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DLP COLUMN: Optimism for 2012

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

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The world has just passed through a storm of financial crises as nation after nation captured headline news.
In the United States, we saw the bailouts that amounted to billions of dollars as the federal government intervened to help stabilize the economy. We witnessed the massive protests that followed as austerity measures were put in place in countries such as Britain, Greece and Egypt.
Spain, Italy and Syria felt the force of the financial tsunami.
In the latter half of the year, the Euro came under great pressure as it was evident that no clear date was foreseeable for the recovery of the world economy.
It was a year described by analysts, political leaders, social commentators, economists, and the media as the worst recession since the 1930s.  
In the region, the Caribbean economies struggled to maintain their share of foreign direct investment as inflows began to slow down tremendously. The buzz words became fiscal deficit and expenditure reduction.
The job at hand was how can small open economies like Barbados respond to this climate without harming the social fabric of the country? The public already had a hint from the Opposition that welfare spending has to be cut and that flyovers would once again become a priority if they ever given an opportunity to govern in the near future.
We have given the public the assurance that, despite the prevailing economic cloud, we would maintain employment levels in the public sector and we appealed to the private sector to do likewise. The unions have been equally cooperative as talks of wage increases have been tempered with reality.
We are proud of the harmonious tripartite relationship among unions, business and the state which continues to help guide the macro policy agenda.
We look forward to strengthening and deepening this relationship as we face 2012 with great optimism.
We shall continue to put people at the centre of the development agenda as we forge ahead with our policy agenda.
We are expected to construct additional school plants and improve existing facilities.
In the area of water resources, our pipe laying programme is to come on stream. A new headquarters for the Barbados Water Authority is to be constructed. The home of the Caribbean Examination Council is to be started.
Our housing agenda continues to deliver as we will hand over houses in Lancaster and Valery while we commence some additional houses in West Terrace, Haggatt Hall, and River Land, among others.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is putting finishing touches to plans for the erection of several new police stations and post offices. In the area of health, the much promised St John Polyclinic will be completed by September 2012. In the area of public works, Barbadians will experience the full effect of the Warrens traffic management design as it is completed along with the additional roundabouts.
There can be no doubt in 2012, the Democratic Labour Party will continue to locate its agenda through dialogue.
We have given expression to widening and deepening the governance process by including people through our consultations, diaspora conference, constituency conferences, stakeholders meetings, constituency councils, and the National Commission on Education, among other people-centred initiatives.
We are on our way to constructing a new political architecture that places a face on the development agenda. We trust that in 2012, we can raise the bar even further as we replace economic jargon and computations with life experiences and transformation stories.
We take this opportunity to wish all Barbadians a happy and prosperous 2012.