It cannot be easy even in the best of times to run an economy, but the most careful management of policy and ministers is required at all times. This is especially true when competing interests in the society must be balanced one against the other in a small open economy against the backdrop of a recession.
Casual but careful attention to recent public ministerial utterances make for interesting reading for those who study the political tea leaves and try to work out what is happening at the centre of Government in this country.
I have never been a Cabinet minister but from the perspective of what might be called an officious bystander, I can only imagine that Cabinet meetings, which must be cauldrons of controversy at any time, can take on the patina of battlefields at this time.
Fought and lost battle
The Minister of Agriculture was forced recently to declare that he would resign if greater resources were not allocated to his ministry. This public declaration, because it was public, tells me that he may have fought and lost that battle in Cabinet or in the corridors of power.
It would have been a truly brave Cabinet minister who would run that risk with a Tom Adams administration, and I speak of an administration whose history I have studied in some detail from the backbenches of Parliament and the proceedings of parliamentary meetings.
But there it is, a public declaration which in my submission should have been fought out with blood, sweat and tears in the corridors of power, exposed to the gross and vulgar scrutiny of sensitive eyes of an onlooking, soon-to-be-voting public.
One might have overlooked that incident for fear of drawing the wrong conclusion or taking a six for a nine, but lo and behold, as the old people would say, Redjet flies no more even though JetBlue takes to the skies and as the Prime Minister reminded us from over and away, a Government that gives aid to other airlines could not turn its back on Redjet.
But the last Sunday Sun carried an article in which Redjet’s executive group chairman Ian Burns said that on January 14, Government had promised $8 million support for the airline but it had not been forthcoming.
If that was not enough to set one thinking, the “de facto” deputy Prime Minister and substantive Minister of Tourism for once decided to punch above his weight and used muscular language in speaking to the Redjet issue.
As if “jet-fuelled” by the turn of events that led to the final nail in the coffin of the Redjet venture, Minister Richard Sealy declared: “I simply cannot accept the senseless, backward, the myopic point of view that somehow the Government of Barbados should simply only support LIAT. It doesn’t make any sense and this incident [the LIAT fire] reinforces my position.”
Mr Sealy’s political genes do not allow him to be trigger-happy with his language, and I am sure that I am not alone in wondering if that was a pointed reference to someone in the corridors of power who was not of like mind and whose clammy decision had accelerated Redjet’s falling out of the skies. I almost choked over my morning cuppa when I heard him but I thought of waiting to see what explanation would come after Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
But before Thursday, at the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s annual general meeting on Wednesday last, lo and behold again, outgoing president Colin Jordan said that Prime Minister Stuart had not acceded to their request for a meeting for “more than two months” but he had promptly visited ex-convict Raul Garcia.
A Prime Minister must be the sole judge of the allocation of his time, and it is his judgement that matters. The problem is that in our brand of politics the image of the party is reflected in the way the Prime Minister is perceived; but in the first and final analysis it is his administration. A fair question remains: what is happening?
• Ezra Alleyne is an attorney at law and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. Email [email protected]