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EDITORIAL: Abracadabra not the answer


BARBADOS NATION

EDITORIAL: Abracadabra not the answer

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If you are a serious country, and a serious government, these abracadabra moments of political optics cannot be part and parcel of how this country is to be governed. – Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.

THE LEXICON OF contemporary politics in Barbados may have acquired a new word or a new phrase out of views expressed by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley at a political mass meeting on Sunday in Christ Church: “Abracadabra” and “Abracadabra moments of political optics”.

She was referring to quick-fix thinking that seems to emanate from officials faced with the perplexing problem of sewage emerging in public places from the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant.

While residents and visitors alike complained incessantly, two ministers of Government, Richard Sealy (Tourism) and John Boyce (Health), recently went for an early morning swim in the waters that the National Conservation Commission deemed unsuitable for use.

To strengthen his point, Sealy removed the sign that stated the beach was closed, inviting the public to follow his example and plunge into the water.

This all-too-frequent resort to suggesting that instant answers and easy solutions are all that it takes comes close to the use of fairylike thrills and the concept of some spiritualists that magic words, charm and sleight of hand are the answers to almost every problem.

Abracadabra connotes a sense that by mere pronouncements, great things take place. For instance, in this year’s budgetary presentation, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler told Barbadians that “with a concentrated effort by all parties we can at least have the City of Bridgetown ready for this type of business (duty-free shopping) before Christmas”.

Just eight days shopping left, sir.

Sinckler is particularly prone to over-promising in his Budget speeches as we can see in four extracts taken from presentations in 2010, 2011 and 2013 in addition to this year’s.

2010:

“Reductions (of fees for public service vehicles) will be performance-based as operators will only be able to access these benefits if they have demonstrated proper standards on the public roads. Some of these will include the wearing of uniforms by employees while on the job; a drastic reduction in traffic violations; the elimination of the playing of loud and offensive music and generally good deportment.”

Proper standards? Good deportment?

2011:

“…Following months of analysis and consultation, this government has decided to move ahead with the construction of a brand new multi-purpose, state-of-the- art cultural and performing arts centre. It is expected that the centre will be financed and constructed through a grant from the government of the People’s Republic of China and it is proposed that it will be located, once the Town Planner approves, on the land at Spring Garden opposite the Brandon’s Beach facility in the constituency of St Michael North West….”

That was over four years ago, sir.

2013:

“The National Housing Corporation, along with a private developer, is expected to begin work on the Exmouth Housing Complex in October of 2013. This is expected to inject Bds $33 million in investment in the housing market over the planning period with another 75 jobs to be created.”

Not so fast, Mr Minister.

There are several other examples contained in Sinckler’s public utterances. And he is not alone. He is in the company of colleagues like Minister of Housing Dennis Kellman on occupancy of the town houses at The Grotto, and Minister of Public Works Michael Lashley, who must tell Barbadians what has become of his much vaunted pothole repair teams.

Abracadabra? We don’t think so.

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