Once upon a time to determine right and wrong seemed a very straight forward undertaking for Barbadians. The majority of Barbadians identified with shared values that anchored a behaviour to infuse a culture uniquely and satisfyingly Bajan. The result was a harmonious society- a key element to our brand and identity.
The world has become a complex place to navigate for governments and individuals. There are the neoliberals. There are the socialists. There are the relativists. Not to be ignored are the centrists. All operating under a system of democracy. Our ability as a people to reconcile has resulted in a polarizing effect to how we manage our business, hardly ever room for compromise. In the last two decades the fight by groups advocating economic and social equality has created intractable positions, leading to what many are forecasting – a dystopian world.
The truth is, Barbados has been battling a crisis of cultural identity in recent years. In the 70s Trinidadians and other nationalities flocked to Barbados, impressed by our well ordered society. Those were the days we ran a balanced national budget. Nowadays, important decisions are being made for us because successive governments have racked up unconscionable debt to satisfy consumer demand, restricting government’s capacity to initiate needed developmental initiatives because of the lack of fiscal space. We have discussed many times how we have surrendered Bajan culture to be invaded from over in away.
The previous government charted a roadmap to aggressively develop the renewable sector. A decade later why are fossil fuelled vehicles not the main offering for consumers? Why has government not issued a stop-sell on the procurement by the public sector of fossil powered vehicles? At minimum impose a cap if there is concern about facilitating a smooth transition? Involved in the growth of the renewable sector is the ability to influence EMERA’s roadmap to generate and distribute a fit for purpose power system that meshes with a national strategic plan. David Simmons in the 70s as the member of parliament for St. Thomas promised Barbadians Mount Stinkeroo would be shutdown. In 2014 the former government attempted – through covert and questionable means – to foist a plasma gasification plant on Barbadians the likes never seen anywhere on the globe. It is 2021 and there is no project in the works to address waste disposal in a sustainable way. This includes an inadequate sewerage system.
Year after year we read the Auditor General’s reports that expose incompetence and malfeasance by public sector agencies often times acting in collusion with private sector players, yet nothing is done to hold the various players accountable. The most important fund on the island is being used as government’s ATM with no pressure from Barbadians to produce timely audited financials and actuarial reports. At election time there will be the usual huff and puff then forgotten until the next time.
These are a few examples of a failing governance system and the degree Barbadians have abdicated roles and responsibilities the system of democracy practised affords us.
The permeable serves to introduce the big question to the new Barbadian. Do we have what it takes to shift trajectory?