BLP COLUMN: Society versus economy
What has occurred to me of course is that we have some work to do. – Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
THIS MUST BE the political quote of the year. Although meant to describe the Government’s failure to stem flooding, it describes their dismal almost three-year performance with devastating accuracy.
Poor Mr Stuart, he can’t win for losing. After admitting that he is only a night watchman and even though he has the support of some of his colleagues it appears that his future is limited to that role only. Not that anyone is surprised. He exuded all the warmth of a cold fish on his recent flood tour. As is his wont, he chided the people for contributing to their own demise. Not exactly what you want to hear when you have just lost all of your worldly possessions.
The spotlight in the leadership race has swung firmly onto Chris Sinckler. Whether his elevation to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs will be a poisoned chalice will depend on how he transitions from building a society to building an economy.
As the MP who chairs the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Cabinet sub-committee on social policy, Sinckler sought to deflect criticism of the Government’s wrecking of the economy with the ridiculous premise that the DLP is about building a society and not an economy.
It was then and still is now an admission that both their economic policies and their management of the economy are weak. How he will be able to strengthen them in the absence of any economic philosophy and with zero experience, is one of the political mysteries of the decade.
The Dems have lurched from one crisis to another because they had no real plan to take the country forward when they came to office. We all remember that in 1994 the core of the Barbados Labour Party’s economic plan was Job #1 Is Jobs. So no matter the obstacles, policy remained faithful to that stated goal.
Can anybody who voted in 2008 say what the Dems’ plan was, besides a collection of stratospheric promises that they will likely never achieve because they are not rooted in sensible or deliverable policy initiatives. The electorate has come to realise that a lucky dip of promises is not a strategy to run a country.
We have to agree with another commentator who defined Sinckler’s elevation as a political succession plan with little regard for the management of the economy. Fortunately, even he will come to realise that you can’t build a society if your economy is not firing on all cylinders. Social programmes cost money no matter how well intentioned they are.
Every area of national productivity has fallen since the Dems came to office. Dr Estwick will be behind the eight ball when it comes to agriculture. Here again the Dems hav no real plan. No one knows their short, medium or long-term strategy for the sugar industry.
Manufacturing is a shadow of its former self. Earnings from international business and tourism are way down. Construction is in the cellar. There is no plan to revive the sectors of the economy that earn foreign exchange so we can pay our way in the world. And for the average household it has been price increases, price increases, price increases!
Having spent bundles of cash, this Government even now cannot stick to its own fiscal plan. It must of necessity learn to live below its means. Sinckler is in for a rough ride. We will see if he chooses more taxes or reduced services.