Mr President and Members of the Senate; Mr Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly; Specially invited guests, ladies and gentlemen…
The Representatives of the House of Assembly have been elected and the selection of the Members of the Senate is complete. You have met and chosen your respective Presiding Officers. Parliament is now constituted and the First Session of the Honourable the Parliament 2018-2023 can begin.
It is now my privilege and duty to outline my Government’s programmes for this Parliamentary term.
At sunrise on May 25th, the people of Barbados welcomed a new day and a new government with renewed optimism and hope. It is in these historic chambers of the third oldest parliament of the Commonwealth that the men and women elected must join with those nominated, to transform that hope into reality and a bright future for a country and a people, bruised but not broken – a people, who now stand ready to join hands and work at Building the Best Barbados Together.
Our National Circumstances
My Government commences its historic mandate at a time of unprecedented economic and social uncertainty for Barbados and its people.
Our citizens are acutely aware of the enormous challenges that our country faces, which have become a part of their lived reality: a stagnant economy that has suffered multiple downgrades by international ratings agencies and is strangled by excessive taxation; unsustainably high levels of debt; inadequate foreign reserves to safeguard the value of the Barbados dollar; neglected infrastructure resulting in sick building syndrome and decaying sewerage, water, sanitation, road and transport systems.
These challenges have been exacerbated by other factors. There has been an escalating cost of living which makes it difficult for far too many of our citizens to have an acceptable quality of life. High levels of crime and gun violence result in fear and social malaise. We have seen a loss of opportunity for our young people in an environment where fees must now be paid for tertiary education. And finally, there has been no economic empowerment of our people. Together, these factors have had a debilitating and crippling impact on our society, economy, natural and built environments and have reversed our country’s once clear and upward development trajectory.
My Government has identified urgent national challenges as Mission Critical issues on which it must and will take immediate action to confront and resolve. This will be implemented over six months. Our agenda will focus on addressing all Mission Critical issues. Clear timelines will be set for deciding on and applying solutions. Dedicated Mission Critical Teams, comprising public servants and highly experienced professionals, recognised nationally, regionally and, in some instances, internationally, will be established and tasked to ensure delivery. More important, proper management structures will be put in place to prevent these issues from reaching crisis proportions again.
To download a copy of the Throne Speech delivered by Governor General, Dame Sandra Mason, GCMG, D.A., Q.C., at the State Opening of Parliament, you may click here.