Since Independence many of our public institutions have had little (if any) serious structural changes to make them fit for purpose in the new global environment. The inefficiency of governmental bureaucracy has plagued our public institutions for decades and has hampered effective service delivery to the masses. These public corporations are no longer fit for purpose and drain finances through yearly subsidies and transfers accounting for most of the shortfall in financing afflicting these institutions.
This ill-advised formula can be blamed for the structural adjustment program Barbados now faces which prescribes bitter reforms to our statutory corporations. We must now as a country focus on how these services will be rationalized, paying special emphasis on the most vulnerable and needy.
We have already seen user fees being charged on some public services like garbage collection and water. The Minister of Health has also hinted at a reform of how health care is financed. One can therefore assume that the process of restructuring has begun.Commitments have been made to these reforms as a precondition to financing and the government has begun to inform the masses on some of the reforms to come.
As I write I am clueless as to how these changes will look and affect my expectations of the delivery of public services. Our political system allows for the peoples representatives in the House Of Assembly to make those decisions for us. We must trust that these reforms will be in our best interest and the effects of the changes will not decrease the level of service we have become accustomed to.
Some political pundits have been critical of the government’s approach to these reforms. They call for the public’s inclusion and input in the process but does our political system require such?
Since Independence all governments have developed policies and programs themselves before merely informing the public through the mechanism of debate in the House Of Assembly. It must be mentioned that at times the political directorate chooses to engage the public on varying national issues through consultation.
The lack of mechanisms of transparency and accountability are one of the key areas that must be adjusted if this country is to make it in this new world. The political directorate seems to have the enacting of this vital legislation on the agenda so we wait to see if they are able to get it right on the next attempt.
The political system allows the party in government 5 years to implement programs that they will inevitably be judged harshly for at the polls. We have given all 30 seats to the BLP for the second consecutive time. We have put them there to face the problems and fix them. They have come up with a plan and are steadily implementing that plan. All our political system allows us to do is give them the vote and watch!