GUEST COLUMN – Time to put Barbados first
GIVEN THE state of the economy here, we are hearing all sorts of positions, suggestions and even threats, but no real solutions and recommendations as how best to deal with the situation to the benefit of us all who live here. The Government needs to constantly talk to the public about where we are going and what we are doing to get there; the Opposition needs to stop thumping its chest as if only its members have a God-given gift as far as economic and financial leadership, but rather come out and share what knowledge it may have on getting us out of any hole we may be in or may be about to fall into. After all, those people who live here and support the opposition will also face any hardship that befalls the island. The situation cannot be a partisan issue divided along stupid political lines.We need people who are going to lead by example. We need to recognise that South and Central America are critical markets to us even if not as affluent as North America.We need to continue to place emphasis on education with the hope of exporting some of our people to work in the demand areas worldwide.For our purposes we need to drastically overhaul the educational system to make it more relevant, and perhaps ensure that when students leave our polytechnic and community college they are equipped with relevant acceptable programmes. We may need to keep our students in school to an older age.We need to reform the public sector without delay. The law courts at the magistracy must be opened on a shift basis; the polytechnics need to take a lot more weight off the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, especially the Accident and Emergency; the National Insurance Scheme, Post Office, Ministry of Public Work, The Registry, and the Licensing Authority, among others need to work a shift system as well.I would also like to offer a suggestion a friend of mine made relative to the collection of outstanding revenue for government. He indicated that where people owed land tax arrears and were still working then the money ought to be deducted at source on a monthly basis over the next year or two.Imagine 20 000 people who owe money having to pay Government, on average, $300 each a month and one can see the type of revenue which would be collected.At the same time we need to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and stop copying the foolishness we see from the developed countries. Eat more of what we grow, build houses of the type and size that we can really afford, drive vehicles that suit our roads and are of a certain power (Government needs to set the example. There is no real need for all the BMWs, Mercedes Benz and SUVs – even for a messenger) while at the same time ensuring that we introduce effective energy conservation and water conservation and harvesting programmes.I really do hope you can open your pages to “ideas to steer us forward” forgetting Bees, Dees and party hoppers. Put Barbados first.