Short-changed by Tuesday’s brief debate
The recently debated no-confidence motion in this country’s Parliament was a step forward in the development of democracy of this country. It has confirmed our practice that such motions will be heard in a speedy manner by our Parliament, and that is a good thing.
It is disappointing that a genuine debate of point and counterpoint did not take place and that the debate ended as soon as it did, without a more complete airing of views on both sides of the Chamber.
It is not often that such motions result in the fall of a government and in that respect a government will often survive such debates unless there is some deep-seated fracture of the government majority.
We, therefore, feel that the public interest demanded a more engaging set of exchanges. That would have exposed the Government’s current policy to the scrutiny of the Opposition, which less than ten months ago was defeated by the slimmest of margins in a vote at the end of a bruising, aggressive campaign.
It is beyond dispute that a number of matters have occurred since the election that have caused more than ordinary concern. These matters and issues concern national finance, expenditure cuts; economic strategy and taxation policy and have attracted the attention and scrutiny of Barbadians and fiscal experts alike. These matters of national concern are the business of every Barbadian whether at home or abroad.
A genuine full-scale debate in Parliament in which the Government ministers who have management and control of this country’s affairs rebutted and answered the charges laid against them by the Opposition would have laid out the issues carefully and clearly for the judgment of the general public, so that the weight of informed public opinion might have been brought to bear either on the Opposition to cease and desist; or on the Government to change its policies.
That would have been a welcome fillip to our practice of democracy but such a debate did not take place and the country we think is the poorer that it did not.
We note that the focus of the motion, the Minister of Finance, was the only person to speak against the motion. While such a strategy worked at the parliamentary level, the wider public interest in understanding may have suffered and what is referred to as the “buy in” of the men and women in the street to such belt tightening as may be necessary may not have been achieved simply because a wide-ranging debate specifically on the economy did not take place.
Barring some unforeseen occurrence, it was never likely that the motion would have passed, because party loyalty being what it is, the Democratic Labour Party as the party in Government would ensure that the power of their numbers carried the day.
We have no doubt that given the issues that have arisen since the election, the Opposition was right in bringing the motion so that the issues could be vigorously debated.
It was singularly unfortunate that the views of such serious and experienced members of the House as the Prime Minister and the Rt. Honourable Owen Arthur and the Honourable David Estwick were not available to us, and it is in this respect that the foreshortened debate did not serve the public interest. And that is regrettable.