WILD COOT: The offered covenant
IF EVER BARBADOS was in need of a covenant of hope, it is now. The present Government has done everything within its power to steer the Barbados ship on a straight course, but instead of things getting better, they seem to be falling apart.
It is said that all of a sudden we are living in a new dispensation – maybe since the United States threw the world into a tailspin and since FATCA (Financial Accounts Tax Compliance). How come other countries have recovered and are showing positive growth prospects, and we are still languishing at fine leg? Projections for growth in 2016 in Mexico 2.4 per cent, in Guyana 3.4 per cent, in all of the Central American countries mostly four per cent, in Dominica 4.9 per cent, in Antigua two per cent, in Grenada three per cent, in St Kitts and Nevis 4.7 per cent, in Barbados a disputed 2.1 per cent after years of negative growth.
The decline really started with education. We could not afford to finance the university students, health followed and the assistance given to our ageing population has virtually vanished. There is frustration in garbage collection (and questionable arrangements), in dealing with ZR vans, in dilly-dallying with the virtues or otherwise of ganja. (We fill our jails with people caught smoking a spliff as people in other parts of the world who catch fits celebrate from its use.) We cannot fix the lights on the highway or mark the pedestrian crossings presumably on account of a shortage of money. The list goes on. But the Government politicians are awarding themselves an increase by whatever name.
All of this is happening when conditions should be favourable for us. The oil price is at its lowest now. (But the pump price of gasoline and the cost of bottled gas go up.) More tourists are visiting our shores, but we do not see the increase in foreign exchange. Taxation and VAT (value added tax) are at their highest imposition, supported by printed money. It is the debt (maybe). The same debt trap that the citizens themselves are facing. Instead of ease, there is squeeze as the economy contracts. Look at the “for sale” signs proliferating; no buyers, yet land tax gone up.
You hear noise about the revival of construction at Sam Lord’s Castle and at the proposed sugar factory. However, that noise has political music. Again an attempt is being made to pull the wool over the eyes of the Barbadians. After 2013/14/15/16, there is an effort to get construction and other building projects going . . . .
But there is a funny rumour going around and the Wild Coot heard it just the other day. The fellows do not think that Barbadians will give them another term . . . They do not seem to feel that they will be living under the same conditions that the lack of success is and will be engendering. Who outside of Barbados is watching and evaluating?
So a covenant of hope at this time is a reasonable beacon to hold out on the horizon to which the people can associate in order to go from day to day. A covenant of hope is the only candle for a people sleeping ‘à la belle étoile’ (in the open air) at Brandon’s beach – look what we have come to in Barbados! Would you believe that the Government has hundreds of houses locked up awaiting distribution near elections time? Maybe I am wrong but more and more cars are parked on the wayside with “for sale” signs. What does that mean? Do not dismiss the hand that is extended. Do not be misled by those who are seeking to destroy Barbados by imported values, saying there is need to move with the times. Jailing parents for giving their children a few cut-tails does not work over and away. When a child has been reported for stealing or fighting at school, and that report reaches home, I really feel sorry for the heat I would put under his/her backside; it would not be called roasting. Fortunately, I have not had that problem with any of my children.
We need our Covenant of Hope not only for a brighter economy, but also for a brighter society. How can you advocate values of schools abroad that do not respect prayers here in school? Imagine children deliberately brought to school late so as to avoid morning prayer; or standing outside of the hall during prayer; or given an excuse not to attend prayer. It is the opinion of the Wild Coot that a good tail roasting would be appropriate for those who advocate this. When Pandora’s box was opened, the only thing left was Hope.
• Harry Russell is a banker.Email: [email protected]