Published Statistics Tell A False Story

Submitted by Looking Glass

Popular Mullins Beach

In terms of statistics we are fed false stories about the economy and in doing so delude the people. The economy already in deep distress it leaves one to wonder about the knowledge, understanding and competence of some of our caretakers. Among other things it reflects a shortage or absence of investigative journalism. Debt will continue to rise. In order to restore ‘restore’ and or the economy we need to look beyond our optimism and thinking to reality. Does it take a study to tell us that oil (and other) prices will rise in an all importing country?

We were told the tourism industry never had more than 2.7% growth since 1974 but will surpass this limit (Advocate4/11/2011). Really? We had 700,000 visitors between last January and June with 58900 in the last month and 38600 by cruise ships (Advocate8/11/2011), much more than low costCubawho set a new record for tourist arrivals in 2011. This in the height of a global recession when tourism in other places declined is truly an improvised record. Am I to understand we had more than 500,000 visitors a year in the last few years? If that were the case so many hotels would not have closed.

Visitors need to be defined UK and North American flights toBarbadosare mainly weekend ones with hardly more 100 passengers per flight. Bringing 58900 visitors in a month would require more than 100 flights. They are few direct flights from the UK and North America to Guyana, St Vincent and Grenada etc. Visitors (in transits) to them and vice-versa pass through Barbados and in the process contribute very little by way of spending. Are they included?

At least one cruise liner per week for 24 weeks with about 1600 visitors would have arrived. Few visiting ships have that capacity so how many cruise ships actually called? Passenger spending at least by implication is exaggerated. We were told that ship passengers spend on average $75 per day. But not all passengers do not come ashore and spend. People servicing the industry tell a different story.

Now we are exploring viable initiatives inLatin AmericaandAsiaand existing partnerships with a few airlines (advocate1/11/2012). Do we really expect much fromChinaorAsia? It suggests inability to understand, promote and market tourism. Air Canada has announced direct flights to Grenada and Turks and Caicos, KLM to Cuba and Aruba, West Jet weekly flights to Puerto Rica, Copa airline from Panama to Nassau and Jamaica, BA new flights to Antigua and Barbuda, Virgin Airline to Cancun, American Eagle to the Dominican Republic. And the outlook for 2012 is said to be encouraging once the international economy settles down (Advocate1/18/2012). Expect more improvised statistics.

The debt story is more outrageous. In 1994 a former Central Bank officer pegged the national debt (the sum total of all budget loan guarantees and contingencies) at $26bn. In fact the debt exceeded $100bn. The sale of the Port in 1995 reduced the national debt to about $82bn in 2000. We were told that debt doubled from 2.5bn in 1994 to almost 5.5bn in 2000 (Nation7/19/06). In Barbados Is Bankrupt (4/22/06) debt rose from 2bn to 4bn under the BLP; this at a time when the entire public service debt reached 110% of GDP (Nation4/22/06) then doubled from 2bn to 5n. Later we were told debt had narrowed to 6% of GDP by 2006. If that was indeed the case then ‘Sustainability’ would not have been a problem. No wonder the IMF (2006) noted the weaknesses of statistical information coverage and transparency of data projected debt at 75% of GDP by 2011 and recommended an “ambitious plan for adjustment and structural reform.”

In 2011 the total national debt was about $64bn, the current DLP share 3-4bn. Very little of our debt is held locally. True the debt did not originate with the BLP but exploded under it. Had they not sell (privatize) the Port in 1995, the airport in 2001, the National Bank (BNB), Gems and the St Lucy hospital among other things the debt today would have exceeded $100bn.

Even more disturbing are the comments and observations of some ‘prominent’ economists, politicians and some with access to the facts. According to a former Central Bank Governor “the island’s financial system and overall economy were not in crisis, and even though 2009 will be a challenging year the system had certain buffers to safeguard the island’s economic fortunes. That the buffers remain a mystery leaves one to suspect the sale of ‘commercial assets’ recently suggested by the former PM. Dr Alleyne told us that debt was not a problem, “much of what was being said critically about the local economy is really a failing of intellect” (Nation 11/28/2006). This at a time when at least one in every three dollars spent was borrowed. And one Blackman had the temerity to announce that the “effect of the crash (global recession) should be minimal inBarbados(Nation3/5/09). This at a time when the IMF projected the volume of goods, services and trade to fall by 12% in 2009.

Now we are said to be asset rich but cash strapped and that “some of government Commercial Assets should be privatized on the undertaking that the proceeds should be entirely used to pare down the public debt” (Advocate25/11/2011). According to the 1991 PSIGeneva conference 83 governments had taken steps to privatize at least one industry by 1988. However no one sold their scarce assets like banks, ports or airports. Exactly what does he mean by commercial assets? About the only ones left are land and water.

Economic and debt management require cutbacks in spending, structural adjustment and accumulation enough hard currency to service debt. The sale of scarce government assets may temporarily reduce debt burden, but it will not promote ‘development’ and will surely increase the cost of living. In our case it has already resulted in social and environmental degradation (sale of land and homes). The St Lucy hospital wants or wanted work permits for a 100 or more foreign workers. Consider the socio-economic implications of an increased foreign workforce. Given the state of the economy it is unlikely debt will be retired in 20 years. We are already looking at a large mass sitting on the edge of serfdom.

To those who accused governments of creating poverty for future generations you are responsible. You are the economy. That government has or should have the where-with-all to supply the ingredients for a grand, conspicuous lifestyle to which we have a divine right is delusional. Contrary to belief governments do not create employment. Champagne taste with bread and fish coppers generates poverty.Barbados has not the where-with-all to support lavish lifestyle for all and no country has obligation to facilitate the lifestyle you desire. We import everything and produce nothing. Recently some Bajan visitors wanted to know where to get Pudding and Souse and a Bajan girl asked “what is that.” Locally grown food like yam, eddoes, breadfruit etc have been replaced by foreign foods and with it an increase in breast cancer and declining health. Time to soil the hand, grow some food and adjust your lifestyle or return to servitude.

19 thoughts on “Published Statistics Tell A False Story

  1. Surprise we have had no discussion on the position of Dominica and St. Vincent regarding Sinckler’s claim that they have not made any decision to invest in Four Seasons project.

  2. Don’t you all realize that this Minister is one BIG LIAR? Why would the other islands invest in Barbados? We complain about outsiders all the time buying over local companies so why should they put money into it?

    Didn’t you all hear over the news recently that the IMF has warned the Barbados government to freeze wages,curb spending and stop borrowing heavily from the NIS? It seems that this administration can’t hear but they are going to feel. The have ignored the IMF and plunged their filthy paws into the NIS to fund 4 Seasons.

    One minute you are hearing how Tourism is up and we will be having a great winter season. Then a few months down the line we hear that the season wasn’t that good and there had been a drop in arrivals. I know for a fact that Tourist arrivals are down because I used to see many hired cars with tourist passing my property on their way to the sights in the North, I am seeing fewer now. This game is played over and over again. People have recognized these tricks the politicians are playing with figures. I don’t believe anything these people say, if they tell me to stop I will run as fast as I can.

  3. You sock it to them Island Girl. I said to someone on the bus the other say, listening to the same shocking story about how we are about to grow…in the middle of the recession when every country in the world has declined? That is a whole lot of Nonsense. The Central bank of Barbados is showing itself to be a great big fabricator as well. Barbadians will hardly believe this. As for the journalists, nuff said. It strikes me as more than strange that suddenly, with the whole world in an economic tiff, we are suddenly by some miracle beginning to rise from the ashes.

    Yes, somebody did not know what donc/dunc was, the other day. Amazing. David Suzuki said our carbon footprint was more than 25 times the global average when he was here a few years ago.

    No one sells scarce assets – the UK did it and had to reverse. Poor countries do not take those risks. We need some independent economic analysts. Problem is in Barbados, there are none.

    • It should be interesting the response by Minister Sinckler to being called a liar by two regional PMs.

      Clyde Mascoll also made the point recently that the government recently stopped including 1 day arrivals which obviously distorts the numbers.

    • It would be interesting to hear from Chairman of NIS Tony Marshall on the IMF scathing evaluation about how funds are being used by government.

    • In fact the question should be whether the Investment Committee of the NIS approved the strategy of increasing investment in government as enunciated by Governor Worrell.

  4. Those are major claims about debt at 100b where is your evidence. It sounds outrageous. Are you seriously saying that someone bought the port for 18 billion dollars, are you crazy. The Port was corporatized made to operate on a commerical basis with the government being the main shareholder. It finances most of its expenses, so it saves expenses it coulld not lower the debt it slowed the growth of debt. Parts of your post are ridicuous and crazy, and your figures do not add up. You are accusing gov’ts and the civil service of borrowing money and guaranteeing loans without going to Parliament. If debt rose from (your words) 26b 1994 to nearly 100b by 2006 then borrowings etc would have to be at the rate of 5b per year, how much was posted in Parliament. Are you real or stupid? That would have leaked in Barbados every since and I never heard that. And furthermore, you juxtapose the DLP scandal of borrowing more than 3b in one term 3 or 4 years as a small matter next to 64b to make it look small, while stating that debt rose from 2.5b to 5.5b under BLP over a 14 year period and called it an explosion. . Nobody, nobody ever ever seen that crap in Barbados since the beginning of our time.

    If you do not understand the figures stay clear of them. The national debt has never been 6% of GDP you or the papers are mixing up the national debt which tends to be in excess of 60% with the fiscal deficit which should be at 2% of GDP but is at times larger, two different things. Reporters do not always get it right and politicians often interchange the two either because they don’t understand it or deliberately mislead the public. It confused me for a long tiime unitl I asked to have it explained, you should too.

    I don’t blame you for the tourism numbers because they leave me mystified, more arrivals, less money but we counting bodies as growth now.

    If you want to come off as intellectual and objective lacing a perfectly good post with elements that smack of folly, partisan blindedness, exaggerations will not cut it. If you are alarmed at what is happening to the country’s finances and where it is now fine; if you are dismayed by the pitiful performance of the DLP, you have my sympathy; but if you want to put forward an intelligent and intellectually sound analysis, leave out the crap.


    You missed the Writers TITLE “Published Statistics Tell A False Story”.

    The author is pointing out various government and media reports, that throw numbers around which do not really add up, 2 + 2 = 10 as the politician would have you believe. The IMF has questioned (doubted) Barbadian Statistics for years as the country does not subscribe to a standard which other developed countries use for statistical reporting.

    Figures don’t lie but liars figure.

    The facts are that Barbados is in terrible financial and economic state and the Chief Politician and his Indians are in way over their heads and the opposition Chief and Indians are just as inept.

    Now, Dr. WHO form the Barbados Central Bank received his doctorate form Mickey & Mini Mouse University and is no more than a GOVERNMENT lackey.


    The figures in his article doesn’t make any sense because they were given by the Central Bank or the Government at different time periods. Lies are easily detected nowadays because someone can pull an article from 5 years ago. Most people have short memories so if I tell them I have $5 now and then next week tell them I had $50 last week they would believe.

  7. @ WordSong

    I do not see anybody in Barbados who is hungry. Barbadians are rich and better than the other Caribbean Islands! We might even may be a little spoilt from having so much in abundance that most of us are overweight just like the Americans. Sometimes it is even hard to tell the difference between an middle class American and the average Bajan as we buy and wear the same expensive name brand clothing except we as Bajans pay more because of gov’t duties! The ownership of smart phones and other expensive electronic devices that suck electricity voraciously is so widespread that even school children who are not earning any income have them as toys. People from developed countries come to Barbados and are amazed at how high the cost of living is and yet we are able to consume so much. We got it!

    We live in paradise in Barbados! When will we see it!

  8. People have stopped listening to the experts and depend solely how much goods the money can delivered. thats is enough advice to tell them how the economy is doing not some paid political intelligente with a purpose in mind.

  9. I don’t own a smart phone, I don’t wear brand name clothes, and I am not rich! I own my home (250 yrs old) and a car ( 10yyrs). I have a very high food bill, water and electric rates. And I am not rich.

  10. island gal you are disingenious as is your wont Sinckler said subject to correction St. Vincent and Dominica NIS’ were interested in investing. What Gonzalves and Skerritt told the BLP rag nation newspaper is confirmed that both stated there was talk at some level but no decision. Gonzalves already invests in Barbados with the nightly boat runs of marijuana from St. Vincent to Barbados using up our taxpayer money on coast guard and police trying to stem the flow. Vincentians are arrested and charged daily with runnuing drugs to Barbados even their pilots do it. So Gonzie investing.
    NIS is doing the right thing investing in 4Seasons case closed.

  11. (Mistake #1): Prior to David’s demise, he said that giving 4 Seasons the money to pay contractor’s outstanding money that it can make or break his Government.
    (Mistake 2):. Yet, we are now talking about using our NIS money to jump-start the same 4 Seasons. Who are advising the Government to pelt way our money since we will never see our money again.
    (Mistake #3): Who gave the permission for Jepter Ince to speak economic matters on behalf of the Government on Brass Tacks Sunday? Is he the Minister of Finance?. Everything was “He” told the IMF this and that and how he approved NIS money to assist Trinidad and how giving the NIS money to 4 Seasons would assist in increase employment thus the NIS will get back their money. What a load of garbage. I saying it now, the first set of money dead and if we give them our NIS money, that money dead too. The only thing he had on Mascoll was his constant shouting. PM Stuart, bite the bullet and get rid of these incompetent “d”conomist.

    • @TMW

      You are correct the debate was poor on the talk show this morning.

      The contributions from Kellman and Ince fell way short from what was expected and frankly did not inspire confidence to Independents.

      There was a lack of respect between the participants with repeated disparaging off-mike remarks by Mascoll.

      All and all very poor.

      The government must really look at how it manages its PR leading up to the next election.

      During the program Ryan Straughn the President of the Barbados Economic Society stated boldly the government needs to send home people from the public sector and there was no followup by the moderator.

      More importantly the question was not put squarely to Mascoll to explain if the BLP agreed.

  12. Are we having problems in understanding when someone is having a discussion and instead run off stating that it is an approval? How on earth can someone make three (3) mistakes within a week regarding loans for 4 Season. Let’s get the real Finance Minister from St. Philip by the name of Dr. Estwick. Case closed.

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