Friday, April 19, 2024

EDITORIAL: A question of confidence in Govt’s policy


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THIS COUNTRY is going through a period of difficulty which calls on the resources of all Barbadians to pull together at this critical time in a national effort to lessen the pain of the difficulty.
The termination of workers formerly employed by the Government and related statutory authorities is perhaps the most painful and visible aspect associated with the difficulty, and in the sense that we are, or ought to be our brothers’ keepers, we are all involved.
We have previously called for the social safety net to be activated in a sensitive manner so that those affected can receive such assistance as the State will provide to tide them over these times, and until the economy picks up.
This will not happen overnight but in the meantime we have to do everything in our national power to maintain confidence in ourselves and in our economy.
The recent statements by the Minister of Agriculture may have added something to the debate, but unlike the academic or businessman who has a point of view, Dr Estwick is a member of the Cabinet of this country.
He has a seat at the highest decision-making body in our land and with his colleagues around the table he has the chance to thrash out with the Minister of Finance and the Prime
Minister such views as he harbours about the Government’s policy.
Given his seniority in the governing party, and his stint as Shadow Minister on Economic Affairs when his party was in Opposition and his tenure in 2008 to 2010, in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, we believe that he could have contributed to; and perhaps influenced the modification of fiscal policy. At the very least, he would have been in a position to have been heard.
We have no doubt that what Dr Estwick has to say will be of immense public interest. He has presented a public image of a person who does his research and who has the capacity to understand economic and fiscal matters, and he appears to have analysed the relevant data.
But, the principle of collective responsibility binds him to the decisions already coming out of Cabinet. The place to have thrashed out any refinements to fiscal policy before they were presented to the public, would have been around the table on Thursdays under the cover of Cabinet secrecy. This secrecy allows frank talk and protects the public interest.
As members of the fourth estate we are concerned at all times with the public interest.
It is in the public interest that if Government policy will so directly affect some people in this country that their jobs will be lost; then every aspect of that issue ought to be very thoroughly discussed, inside out, so to speak, before that policy is made public.
Dr Estwick’s public stance may, however, send some uncomfortable messages about the confidence in Government’s fiscal policy to say the least.  And this must concern Finance Minister Sinckler and the Prime Minister in particular.


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