The Grenville Phillips Column – Put Up or Shut Up
This is the most crucially important general election that we have ever had since our independence. We are so much in debt that we are facing economic ruin. If any successful political party fails to significantly improve the economy within their first year in Government, the majority of Barbadians will suffer unimaginable harm. We are realistically looking at most of the middle-class being reduced to poverty within the next 3 years.
With so much to lose in this general election, voters need to examine each Party’s economic plans. However, that is clearly asking too much of voters who have more immediate concerns. In recognition of this, the US has a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that examines political plans and determines their effect on the economy.
For this critical general election, Barbados desperately needs a set of non-partisan accountants and economists who are willing to put aside their political biases, and honestly examine the effects of each Party’s plans on the national economy and society. I am calling on the Barbados Economic Society and the Institute of Charter Accountants of Barbados to form a joint committee to do just that – for all of our sakes.
The criteria for membership of this committee should be agreed with all political parties. The joint committee should critically examine each assumption used in each Party’s economic plans, because we cannot afford to get it wrong this time. It is in all of our interests to know whether a Party’s plans are likely to work, and any deficiencies in a Party’s plans that need to be corrected before they are implemented on the public.
While this can serve to protect the public in some way, it is not fool proof. Despite all political parties knowing full well that there is no more money left to pay for reckless political promises as in the past, some Parties will continue to make them, because that is the only way they know of getting elected – but this time, they know that they will be blatantly lying to the public.
Since we have run out of time for any more political games, Barbados needs a guarantee that we can return a political product if it is found to be defective. One such method is to allow voters to recall all members of Cabinet after their first year in office, if their economic plans fails to meet the measureable improvements promised. With this method, politicians are less likely to make reckless promises and are more likely to keep responsible ones. It is much better to hold by-elections in those constituencies than to put Barbadians through any more unnecessary suffering.
Solutions Barbados is the only party offering to do what the other parties have not done, namely, properly manage public services, reduce our national debt, allow public workers to be promoted on merit alone, and root out corruption. Our plans have been published for the past 2.5 years for rigorous public scrutiny, and we welcome having them scored by any non-partisan group. It is now time for every political party contesting this important election to either ‘put up or shut up’, because we simply cannot afford anymore broken political promises.