Government Be Nimble, Government Be Quick

Government Headquarters

In the immediate post-Independence period Barbados was blessed with political leadership which laid the foundation for the social and economic success we are still reaping today.  The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow and the late J.M.G. ‘Tom’ Adams are the two who stand head and shoulders above the others  we should credit. Some may argue that the local and global economic environment carried the economic capacity which afforded  Barbados the opportunity to implement social and economic programmes that resulted in ‘Barbados punching above its weight class’.  Regrettably that fertile condition has long disappeared and now more than at any time since adult suffrage, Barbadians will need to lever against the knowledge capital which we should have accumulated as a result of the enormous investment in education.

What we have seen from the political leadership since Barrow and Adams has been a ‘follow-pattern’ approach which has not resulted in any fundamental and strategic policy formulation and planning to ensure Barbados charts its own path; operating in a global economy not withstanding. Even as the world is changing literally by the week Barbados remains stapled to the economic fundamentals which have guided our path striking back to the Barrow and Adams era.

As is our wont given our proclivity for things American, Barbadians have become increasingly divisive on the issues driven by partisan political stripes. Not dissimilar to what the world is witnessing in the USA. Given that neither the Barbados labour Party or the Democratic Labour Party are not philosophical so far apart on the issues, it begs the question why a nation which boasts of a superior education system would allow ‘yardfowlism’ to compromise the greater national interest. More and more Barbadians have become adept at ‘rationalizing’ every problem which manifest itself in Barbados.

An article posted in Aljazeera has captured some points which should give Barbadians reason to pause and reflect. Although economic globalization has unleashed many advantages to the world it has also brought its challenges. One of the biggest has been how globalization has exposed the unskilled or inadequately educated citizen. Here is a quote from the article which resonated:

“What globalisation requires, therefore, are smart government policies. Governments should promote high-quality education, to ensure that young people are prepared to face global competition. They should raise productivity by building modern infrastructure and promoting science and technology. And governments should cooperate globally to regulate those parts of the economy – notably finance and the environment – in which problems in one country can spill over to other parts of the world.”

In a single paragraph the author, a Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has identified where Barbados and the Caribbean has fallen short in the last 20 years. Barbados prides itself on its education system which has perfected turning out the traditional graduate. Unfortunately we have not yet mastered doing the same for the technical and other non traditional vocations. In a world where we have become interconnected our ability to grow GDP or whatever economic measure we use must be to anchored to a strategy which is aligned to what is required in the global market. This is even more critical for a 2×3 country.

Coincidentally Rawle Brancker, a former cricketer and an entrepreneur of repute, delivered an interesting DLP lunch time lecture this week. He suggested that in the area of alternative energy, especially solar energy, Barbados should have been a leader given our head start. He also talked about the importance of government, banks and the small business sector collaborating to avoid catastrophic failure. He opined that the protracted global recession has decimated the capital base of SME’s in Barbados which historically have always been undercapitalized. The other point he could have made is the need for best in class regulation to better regulate companies with a regional footprint, CLICO anyone?

So far successive governments have demonstrated a lack of political will to recalibrate and in some cases dismantle parts of our education system to ensure it remains relevant in today’s world. If we continue to be laissez-faire and ignorant as to what is required to negotiate the global economic turbulence, then our socio-economic mosaic will begin to blur as it is already showing the signs. After all we are about building a society.

0 thoughts on “Government Be Nimble, Government Be Quick

  1. Why is it so difficult to appreciate that to build our economy mainly on tourism and international business is a joke and not sustainable in a world of globalization? On the flipside we import most of our food and let us not forget fossil fuel and we talk about growing as if we have an economy like Guyana which can gain advantage from exporting things produced. Read something somewhere recently, we have to start producing stuff that people want and sell it to get foreign exchange.

  2. David | October 9, 2011 at 7:38 AM |
    …because you continue to elect leaders with the right “lineage” per your earlier comment. If you did not know of Barbados, but of its policies, etc., would you picture Barbados as it is?

    • @Alien

      The comment about lineage was to state the obvious.

      This is the psyche of the Bajan as far as their expectation of our political leader is concerned.

      The acrimony within the BLP exposes the point, Arthur/Payne versus Mottley. A clash of classicisms etc.

      The last thing the party machinery funded by the shadows want is someone like Estwick.

      Do you think they will sit back and allow it to occur?

  3. @ DAVID

    From that wonderful piece one can deduce that “JACK” is neither “NIMBLE” neither is “JACK” QUICK*…

    So “JACK” won’t be able to jump over the current “CANDLESTICK”!!!

    During the 19th century James “Orchard” Halliwell poetically, lyrical, rhythmic words portended that this idea of “jumping a candlestick” was part of the magical sophistry of “FORTUNETELLING” – a ubiquitous challenge which suggested more of CONJECTURE* & GUESSWORK* than actual hard empirical factualization…

    Interestingly enough, GOVERNMENTS* and politicians are all still fanning these same decadent flames with most trying to jump the proverbial candlestick – yet “CLUELESS” as to how to provide any real answers to the current ills which plague our economies…

    [10] YEARS AGO WE HAD:

    Steve “JOBS”
    Bob “HOPE” &
    Johnny “CASH”


    No “JOBS”
    No “HOPE” &
    No “CASH”…

    It maybe time to reclassify the pro rata pay of our political representatives…

    If pay must be based on performance – then most of these smart arses* will be earning MINIMUM* WAGES**…

    Let see if they could live like some of our young mothers with [2] children and some old FOLKS* who have to choose between “heat” or “EAT”…

    Time for these “BASTARDS” to swallow a “REALITY PILL”*…

  4. That said, the super wealthy of the USA, or at least some of them, seem to make material financial contributions toward various causes in their country, whether out of the goodness of their hearts or in appreciation of the support received from the society. Unless really quietly done, this does not appear to happen in Barbados. We have some individuals in Barbados that have benefited, sometimes disproportionately, from this society. Taxpayers of Barbados should not have to look for all, even if some, of the funds for projects of national importance, such as a new hospital, not when we have individuals that have earned billions from the support of the society. Is there something unique about Barbados that does not motivate the wealthy, who have much more that enough, to contribute to our wellbeing in a meaningful way?

    • This article makes for interesting reading and you should keep top of mind that T&T boasts if Integrity Legislation:

      Port boss axed
      Transport Minister: Well he was never hired so I don’t know how he could be fired
      By Ria Taitt Political Editor
      Story Created: Oct 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM ECT
      Story Updated: Oct 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM ECT
      The Government has decided to terminate the appointment of Port Authority chairman Clive Spencer, who refused to carry out instructions allegedly given by Transport Minister Devant Maharaj to fire all the legal representatives used by the Port and reassign all work to Fortis Chambers and the law chambers of Subhas Panday, according to information received by the Sunday Express.
      Sources said Cabinet last Thursday accepted a recommendation from the line Minister Maharaj to revoke Spencer’s appointment.
      Spencer was appointed chairman in January of this year, when Jack Warner was the Minister with responsibility for the Transport portfolio.
      Questioned yesterday on whether a decision was taken to fire Spencer, Maharaj said: “Well he was never hired so I don’t know how he could be fired”.  He said the position of Port Authority chairman was an “appointment”.
      Was Spencer to be dis-appointed? Maharaj was asked.
      “Well all of us could be disappointed. I could be disappointed. And when you look at the track record you have (former ministers) Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, (Rudrawatee) Nan Ramgoolam and (former Police Service Commission chairman) Nizam Mohammed. Once you are there at the pleasure of the Government you could be replaced in a day or in a heartbeat. Nobody has a mortgage on any position. MPs have a five year contract with the people and at the end of the five years the people decide if they want to renew it or not,” Maharaj stated.
      So was he confirming that a decision was taken to terminate Spencer’s appointment?
      “I wouldn’t comment on that. I run my business with the boards rather than in the media. When there is something to come out, it would come out, alright?”.
      Maharaj had denied in a previous Express article that he had ever issued any instructions to fire all the legal representatives used by the Port and reassign all work to Fortis Chambers and the law chambers of Panday.
      But Spencer told the Sunday Express that he was informed that the Cabinet considered Maharaj’s recommendation that he be removed as chairman and the Cabinet concurred with the recommendation. Spencer said he was not formally notified by letter but “that’s on its way I believe”.
      “It would mean that my appointment would have been revoked for speaking the truth. I really couldn’t care too damns,” he said, adding “These people are too vulgar”.
      “When they can’t drive you into subordination they try to destroy you,” he said.
      “I have done nothing wrong. All I have said is I am unable to carry out an instruction because it lacks a number of things with which I would not be associated. And he (Maharaj) got on his high horse and decided to come for the jugular. But I have gotten accustomed to that kind of absurdity,” said Spencer, who was a former President General of the Seamen and Waterfront Trade Union (SWWTU) .
      He added: “When I was 30 years old I took on Eric Williams (former prime minister) and succeeded, You mean I would take him (Maharaj) on at 75? Come on! Steups. Waste of time!”
      He said the decision to fire him was the sequel to his questioning the Minister’s directive to fire the five law firms currently used by the Port—MG Daly and Partners, Seenath Jairam, Kenneth Thompson, Hamel Smith and Co and Kelvin Ramkissoon—and hire instead “Jagdeo Singh and Subhas Panday”.
      Singh is member of Fortis Chambers, along with Larry Lalla, Randy Depoo and Derek Ali.
      Spencer said notwithstanding the Minister’s denial, there was a lot of correspondence between himself and the Minister on this issue.
      He recalled yesterday that at one stage when he asked Maharaj for written confirmation of his directive, Maharaj told him not to expect a reply to this letter.
      “So I wrote him another letter telling him that he told me not to expect a reply to that first letter,” Spencer said.
      In an exclusive article published on September 12, which quoted a September 2, Spencer in a strongly worded letter told Maharaj: “Minister, notwithstanding my preparedness to comply with all legitimate instructions issued by your good self, it would be entirely remiss of me, in fact bordering perilously on irresponsibility to fail to draw to your attention the potentially and substantially deleterious consequences of my placing before the Authority and hastening to implement your directives without further thought, due care and consideration…The initiative will surely assume the visage of a politically inspired, motivated and propelled witchhunt and especially when viewed against the backdrop of the proposed replacements.”
      Warning against political meddling, the letter urged the Minister to “consider the nature and potency of the response that would surely emanate from the wholesale removal of the Authority’s panel of attorneys, particularly where such removal will not have been effected on the premise of any incompetence, dereliction of duty, lack of professionalism or any other negativity, real or imagined or contrived”.
      Spencer said yesterday he would not be intimidated by any “two by four minister who feels that he can tell me to do things which are improper and that I am going to do it unchallenged”.
      “He probably thinks that in recommending my revocation he is hurting me but he isn’t. He is just letting me go home and rest,” Spencer quipped.
      “At 75 I don’t care too damns what they want to do. When the God Lord bless you with 75 years to your credit, 75 good, honest and hardworking years, you don’t take on little shrimps like Devant Maharaj. Waste of time!”
      Spencer said the Board had not been meeting since he and Maharaj were at loggerheads on this matter.
      He said four Commissioners—(who he named)—have not been attending meetings, depriving the Board of a quorum and whenever they show up they move motions of adjournment on matters that should not be adjourned.
      Spencer said the issue of the legal briefs was not the only point of contention between himself and Maharaj. He said the Minister had been using certain board members to go to senior managers demanding information such as how many vacant positions there were, when were they filled, how many were still to be filled, how many were on contract and what salary the persons were being paid.
      “The sort of information should be obtained from the Chairman, Secretary or General Manager/CEO,” Spencer said.
      “And it was being done in such an unfettered manner- with people saying ‘the minister want this…and that…and he want it by Friday’. And it was all in emails,” he said.
      Spencer said, however, “the ‘S’ hit the fan when the Minister took “the big bite” of instructing the board to fire wholesale the panel of attorneys.  “By which time he (Maharaj) was calling me the following morning, demanding that I expedite this directive, right away.”
      And in another Sunday Express exclusive published on September 12, which quoted Port Authority Board Minute 671/11 of August 25, director Jalim Ramnarine said he had been directed by the Transport Minister to convey the Minister’s instructions for the “immediate termination of all legal briefs” and the reassignment of work to the Fortis Chambers and Subhas Panday and Co.
      Spencer who served as General Manager of the Port Authority between 1992 and 1997, said he had too much experience as a senior public servant to tell a Minister ‘no’ rightaway.
      “But you tell him in due course why you can’t do it and that if he would clear that situation for you, then you can do it”.

  5. @ David, you really giving the lame duck newspapers in Barbados a run for their money when it comes to investigative stories.Great article!

  6. The politicians these days are just looking for ways to line their pockets until their time is up. Pure and simple.

    The world is falling apart, as it has many times before, and it will only be a matter of time until the crap hits the fan. When it does, there will be some who will come out to build it back up, and some who will follow just to get their money’s worth…AGAIN!

    • Did the eyes of David deceive him when he saw a picture in today’s press of Leroy Parris of Clico fame, Minister John Boyce and lawyer Hal Gollop at the function yesterday at Valerie housing project?

      They were all with drinks in hand having a hearty laugh.

  7. David | October 9, 2011 at 9:21 AM | @Alien What do you think will have to happen to create a new normal?

    Life is simple and nothing is as complicated as we make it seem to be. I really do not think it is difficult. Our leaders need to have a deep genuine love for all of their people and make decisions that are for the good of all. Our leaders tend to protect people that do not need protection – people that have the resources to compete in this country under alternative policies. The protected see our leaders as ignorant, acting in the interest of the privileged, at the expense of others, to be manipulated. The position of the privileged – why work hard for it, if it comes easily. As I previously said, we are not as smart as we would like to believe that we are.

    • @Alien

      You expounded well on what can best be described as a sound philosophical construct.

      Let us can start to factor a heavy dose of reality now.

  8. @ DAVID

    Yes there’s always HOPE* – that’s etched in the INVINCIBLE* nature of the HUMAN* spirit…

    What challenges us is the “WILL” to create that “HOPE”…

    It cannot be acquiesced from an “ARMCHAIR” sitting in front a cheap Chinese-made 52 in flat screen TV…

    You don’t put a soldier in a “LAZY-BOY CHAIR”…

    You put him in the heat of the battle…

    Many are too “COWARD” to even face the “MUSIC” far less a heated “BATTLE”…

  9. @ David:
    “Did the eyes of David deceive him when he saw a picture in today’s press of Leroy Parris of Clico fame, Minister John Boyce and lawyer Hal Gollop at the function yesterday at Valerie housing project?

    They were all with drinks in hand having a hearty laugh.”

    Are you surprised! These people are clearly telling us to “F off “.

    We are untouchable! Forensic audit or no forensic audit! Nothing will come of it except the passage of time and clogged memories of the policyholders.

    So you thought that FS was making joke when he said his pal is no leper.
    You could talk until your tongues drop out you can’t touch us. You touch one, you touch all!. Circle the DLP wagons, the BU posse is approaching!

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.