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ONLY HUMAN – Thank you for speaking up, PM

Sanka Price

ONLY HUMAN – Thank you for speaking up, PM

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PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart should be congratulated for finally speaking to the public on a variety of national issues since formally taking over the leadership of this country six months ago.
As this column must be submitted on Mondays, all I know about what he said last night is what I saw in the two promos of the interview Monday on CBC when I was concluding today’s article. I promptly dropped that and wrote this.
I took this action because I was elated the Prime Minister had finally recognized that as our leader he needed to step from behind his ministers and let his perspective be known on the most significant issues affecting the average person living in Barbados.
Political leadership is about inspiring confidence, giving assurance, showing empathy, taking the tough decisions and letting the public at least feel they have access to you. The Prime Minister has not done this in the past and no amount of deflection of this fact, by suggesting Government’s actions will speak louder than words, could hide this stark failure.
As I only saw those two promos, it would not be fair to comment on whether the Prime Minister was forced to speak or not. I won’t speak as well to whether it was more appropriate for him to wear a suit and tie or a nice dress shirt to address the country for the first time. I would have to see the entire interview before I can do that.
But I do recognize this aspect of how he was dressed is important because dress, like language, has to be appropriate for the occasion. I refuse too, to join those who may suggest that the nature of the interview – that is, a pre-recorded presentation which would involve editing, and where the questions and environment were to his comfort – was not ideal.
Savvy skills
Any comparison to the manner in which Stuart handled this discourse as against how Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler demonstrated his media savvy skills recently when he did an extensive no holds barred interview with this newspaper, followed by sterling performances on Brass Tacks Sunday and the Peoples’ Business call-in programmes, is really not necessary either.
Though, admittedly, I would have preferred a live, interactive session where Stuart fielded questions from several journalists and/or the public instead of what we saw last night, the fact that my Prime Minister faced the nation is what matters most to me.   
I think many Barbadians would agree that though we often hear from Sinckler, Minister of Health Donville Inniss and ambassador/minister Denis Kellman, the profile of this Government must be shaped by the vision enunciated from the lips of Stuart and no one else – and that was why it was important to actually have him speak.
I will comment on what the Prime Minister said later, but I sincerely hope that when he spoke about the CLICO issue he was exhaustive in addressing it. In particular, I hope he clarified whether the Governor of the Central Bank’s idea on how Government’s commitment to policyholders and investors will be met is in keeping with his own.
I hope that when he dealt with the Four Season’s project he gave a definitive date in September when it will be started, and details on how many foreign workers may be needed to be brought in as we may not have enough skilled artisans on the island to handle the work.
I hope he spoke to the Pickering, St Lucy project and whether or not this will be able to propel the development in the north as was envisaged.As for the economy, I hope he gave his vision for the oil drilling programme off Barbados and how Government would be pursuing this.
On the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), I hope he outlined the manner in which Barbados has responded and will continue to respond to this wanton attack on our very survival. 
I hope the Prime Minister addressed how his Government plans to deal with the traffic congestion that is getting worse each day. On this score, I hope too, that he cleared up whether the company, 3S, was still suing Barbados over the cancellation of the building of flyovers. 
I hope too, that he clarified when and how contractor Al Barrack will be paid his adjudicated settlement and ensure the rule of law is served in Barbados.
I hope most of all that Mr Stuart demonstrated to all that he has a vision to take Barbados forward.

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