DLP COLUMN: Greetings to a wonderful people
THE YEAR 2010 will be looked upon as one in which an era in Barbadian politics came to an end. We lost our youthful and vibrant Prime Minister the Honourable David Thompson, a person whose existence was defined by his love of country and people. He generated energy that allowed people of all walks of life to be drawn towards him. In his final address, he asked that “. . . we use adversity to refocus our energies on what’s best for Barbados and that we wrap our actions and utterances in the national flag and the furtherance of this great nation we call home . . .”.
This request is one that we should hold dear as we march into the New Year 2011. We move as a people from a period that took the backbone from countries and broke the spirit of families throughout the world. Around the world, we saw model economies crumble as nations like Ireland, Greece, Spain, United States, Britain and our region grappled with massive fallout. The origin of the crisis in the British and the US financial centres did not grant us immunity from the impact. It swept all in its pathway as its adverse effects were felt in Barbados as in other nations around the globe. This combination of economic, social and political variables continues to illustrate just how vulnerable we are as a small open economy.
There can be no doubt that the negotiations that took us through 2010 were well intended. The response to the financial meltdown saw a proactive Government setting up the Tourism Relief Fund, an employment stabilization scheme, an increase in old age pensions and the extension of unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 40 weeks. The reactions to the recent Budgetary Proposals also illustrated a mature society that has put Barbados first.
However, the outlook for 2011 is for increased economic activity as various capital projects are set to commence. There can be no doubt that the narrowing of the fiscal deficit will continue to take centre stage. The attempts at getting the Four Seasons project restarted will be an added boost to the vital tourism sector. Other capital projects coming on stream are road expansion, completion of the St John Polyclinic, the Barbados Water Authority pipe laying programme, the construction of the CXC building , the restoration and expansion of the Lodge School and major renovation / rebuilding of primary schools throughout the island. These projects and others are signs of things to come.
The above represents a plethora of projected activity that will take centre stage as we open the New Year. There can be no doubt that efforts on the part of the entire nation should be highly commended. Our democracy remained intact and free from any infractions as occurred elsewhere in the region. Our social safety net was strengthened, as we faced off with the elements of the external shocks. We can only acknowledge that our fortunes have continued to flow.
Barbadians once again demonstrated their resilience as a people. This year has allowed us to reflect on the tenderness in our life. We saw what sacrifice and love of country meant both at the personal level and at the level of country. Barbados, as your Government, we give you the assurance that as a party in office we will continue to put people at the centre of the development agenda.
Happy New Year to a wonderful people.
• Douglas Leopold Phillips is a pseudonym for the Democratic Labour Party.