Prime Minister Mia Mottley targets November 21, for the island to become a Republic
Barbados has developed governance structures and institutions that mark us as what has been described as, “the best governed Black society in the world.” Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation.
Barbados’ first prime minister, The Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, cautioned against loitering on colonial premises. That warning is as relevant today as it was in 1966. Having attained Independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.
This powerful affirmation of national pride and institutional strength and maturity was the building block upon which Prime Minister Mia Mottley intends to construct a new vision for her country, Barbados by leading it out of the fold of the monarchy and removing Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.
A long time proponent of republicanism, Mottley used the Throne Speech delivered on September 15 for the current session of Parliament to call on nationals to be prepared for the new form of government by November 2021.
The prime minister made no reference to holding a referendum on the issue the under the country’s Constitution, a two-thirds majority in Parliament is needed to authorize the change.
Mottley’s Barbados Labour Party holds a two-thirds majority in both the Senate of Barbados and the Barbados House Assembly where it holds all but one seat.
Barbados gained Independence from Britain on November 21, 1966.
The country has a population of about 290,000 with a relatively strong economy ranking it among the top 60 richest nations in the world.
Over the past couple decades there has been on-going efforts to transition a sugar-cane and tourism driven economy to one that’s more diversified to include manufacturing, tourism, offshore financing and information services.
However, reportedly, an estimated 20% of the island’s population lives below the poverty line with an unemployment rate that continues to hover around 10 %.
In her Throne Speech PM Motley says her government has allocated $40 million to deal with fallouts from the economic downturns of COVID-19.
The money will be spent to get Barbadians back into the workforce while sustaining services and infrastructure impacted by the coronavirus.
If the country goes on to attain its republican status, Barbados will become only the second nation in the English speaking Caribbean to give the Queen her marching orders as head of state.
The Queen still reigns supreme, as head of state over 16 nations around the globe, known collectively as the Commonwealth. Among them are eight Caribbean countries including: Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic in June 1976; Dominica in 1978 and Guyana became a republic on February 23, 1970, but chose to remain a member of the Commonwealth.