Saturday, April 20, 2024

EDITORIAL: Interesting political year ahead

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THE COMMENCEMENT of 2017 foreshadows much on the political landscape of Barbados, if for no other reason than that it represents the last full calendar year of the ruling political party’s term in office.

In the tradition of our politics, this suggests that in the coming months, several ministers of Government will be gleefully heralding success after success and the machinery of Government, through the various ministries, will be in the frame of delivering on promises and evidencing potential while at the same time showing off projects and boasting about performance.

Interesting times are ahead.

Barbadians have moved from the spectacle of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Independence into the reality of the day-to-day struggle for survival among the vulnerable and the not-so-vulnerable.

Even the most optimistic supporter of the governing party would admit that the celebrations did not deliver on the hype that was anticipated. Poor planning and other flaws were evident in many aspects of the events, none of which escaped the notice of locals and visitors alike. Indeed, several overseas Barbadians expressed disappointment.

The result of this shortcoming means that any option Prime Minister Freundel Stuart may have been encouraged to embrace about calling an early general election would have evaporated between the showers and the shame of some aspects of the jubilee festivities.

Some pundits held the view that the significance of 50 years as an independent country would have been so euphoric that it would have given the ruling party a bump in its popularity and possibly encouraged the notion of an early general election.

There was a similar belief in the breast of then Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his administration following the hosting of the 2007 Cricket World Cup that featured the staging of the final in Barbados. But that exercise was anticlimatic and Arthur had to abandon any hope of using that international event to create a bounce in his own popularity and political favour for his party.

On the contrary, there was a sense following the World Cup that the sooner the election was called, the better were the chances of the Arthur administration holding on to its majority.

The rest is history.

The task of the current administration will be similar to that of Arthur’s: As the clock ticks, use the remaining time in office to maximise the effort to win friends and influence voters with better roads, better public transportation, consistent collection of garbage, debushing of highways, all irritants to citizens.

Stuart may also now have to look to the hosting of CARIFESTA in August, following Crop Over, plus a giveaway Budget to move the mood of the country into a more friendly frame for his fortune.

He will no doubt be hoping that our economic circumstances will show a marked improvement with increased inflows through tourism, but at best that is wishful thinking with the news earlier this week that oil prices are likely to increase following a deliberate reduction in production levels by OPEC members.

But the year is young and all of us, including the Prime Minister, must face it with courage and optimism.

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