The Question Of "Good Governance" For Barbados: Freundel Stuart Or Owen Arthur

Submitted by Yardbroom

Owen Arthur, Leader of the opposition (l) Fruendel Stuart, Prime Minister (r)

In the September 1994 General Election, Owen Seymour Arthur – a matter of days before his 45th birthday, 17th October – became Prime Minister of Barbados, he was of course leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and went on to hold that position until 15th January 2008 when the BLP lost the general election to the DLP – Democratic Labour Party – by 10 seats to 20.  During that reign – some might say an illustrious period – Owen Arthur became the longest serving Barbadian Prime Minister.  On the 19th January 2008 Arthur relinquished the leadership of the BLP and Mia Mottley was elected to that position.  He was reinstated and sworn in as leader of the BLP by a vote of confidence by four of his parliamentary colleagues on the 18th October 2010.

I will not dwell on the period January 2008 – October 2010 the Mia Mottley leadership interval.  I should make it quite clear this is not because of any misgivings about Mia Mottley it is just this submission is not about her.

In a relatively short time – months – the electorate will decide on the next government of Barbados; more should be pondered on than a simple reaction to the moment; a skip back in time should be part of that process.

“Barbados was in recession in the 1990s the previous 3 years had seen a steady decline.  After a readjustment, the economy had started to grow in 1993”.  It can be argued therefore that things had started to improve by 1994 when Arthur came to office.  However, to make such a bold statement to dismiss the achievements of Arthur would be disingenuous to the point of being absurd.

I will come to a “few” of the important General Election issues later but first a mention of the circumstances surrounding Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s appointment.

The late David Thompson Prime Minister of Barbados, died on October 23, 2010.  Leaders of the Democratic Labour Party held an emergency meeting on the morning of Thompson’s death and Stuart was chosen as the next Prime Minister.  He has had up to now approximately 19 months to put his stamp on Government.

I will now turn to a “few” of the issues that have caused or are causing concern to the electorate.  The Alexandra School dispute.  In a recent poll – be aware that the sample was minuscule – “when asked how would you grade Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s handling of the Alexandra School dispute?

24 votes, Poor        40.68%

15 votes, Excellent  25.42%

11 votes, Fair          18.64%

9 votes,    Good       15.25%

(Nation News April 20,2012)

If in a dispute as complex as this, with opinions polarized and the combined percentages of Excellent, Good and Fair amount to in excess of 58%.  I would say that is very reasonable.  You could counter argue that 18% Fair added to 40% Poor would also give 58%.  However, this was a problem he inherited and the Prime Minister found a mechanism for the teachers to return to work, children to be taught and a long term solution to a complex situation.  That some are still disgruntled is not uncommon in a difficult complex dispute….however, it is outcomes that matter, the school is functioning.

On the point of outcomes, Owen Arthur with reference to CLICO is alleged to have said. “They [the DLP] have a moral obligation because a former leader of the Democratic Labour Party was at the scene of every decision that was made by CLICO, that has brought CLICO to this sorry mess and it is about time that we start talking in these terms about David Thompson”

(Mike King Daily Nation April 2, 2012)

I am less inclined expediently to corral the late Prime Minister David Thompson into this issue as has been done – some would say there is  justification – because he is not here to defend himself.  However, an impartial mind is more likely to concur with Owen Arthur’s statement than dismiss it out of hand

Another issue of concern is that of Al Barrack.  It would be unkind to suggest that the Al Barrack situation has been dismissed from the Government’s thinking.  It should be noted that it was in November 2008 that Al Barrack received $2.5 million from the David Thompson Government.  We should also note this issue preceded his administration.  In a report also attributed to the Nation {3rd November 2011}Chris Sinckler Minister of Finance said “the legal battle with Barrack will very shortly come to an end”.  It was believed at that date the debt was close to $66 million that amount includes, principal interest and arbitration costs.  It it also the case that in September 2006 the arbitrator awarded Barrack $34, 490,518″.  The solving of an issue of this nature is more than simple dollars and cents.  It is fundamental to what makes us a functioning democracy, we must believe that there is fairness and justice and the systems are in place to see an honest delivery of them.  Not simply because of the Law but because of what is expected of “honest” people” and the integrity that goes with it.

On the point of people perhaps a word on the economy is fitting because proper governance of the people is what good Government is about. Dr. Delisle Worrell on the 18th January 2012 is reported to have said: “The Barbados economy has stabilised, but major economic growth still remains elusive”.  He added. ” key economic figures were trending in a positive direction though unemployment, averaging 12%, remained a bug-bear”.  I had a quick look at the GDP – Real Growth rate for Barbados {Figures CIA: Central Intelligence Agency. The World Fact book}

1.5%   2011
-1.2%  2010
-3%     2009

All is not lost for Barbados there are green shoots, even if small they are just starting to push through the top soil.  It is true that Almond is a major set-back and for that 12% who are unemployed, life cannot be easy. There is no “silver bullet” and we would be taken for fools to believe there is.  Our major tourists market is the UK.  The GDP of the UK declined by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2012 over the previous quarter.  Until there is an upturn in the UK economy there will be lean pickings for Barbados.  There is an argument we should diversify or look for new tourist markets – true – but this submission is about where we are now.

Although the concerns above are important, a vote for either Freundel Stuart or Owen Arthur will be dependent on more than the above – there is a limit to what can be said in any submission – it will also be about the kind of society we hope to become or aspire to.  We must ask ourselves which leader and those he leads has the experience, ability and perhaps most of all the “integrity” to bring about the kind of society Barbados deserves.

0 thoughts on “The Question Of "Good Governance" For Barbados: Freundel Stuart Or Owen Arthur

  1. Integrity is not a word in Stuart’s vocabulary. You do not speak about integrity You show integrity. Integrity means honesty, your word being your bond.,trustworthiness.candour and many more words.Stuart spoke about naming a GG early the year. Can we take him at his word? He said he would pop necks when the Eager 11 spoke where are the necks? He said the The AX matter would be solved by referring to the investigation report. Do you think that the teachers now believe he has integrity? Do you think that the lime workers believe that Fruendel has balls. He was supposed to give the report on the agreement . What about Garcia ? After over 70 days the man has not been moved? Do you think Garcia believes that Fruendel has integrity? Do you think the immigrants who Fruendel promised he would do something about being able to get medicine on some of the same terms as bajans believe he has integrity?. I can go on but please do not use the word integrity when referring to Fruendel unless you want the word to have the meaning of untrustworthiness, insincerity and the like . Think on these things

  2. How can one decide between a rat and a mice. Both causes serious damage in their own way. Take my chances with the mice at least his nibble is not as big as a rat bite.

  3. The Dems are so afraid of Arthur and have villified this man, the most competent PM Barbados has ever had. Does competence matter in leadership? I say it is critical to good governance. Did Thompson, Stuart, Sandi give us that? No. What are Arthur’s faults – he has a temper, so had Barrow, but there is no Jordan affair in his background? He may vent on people in parliament, but Thompson did it too. He never vacillates never indecisive like Sandiford or Stuart; never reckless in the management of our economic affairs like Sandiford, Stuart or Thompson. Arthur has been smeared and slandered at every turn by those who could not tie his shoelace and that includes Thompson and Stuart. Is he a saint? No but that is not a requirement for governance. The growth and development of Barbados under his leadership is not accidental or coincidental. Sandiford did nothing to grow this economy, he managed to drop it to its lowest when other Caribbean nations were doing just fine. Its slight improvement in 1993 was in spite of him, not because of policy. If the growth of Barbados during Arthur’s time was as a result of a positive int’l environment, then every other Caribbean nation would have produced similar results for their citizens. They did not. In times of plenty, competent government is wonderful and in times of need, an absolute necessity. The BLP seems too arrogant to defend their legacy or leader. That is a shame. But this is one grateful Bajan that would want to see Arthur in the saddle again, because this group of Dems is probably the worst government the DLP has ever presented to this country. The DEMS are not cutting it.

  4. When one sees what has transpired during the last 4+ years and what is continuing to make headline..AX LIME CLICO Almond ,Knights International Business, Peach n Quiet, Unemployment skyrocketing, fractured CB information,wastage extraordinaire (China trips),tardiness unprecedented, a decision to have fairy tale Commission Inquiry to conclude in 6 weeks, … confidence statements given about PHASES, only to be “out ran and over pitched like an Inram Khan”….TELL ME…could any one even give a consideration to this question with any seriousness when flashback of the wonder years of 1994-2007 procure…?. Those utophic years, unblemished to the extent we now see daily…..worst part . even more coming …

    Yard broom….boy you surely know how to sweep clean.! lol

  5. When many criticize Arthur it is not that he was a bad manager of our resources. A quality of a good leader is the visionary quality. Many of Arthur’s achievements cannot be considered transformational. What Arthur is saying now about the need to transform Barbados’ economy should have been on the radar 10-15 years ago.

  6. @ David

    I agree with you somewhat, but you know what they say about striking while the iron is hot. And you must admit they started to work on a transition.

    On another note. Why would the BTI develop a green space on the land by the Central Bank with Queen’s Park two feet away?

  7. That area is large enough for a car park for the CB employees and a green space….but for heaven’s put a few nice kiaos on for at least a few vendors of confectionery (sugar cakes) , fruits and the like en route to the bus stand…an idea worth considering.

  8. The main question in the essay at top seems to me to be who is best for Barbados now or following the next elections, Arthur or Stuart.

    I say that Arthur wins hands down, cruising like Bolt, in that formulation.

    But winning that skirmish is not everything.

    I think that the DLP, as currently formulated, has shown that it is incapable, as a government, of providing good leadership under the current leader and that it has possibly only one person who has demonstrated the requisite leadership qualities to propel Barbados forward at this time. That is Donville Inniss. All others have been found wanting, imho.

    But, imho, the BLP is in a similar boat, with the only person of the current crop who I think is capable of carrying us forward successfully being Mia Mottley with Owen Arthur providing economic advice and leadership counselling.

    Both Mia Mottley and Donville Inniss have certain negatives attached to them but in terms of ability, track record in taking difficult decisions, etc. there are none in their respective parties to compare with them.

    I think Barbados is between the devil and the deep blue sea re. choosing a new government. At present, based on his track record and the chaos which the current Government has presided over, an Owen Arthur Government is the best choice, especially given the numerous whispered infelicities that have taken place here over the past 4 years by individuals in the Government led by first the late David Thompson who would have contributed more than his fair share and continuing under his successor, who while not involved, appears to have winked at or ignored the problems under his watch.

    Perhaps we may avoid the bullet if we ignore party and just vote for individuals on a constituency by constituency based on their individual comparative merits only and also if somehow FS could be persuaded not to appear on the ballot. In such a case providence might give us a reasonable Government (B or D) that could lead us forward.

  9. Hi Enuff
    @ May 4, 2012 @ 8:18 am
    Thanks, you are “quite right” the trend is upwards. However,the figure is 0.5% with suggested prospects for 2012 for a one per cent improvement.
    (Information at January 2012)

  10. “I do think transforming Church Village into a park is an excellent idea. Bridgetown needs more green spaces.”

    Based on what research/evidence?

  11. “I do think transforming Church Village into a park is an excellent idea. Bridgetown needs more green spaces.”

    Enuff … where is Queen’s Park located again? They can’t GREEN Queen’s Park what makes you think they can do that with Church Village? Two Parks side by side?

  12. Check It Out ….very good analysis we really are between the devil and the deep blue sea and you what? I’d rather swim against the present tide holding my nose to the other side.

  13. @Yardbroom… An excellent BLOG.

    But what I think might be being forgotten here is that those the electorate vote into office work for them; not just those who voted for them.

    It seems to me that, for some reason, we forget that. And it comes down to a “cat fight” between the parties and their followers. (And not just here in Bim; the “Great” US of A is just as good an example.)

    At the end of the day, we just want to know that those who have been given the job to run our country are doing the job properly.

    A Freedom of Information Act would go a really long way in helping to ensure such confidence was actuated and realized.

    Every “developed” nation has such legislation. Barbados aspires to being “developed”. Logically, then, Barbados should have such legislation on its books.

  14. @Chris. Agreed. I have a feeling that Yardbroom will also agree, but I may be wrong – doubt it, though.

  15. Now having listened to Brass Tack to a pompous man who always introduce himself as exceptional even remarkable ….Mr.Remarkable this morning, seems not to understand how people can be so ungrateful and not more sympathetic to this current government…..his rationale…the world wide recession ..How the country is not bad off in comparison to some other countries all over the world…..and from to his tone..he seemed really perplexed.

    Oh Mr. Remarkable ( as you call yourself)… please get a grip of your partisan self…recession ? recession? Is that really the reason for all this ineptitude and lethargy and down right nonsensical claptrap we Bajans have no yet choice but to bite tongue and endure. Ok Buddy.. the Alexandra malfeasance is connected to the recession right ?..the decision to have a Commission Inquiry to solve a simple problem was due to rising prices in Europe and France right ?

    How about the $3.3 million misdirected funds CLICO matter and the Deloitte Judicial Report….cost of gasoline ignited that right ?What about continuous dipping hands into the NIS funds to support Four seasons and
    the other fiascos…like paying salaries to workers of a certain statutory corp….guess that had to do with the cost of overseas mutton ? How about the wastage upon wastage of unnecessary funds on a Citizens Inauguration Ceremony, the $14 Million road sign, $12 Million football tournament, the Marbleizing Sin John church yard,the endless party upon party up at Illaro Court,Warrens Oblong-about digup after digups money well spent I am sure you would say.

    Now the LIME pampalam….again bleep up and blunder down. The passing of unthough-out pieces of Legislation…. Withholding Govt Employee’s Travel..Holding company’s directors liable, the new Labour Bill… Taxation on Pensions, Taxation on Unemployment benefits, …(man a tired now)….The tainted statistical figures about rising unemployment……all these point to a Govt in inertia …loss like a ship out to sea …wandering aimlessly with no rudder…but Mr. Remarkable sees nothing wrong …. He adamantly wishes to know why we not happy with this Govt.
    I can hear him now…. “You all should be more grateful “….

  16. OOOps Sorry Enuff my humblest apologies.

    @ JUST ME Please explain you folly of a Park next to Queen’s Park! Such a Lark!

  17. Hi, The Entity who used to be known as Chris Halsall
    May 4, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    Hi, Amused
    May 4, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    I concur with both of you I see no reason why we could not have a Freedom of Information Act: in that any person making a request for information to a Public Authority would be entitled:

    a) to be informed in writing by the Public Authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request and

    (b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to them.

    Of course there must be the necessary excemptions eg
    National Security
    Law enforcement
    Legal and Professional Privilege etc

    This would assist in making Barbados a more open society and just “perhaps” our Government Officers would act in the knowledge they would be held accountable for their actions.

  18. David;
    I just had a very harebrained idea just now when I reread my post above.

    Its this.

    Is it possible or feasible for BU to host an independent election blog?

    It would be organized on a constituency basis and each candidate would be expected and/or invited to post his/her relevant CV, in addition to his /her case for being elected, as well as his/her case for his/her opponent(s) to be rejected by the BU posters. BU posters would be expected to respond to the points raised and use the normal “rate this” evaluation to assess the relative strength of the candidates and the various contributions as suggested by the posters rating. There would be no limit set on the number of times candidates or posters could intervene, respond or bring up relevant points. Candidates would be expected not to post anonymously.

    30 of your standard survey applications could be used at certain points in the National campaign to assess the candidates in each constituency. The candidates could use any kind of multimedia, eg. links to youtube videos, etc. However, contributions from candidates would be limited to say 1000 words. But a savvy candidate would recognize that the more words a reader would have to wade through, the more likely his/her message would not get through.

    It could be a fun as well as a useful way to assess the candidates.

    I don’t know where the funding for such an exercise would come from since the value of this exercise would be in maintaining the anonymity of the posters. But it would provide an absolutely level playing field for candidates and retain the digital ambience of the partisan and otherwise side discussions of a real political meeting with no holds barred.

    Tink it cud wurk?

  19. If we are agreed that a FOIA would greatly improve the way we govern ourselves, why don’t we hear the clamour from the general population? Why is it left to an enlightened few?

    It was promised by the DLP and continues to be ignored by the BLP, our government in waiting.

  20. @checkit-out

    The politicos prefer to troll Facebook where a comment can be easily deleted or reported. With the exception of William Duguid and a couple others the MPs and candidates have stayed away from the blogosphere. Even Duguid has stopped posting on the blogs. You can guess why.

  21. David; Thanks for your response.

    But could an election blog where normal posters make comments and post their evaluation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of opposing candidates using public domain information work? Even where candidates themselves don’t post?

    • @checkit-out

      Thanks for the feedback. Here is what is possible.

      >create a ‘General Election Page’ page>Add 30 Sub-Pages (representing Constituencies)>Create a Sidebar Icon (to promote the Page)

      Would this work?

  22. @David “If we are agreed that a FOIA would greatly improve the way we govern ourselves, why don’t we hear the clamour from the general population?

    The FOIA is the correct legislation to implement but I am not sure it will be effective in Barbados.
    Ever try getting documents from the Registry ?

  23. David “Even Duguid has stopped posting on the blogs”.

    Duguid made the political mistake of trying to be honest and got pilloried.

    Politicians should stay away from the blogs.

  24. @ islandgal246
    One would think that they would repair Daphne Hackett and upgrade Queen’s Park…maybe add a half pipe for skateboarding and most importantly open up the park to the streets by removing those walls along Crumpton Street and Constitution Road.

    Here is the list of open spaces in Bridgetown: Queen’s Park, Weymouth A & B, QEH field, Independence Square, Trevor’s Way, St.Mary’s and St.Michael’s Cathedral yards, Harrison College A & B playing fields, land around the Constitution River, Kensington, Wibisco ground and more.
    Where is the shortage? stupse

  25. @david and check it out
    Great idea. The closer we get the better on the ground analysis would be good. I’ve believed for 18+ months that this election is a ball by ball as opposed to national. When the national picture comes into play the dlp will lose votes and the opposition will gain. I also think such an effort would bring as much credibility to forecasted results as any poll…

  26. The DLP machine PR..CBC TV really working overtime….so far tonight
    we had …..
    Fin .Min.Chris Sinckler…..talking to primary schools children on how to handle 11+ ( Not E11)….had children in stitches too…
    Min. Dr.Dennis Lowe,Min.Lashley, Attn Gen.Adriel Brathwaite now made QC, Min John Boyce bout Oistins, Min Ronald Jones about ?…… to come Dr.Suckoo Protocol VI , Min Health Donville Inniss…Healthy Living

    NOT a BLP … whisper or shadow…..nuttin

  27. david; re your 6.22 pm post;

    Yes, I think it would work. Nothing very fancy needed to start. Just basic info on the candidates and then let the BU family do the rest in terms of commenting.

  28. @ Yardboom

    Good article. OSA can’t understand for the love of God why the wheels have not yet come off the local economy. Knowing full well that unless the economy collapses completely his chances of being returning to Ilaro Court is as good and gone.

  29. Electrocutrix
    Boss you is the Grim Reaper persona…..tell the Party…the fat lady singing everyday….and SHOCK DEM back to reality… ain’t HOW na more..IS WHEN…lol

  30. @ ac
    I see ya reading Exodus…good thing to….Moses had to be well prepared before taking on Pharaoh…..” Let my people go. ” . They made they way out Egypt into the wilderness and were sustained thru all these peril by the good grace of God.
    But onions ain’t holding nabody…why the cry ?

  31. Enuff…I like the idea of licking down dem walls and opening the park. Good one! I suggest re landscaping the park too. With all the heritage shoite talk we ent ready fuh mekking de place presentable. It seems that squalor and derelict areas around Bridgetown buildings is acceptable by the town planners.

  32. David | May 4, 2012 at 8:12 AM |

    When many criticize Arthur it is not that he was a bad manager of our resources. A quality of a good leader is the visionary quality. Many of Arthur’s achievements cannot be considered transformational. What Arthur is saying now about the need to transform Barbados’ economy should have been on the radar 10-15 years ago.


    i hear these comments all the time. i’m not going to defend Mr. Arthur but why would one have “transform Barbados’ economy” back then? we only hearing that now because of what happened in 2008. that is a fact.

    before the 2008 election i remember well, we all kept noise about how bad things were, remember? i would bet if polled now 90% of bajans will want to go back to that time and the issues was not that economy needed to be transformed.

    the other 10% are ones living high off the hog.

    • @David (not)

      before the 2008 election i remember well, we all kept noise about how bad things were, remember? i would bet if polled now 90% of bajans will want to go back to that time and the issues was not that economy needed to be transformed.

      the other 10% are ones living high off the hog.

      Leaders lead!

  33. @ David
    He led!!
    I said it before there was transformation, the economy did not do well on its own; and the government was in the process of doing more. Didn’t they introduce ‘Plantation Reserve’ sugar and had plans for the new sugar factory, which all and sundry on the blogs criticised. Now this ‘smart’ government intends to do the same thing at Andrews that is located off the main transport nodes to the ports and there is no hue and cry.

    • @enuff

      The economy could not have transformed all the while reliant on almost 100% fossil fuel.

  34. IslanGEnuff
    Enuff…I like the idea of licking down dem walls and opening the park. Good one! I suggest re landscaping the park too.
    I disagree………think of the free access a criminal (bag snatcher) would be accorded at night to make good his get away….the wall serve a purpose too in the day…..all the smoke ,noise and pollution from the diesel buses and cars are somewhat retained by those solid soft stone walls.All they need is a face lift plastering and a mural or 2

  35. David
    Leaders lead!

    this i agree with, it would be nice if someone would point this out to Mr. Stuart. if he did this, i would not have that much problems with the DLP.

    @old onion bags
    you did well to listen to the garbage that comes from “Mr. Remarkable” (as he calls himself) from the time i make out his voice, radio off.

  36. @ David
    Then the American and European economies are not transformed because an insignifcant percentage of their economy relies on alternative fuel. Soem in start. Alternative energy is only one element and does not transformation make. Don’t be banal. Owen Arthur started the transformation of this economy to cope with the post WTO and globalisation world. is more required yes? And as resources and opportunities are available more no doubt will be done. On the alternative energy front the last administration under Liz Thompson developed a green economy paper, which I listened to in parliament and had set targets for Barbados . If memory serves. there was the ethanol and fuel cane project; provision of funds from future oil prospects to be put into an environmental and alternative energy programme. Time to get off your constant harping as if nothing was done or there was no commitment to do. Facts do not bear you out, changing to green energy takes time and takes timing. If the technology is changing and has not settled, and extremely expensive would it make sense for a small island state to invest heavily in the technology at this time. Given the cost of research would it have been feasible for our country to pursue alternative energy research. Barbados in the early days embraced solar water heaters and the BLP gov’t provided incentives to spread its use. Think on these things. Steady and sure wins the race.

    • @Bajan Truth

      Those economies to which you refer many have mineral resources. They are not small open island economies like Barbados. What this government is doing now by building out RE on the scale it is was required then. It would have required vision.

  37. I am eagerly awaiting a Cadres survey on the popularity of the two major parties. Wonder why neither party, especially the governing one seem not to be interested in having one.

  38. Jamaica, St.Lucia, Greneda about to, and the Bahamas just did it; all these countries just changed their governments, or about to in the case of Greneda.Some of these parties were one term governments, is this the trend in the region? Watch it DLP government

  39. A Cub .
    Are you a Peter Simmons clone or merely a student of his ? He made the identical statement on Brass Tacks yesterday !!!!

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