The George Brathwaite Column – PM Mottley’s Urgency and First Tests

The last Government put itself in a trap. Wasted spending pushed up the debt, and pushed up interest payments, so they raised taxes which stopped the economy from growing.” – Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

At last week’s public ceremony of the new Cabinet Ministers taking their respective oaths of offices, Prime Minister Mia Mottley in challenging her executive asserted that “it now falls to us to translate hope into action. … There is no time for pause, and there is certainly no place for triumphalism and exultation. We have serious work to do and serious problems to solve.” Who among us would disagree the urgency and delicate nature of things to be done to rescue Barbados?

During the same week, the perilous state of the Barbados economy was revealed and Barbadians got the confirmation that the ‘foreign reserves are at a tenuous stage’ and that the ‘deficit is unacceptably high’. Government’s arrears were said to be about $1.7 billion at September 30, 2017. This figure is expected to be significantly higher given the depth of maladministration that became a notable characteristic under former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler.

These things when placed in the context of Barbados receiving more than 20 downgrades from international rating agencies and the high interest rates which they attracted on borrowing, further emphasizes the difficulty and scale of the work that PM Mottley and her Ministers must tackle. Urgency is the buzz word for the leadership tests that she will face in the immediate days and coming months if ‘Critical Mission’ is to resonate with the type of public support it attracted and led to a 30 – 0 victory for the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on May 24th.

Informatively, Barbados’ current debt is approximately 15 billion dollars, or nearly 9 billion dollars more than the last administration had inherited in 2008. The island’s debt is the third highest in the world after Japan and Greece. This staggering jump in the national debt equates to around 175 percent (%) of Barbados’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The fact that these economic disclosures were confirmed by the first female prime minister in the history of Barbados, brought no satiety to the nation. After all, there were more disconcerting news and claims suggesting that since March 5th and without the oversight of the legislature, numerous perplexing (if not criminal) occurrences obtained regarding the awarding/disbursement and/or renewal of contracts, and other perceivably nefarious actions. The public needs answers to many of those issues with some calling for the figurative ‘necks’ of the former Prime Minister, former Minister of Finance, and other suggestively implicated Cabinet Ministers.

At the beginning of any term in office, such meaningful values as inspiration, hope, and confidence play major roles in the psyche of the governed and the support that the governing can anticipate. Prime Minister Mottley, more demonstratively than her immediate predecessor, has the capacity to draw lessons from history while staying in touch with today’s demands to safeguard the nation’s future. Already, Miss Mottley has shown that she has not only the political capital, but she possesses the will and confidence to act in a decisive manner. She may have been reduced numerically by one Member of Parliament, but that does not take away from the more accurate assessment that Barbados “is in need of serious, urgent action with respect to its economy and its Government.”

The Prime Minister’s approach to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not the easiest or most universally comforting position to take, but it clearly highlights that it will not be the slothful procrastination that sowed the seeds and devoured many previous opportunities for Barbados to turn around its downward trajectory under the Stuart and Sickler combination. In going to the IMF, and against the background that public servants are still aggrieved after being denied any salary increase for about a decade, it is imperative that PM Mottley keeps channels of discourse open, mutually respectful, and geared towards the national interest.

The evidence is suggesting that PM Mottley is keen to be informative, transparent, and accountable to the social partners comprising the ‘Tri-Partite’ arrangements, and to the broader the society in which we are all stakeholders. The fact is, the maintenance of a good industrial relations climate is a pre-requisite to sustained economic growth and social stability which all seemed to have been eroded under Prime Minister’s Stuart pedantic resolve to be silent. One can expect that Prime Minister Mottley will put a premium on success and delivering positive results based on implemented policies. These policy avenues will also depend on the morale and motivation that ignites the public service to action, and which would demonstrate that efficiency can be achieved without massive layoffs as being courted by a former Governor of the Central Bank. Dr Delisle Worrell previously refused to speak to Barbadians via the media and he too was part of the advisory grouping leading Barbados’ demise.

This writer would advocate strongly for public reform that emphasizes the technological knowledge and computer literacy skills of all public officers. This is consistent with the Manifesto pledge of the BLP stating that: “To fast track this new economy, Government, the private sector and individuals will need to embrace the digital economy … [and] the BLP Government will lead this transformation.” Ultimately, the state of readiness for a transformed economy will depend on Barbados’ best resource – its human capital – and this invaluable resource must be put to the best use so that the country in its entirety will reap the rewards of a public service, for example, being rewarded based on merit, ability, and productivity.

Finally, it takes more than optics and physical presence to safeguard democracy in Barbados. President Franklin Roosevelt once said that: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” In full agreement, I am more inclined to watch the choices made by Barbados’ newest Leader of the Opposition, than to rush in and sing praises for an action that in of itself appears contradictory. All Barbadians should give both the new Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to make their marks in attempt to build the best Barbados. PM Mottley has repeated her thrust for maximizing on education investments while Bishop Joseph Atherley in the selection of his first Senator, appears willing ‘to rock the boat’. However, and given the state of national affairs, all Barbadians need to become strict guardians of our heritage. This can be achieved by ramping up the teaching of civics, and demanding that all our processes and institutions work despite any shortcomings in the personalities at play.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com )

169 comments

  • Willie…you just embarrassed a whole cross section of bajans living in the diaspora and even highlighted why living outside of Barbados does not necessarily mean that you learned anything in the X amount of years ya lived outside…which makes the Bushman’s argument register a notch.

    Piece’s 15 second attention span for certain people comes into play…

    who cares if you contribute or not…let others who have the will, knowledge, experience and expertise decide if they want to..it is not your choice to make..as long as you are happy where you are..

    .I don’t believe anyone asked you..

    Why do my contributions bother so many people anyway…and theirs do not even register in my things to care about.

    Like

  • NorthernObserver

    @Sarge
    wha dat….you had a random lay on your daily walk? Hope you didn’t drop any sweat (or other fluids) on the electronic ballot.

    Like

  • In saying that..all that we are saying is moot..and I am not the one you should be arguing with, if you don’t like the amendment that allows bajan duals to participate in the island’s governance, after it is legislated…take a trip to Barbados and reverse it, if that does not work…when bajan duals present themselves as candidates for the next election as some I know are planning..try to stop them.

    I don’t even know why you are taking this up with me, I am not the one amending the constitution, but agree with it, my opinion to which I am entitled…so take your anger at the amendment up with those who are futuristic and see the need for progress and a balance in the society compared to what now obtains…why you would engage me on this is pretty petty to say the least.

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  • @Northern

    It should be “random play” although I almost got laid out by a red wing blackbird, those things are vicious this time of year third time I’ve been dive bombed but he/she missed each time. I got to invest in a hard hat.

    Like

  • @Hants
    Yours @9.47 am

    Is that the same Jofra Archer that Conde Riley was hoping to sign with a local club in the hopes that he could play for Barbados?

    If he hasn’t resided in Barbados for the preceding 12 months he shouldn’t be eligible to play for Barbados. BTW cricket fans not to worry the English has taken him off your hands.

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  • Ah guess the diasporan yardfowls ain’t take too kindly to having their political party dismantled and humiliated worldwide…lol

    NB: I was not the one woman electorate who did it, was planning to be there but took a fall and could not make it, so I did not even help…this time..

    ah go have a lot of fun with this one. ..cause I never ever give a break to those who spent decades in the diaspora and still cannot see progress for their own people, they must think Barbados is a perpetual primary school of 11 plus children..who are waiting their turn to decimate the parliament, judiciary and everything else now so dysfunctional on the island.

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  • One thing we know it is because of Mia wreckless advice to default on the debt that the bonds interest had decrease.
    Annankani also yesterday got a first hand taste of what deceptive intentions are as he ws forced to sallow a bitter pill by Mia. Lol

    Like

  • @ Sargeant,

    Yes. Its the same Jofra Archer. He is ready for Test cricket.

    I voted an hour ago for her hotness Mitze even though she might lose.

    Good day for West Indies and Barbados cricket.

    “Herath to Dowrich, 1 run, there it is! Leaps off the floor, punches the air, strips off his helmet and he’ll soon be with his proud team-mates. On the stroke of tea, Dowrich stabs a length ball on leg stump through square leg to become West Indies’ first wicketkeeper centurion against Sri Lanka. This is also the slowest hundred by a West Indies wicketkeeper, but if you know context, you know that’s not a worry at all. A top class innings, his second in Tests.

    Like

  • Please Tek Ma Serious (what Bushie what?)

    Welly … ya got ma bawlin

    Like

  • @Hants
    If Dougie wins diversity at Queens Park will be a thing of the past well ok he may have the Brampton contingent.

    Barbados news: The two temporary Senators were sworn in today, check out the name under the photo Delisle Who?

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2018/06/07/temporary-senators-take-oath-of-office-before-gg/

    Like

  • I guess this will get the yarifowl’s goat up even more..lol

    Bushman though…you do realize that the person who drafted the constitution never even lived in barbados,,lol

    This might be only one of two opportunities for Willie and Bushman to stop this amendment on Friday, they better don’t miss the opportunity..

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/164939/temporary-senators-oath-office-gg

    “Two new senators were today sworn in at Government House.

    They are Delisle Bradshaw and John Williams who took the Oath of Office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

    The two former Ministers of Government will temporarily sit in the Senate as replacements for Senators-designate Rawdon Adams and Kay McConney, who were absent from the May 31 swearing-in ceremony.

    Adams’ and McConney’s absence, as earlier pointed out by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, related to the Barbados’ 1966 Constitution which stipulates that a Senator must be an ordinary resident in the country for 12 consecutive months before being appointed.

    Adams is the son of late Prime Minister, Tom Adams, and has been resident in Barbados after relocating here almost 12 months ago, while McConney currently lives in Canada, and would have to resume residence in Barbados.

    On Tuesday, June 5, following the official opening of Parliament, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley took the necessary step towards amending the island’s Constitution to provide for the appointment of both to the Senate.
    The Senate is expected to meet for the first time on the Constitutional Amendment tomorrow, Friday, June 8. (BGIS)”

    Like

  • Oops..did not see Sarge had posted the link.

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  • @ Sarge,

    Looks like we could have Doug the Donald Trump clone as Premier.

    Like

  • West Indies 413 for 7 in a Test match. Life as it should be.

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  • The more one ponders on the constitution drafted by a privy council civil servant in London, the more revelations take shape and manifest, many of us need to analyze the why of the many intents to be found in the document instead of trying to uphold someone else’s fantasies from 1966..or as I said previously…20 or more years before 1966..

    If you can see the intent in the document…you can understand the why, if you care to.

    What is tickling me to no end are the many contradictions to be found in the document, because the monarchy always want to have things both ways at other people’s expense…….for centuries.

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  • Bushman..how ya like that one…lol

    Even I sympathize with those caught up in an idea drafted by a privy council civil servant who never even lived in Barbados who thought it cute to legislate excluding bajans who live outside of Barbados from having any voice in the parliament…even though they are dual citizens.

    As we go along am sure there will be more exclusion clauses dreamed up to make life miserable for those who were born on the island.

    Like

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