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EDITORIAL: Time for creative political moves in Barbados’ interest

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Time for creative political moves in Barbados’ interest

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The very challenging social and economic problems facing Barbados at this period of lingering international recession and declining prospects for employment-creating economic growth should be more than enough to alert all concerned that this is no time for brinkmanship politics.
On the contrary, the challenges suggest the need for mobilization of all willing hands on deck – in the national interest of Barbados – and not for political parties, the private sector and other stakeholders slipping into the confrontational mood.
That’s why we readily  welcome the suggestion from the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) for Government to seriously move for a review of its proposed $600 million economic “stimulus” programme.
While  recognising the anxiety shown by Minister of Finance  Chris Sinckler to push ahead with capital works programmes, the BCCI’s President, Lalu Vaswani, has urged, for a start, a more broad-based approach, beyond, for instance, the lowering of energy costs.  
Not only should there be a special brain-storming session between leading Government and private sector representatives on the way forward, but serious consideration should be given by the governing political directorate for urgent bipartisan consultations involving carefully chosen spokespersons of the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the opposition Barbados Labour Party.
We are conscious that, unfortunately, in the case in other states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the prevailing political culture does not encourage the process of structured bipartisan dialogue between the government and parliamentary opposition.
Yet there is no good reason why this mould of non-consultation – a throwback to the inherited negatives of a colonial past – should not be broken for fresh, creative initiatives involving the best minds, across the current political divide. It would be invidious on our part to suggest here names for this envisaged initiative. But once unfolded it could be quite a path-finding process for other CARICOM states to explore in their own respective national interest.
Already, one familiar academic voice from the University of the West Indies, that of Economics Professor Michael Howard, has dismissed the Minister of Finance’s stimulus package as “economic madness”.
Perhaps such an emotional response could be viewed by others as a reflection of the passionate disagreements currently floating around over Barbados’ restricted options to overcome the current economic challenges.
Still, it’s relevant to ask why, in addition to new initiatives for serious structured dialogue involving representatives of Government, the private sector, labour and other non-government organizations, there should not also be a meeting of the best possible minds from the governing DLP and opposition BLP to objectively consider the way forward for Barbados’ socio-economic recovery.