EDITORIAL: Mottley must put case
Mia Amor Mottley will be the focus of attention today as she delivers the keynote address at the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) 76th annual conference scheduled for the St Leonard’s Boys’ School, Richmond Gap, St Michael.
As Leader of the Opposition, chairman of the BLP, and in keeping with the theme of the conference, which is Safeguarding Our Stability, Mottley must address arguably the two most important issues confronting the party and the country. The first is the Owen Arthur factor; the second, the economy.
The resignation of former Prime Minister Arthur from the BLP in July stating that the party had lost its way cannot be ignored given the shadow it seems to have cast on Mottley’s leadership. It was an unprecedented move which caught most Barbadians by surprise and left many of them questioning the cohesiveness and stability of the party.
Specifically, they question why would a former Prime Minister, who has been applauded for his successful management of the economy for much of his 14-year tenure, resign in despair rather than stay within the ranks of the party he led and seek a resolution to the challenges being presented.
Though some have argued that Arthur’s statement was self-serving – similar to his previous vague statements suggesting she was not suitable for the job – Mottley must convince doubters within her party and Barbadians at large that she has the right prescription and team supporting her leadership to take the BLP and the country forward.
In terms of the economy, Mottley would be expected to share aspects of her party’s vision on what can be done to get the economy growing again.
Her observations will be critical given this week’s Central Bank review of the economic performance for the third quarter in which Governor Dr Delisle Worrell warned of the need for “further revenue enhancement and expenditure adjustment” to meet the country’s deficit target under the 19-month fiscal adjustment programmme which ends next March.
Under this programme 3 000 workers in the public sector have reportedly been sent home already, while the continuing dampened economic activity has also led to job losses in the private sector and some business closures as well.
Indeed, the day following the review the Barbados Private Sector Association cautioned Government on their next move in their efforts to achieve their fiscal target.
“Years of negative or flat growth, negative investment grades, and a series of tough fiscal measures have taken the wind out of the sails of our confidence as a people,” said chairman Alex McDonald. “This sagging confidence has resulted in an atmosphere of gloominess and uncertainty, both in the private sector businesses and the population at large.”
And on Thursday, Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director Lisa Gale said: “While the Governor’s report seems quite optimistic, his enthusiasm is not being borne out by economic activity and employment levels amongst members of the business community.”
So with the prospect of further cuts in Government spending and possibly more unemployment, the BLP faithful and all Barbadians will be looking to Mottley to see what difference can be brought to these vexing issues.