EDITORIAL: Candidates must be focused on task ahead
Of those candidated nominated yesterday for the February 21 general election most people believe that only 60 of them have realistic chances of winning parliamentary seats – the candidates from the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). However, it was good for our democracy to see others from outside of the mainstream political parties lending to the process by putting forward their names for the poll.
We are proud that once again we set an example for the Caribbean in the way the candidates carried themselves yesterday, as the nominations were, in true Barbadian tradition, conducted in an atmosphere of merriment and jest, despite the seriousness of the occasion. Despite the relaxed nature of yesterday’s formal presentation and completion of nomination papers, there is critical business to be dealt with, not only for the parties, but for all the candidates, including the Independents.
The mission ahead for the next administration in Barbados is one that cannot reflect a circus atmosphere but requires the need to deal with the deep-rooted issues facing the country. We can only hope that both leaders, the DLP’s Freundel Stuart and the BLP’s Owen Arthur, appreciate the magnitude of the task ahead.
Having completed yesterday’s important process of having their candidates nominated for the poll and having already mounted their platforms and undertaken some mass campaigning, it is time for both the DLP and the BLP to tell the Barbadian public how they are going to deal with matters as wide-ranging as public finances, health care, education, the Public Service and urban renewal.
The public deserves to hear from the politicians on these issues, not in grand-sounding, esoteric terms, but in a manner and way that all citizens can understand so that by the time they are ready to cast their votes there is a clear understanding of how we as a country plan to deal with these problems. Yes, plans can be made and laid out, and, yes, circumstances may drive change. But we need to know what the plans are. Do not leave them to what will be presented in a manifesto.
Therefore the period between Nomination Day and polling day ought to be used by those candidates to present not only believable but realistic proposals that will save the country from the kind of economic and social problems experienced by other countries worldwide.
We must not wait for the International Monetary Fund or any other international agency to tell us to put our fiscal situation in order and to bring under control a fiscal deficit that can impact negatively on growth. We do not believe fixing the problems will be as easy – there is no magic wand to wave here.
Maybe, we will have to tighten our belts even more and perhaps for a little longer, driven by prescriptions that may also be unpopular. Whatever the problems to be tackled, out politicians need to outline their solutions.