EDITORIAL: Drawing from inner strength to counter challenges
IN?HIS?FAMOUS “Mirror Image” speech, our first Prime Minister and Father of Independence Errol Barrow challenged all Barbadians to look critically at themselves in the mirror and examine the kind of mirror image which we each have of ourselves.
It was a pertinent question, and Mr Barrow knew what he was talking about. In his personal and political life he had no doubt about his mirror image and he had served his country and the Commonwealth in the cause of freedom with great distinction.
He was encouraging his countrymen to recognize that they are a great and resilient people and they should draw continuously on that inner strength to face and defeat the challenges which confront them. He would lead by example.
It is just as well that we hearken to the content and meaning of that speech because in the time since we celebrated our 46th anniversary of Independence, we have been confronted by major economic challenges which continue to test us in the most grievous manner.
Since then Government has faced and won a hard-fought election by the slimmest of margins and with the concurrence of the electorate has embarked on policies which have not been as effective in dealing with the problems as we were told they would be.
Tough times are yet with us and as we struggle to re-establish the kind of balance to which we are accustomed, our Government has had to recalibrate the engines of growth in hopes of getting them to fire on all cylinders.
In the very recent past, it would not have been far off the truth to assert that we appeared to be pedalling hard and going nowhere fast.
Yet it is the responsibility of the Government to manage the peace and good governance of our country and while, in a sense, a government has to do what a government has to do, the agreement struck with Butch Stewart’s Sandals Group has drawn the fire of the local hotel sector because of the scope of the tax-free concessions given to that highly successful group.
Some critics even assert, not unfairly, that “the kitchen sink and the baby in the bath water” were joint victims of the fiscal concessions given; and the local hoteliers have more than a good point that their operations and the economy may have fared better had they been recipients of such generous tax breaks during the past five years.
Others believe the new foreign currency loan negotiated with Suisse Bank through a Cayman Islands associated entity would have difficulty passing Mr Barrow’s mirror image test, for our mirror image must take a serious beating when we have to agree to harsh terms to access foreign exchange loans.
And it seems clear that some of the security conditions in the present loan are unusually tough.
While we must all support our Government as it seeks to extricate our economy from the spawning tentacles of imposed and draconian austerity, we have a duty to demonstrate such resilience and inner strength and independence which, aided and abetted by resolute leadership, we always exhibit in times of clear and present danger.