Wednesday, April 24, 2024

BLP COLUMN: Arthur is back!


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One of the most memorable features of the 72nd annual conference of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) must certainly be the climaxing speech by its political leader and Leader of the Opposition, Owen Arthur, that earned him a thunderous, energising and prolonged standing ovation from the hundreds of people who last Sunday thronged the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
The rhetorical tour de force by Mr Arthur showed that he had lost none of his legendary skills for acute analysis and easily understood explanation of the most complicated economic, social and political issues that enable him to win the support of the general public.  
Thus his  deliberately chosen theme We Have A Lot of Work To Do, deeply resonated with and fully captured  the thinking and mood of his listeners as he forthrightly and perceptively applied it to the state of affairs prevailing both in the BLP and his beloved country, declaring: “We have a lot of work to do in the service of Barbados, as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, as this country grapples with its greatest crisis since the foundations of democracy were established in this nation by Grantley Adams and his political pioneers some 60 years ago.”
He had the conference spellbound as he pointed out that our economy was “one of the few economies in the world that have remained mired in recession over the past three years”, with Barbados’ overall fiscal deficit jumping from “1.6 per cent of GDP in 2007 to  5.1 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 9.4 per cent in 2009 and stood at that level for the first nine months of 2010”.
Pointing out that the “largest proportion of our economic distress in Barbados has been self-inflicted by the DLP”, the widely respected trained economist said, “our nation is being made the victim of a catastrophic and ill-conceived DLP misadventure”.
To the effect that the Dems were “interested in building a strong society rather than a strong economy, that is just an excuse for economic ineptitude. No country has ever succeeded in building a strong society without resting its social engineering on the foundations of a strong and growing economy.”
Mr Arthur stressed that the DLP was “neither building a strong economy nor a strong society”, but instead was guilty of mismanaging public finances on an unprecedented scale and “one that will take an extraordinary effort to fix”.
 And he had the audience spontaneously chanting “nothing done” for each item, when he specified 18 of the measures in the 2008 Budget which had still not been implemented because of “leadership drift” and “inertia”, including: new financial incentives and marketing arrangements to support tourism development; new agricultural development incentives; transformation of education through the Students Loans Scheme and the building of new schools;
proposals to significantly reduce the cost of doing business; proposals to finance the redevelopment of the QEH; building jetties and theme parks; building two five star hotels every two years; creating islands off Barbados; concessions to taxi operators; investment in a regional ferry service;
development of offshore oil and gas resources; a terminal in the north for private jets; new cruise pier and facility in the north; major incentives for energy generation; the full operation of a Council for Investment, Exports and Foreign Exchange; incentives to improve productivity through investment in technology; a Quick Response revolving Seed Capital Fund and a Quick Response Venture Capital Fund.
Mr. Arthur is truly back and ready for the  budget.


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