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EDITORIAL: Trinidad elections worth monitoring


BARBADOS NATION

EDITORIAL: Trinidad elections worth monitoring

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DEVELOPMENTS IN Trinidad and Tobago, that important neighbour to the south, must of necessity be of major concern to Barbados. As that twin-island state prepares for an imminent general election, we can only sit on the sidelines and watch all that transpires.

From the opinion polls to what the news media in Port of Spain have been reporting, it seems as if there could be a nail-biting contest between the two main political rivals, the incumbent People’s Partnership and the current opposition, the People’s National Movement.

It is noteworthy that the coalition led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has chosen to serve its full five years in office, as was done by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart just over two years ago. Mr Stuart’s decision created some debate and a lot of uninformed speculation in Barbados, while in Trinidad the choice was greeted as something worthy of celebration. Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s administration endured and went the distance despite being characterised by all types of missteps and downright mistakes. It will soon be time for the people there to decide.

Trinidad has been fortunate over the past decade as an oil-producing state to have benefited from a windfall as a result of high world crude prices. This has fuelled much of its economic development and at the same time allowed for expansion by its private sector. The evidence is very visible in Barbados, where Trinidadian businesses have invested heavily as part of their portfolio diversification.

Their actions have also caused a love-hate relationship with many Barbadians. The investments would have protected jobs and offered a range of opportunities for some Barbadians. At the same time there is resentment and anger on the part of many who feel that Trinidad can effectively control this country. The collapse of CLICO’s operations in Barbados would only have made the situation worse.

It is unlikely that the outcome of the upcoming elections in Trinidad will have any negative impact in Barbados. Indeed, Trinidadian business people are likely to be looking for more investment opportunities here. This country has certain qualities which the administration in Port of Spain has not been able to guarantee in the past five years. Crime in Barbados is still relatively low; the industrial relations climate here is more stable; there is greater transparency and accountability, particularly with state boards; and the scandalous behaviour surrounding government ministers is not evident. 

Of course, the pace at which business is done in Barbados needs to be stepped up if we are to attract not only Trinidadian investors, but those from other domiciles as well.

With the connections between that southern CARICOM nation and

Barbados running deep and being very long-standing, the forthcoming general election there could in many ways be a watershed occasion.

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