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It has been one year since the landslide victory for the current administration and it has been a very interesting past 12 months.
I have observed the flurry of activity, many times in awe at and overwhelmed by the volume of communication. I have also observed the commentary generated from numerous individuals and organisations.
The one observation that stands out has been the expected but unhelpful discourse from the party faithful, where those who are supportive of the current administration wax philosophical on the ‘perfection’ of the work executed.
Conversely, the opposing camp struggles to give the slightest acknowledgement that the current administration has done anything positive, often affixing a caveat to justify why even the positive effort was, in fact, detrimental.
The problem with either position is that it leaves the average citizen uncertain as to what is truth versus exaggerated fabrication.
How do we know that the current path we are on is the best path when the commentary is littered with opinions that focus more on party allegiance rather than what is best for the country?
How do we move forward when those who can help refuse to extend a hand and serve because their preferred party is not in power?
Or worse yet, the hand extended and capable of help is slapped away because that help comes from the wrong party camp or an apolitical individual!
We should acknowledge the achievements of the current administrations whilst simultaneously encouraging honest discourse around the numerous Mission Critical items that were promised in the 2018 Manifesto to be completed within the first six months in office that have not materialised.
This conversation should not be mired by denial but an acceptance that the promises made were not executed. An explanation should be provided that does not include the previous administration’s failings along with the revised plan to ensure that these items are achieved and the new, realistic target dates for their completion.
A review of the Manifesto will reveal the numerous promises that have either fallen off the plate, the status is unclear or in progress, or the item has been delayed without adequate explanation, such as:
- Implementing Integrity Legislation immediately upon forming the Government, to fight and punish corruption and hold Ministers and Board Chairpersons accountable for their actions.
- Raising the minimum wage from $6.25 per hour to $8 and extending it to all categories of workers across the economy.
- Eliminating the 5 000 pit toilets across Barbados.
- Expanding the Accident and Emergency Department of the QEH.
- Conducting an urgent repair programme to bring as many buses back into service as possible.
- Appointing two temporary judges to help clear the backlog of serious criminal cases.
- Holding a Referendum on the decriminalisation of recreational marijuana.
- Developing a National Apprenticeship Programme in which adults and professionals can help to guide young people.
- Upgrading hurricane shelters so they can resist a Category 5 hurricane.
- Ensuring a reliable and timely school bus service and, from September 2018, placing safety officers on buses and at places where students and young people congregate in large numbers.
And for those that find it difficult to identify the areas of achievement by the current administration, some of the more notable achievements as promised in the Manifesto include:
- The resolution of the South Coast sewage crisis.
- Barbados’ removal from the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and reduction of corporation tax.
- The restoration of the foreign reserves to almost 14 weeks of imports per the Central Bank of Barbados Press Release March 2019.
- The acquisition of additional garbage trucks.
- The payment of UWI fees for Barbadian students.
- The abolition of NSRL and road tax.
- The completion of road works across the island, with more roads in progress.
- Raising the non-contributory pension from $155 to $225 per week.
- Allowing the use of medical marijuana.
- Reducing the number of firearms in the hands of civilians and in communities by offering a gun amnesty for firearms.
If we want to turn the country around, our leaders and citizens must identify and eliminate the “Yes Men” and “Negative Nancies”. The benefits and consequences of the identified achievements should also be explored to identify areas for improvement and lessons learned for similar areas that have not been completed.
It is only when we start to have these honest and objective discussions, that we can then progress as a country towards real change.
*Krystle Howell, CPA, CIA, COSO, ALMI, ACS, aka Mavis, is an Internal Auditor by profession, avid artist and a lover of dance.