To whom much is given, much will be required.Luke 12:48
The result of the 24 May 2018 general elections delivered an unprecedented result to the Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) winning ALL 30 seats in parliament. In the minds of many a clear message was sent by the voting public, it was disgusted with the performance of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government to an unimaginable degree. In the minds of many the Stuart led government surpassed the unpopularity of the Erskine Sandiford administration, no mean feat.
The 30-0 result was confirmation the two main political parties win governments by default. Rising apathy and cynicism in the electorate continues to strike at the heart of how we fashion our so called democracy. Some of the members washed into parliament in 2018 because of public discontentment, do not qualify to be servants of the people. A short three years later with a DLP still working to recover from the 2018 defeat, there is the possibility the DLP will pick up seats having done very little to promote a compelling alternative message to inspire public confidence. Sadly the duopoly is entrenched with no serious challenge from a third party movement.
The BLP inherited a stalled economy and managing during a pandemic and other challenges have not helped the cause. All reasonable Barbadians understand the hostile environment that continues to challenge economic recovery. We get it!
What some of us also see are decisions being taken by this Mia Mottley government comparable to failed former administrations. The first questionable decision was to appoint a 26 member cabinet supported by 2 parliamentary secretaries and several consultants – the justification; many hands make light work. An obvious case of trumping national interest with narrow political interest by removing the threat of a large backbench and rewarding ‘friends’ of the government. In a nutshell, the same old, same old. There is another popular saying, start wrong and you will end wrong.
The next interesting decision was to pay a boutique advisory company White Oak 27 million dollars to advise on restructuring our domestic and foreign debt. While some have agreed negotiating with foreign bondholders required a level of financial expertise to justify contracting White Oak like services, it boggles the mind why the company was retained to restructure local debt.
Two years in the making of the cancelled ‘Little Island, Big Barbados” tourism campaign at a reported cost of USD750,000 raised questions about the sensible use of taxpayers dollars. A relatively small sum but the process which led to the cancellation of the campaign does not engender confidence in government. A parallel issue is that the birth of the Welcome Stamp idea belongs to Peter Lawrence Thompson and to date the government has not done the ethical thing by giving him recognition. Not surprisingly the DLP and other opposition agents have not seen the opportunity to advocate for the wrong being corrected.
The recent example of the Maloney Scam revelation threads a story of a government bedevilled by controversy. Ironically another controversial decision to import prefab houses from China caught the attention of a weary public. Why was Maloney – who is into construction – not selected to partner with government to supply the houses instead of brokering a deal gone south to procure COVID 19 vaccine? – see Minister Duguid, Who Are the Owners of EWBSB? What it has done is to quickly erode much of the political capital earned from May 2018.
The blogmaster has a record of giving a new government the opportunity to find its way before levelling criticism. There is no doubt the Mia Mottley government inherited a bad hand. There is no doubt the ongoing pandemic and other challenges have complicated the task of governing Barbados. The blogmaster has been quietly observing for the last three years and what comes to mind is – what a waste of an unprecedented mandate.
To be continued…