MP’s Return Home
After being away for two years, parliamentarians were jubilant to return to the historic Parliament Buildings for the 2022 Financial and Economic Statement.
Dressed in their finest, the members of the Lower and Upper Houses were welcomed to loud cheers from supporters who gathered outside the building to welcome them back to the stately building which underwent multimillion-dollar repairs.
A Barbados TODAY team caught up with some of the parliamentarians and the supporters to get their thoughts and views on the 2022 budget and re-opening of Parliament Buildings.
Arriving just before the scheduled 3 p.m. start of the sitting, after greeting and sending kisses to the scores who gathered outside, Prime Minister Mottley told members of the media that “it feels so good” to be back in Bridgetown.
When questioned about what Barbadians could expect in the budget, Prime Minister Mottley replied “that we will move forward as one country, one nation”.
“Whatever obstacles there are, we will face them together and we shall overcome them together,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Santia Bradshaw, said while she missed being at Parliament Buildings, she was pleased that the new parliamentarians who have never had the opportunity to be at that location, will now have that chance.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr. Sonia Browne, who holds responsibility for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) quipped she has been blamed by the public for the shutdown of Parliament Buildings after voicing concerns about the air quality.
But she said the temporary closure of the building was for the greater good.
“After we left, I discovered that many of the employees here were suffering from health issues as a result of the environment. So, I am happy that the Government went ahead to fix the Parliament, at least most of the problems with the mold and other issues and the air conditioning and so on. It’s good to be back,” Dr. Browne said.
Speaker of the House Arthur Holder said while Prime Minister Mottley asked that the building be ready for Monday’s budget, he was happy that persons involved in the process of getting the location ready, were able to meet the request.
In fact, Holder expressed gratitude to those, including workers at the Ministry of Housing workshop, who made the return possible.
“I want to thank the artisans, the masons, the carpenters, the electricians, the labourers, and the people who are ready for the Zoom and everything. This could not have been done without a collaborative effort between ministries. I really wish to thank Clerk of Parliament Pedro Eastmond, he has worked assiduously, beyond the call of duty, to make this possible.
“It is amazing the time that Mr. Eastmond has put in. He stayed here overtime to ensure that the work was done. This shows the capacity and the ability of our craftsmanship and workmanship. When you go into this Chamber, you should marvel at the expertise displayed by the workshop. Just lookup on the roof, look at the handrails. The entire roofing system, the air condition, all of these things were done,” Holder said.
Eastmond said he was happy to have played a role in ensuring that Parliament Buildings, which he described as the most beautiful building in Barbados and the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth, could be occupied once again.
“I am looking forward to exciting times.
It will be easier being back here. One, we have two Chambers operating and it is more spacious and easier to be able to follow the COVID protocols and it feels like a Parliament.
I am sure that all members are glad to be back,” Eastmond said.
Meanwhile, Senator Dr. Crystal Haynes, said while the configuration of the space for the Senate at the temporary housing was different, the senators would be more comfortable at Parliament Buildings.
“I am just looking forward to being back in a cleaner building with good air quality,” Senator Haynes said.
Member of Parliament for St Thomas, Cynthia Forde, said when she visited the building on Monday morning, she was pleased with the level of development and impressed with the changes.
“We now have to see what the air quality and whatever is like. But it was a valiant effort for the Government to have been able to transform. This morning we only went in and started and we wanted to be able to work with the Budget from 3 p.m. so I believe that by the time I get the chance to move around that I will be able to make more comments,” Forde said.
Senior Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr. William Duguid, said he was pleased to have been able to contribute to getting the Parliament
Buildings were ready when he served as Minister of Housing, Lands, and Maintenance.
“I have always been here. It’s like I have not left. We spent a lot of hours here trying to get Parliament ready. I am happy that we are here to have a Budget in Bridgetown,” Dr. Duguid said.
Barbados Labour Party (BLP) supporter Cytomia Worrell, who presented Mottley with a bouquet of flowers, said she was comfortable that Parliament was back at home in Bridgetown where it belongs after a two-year break.
“I know people like this fanfare. People like to know that they can interact and mingle even though short with the Members of Parliament.
It is good to know that we are back here.
How do I feel about the budget? I have mixed feelings. But I am also confident that my Prime Minister, who is a caring person, a loving person, will give it her best shot under the circumstances.
“We know that there is a pandemic facing us, we also know that there is a war looking at us, so we don’t expect things to be the same.
But I am confident that we will live. Some of us might not be able to live as well as some, but we will all live under the circumstances,” Worrell said.