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WHAT MATTERS MOST: PM hiding behind the veil

DR CLYDE MASCOLL, [email protected]

WHAT MATTERS MOST: PM hiding behind the veil

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THERE IS A NAIVETE in some quarters and a wickedness in others that seem to be inspiring the call for the Opposition Leader to put her policies and programmes in the public domain.

Apart from criticising the performance of the Government, an Opposition’s major weapon is to design a sensible alternative approach, which has as its major strength, timing.

I have sat in sessions with private sector organisations prior to 2013 and after, where the economic circumstances were explained and forecasts were made. Furthermore, accompanying data was presented.

Those present behaved like doubting Thomases. There is still a sense that some representatives are unable to speak frontally to the issues, notwithstanding the evidence.

Calling on the Opposition Leader is an attempt to provide balance, which gives rise to bias. In the political arena, the concept of balance that relates to fairness and justice is more appropriate than the one that speaks to stability and equilibrium. In the context of the economic environment in Barbados, the Government must take on the lion’s share of responsibility for solving what it has created.

Given the unusual circumstance of the Ministerof Finance not being the Prime Minister, PrimeMinister Freundel Stuart has hidden behind theveil. There is an obvious bias that allows him to escape the scrutiny that should accompany hisoffice, regardless of whether he holds the post of Minister of Finance or not. The call for an alternative approach must be made to him. To do otherwiseis to show bias that is prejudiced in favour of or against one person.

When it suits Mr Stuart, he pushes aside Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler. He did it in the privatisation issue prior to 2013, only to reverse himself since. Recently, he overruled Sinckler’s attempt to install the former prime minister as an economic adviser. Instead, he chose to establish two committees.

On several occasions in the recent past, the Opposition Leader has laid out a framework for addressing the economic problems affecting the country. To this day, Prime Minister Stuart has not done so and we have all lost faith in the attempts by the Minister of Finance. The former has tried to justify the Government’s approach. The latter is now best known for firing a man that did everything to make him look good in the eyes of the public. The man still perished at the political altar.

All of us understand the game of politics, butwhen a country’s economic fundamentals are being breached, the time to be silent has passed. Thereare lots of Test cricketing metaphors that can beused to describe life in general. When a batsman is no longer able to play a defensive stroke because his head is no longer in alignment with his body, he resorts to swiping.

If things must be fixed, then only the Government can do so. If things must be fixed urgently and the various interest groups are truly convinced, then the pressure must be placed on the one man with the capacity to genuinely do something about it.

It has taken the current Government more than eight years to correct a fiscal problem that has morphed into an economic crisis. It is said that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Why should a Government be seeking excuses for doing the same thing repeatedly with the same result?

The late Professor Roland Craigwell once told me that a “dangerous man is a man who has time to read”. It is never too late to learn. This is coupled with my fervent belief that the application of knowledge is as critical as the acquisition of it. In today’s world, the availability of the knowledge is seductive. The Triple As is the key to effective learning.

In this regard, there is no one more deserving than Prime Minister Stuart to be characterised using the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Observers seem unwilling to call out the lack of clothing, fearing the consequences.

In my readings thus far, noted scholars have associated the phrase “Emperor’s new clothes” with “pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, collective denial or hollow ostentatiousness”. These words, which can be easily googled, in one form or the other, seem to describe, most appropriately, the collective character of the current administration.

The heavy words above may be best used to characterise a Government in denial, with a self-importance that puts it above the rest, while pursuing a champagne lifestyle in which it practises a form of hypocrisy that betrays its social origins.

• Dr Clyde Mascoll is an economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party advisor on the economy. Email: [email protected]