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GUEST COLUMN: Cabinet’s next reshuffle?

Frank da Silva

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PRIOR TO the tragic loss of innocent lives that occurred last Friday, the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle was discussed by many Barbadians. Let me begin this column by joining the tens of thousands of Barbadians in expressing both my sympathy to the families affected and also full support for meaningful and lasting improvements on all important aspects of what occurred last Friday.
Speculation on the third reshuffle, while understandable, should in the current circumstances, as an act of respect, be left entirely to the person given the authority to manage our country. 
We should respect that while both previous reshuffles seemed to have brought about an improvement in our government’s performance, there can be a negative side. 
Perhaps a better approach would be full collaboration and a confidential retreat among our major decision makers. This would allow them to establish on a priority basis the issues that need dealing with and of greatest importance, develop a plan for implementation of these decisions.
Successive governments of this country in the last decade or more have demonstrated one chronic weakness – their inability to implement in a timely manner. The one exception to this practice was by this government when it was last in office (1991 – 1994) and found a formula that was developed by just a few people. 
Sir Maurice King, who from October 1991 to January 1993, and our Prime Minister Hon David Thompson while he was Minister of Finance, are two of these. These gentlemen had leadership responsibility for the Foreign Exchange Committee (an action group).It is highly regrettable that this initiative was not maintained in its most productive form by the 1994 BLP government or reimplemented by the current government when it assumed office in January 2008.
I have often been asked by many people how we did it then and why we can’t seem to do it now and the answer is basically very simple: the major elements in our success in particular in the 1992 to 1994 period must equally be shared among the key players. Additionally, in no special order:
• Sir Roy Trotman and his team in the labour movement whose support was to a significant extent the foundation that we built on.
• Sir John Stanley Goddard and other private sector leaders whose major contribution should always be recognised.
• Peter Laurie, the then Head of the Foreign Service, the public servants from that Ministry and from several other Ministries without whose active participation we would not have been able to turn our economy around in the short space of time of approximately two years. 
Today, Friday the 10th, is a day of special national significance and I wish to call, not only to the 174 500 (this figure is based on the last systematic readership survey done at the end of 2009) people who will read today’s Nation but on all Barbadians, to give full support to Prime Minister David Thompson’s decision for us to pause and pray at noon for a minimum of three minutes for the six innocent women who lost their lives a week ago.
Prime David Thompson has devoted most of his life to Barbados and Barbadians and has earned respect and love from all of us.
He continues to be in our prayers. If ever there was an occasion for Team Barbados to rally around and be completely united, that time is now.