EDITORIAL: Eagerly waiting to hear PM
EARS WILL BE PRICKED ON SUNDAY when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, in his capacity as president of the Democratic Labour Party, addresses its annual conference. We expect he will speak to the issue of taking Barbados towards republican government. Barbadians will be hoping to hear much more and on many other issues including the answer to his own call for policies and programmes which can positively impact every household.
This conference is of particular significance to the DLP since it is the party’s diamond anniversary. As an established institution, there is no denying the good the DLP has done over many years and there is a legacy to show. But, a political party and its members must be driven to continuously build their homeland while enhancing the quality of life of all its people.
As such, Mr Stuart must not dwell on yesterday but look to unravel the challenges of today and lay the foundation for a better tomorrow. We are talking of the need for meaningful change in Barbados, not just a switch from the monarchy, but ways to ensure greater transparency and accountability and strengthen democracy.
Mr Stuart must ensure that by this time next year, Barbados can have several functioning enabling institutions in place. We speak of provision for a contractor general legislated by Parliament so that all public tenders can be put under independent scrutiny, the long promised freedom of information legislation, the establishment of an office of public defender with the same level of independence and constitutional authority given the director of public prosecutions and much wider scope than that of the office of ombudsman, which has been nothing less than a spectacular failure.
The change Barbados needs also requires that we have a fixed election date thereby bringing to an end the cat and mouse game a Prime Minister and the ruling party can play. He should also state where he and the Dems stand on campaign financing and indeed that for political parties and how he plans to make the process more transparent. So too, should he speak to the issue of instituting change whereby elected members of parliament become full-time representatives of the people.
With two former Prime Ministers still alive, we must also know how to treat them once they have left office and active politics. As a country, we are mature enough to deal with these issues.
Mr Stuart must speak to his party’s vision of making Barbados a land of hope and opportunity for its young people, many of whom will this year will be frustrated by their inability to further their education, either because of lack of space at various post-secondary institutions or their inability to pay.
As Barbados looks next year to its golden anniversary of independence, Mr Stuart must lay out a road map for meaningful change.