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OUR CARIBBEAN: Challenges after the fete

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Challenges after the fete

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Now that Crop Over 2014 is behind us and the revelry mood is inevitably giving way to facing the harsh realities of daily life, both the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) would be aware of the implications of new challenges resulting from the significantly changed political status quo of August 2014.
For a start, the controversial, divisive solid waste tax seems set to be institutionalised, perhaps with minor adjustments, as we await the new politics of Mr Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister and long-serving BLP leader in his self-ordained role as an Independent member in the House of Assembly.
For her part, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley – with whom Arthur had refused to participate in her organised “axe-the-tax” protest walk on July 25 – remains determined to do battle with the administration of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
She well knows what’s involved in battling, even in the trenches.
For his part, seemingly more at ease, or less tense in public, at the height of the spreading demands to roll back the tax, Mr Stuart must soon inform the people of when he intends to do what would be normal in established multi-party parliamentary democracies: invite Ms Mottley for a meeting as Opposition Leader.
The topic of choice, naturally, would be to discuss the letter delivered for his consideration at the end of that estimated 5 000-strong anti-tax protest walk Ms Mottley had led.
The Prime Minister’s “explanation” on the formalities of his reading of mails addressed to him may well have amused some but was quite vexatious for others.
Now that Crop Over “gone” – and so too has Owen Arthur from the BLP after 43 years – Mr Stuart ought to reflect on his moral and political obligations to meet with the Opposition Leader to discuss outstanding national issues on the way forward.
Barbadians like to glorify, encouragingly so, their country as a functioning parliamentary democracy. But it’s more than high time for a critical re-assessment to compare assumptions with realities.
Having had the opportunity to live with my family and work in Barbados for three decades, I cannot recall structured consultations on national issues as being a normal feature between governing and opposition parties in this nation whose citizens are well recognised for their civility and commitment to the rule of law.  
Such a consultative approach seems quite relevant at this period of economic gloom and spreading social problems, including crime and a rising cost of living.
This is all the more necessary since trade unions, long recognised for their integrity and militancy, seem to be experiencing problems in coping with today’s challenges while private sector organisations are engaged in unenviable public relations responses.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.