EDITORIAL:What next?

So we have had a ‘March of Disgust”…What is next?

We have seen thousands of Barbadians marching peacefully to register their “disgust” with the state of the economy and a variety of issues that have impacted this country in the last few months, days or years. So what’s next?

We note that the organisers of the event were careful to outline their justifications for the march and its scheduling to provide Government with the opportunity to address the issues, which face this country. Amazingly that was not the case for some supporters of the march who went as far as to say that this march was designed to drive the government of the day from office, so if the grassroots supporters are convinced that this was the rationale behind the event, what should the public believe?

What happens if Government starts to address the issues that were expressed by Barbadians who marched last Saturday? If they do, what next? For argument’s sake, what happens if Government addresses all of the issues outlined by the Opposition-led march – then will they get any credit at all?

For instance, one of the issues presented was the water issue in St Joseph. This newspaper has clearly shown that water has returned to the hardest hit rural parishes, with minor interruptions as the distribution network has been fixed, but not even a simple “thank you” to the hard working staff of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) for working within extremely tough circumstances, to correct a series of problems that were enhanced by drought conditions and centuries old mains. Problems which pre-dated the current Administration, but were being tackled, and not even a simple “thank you”. Yet it was one of issues which some marchers held up as impetus for protest. So if one of the core issues has been tackled … what next?

Another issue that we have seen is the notion that not enough questions are being asked by the media in this country. We hear about all of the challenges that this country faces, but nothing on what are the responses. We constantly hear the negatives as some seem to want to adhere to the notion of a “the sky is falling mentality”, which drives discontent, but dismiss any attempt to look for positives. It is a slippery slope which leads to nothing at all. Yes, showing disgust to challenges which impact this country is part of a mature democracy, but allowing for a response is also what maturity is all about.

So we expect to hear what are the proposed solutions. Since the Opposition has indicated that it is disgusted, then what are its solutions to this island’s challenges? Structural issues exist, that cannot simply be solved by throwing money at them. Institutional issues remain and mindsets have to change in order to address problems.
From the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, to the University of the West Indies, to Sanitation and the macro-economy, we all know that the issues have not changed, so some among us need a wake up call.

All of these services are free at the point of contact to Barbadians. We expect free healthcare, free studies at UWI, garbage to be removed twice a week and a host of other services. The economy should be “fixed” yet we have a love of imports which drain foreign reserves. It seems as though we are refusing to accept that the days of Government providing all of these services, heavily subsidized, are past us. If we want them, but want taxes lowered, then the productive sectors have to earn more, but we have only recently seen tourism and international business rebound.

We have surrounded ourselves with a cacophony of voices who say that we are in dire straits. What we should ask them is what are your policy prescriptions? What is next?

Barbados Advocate

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