Friday, April 12, 2024

Downside to the debate


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LAST MONDAY, February 18, Barbadians were privileged to observe their parliamentarians explain how the money they were paying in taxes was going to be spent.

Known as the Estimates Of Revenue And Expenditure,

this was previously an exercise in which the governing party, as well as those in Opposition, took the opportunity to gloat, to thump the desks and make braying noises when points appeared to have been scored, especially on the numerically stronger Government side.

While the new arrangement for this parliamentary display was expanded to include detailed explanations by senior civil servants and members of the private sector, this time Barbados was spared the usual theatrics, but the video of the proceedings presented by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation left much to be desired.

Barbadians and the larger international audience were treated to a television display of men and women with lime green hands and faces looking like creatures from Mars or some other planetary body. This was accompanied by splashes of blotchy red, black shadowy silhouettes interspersed with a preponderance of distracting shades of blue.

Although the debate was in general of a higher standard, indeed much higher than those to which



Barbadians have been subjected in the past decade, there was a comedic exchange in which a question was asked by the solitary member of the Opposition about the disposition of some real estate which came under the purview of the Bridgetown Port. As the minister of Government who seemed to have responsibility for that facility attempted to answer the question, the individual who posed it quickly and insistently sought to persuade the minister not to respond to the question.

That attempt was thwarted, nevertheless, and the minister was heard responding in words to the effect that a former leading minister, who seems hell-bent on breaking the record of our brother Winston Hall, had signed a contract presumably in stone and cement and which could therefore not be set aside.

Many Barbadians will recall that one of our very important military installations as well as a food processing facility are downwind from the piece of real estate under scrutiny. Barbadians may also be aware that there were allegedly complaints filed by the military officials as to the health and security hazard and inconvenience caused by operations by an instillation on that real estate. These matters had in the past received much attention by the public and noticeably so by political aspirants.

In most countries, complaints of that kind made by military officials would have been the grounds for urgent remedial action, but not in Barbados – here a weak excuse suffices. Hopefully the parliamentarians who were involved and seem to have agreed in Parliament on the impotence of the Government, will remember the strident voices, now disquietingly silent, which had been raised in outrage.



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