be given the maximum support from all members of our team. And, lest we forget that immortal saying: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”.
•Frank da Silva is a member of the Democratic Labour party and a former high commissioner.