FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Magufuli vs Maguffy
THE HOT TOPIC now is governance “the Magufuli way”. We’re told that the first order of business of this recently elected president of Tanzania was to replace elaborate Independence Day celebrations with a clean-up of streets, saying it was shameful to spend huge sums of money on these celebrations while people were dying of cholera.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Magufuli instead of “Big Maguffys” seemingly intent on spending money we don’t have on trivialities? Yes, we should celebrate our 50th milestone, but how we do it is important. True to form, we started last week with a big extravaganza, the cost of which we’ll probably never know.
Someone apparently woke up on New Year’s Day and decided to have this event, because I, and many others, can’t believe that anyone in their right mind could plan an event for the day after students started the new school term.
We don’t understand what’s so significant about January 6. Wouldn’t Errol Barrow Day, already a holiday, have been more fitting? Then we proceeded to almost close Bridgetown for the entire day for a 5 p.m. event. So much for productivity! As someone said recently, “all these lavish public events are like a woman putting on make-up when she doesn’t have any clothes”.
So true. The priorities just aren’t right. The “feel good” campaign alluded to by Patrick Hoyos, and the “distraction factor” to which we’ve become accustomed seem to rank much higher than fixing all the problems engulfing us. But the present administration didn’t have to create all its distractions, it was handed one or two on a platter – like the Owen Arthur and Maria Agard affairs.
As I see it, only the most shallow-minded of Barbadians could be fooled by all this. Wouldn’t the majority of us be more appreciative of some visible attempt by Government to make even a small dent in some of the escalating problems than to see money literally and figuratively going up in smoke in a matter of hours?
They could tackle one problem each month, and perhaps by November 30, we would really have something to celebrate! For instance, the Minister of Empty Houses could sort out whatever needs to be sorted out and get people occupying the myriad houses built by this administration with scarce public funds. Is he not embarrassed to continue making excuses and giving timelines which never seem to materialise? And the White Hill situation needs to be remedied once and for all. Perhaps these two could be solved simultaneously.
The water woes. As usual we wait until a situation is critical to even think about acting. How many years have we heard of losses of 60 per cent of our water through leakage? Then we have a de-sal plant which I’m told is underused because we don’t have the distribution system in place. We’re expected to pay ever increasing taxes, but Government must honour its part of the bargain.
The Barbados Revenue Authority must make paying taxes more user-friendly and also be more available to the public. Its personnel are managing at arm’s length and are more often than not incommunicado. Apart from all the late payment of refunds, the actual process of paying taxes is time wasting, frustrating and in the case of the Licensing Authority, downright ludicrous.
The number of payment offices keeps decreasing, and the number of offices producing the driver’s license cards is almost non-existent. Then we have a main office, already under pressure as a result of the above, working half day, apparently because the air conditioning is faulty – well fix it! Correct the problems with the Justice system. We’re tired of excuses. After a bold statement by one of our High Court judges, things seem to have gone dormant again.
Government could attempt to fix some of the potholes that have become caverns due to prolonged lack of attention. When last have you seen road repairs being done? All we seem to be doing is digging up roads and not repaving them. Maybe Mark the Generous could demonstrate the strength of his rock hard cement in some of the worst areas – maybe one road per parish.
The household sorting of garbage needs to be introduced on a pilot scale by willing communities, and recyclers need to be assisted with their businesses. Government needs to scrap the highfalutin factory and honour its agreement with the sugar industry to avoid the continual slide in sugar production. After we can see progress with some of the above, then a bash like the one we had last week might be justified on November 30 to culminate the jubilee year!
• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email: [email protected]