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ON THE LEFT: Time now for decisive action

Mia Mottley

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We all know that we have a situation that for the last six months has been your central focus, but for the last five years has been our worst nightmare.
Since 2009 when the early signs of decay became available to us we have sung the same tune.  But we know that like with everything else in life people need time and unless you feel it you don’t know it.
I am going to be blunt, Barbados has a gun to its head and we can’t walk about as normal, we can’t talk as normal, we can’t play and dream as normal because when you have a gun to your head there is a real risk of injury or death and you have seconds to make a decision as to how you are going to talk your way out of it or get out of  the way of the gun.
We have weeks or months to stabilize this country and to stop the dangerous steep slide into uncharted territory that will threaten our way of life.
This is not scaremongering, this is real. The time for talk is over; decisive and immediate action, actions fit for the purpose of reining in a runaway deficit, not hiding it at the National Insurance Scheme, but changing the terms and conditions by which government is committed to pay.
Without growth we will literally implode.
You cannot maintain a Cabinet of this size if you are seeking to make adjustments to other people’s wages and terms and conditions of employment in the public service.
You cannot continue the partisan political spend of catering for millions of dollars over a four-week period for summer camps or constituency councils that are determined by people who hold DLP membership books as to where money goes, instead of that money going to the welfare department which is over pressured and under provided  by over $2 million this year.
Only the most critical travel should be engaged in by any government minister or public servant once there is a clear outcome of strategic benefit to  Barbados.
Similarly, high fixed operating costs have to be addressed in this country as a matter of urgency. Since July 2012 we have put on the table the reduction of energy costs, it will not cost the Consolidated Fund a single cent but your electricity prices can be reduced by 12 cents a kilowatt hour tomorrow, simply by Cabinet giving a shareholder instruction to the Barbados National Oil Company which is profiting to the extent of $50 million a year in circumstances where you are catching hell to pay electricity bills in this country.
It’s time to wake up because 2014 is going to be a serious year ; we will have to stand up and be counted to save this country.
Whenever the conditions for growth return, there must be enough players active and ready for duty to be able to benefit and take advantage of the growth.
For if they emigrate or if they become insolvent or bankrupt or if they fall through the cracks socially then growth will elude us for a much longer period.
These remarks were made at a Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon last Wednesday.