‘Water and agriculture must be tackled’
“I want and I will always want my government to succeed.”
This assertion came from Independent Member of Parliament for Christ Church West, Dr. Maria Agard, during the Appropriation Bill 2016 debate yesterday, who stated that this also holds true for most right thinking people in Barbados.
“On the outset I am neither an apologist for this government who continues to understate the gravity and ever deepening implications of the present crisis, nor am I an alarmist of the Opposition power-seekers who exaggerate even the most superficial shortcomings of this government,” she stated.
“Rather I use this occasion to share with the people of Barbados my view of the growth and development of Barbadians in these challenging times,” the MP noted.
Dr. Agard said it should be of concern to the architects of the country that tourism is still so heavily dependent upon in 2016.
She pointed out that in spite of home-grown austerity programme that was implemented and while reporting some successes, Barbados continues to fail to achieve the stated objectives. “Not only in terms of the reduction of the fiscal deficit but also projections for revenue building, but growth to GDP.”
Dr. Agard pointed to the budget that was cut in the Ministry of Agriculture which she disagreed with, against the backdrop of the country’s high food import bill, and unhealthy eating habits.
“I believe the time has come for Barbados to look seriously at increasing it’s output in crop production... It is shameful that there are thousands of lands laying fallow and even now plantations are going out of agriculture,” it was pointed out.
She suggested that it is the “slothful” intervention to praedial larceny that has frustrated farmers and suggested that more modern techniques should be utilised in the sector in order to attract more young people.
It was also noted that mains laying must be a national priority, to rectify the century-old mains and leaks which are posing problems for many Barbados. “Water is too crucial to all aspects of any country’s development not to be given greater national priority,” she said, while acknowledging that a programme has already been started.
Dr. Agard also drew reference to Barbados’ Gross National Income per capita which she said was one of highest in the Caribbean at 21 000, but which today stands at 12 000.
“This has some impact on the development on our people and it is this singular shift in rating that is my greatest cause of concern. Because our goal of leaving a more developed and prosperous country for a next generation must never be under threat. We cannot in a 21st century Barbados fail in this regard,” Dr. Agard stated.
“The government must apply itself not to making excuses, but to ensuring that we fully support all the drivers that will bring about an increase in our revenue building capacity or no less demonstrate the level of efficiencies to reduce the runaway levels of expenditure that we now see,” she said. (JH)