Sadly every five years or so, we have grown accustomed to, and sometimes forced into hearing some pretty outrageous utterings from those that either represent us in Parliament, or who aspire to. A video recently posted on YouTube [St.Michael North Nomination – Ronald Toppin MP] really grabbed my attention, features such a person, while addressing his constituents. Perhaps the phrase ‘political silly season’ explains this situation graphically.
I quote verbatim. ‘The Barbados Tourism Authority owes $42 million’, ‘is in serious debt’ and is literally ‘running from bailiffs around the world’.
Perhaps from an ordinary citizen, these comments could simply be disregarded as pure speculation, but on this occasion, they were spoken by the Shadow Minister of Tourism. Despite the video being widely distributed, no statement in rebuttal, up until the time of submitting this column has been made by the current actual Minister of Tourism or a spokesperson for the BTA, so we are all left to speculate if these statements are factually true.
Mr. Toppin was rather vague on what exactly the quoted $42 million owing covered. Does this include the $30 million loan taken out to subsidise the disastrous chartering of the cruise ship, Carnival Destiny, for instance, which of course, took place under the previous administration.
Knowing the worldwide coverage of social media sites, the question that really has to be raised, are these seemingly ‘informed’ comments in the national interest. To remind readers that YouTube is the most popular video sharing site and the second largest search engine, only after Google.
Did this person consider the incalculable harm that could be inflicted on the reputation of the destination. It would be almost impossible to function as an effective national marketing organisation without the support of advertising agencies, public relations companies and the various forms of paid media. Let alone the airlines who currently service Barbados, that Mr. Toppin also mentioned are supposedly owed monies. We have already lost substantial airlift and gateways including Philadelphia, Atlanta and more recently, Dallas/Fort Worth.
The video also appears to have official Barbados Labour Party approval as it was posted by BLPNews, which has a direct link to the opposition website. Of course the slowness in the BTA settling its bills is nothing new. Many will tell you that it has been going on for years. What is surprising, is the amount quoted and why has it has been allowed, if correct, to have lingered on so long. Especially, when the current Chairman has a degree in accounting and spent a number of years with one of the world’s largest auditing firms. Surely, he is kept fully briefed on financial matters and realises the damaging knock-on effect this could have.
When for instance, the next tender goes out, either for renewing an existing account, or replacing the current advertising agency, I cannot imagine any reputable company pitching for the business, would not conduct fiscal due diligence to gauge a potential client’s track history of prompt settlement.
With so many critical issues already challenging our number one foreign currency earner, is it too much to hope, that the contributions made by our politicians, either in power or opposition, leading up to the election are constructive and enlightened.