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Little buzz for Budget


Little buzz for Budget

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There was hardly any fanfare, and an absence of the flurry of pre-Budget activity of past years around the Parliament Buildings yesterday preceding the  presentation of the 2010-2011 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals by new Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
A modest gathering stood outside the gates of the Public Buildings patiently awaiting their turn to enter the Public Gallery to witness the proceedings inside the House of Assembly.
They remained relatively quiet even as parliamentarians drove past, the only loud hurrah going up as Minister of Education Ronald Jones drove in followed by Opposition Leader Owen Arthur, and later a somewhat subdued noise of excitement when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart arrived, escorted by police outriders. There was a sprinkling of national colours in the dress of some bystanders, and the occasional kiss was plumped on the cheek of a parliamentarian as he slowly drove through the crowd.
 Among the earliest arrivals was Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce, who drove in at 3:15 p.m., followed in quick succession by Minister of Health Donville Inniss, Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing and Lands Patrick Todd and Minister of Social Care Denis Lowe.
One by one the other ministers followed, with Michael Lashley and Dr David Estwick driving in as the bell rang calling the House to the session.
Principal of the Garrison Secondary School, Matthew Farley, led a delegation of ten students from the Finance Minister’s alma mater and eagerly greeted Sinckler when he arrived just before 4 p.m. and was handed the black bag containing the budgetary proposals.
Significantly,  it was the same bag carried by the late Prime Minister David Thompson at former budget presentations.
Farley greeted the Finance Minister saying: “This is a proud moment for us,” while  headgirl Shenice Seale pinned a boutonniere on Farley’s lapel, and headboy Akeem James pinned on Mrs Sinckler’s corsage.
Afterwards the headgirl told the media:  “I feel very proud to be going to the Garrison Secondary. Chris Sinckler is an inspiration. It does not matter what secondary school you are going to, once you have the mindset, you can get there.”  
The headboy also referred to Sinckler as an inspiration, and said he himself was developing political aspirations as a result.
Minister of Housing Michael lashley, another former student of the Garrison Secondary School, was also presented with a boutonniere by student Ashley Bruce when he arrived.
Opposition Leader Owen Arthur led the BLP parliamentary group of Dale Marshall, Ronald Toppin, Dr William Duguid and George Payne from the Opposition’s offices in the West Wing of Parliament Buildings up the steps of Parliament, but former Opposition Leader Mia Mottley trailed noticeably far behind, walking with St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde, and stopping to greet the Garrison School delegation before proceeding up the steps of Parliament.
Shortly after Sinckler began his presentation, Oya Thompson, the second daughter of late Prime Minister David Thompson, dressed in her Combermere School uniform, alighted from a grey SUV. Alone, she was escorted by a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force to the Public Gallery.
Pausing briefly to speak to the DAILY NATION, she said: “It’s been the first Budget since my Daddy was gone and I just came to hear what they are going to say.”