Friday, April 19, 2024

Voters deserve sustainable proposals


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NOW THAT THE much anticipated date for the general election in Barbados has been announced, we can expect the campaigning by the political parties and independent candidates to intensify .
There is much at stake for the two major political parties – the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – but undoubtedly the greater good must be for the island.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s announcement yesterday was not surprising given the flurry of political activity at the constituency level across the country in recent weeks by both parties and complemented by government’s efforts to ensure Parliament completed a range of promised legislation. The DLP’s announcement of tonight’s launch of it’s Reports To The Nation at the Esplanade opposite Government Headquarters on Bay Street was a clear confirmation that the election was upon us.
While we have heard of the importance of every election since adult suffrage and perhaps more so following political independence in 1966, there is no doubt that the forthcoming election is a critical one.
Going forward we must chart a path for sustainable economic growth, job creation, review and restructure of the public sector, control of the ballooning national debt while ensuring that the nation earns needed foreign exchange from our goods and services.
It is not a time for unrealistic expectations, having regard to the fact that there are serious economic challenges to be confronted and resolved. The parties will need to outline real solutions – even those tough decisions required – and not offer sugar-coated, quick-fix proposals which will take us nowhere.  
The parties must place the major issues on their agenda at all times; the manifestos must address them, and the speakers should seize every opportunity to clearly articulate positions and policies. The voters must be able to properly assess the parties as they prepare to exercise their democratic right to choose their next government.
Both Mr Stuart and Mr Owen Arthur, leader of the BLP and a former Prime Minister, are aware that running a country in the current global economic environment is no easy task. It is therefore incumbent on them to lay bare the situation as they see it and put forward their solutions, stripped of economic and political jargon.
The public also deserves a campaign free of invective and in keeping with the Barbadian tradition of tolerance and respect.
A ten-point plan already outlined by Anglican Bishop Dr John Holder is perhaps the guideline to which parties and indeed all the candidates should adhere.
The moment demands clear thinking. We would be naive not to expect quite a bit of heat in the next three weeks of campaigning. But the contestants must also demonstrate that they also have some light which will help this country to see how to move forward after Thursday, February 21.

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