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Editorial – Boyce’s strange silence

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

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IN TODAY’S WORLD, the mass media (print, radio, television and Internet) exert tremendous influence on the way people feel, think and behave.
They are the fora, too, where one pursues one’s agenda to influence minds and win support for one’s cause.
Critically, the dynamics of the mass media demand that when issues are raised, responses are forthcoming to ensure the initial message, whether factual or farcical, is clarified in a manner favourable to the respondent.
Some members of Government recognise this and consistently take the fight to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). There were two examples of this recently. The first was former Minister of Economic Affairs Dr David Estwick’s swift response to Opposition Leader Mia
Mottley’s assertion that Barbadians would face harsh economic times over the next six to 12 months.
Within 48 hours of Mottley’s statement, Estwick, in his trademark robust style, dismissed Mottley’s remarks as “foolishness”. He said the prediction was at odds with all the local indicators and the International Monetary Fund’s views.
The second was Minister of Health Donville Inniss’ rebuttal of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s charge that ailing Prime Minister David Thompson might have abused his powers by assigning ministers to new portfolios in his recent Cabinet reshuffle “without the individual’s knowledge or approval”.
Within 72 hours, Inniss publicly sought to shift the focus from the reshuffle – in which the notable change was the removal of Estwick as Minister of Economic Affairs and the appointment of Chris Sinckler to the prominent post of Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs – and put the onus on Arthur to reveal whether he had informed his ministers first before reshuffling them.
In both of these incidents, the ministers recognised they needed to take the initiative to dull or deflect the message of the BLP.
Their strategy contrasts strikingly with the stony silence of Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Darcy Boyce, on the revelations from Arthur about the Pierhead Marina Project.
Almost two weeks ago, on September 26, Arthur charged that Barbadians could soon face increased taxation to pay for this project that has now risen to a cost of $626.6 million.
He said a properly conceived project under his administration – which was estimated to cost $400 million in 2003 – had been “perverted” by the Government. And to substantiate his claims he produced documentation.
Arthur praised the former chairman, deputy chairman and two board members of the Barbados Tourism Investment Incorporated who had resigned reportedly on issues related to the project. And he called on Boyce to clear the air surrounding this project.
Given the detailed charges outlined by the former Prime Minister, we too feel Boyce owes it to the public to clear the air on this project. His silence does the image of this worthwhile effort more damage than good.