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EDITORIAL: Talk to the people, Mr Stuart

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Talk to the people, Mr Stuart

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Seventeen months ago, the people of Barbados reposed confidence in Mr Freundel Stuart and his Democratic Labour Party to serve as managers of the country’s affairs and well-being for another five years.
Since then, many things have happened which necessitated major shifts in Government policy.
The worrisome state of the country’s finances has required belt-tightening measures which meant the laying off of public and private sectors employees. Social services have been reduced while the level of various forms of taxation has increased. For many families across this land, it has been the worst of times.
The executive level of the governing party, through reports from party loyalists, must certainly know of the hardships being suffered by many. Concerns are expressed daily through radio, newspapers and social media.
The calypsonians, as the voice of the people, have freely expressed their interpretations of the situation. If Mr Stuart and his ministerial colleagues are unaware, they will get an earful when they attend or listen to the finals of this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop on August 1. From perceived foe to friend the message is loud and clear: this is a rather austere time.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party, too, has been keeping its noises.
All the people ask is that Mr Stuart and his team not only listen but talk to them in response. Yes, that soft skill of communication is critical to avoid the wrong message getting out and becoming embedded in people’s minds. Even one-party governments from Beijing to Havana have recognised the importance of communicating with their people.
While some of Mr Stuart’s ministers have been speaking, there is a big difference when he speaks. To Mr Stuart’s credit, he is a man who has the facility with language and knows how to connect with his audience.
So, Mr Stuart, address all the people on the financial challenges facing the country. Many are nervous about their economic future. Let the people know about the solid waste management issues the island must resolve. Speak to the issues at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the proposed solutions. Deal with education and the financial headaches associated with funding it at the post-secondary level. The public needs to know about the major foreign direct investments, whether the Four Seasons project or the Sugar Point Cruise Terminal. They also want to know what is going on with LIAT.
Some argue that Mr Stuart speaks at length and with eloquence in Parliament or at a party congress, but that is far different from coming into our homes via television, radio and social media. He needs to directly address the people, the entire nation whose destiny is in his hands.
Please Mr Stuart, break your silence on these and other national issues. While empty vessels can keep the most noise, the public sees you in another light. Barbados is anxious to hear from you.