Notes From a Native Son: To Much Haste, Possible Waste

Hal Austin

In a moment of euphoric celebration, the Opposition BLP published a 15-point plan which it hopes will be a roadmap to power when the DLP Government finally decides to call a general election. It appears as if the BLP is so confident that the ruling DLP is destined to lose power whenever the general election is called, that it has decided to break with all conventional orthodoxies by publishing the fifteen key points, which presumably will be the centre of its manifesto. What makes this so surprising is that although former prime minister Owen Arthur is not considered an intellectual, he is widely regarded as one of the most astute political tactician of his generation.

Conventionally, opposition parties hold their powder dry, especially if the ruling party is digging a hole for itself through gross mis-management of the economy, preferring to maintain a ‘negative’ strategy – pointing out the weaknesses in government policy and reminding the electorate that had they been in power they would not have introduced such the policy being criticised. In such circumstances, one thing is clear, after nearly five years in power, the DLP government is still at sea, with some key advisers, who ought to know better, supporting its ineffective policies apparently purely out of self-interest.

Social and Health Policy:
If the BLP wanted to register the success of its conference, it is clear it should have avoided announcing any economic policies before taking power, on the grounds that until it had seen the books, the secret agreements the government had signed – such as the huge number or guarantees and loans the government has undertaken, such as the scandalous Four Seasons and the proposals for a Bds$800m new hospital, when what is badly needed is a proper public health programme and greater efficiency and bedside care at the QE Hospital.
But it could have telegraphed some of its social programmes, including health and social justice. but to propose a private health insurance policy is not only weird, but totally out of sync with the real needs of ordinary Barbadians.

First, a private health system is not the responsibility of government; that is a development for the private sector and the wealthy and middle class clients who think such an extravagant system would satisfy their health care needs. It is also bad policy in other ways. Two broad potential developments make this proposal untenable: although it may satisfy a need for the middle classes and the high net-worth West Cost residents, the reality is that in accident and emergencies patients would still have to fall back on the QE Hospital, or whatever replaces it.

At present we have a system in which ordinary people opt to enter the QEH as private patients because they are terrified of the way patients are treated in public wards. Further, not only is there a scandal of publicly contracted doctors ignoring public patients and stealing away to run their private practices, they even admit their patients to the QEH, where they are given preferential treatment. This is a problem that must be resolved.
In short, a future BLP government would face the moral hazard of ordinary tax payers subsidising middle class health care. This would be unacceptable.

The other major objection is that what is really now urgently needed is a comprehensive public health policy, covering ordinary people from the cradle to the grave. There are other short-comings with the 15-point plan. For one, the Opposition could have published a strategy for resolving the dog fight in the police, with the scandal of those who feel they have a ‘right’ to promotion challenging the authority of the commissioner in the courts being read the riot act.

We have the scandal of the meltdown in the education system – the future of our nation – with a trade union behaving like organised gangsters threatening that heads who refuse to bow to their diktats should be dismissed. Our planning laws are in chaos, with a series of micro decisions which, when aggregated, expose the lack of a national planning or land use programme. There is urgent need to resolve this crisis, including the attachment of conditionality to the massive building programme on the West Coast – in both the US and Britain a 20 per cent conditionality clause has been supported by all parties.

Section 106 of the UK’s 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, gives authorities the power to impose trade offs on property developers. We need a similar policy for the multi-million dollar West Coast developers.

Fiscal and Monetary Policy:
The BLP’s proposal to reduce VAT, the sales tax, from the present 17.5 per cent back to 15 per cent is fiscal suicide. In fact there is a very strong case for increasing VAT to 20 per cent while at the same time reducing income tax. In this way, ordinary workers would have more money in their pockets, while casual and imprudent spending would be heavily taxed, thereby encouraging people to save more. Such a policy, however, would also mean challenging the foreign-owned banks that are sitting on piles of cash and simply repatriating it back to Port of Spain and Toronto, leaving Barbadian households and businesses short of much-needed cash. This lack of financialisation is the real reason why Barbados is anchored in deep recession five years after the global banking crisis with no credible way out.

On this, critics such as central bank governor Dr DeLisle Worrell are right, although the reasons they have given – preserving foreign reserves – is wide of the mark. The obsession with foreign reserve is not rooted in sound macro-economics, but has become over the years a kind of religious mantra for orthodox economists who are too tired to think beyond the conventional intellectual parameters. With reserves of over Bds$1bn, the country is unnecessarily stock-piling cash for an eventuality that may never happen. It is unlikely that Barbados will face a crisis of a shortage of  essential commodities which would leave us starving; and, almost as unlikely, we would be isolated by an outbreak of Sars, or bird flu, or whatever pandemic that reserves are meant to hedge against. But by definition, we cannot gamble on the security of our country, but a Bds$500m reserve hedge would be more than adequate. Such a policy would create an immediate pot of over $500m which could be used to kick-start job creation in the small and medium enterprise sector.

Monetary policy should be driven by employment, and at the heart of this, as it is in every democratic nation in the world, is the creation of small and medium enterprises supported by a strong social enterprise sector, with the public sector acting as a safety net. In fact, Dr Worrell’s criticism – supported by the executive chairman of Four Seasons – shows quite clearly the political risk opposition parties runs when publishing their policy programme in the build up to a general election, apart from the manifesto, which should only be made public after the election date has been announced. By being selective with what it published, the ruling party and other rivals are an open sesame to launch counter attacks.

In the BLP’s case, the elephant in the room: the misguided decision to sell-off the Barbados National Bank (then astonishingly take a minority stake), leaving the business sector without any locally domiciled debt capital market. One of the first things people learn in financial economics is that without a well-funded debt capital market local businesses will be at the mercy of the retail banks for funding. And, if those banks are branches or wholly-owned subsidiaries of regional or North American banks, key lending decisions will not be made by local managers who know the local business environment, but in Port of Spain and Toronto.

Constitutional Change:
The other surprise revealing by the BLP is that of promised constitutional change. Although the constitution needs a radical overhaul, I am not sure if the Opposition had any intention of taking it down to the wire. If it does, it must first abandon the nonsense that the law-making and parliamentary systems in Barbados are based on the Westminster/Whitehall models.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with contemporary Westminster/Whitehall will find this claim comical. What is true is that from the founding of the House of Assembly, up until even the 1980s, this claim was broadly true, but times have changed. Constitutional change should start, not with the distraction of having a governor general or president, but with the constitutional role of the Senate. Rather than being a nursery for the elected lower house, the Senate should be a powerful review chamber, with one-off appointments for a seven-year term; members should be appointed for their expertise and experience and be independent, rather than as voting fodder for political parties. In this way, when bills come from the lower house they will be thoroughly scrutinised rather than having Senators voting along party lines.

The other area for great constitutional review is that of Caricom/CSME, which in theory is a much-needed vehicle for regional unity, but the present institution is just not working. Then there is the question of immigration from non-Caricom countries and the demographic changes this poses for the country.

Alternative Policy:
The BLP’s 15-point proposal does not include the much-needed credible programme for job creation, approaches for fixing some of the many dysfunctional national institutions – the police, education system, et al – nothing about the unfairness of the fiscal transfer imbedded in the system, which has led to ordinary Barbadians, many of them living in hovels or over-crowded homes, subsidising the multi-million dollar homes of foreign millionaires living on the West Coast and the institutionalisation of tax evasion. In fact, on the contrary, many of the proposals in the 15-point plan will further drill down the historic inequalities which have, for hundreds of years, left huge sectors of society alienated from the many opportunities which are sometimes available.

Ten good alternative strategies would have been: reversing the catastrophe of selling BNB; launching a criminal investigation in to the collapse of Clico; reform of the civil service; reforming the educational sector, from pre-school to university, including a new funding arrangement for the UWI; lower the age of majority to 16; raising the school-leaving age to 18; abolish the Defence Force; launch a Sovereign Wealth Fund; introduce a form of national service; and, introduce a compulsory long-term saving scheme.

Analysis and Conclusion:
In the final analysis, the forthcoming general election was always the BLP’s to lose; all it had to do was to show unity, which it is doing with the love-in between Mia Mottley and the Mr Arthur, keep its powder dry, and just keep exposing the flaws in DLP policy. It could have done all this without revealing details of its likely economic and social policies. However, having decided to make public its thoughts on policy, the BLP could have said made a bolder statement by promising to freeze the salaries of members of parliament within twenty-four hours of coming to power, not just for a single parliamentary session, but for a full term. That simple device would have sent a nationwide message that the trough had been taken away, that the gravy train had hit the buffer; that it is belt-tightening all round.

The Opposition could also have promised exactly what the Irish government did by entering early talks with the unions about freezing public sector pay and imposing a moratorium on recruitment. As things stand, the general election is still up for grabs.

105 thoughts on “Notes From a Native Son: To Much Haste, Possible Waste

  1. One thing about you Mr. Austin, when you make a submit…it organize…. I not go agree with you on ‘haste’…. but.waste… we had plenty of that now for 4 yrs..the latest Ax…..No buddy, with 8 weeks til a gong -a-dong and backside of the DLP exposed like cherries reddi for plucking, what could they do now to steal any of our ideas?. Far less, now more an advantage…(.Vat decrease), showing the people BLP aint sleeping or flamming when the time come….we bout ‘buzziness’..true BEES

    • @Onions

      As usual you conveniently ignore that Hal throws blame at the BLP as well?

      All the ills of Barbados is located in the last 4 years?

      You don’t recall that IADB reports dating back to 2006 called for institutional strengthening of the insurance and credit union sector which was ignored. The we had the collapse of CLICO?

      The problems of Barbados are structural and was bound to surface eventually. The world crisis has caused the waters to recede to expose our nakedness.

  2. Man David..for once call a spade a spade and not a shovel……could anyone serious say …the last four years was all but a total mess…Barum Bailey could not have put on a better show…

    • @onions

      The last four years our open economy has been buffeted by the global economic slowdown not so? What was your expectation?In times of plenty we did not build forex generating capacity from inside out. Everything is externally driven.

  3. So wait…all these other countries in the Caribbean were not also subject to global economic slow down…take St .Lucia for instance…how come their tourism blooming and our Almond shut down?…spade a spade man…We too ready wid plaster and excuses and just won’t face up to WHAT WENT DOWN…..

  4. 43 hotels shut down…..air flight lifts cancelled….Ralph Taylor Mr. Connectivity shove aside…. Rice instead of peas….Can I leave tourism now and go to the Vat reform?

  5. @Onions

    You always focus on the micro stuff at the expense of strategy. You seek to compare St. Lucia to Barbados which has a higher standard of living and consequent a higher cost of living. Please lift the argument, not all of us are partisan.

  6. @ Hal Austin:
    “.. lower the age of majority to 16; raising the school-leaving age to 18;..”

    Hal, could you please clarify your position on this one? Sounds like a bit of a contradiction here! What do you mean by “age of majority”? Are you referring to the voting age? Age at which a person can enter into legally binding contracts like marriage? Age of sexual consent which is already16?

    Could you also tell us what you propose should be done with the fiscally killing transfers to the varied unproductive- and in some cases irrelevant and redundant- statutory corporations aka political pork barrels and largesse dispensers?

    In the main I agree with you about the BLP slight prematurity in announcing the outline its so-called economic recovery programme. It has only given a bit of ammunition to the DLP to fire the dreaded privatization salvo across the bow of the BLP rescue ship. At this politically sensitive stage he should have allowed the exceedingly controversial matters to be peddled by the BLP partisan media hacks and blog commentators.

    Your suggestion that OSA should have announced that any new BLP government would institute criminal investigations into the CLICO debacle would have resonated well with those who seek fairness and justice and really set the cats of justice among the crooked CLICO rats being protected and fed by this DLP administration.

  7. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 8:44 AM |
    ” Everything is externally driven.”

    That’s not totally true, with a tiny bit of euphemism for soft landing!
    You have to admit that many problems that have negatively affected our forex earning sectors especially in tourism and international business have been of our own doing and within our own control.
    We have not kept a good house and still refuse at this late stage to clean up and put things in order. In times of plenty people tend to be indifferent, lackadaisical and don’t care two hoots about any bleak future. The adage of “saving for a rainy day” is rarely on the average household or country’s “thing to do list”. And you alluded to this yesterday in one of your contributions.

    It is when we are in the economic desert that is when we really have to be lean, efficient conserving and proactive to survive in order to find an oasis to prosper.

    We are right now going through our “desert” times.

  8. @Miller

    What you have described is a lack of leadership by Arthur exhibited in times of plenty and continued by the DLP. Now the people in all probability will have to return to the leadership which got spoiled by the honey and did not ensure public sector reform was efficiently executed. Instead Arthur surrounded himself with ‘consultants’ to circumvent the bloated and in some areas inefficient civil service. Let’s not discuss why it is bloated. Now we hear Arthur pushing business facilitating. Shall we hold our breath?

  9. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM |
    “which got spoiled by the honey and did not ensure public sector reform was efficiently executed.”

    What do you mean by public sector reform? There is no way that any programme of genuine public sector reform can be achieved without a fundamental concomitant programme of privatization.
    So we are back to the kernel of the matter. Which party has a current programme to achieve this altruistic goal of yours? The DLP has hypocritically refused to broach the subject except as to accuse the BLP of planning to fire 10,000 public sector workers.

    Here we are right smack in the wilderness and we are quibbling, squibbing squabbling over which direction to go. The compass points to a challenging route that leads to an oasis of rescue but requires bold and decisive leadership. But we can stay where we are and expend time and energy in political sabre-rattling while exhaling sterile hot air.

    We must go the route of privatization or die in the desert from FDI thirst and lack of access to foreign loans to finance our capital formation goals. Our so-called Caricom friends and international business associates are not prepared to send out any search party to rescue us unless we ourselves girdle our loins. Friend of all and satellite of none rings hollow when you are lost either at sea on in the wilderness.

    Your words repeated below carry a lot of weight and have not fallen on death ears (hopefully!).

    David | November 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM
    “These are matters the BU family has discussed many times over. What does any household which encounters difficulty do? All members of the household have to tighten their belts. As a country there continue to be the expectation that lifestyle should not be adjusted. Both political parties continue to fool the people that the government is responsible for the current state, vote out the government and the problem is solved. A listen to Brassacks today confirms. We have to get individuals to appreciate the need to make sacrifices. Is it not Mascoll who preaches that an economy is made up of aggregate demand?
    Let both political parties begin from this position. Can they do it?”

  10. @ DAVID
    RE You seek to compare St. Lucia to Barbados which has a higher standard of living and consequent a higher cost of living.


    • @GP

      The comment refers to Barbados ie Barbados has a higher standard of living and consequently a higher cost of living than St. Lucia hence the comparison by Onions is not accurate.

  11. Canada imposes visas on St Lucia and St Vincent”OTTAWA, Canada —

    “Beginning on Tuesday, citizens of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines now require a visa to travel to Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney “announced.

    A key reason why the Canadian government has imposed visa requirements on St Lucia and St Vincent is unreliable travel documents. In particular, criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports. In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports

    “These requirements will better protect the safety of Canadians by preventing foreign criminals from coming to Canada in the first place,” said Kenney. “

  12. SLP’s legacy: More debt, distract and spending!

    “On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, at the sitting of the House of Assembly, Saint Lucians witnessed the minister of finance table a motion to raise a sum not exceeding EC$250 million by the issuing of savings bonds for financing the 2012/2013 budget and for debt refinancing.

    This is absurdity of the highest order. Why? Because the SLP government’s current fiscal measures is devoid of cost containment measures and is overloaded with current expenditure, new borrowing and refinancing instruments that will not cure the deficit nor manage Saint Lucia’s debts.

    As of December 31, 2011, the unemployment rate was 21.2%, the public debt was EC$2.27 billion, the fiscal deficit was EC$254.4 million. Today, the debt to GDP ratio is 74%, an increase of 5.5% from 68.5% as of December 31, 2011, and your guess is as good as mine as every sector is growing in red.

    Therefore, the additional borrowing will further burden the country and advance the approach that will create no jobs — thus abandoning the path of a balanced budget anytime soon.

    Such irresponsible borrowing represents a mental collapse, misguided policy and leadership that is deficient with the courage to tell the true state of the Saint Lucian economy, and to pursue an economic policy that will lift the middle class and grow the economy.”

    Onions, please note carefully PARAGRAPH THREE very carefully!

    This is a St. Lucian writing about how it really is in St. Lucia, not a Bajan Moron trying to deceive Bajans with false information.

    Got it, Onions?

  13. What went wrong? Buckle your seat belts Saint Lucia!

    “Systemically, Saint Lucia is about to be burden into the Stone Age, and the smoldering wreckage in the aftermath of Kenny’s grand experimentation and his version of “the great leap forward”, will be felt throughout Saint Lucia for generations to come.
    In light of present day reality, the following are obvious.

    Already the awarding of generous tax exemptions; preferred awarding of contracts, extensive borrowing, laid-off workers, stalled projects, a dual system of justice, and an added burden on the public purse with the creation of new jobs for party hacks within the public service are all evident.

    And as the saying goes, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS for the boys and girls in the inner circle of the SLP, which in essence is what “Better Days” are all about and was designed to accomplish.

    Attention needs to be drawn to the proposed 15 percent VAT – the largest single tax in the history of Saint Lucia, complements the Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP).

    In their quest to deliver bread, freedom and justice,– they are about to impose a tax system on the struggling people of Saint Lucia, whether they are prepared for it or not.

    Reminiscent of Massa days!”

    this sounds like a preview of any future Barbados Labour Party Government.

    That is why Serrao and others are chomping at the bit.

  14. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 11:43 AM |

    Is it OK for us to compare ourselves favourably with countries like St. Lucia, Grenada St. Kitts and St. Vincent when it comes to unemployment statistics but not when it comes to other leading socio-economic indicators?

    Who then should we be comparing ourselves with in the region? What about Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica?

  15. @Miller

    You can’t cherrypick KPIs. For example let us pick Guyana whose GDP growth is fuelled by rise in world market price of commodities in mining. Guyana is not a service economy like Barbados so how can one compare? St. Lucia has a cheaper product so in an economic depressed market it becomes a more attractive destination.

  16. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 12:26 PM |

    I am not the one doing the cherry picking!
    People on this blog keep arguing that Barbados has a much more favourable unemployment statistic than St. Lucia and Grenada.

    I would much prefer that we compare ourselves with the Bahamas and Bermuda even the Cayman Islands. These countries have similar service oriented economies to Barbados.

    BTW, has our ‘ducking’ Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, gone on leave and the ‘measured’ PM holding the fort?

  17. Re: the continuing saga of the sale of the Barbados National Bank. Please explain the following story, taken from The Trinidad
    Express of November 02, 2012.

    Scotia offers $100m to small businesses

    …fund available until April 30, 2013

    Story Created: Nov 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM ECT
    Story Updated: Nov 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM ECT )

    Scotiabank will be offering export-minded companies the opportunity to access its $100 million Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) Export Development Fund in order to develop their export capacity.

    In her maiden speech as Scotiabank’s country head for Trinidad and Tobago, Anya Schnoor told stakeholders yesterday at the bank’s launch of Small Business Week that Scotia felt it needed to provide a special incentive to these companies.

    The fund will be available to members of various business associations until April 30, 2013.

    Schnoor, who replaces Scotia’s managing director Richard Young who has retired, said the bank sees the fund as a way for it to partner with the public and private sector to diversify the economy.

    The bank will also be reducing its prime lending rate from November 5 by 25 basis points (0.25 per cent) in line with the Central Bank’s reduction of the “repo” rate.

    Query: How is it – in a country with several locally-owned banks – Scotiabank can make this offer? What prohibits Scotiabank from making such an offer In Barbados? Does having a locally-owned bank help?

    • @Dennis

      Many factors maybe at play here. The size of the T&T market plus opportunity of the companies (nature of the business)in the export segment, are you sure the local companies in T&T not doing a similar thing? A new CEO of Scotiabank trying to make a mark in a saturated market perhaps?

      As far as Barbados is concerned could it be a lack of volume the issue? Yes this is where a government owned bank would add value by designing a lending policy which is aligned to national strategy.

  18. @ David
    David Thompson often cited the lower cost of living in St.Lucia as evidence that food prices in Barbados were too high and as such he could achieve reductions. At that time the same social services you now speak of were in existence in Barbados. The same David Thompson promised the moon and stars and no one asked him for details–promises that even without a global economic melt down the Barbadian economy could not afford.
    Unless there is a correlation between high unemployment and high tourist arrivals, your argument about St Lucia appears to obfuscate the issue, which is that despite the global recession St. Lucia’s tourism numbers and spend are increasing whilst the opposite is happening in Barbados.

  19. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 3:48 PM |
    “Yes this is where a government owned bank would add value by designing a lending policy which is aligned to national strategy.”

    Are you making out a case for the re-nationalisation of the ‘Republic’ Bank or the setting up of a new National bank? Why not revitalise the Barbados Development Bank of the 1970’s, then? What goes around comes around, sometimes!

    • @Millar

      If the problem we have is lack of efficiency and productivity why can’t we fix it?

      Selling our soul is the work around?

      Our children yet unborn will be ashamed of our legacy.

      We educate a Nation, half billion annually, and every thing we acquire we are now to sell.

      What does this do to our make up as a people?

  20. @enuff

    Have you looked at the quantum increase for St. Lucia (not %).

    It is easier to increase a smaller base number.

    We all know that the DLP’s general election promises last general election was a gimmick, let us make sure there is no repeat.

  21. @ blog

    Some people seem to misunderstand what is meant by age of majority. By that I mean giving 16 yr olds the vote, allowing them to marry and enter contracts, and have full rights of adults. This has nothing to do with the statutoty age of education, which I suggest should be raised to 18.
    On banking, the reality is that unless ambitious small businesses and the self employed get funding, either from banks or non-bank financial institutions, then the SME sector will never take off.
    Foreign-owned banks do not h ave the interest of Barb ados businesses at heart.
    It was a mistake to sell BNB. If the problem was one of poor management, that could have been corrected. And it is a bigger mistake not to form a post office bank.

  22. @Miller

    There is always room for a development bank because if you listen to the SBA, the schemes supported by Central Bank are too onerous to access and the funds managed by EGFL seem to lack ‘segment’ impact.

    BU’s comment was framed in the context of a national bank whose policies are for obvious reasons wired to the national DNA. Unlike Wickham who believes the effectiveness of bank should be measured by its profit making a la Republic bank.

  23. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM |
    ” .. and the funds managed by EGFL seem to lack ‘segment’ impact.”

    What do you mean by that, David? The mandate of the EGFL is ideally suited for business startups with forex earning potential that are in need of seed capital.

    The problem with the various funding agencies under the ultimate ‘control’ of Cabinet ministers is the also the cause of their abject failure. No rational economic decisions are made only those that suit the narrow political interest of the minister of the party in power. The Santia Bradshaw exposé on this blog is a case in point.

    Yes go ahead and restart a National bank under the control of politicians and we will be back here in 5-10 years time demanding its divestment.

    Scotia Trinidad can teach Scotia Barbados a thing or two.
    The problem here is that the local banks do not see a bright economic future for Barbados unless the State removes itself from an active day-to-day involvement in the economic life of the country and allow the economy to breathe and earn forex to fuel commercial activity and expansion.

  24. @David: See it as a foreign-owned bank seeing a niche that can generate additional revenues in a market that thrives on new and emerging small businesses. A market that sometimes takes risks [at times; excessive risk – a la CLICO]

  25. @ Hal Austin | November 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM |
    “Some people seem to misunderstand what is meant by age of majority. By that I mean giving 16 yr olds the vote, allowing them to marry and enter contracts, and have full rights of adults. This has nothing to do with the statutoty age of education, which I suggest should be raised to 18.”

    Does the above mean the parents or guardians would not be held responsible for students over the age of 16? Can the parents refuse to pay tuition and other related costs for students pass the “new” age of majority?
    What would the likes of Matthew Farley do when students break the school’s uniform and other rules? Dismiss them from school or haul them before the court for breach of contract? Certainly not making contact with the parents?

  26. It is economic illiteracy to suggest that the only measure of a bank is its profitability. Is that like Standard Chartered, Barclays, UBS, which one do we measure its usefulness by its profitability?
    It is this kind of silliness that holds back Barbados.

  27. @ Hal
    but to propose a private health insurance policy is not only weird, but totally out of sync with the real needs of ordinary Barbadians.

    One of the real needs of ordinary Barbadians is to be able to access high quality health care in a timely manner. With only ONE hospital on the island totally reliant on public funding it is near impossible for such to be achieved unless the government not only builds a new plant but increase emergency staff numbers, which means more money than the already $145m allocated to this institution. Cash strapped, the government is faced with increasing the QEH allocation hence decreasing another’s service, philanthrophy or encouraging private sector players to ease demand at the QEH. However for the latter to be viable volume and affordability are critical, and that is where affordable health insurance would come into play. If people are faced with a long wait over affordability, we all know what most would choose.

    with the scandal of those who feel they have a ‘right’ to promotion challenging the authority of the commissioner in the courts being read the riot act
    Who is challenging the Commissioner in court? I thought the officers who were recommended by the Commissioner were challenging the Police Services Board.

  28. @ David | November 2, 2012 at 5:14 PM |
    “If the problem we have is lack of efficiency and productivity why can’t we fix it? ”

    Let the NCC and MTW remove the debris and de-bushing remnants from the pavements and gutters within a standard 24 hour timeframe instead of the current 3-4 weeks to elapse and I might be inclined to listen to you on this one.

  29. @ Hal

    Section 106 of the UK’s 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, gives authorities the power to impose trade offs on property developers. We need a similar policy for the multi-million dollar West Coast developers.
    The Town Planning Act was amended in 2007 and a planning obligations i.e. S106 clause inserted. S106 agreements are highly dependent on viability and are now under serious threat since the recession as many projects have stalled due to these agreements forcing the government to recently advised that all be renegotiated, which will lead to many previously agreed terms discarded.

    Our planning laws are in chaos, with a series of micro decisions which, when aggregated, expose the lack of a national planning or land use programme.

    Utter rubbish. Read Sections 5 and 6 of the TCP Act.

  30. The Manifesto will include all the things that you believed were left out and the other things will be tweaked. The BARBADOS LABOUR PARTY is well on its way to winning the next election which should be called in a matter of 7 weeks. The new year is upon us people. This is November: BY SATURDAY next week it would be 10th November and a few days after , less than a week, the month is at the half way stage -the 15th .

    What is the Prime Minister is waiting for ?
    XMAS ??
    He should be familiar with this:
    afti fgui lactafui mensae

  31. @ David
    The point that you and Hal continue to miss is the fact that the overall character of Barbados has changed from the days of our grandparents. Like rich kids, we have become spoilt as a result of 50 years of unprecedented blessings in too many ways to count.
    …not a single serious natural disaster.
    …loyal tourist in spite of our best efforts to kill the business
    …peace and tranquility
    …too many blessings to count.

    Like spoiled children, we miss the wisdom and maturity that comes from adversity. We can’t look after ourselves….outsiders own our assets, run our organizations, plan our lives….keep our money.

    It is actually a state worse than death.

    Well intentioned assertions about taking control of our lives, planning for future generations, establishing development banks and building productive industry is therefore tantamount to casting pearls to swine.

    The typical Bajan is now represented by Onions and ac. Reduced to childlike dependence on a political party to direct largesse in their favor, brown nosing behind some Trini/ Canadian/ British owner, or just plain looking for some source of easy money.
    Bushie’s father would NEVER have allowed himself to be reduced to such a level of mendicancy….and this despite his near starvation level salary (for very hard work) and multiple bush children to feed.

    There is only one cure for fat, lazy, spoilt children who have had it all for all their lives….. Hard REALITY….and it is coming.

  32. off topic

    If you happen to be in Bermuda during the month of November 2012, check out the following:-

    Marking the 46th Anniversary of the Independence of Barbados, the Barbados Association of Bermuda are hosting a series of events to celebrate. Bajan Men Can Cook will be at Hamilton Cathedral on Saturday, November 24th with Barbadian Men cooking up some tasty foods and desserts from 5.30pm. Tickets are $20. On Sunday, November 25th, there will be a special Church Service at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Warwick at 10.30 am. On Friday, November 30th at 7pm, there will be an Independence Day Cultural Night at Police Recreational Club, Prospect which will include a “Bus Ya Brains” quiz and tastings of Barbadian delicacies, such as pudding and souse, conkies, sweet bread and turnovers. Tickets are $10. Finally, there will be an Independence Dinner at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess on Saturday, December 1st. Cocktail hour will be from 6.30pm, followed by dinner at 7.30pm and will include guest speaker, Hon. Adriel Brathwaite QC MP., Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in Barbados, as well as a special performance by Red Plastic Bag, 10-time Calypso King. General tickets are $120, Patron tickets are $175 and they are available from Secrets in Washington Mall. Everyone who purchases a dinner ticket will receive a complimentary ticket to the Cultural Night event. For more information, or to RSVP, contact

  33. Citrus Growers intend to buy out Banks Holdings shares in C.P.B.L.

    “The Citrus Growers Association has ended its two days of protest against Citrus Products of Belize Limited and its business partner Banks Holdings of Barbados. The breaking news is that the CGA has met with the government to chart a way forward to buy out Banks shares in C.P.B.L. The government sat down with CGA and local banks on Wednesday to assess the possibility of the deal. It was only days ago that the CGA had its suspicions about the government’s intention when it got hold of an email sent by Alan Slusher, special advisor to the PM, in which Slusher and Jose Alpuche, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, entertained the possibility of a dissolution of the Citrus Growers Association. That prompted both the CGA and the Banana Growers Association to call for Slusher and Alpuche’s removal. News Five spoke to Alpuche today and said that there was no conspiracy and implied that the Banana Growers Association never sent out the edict to have him removed.”

  34. Jose Sanchez

    “Has there been any communication with Banks Holdings to see if they would accept a buyout?”

    Jose Alpuche

    “They have assured us that Banks is willing to sell. We are aware that Banks has expressed an interest to sell, but for the details of that I would prefer if you speak to someone from the CGA. But as I said, let’s dwell on the positive right now and how we go forward.”

  35. Lookaa bushie i depend on no one fuh nuting outside my husband who vowed to me for better or for worse in good health or bad young flow or ole hen. i have worked vey hard for what i have never had a govt hand out or take out never endeared or ask a politician for any favour or be given just spoused my idealogies the way i see fit. god bless barbados and may God keep it safe and out of the hands of the corrupt BLP for years to come

  36. Dedding wid laff @ ac and Onions
    Wunnuh tek it easy nuh. It is just that wunna names easy to call. Those bajans with the type of mentality outlined by Bushie know exactly who they are….the vast majority of us.

    ac, …..and who does your husband depend on? Wunna have a productive business? Wunna does MAKE anything? CREATE anything? …..that others need or want?….or wunna just sponging off government or some other easy victims?

    Some of the examples of fat parasites in our society would be:
    -Lawyers, who mainly exploit the vulnerable
    -Doctors, who fleece the sick and fragile after having had their education paid by these people’s taxes.
    -Politicians, mostly all about themselves
    -Political Yard Fowls
    -Those “Teachers” who just do it for the money, and whose results are so plain to see
    -The Church Leaders, practically all of them
    How do you think we have reached this point as a society?

    You ask God to keep Barbados out of the hands of the corrupt BLP for years to come……Bushie joins you in that prayer, but what about the corrupt DLP? Are you not concerned about being in their hands? What about the corrupt private sector? The corrupt unions?…..hell, even our children are now qualified for that label.


    So this call by Hal and David for national respect and productivity and pride, noble as it is, is wasted. Picture the spoiled child of a rich family who for all his life had it easy. His parents have now passed on, and the family fortune is quickly being taken away (a fool and his money) the Trinis, Canadians and others… And Hal talking about WORK? …and responsibility? And self respect? The boy just DO NOT KNOW HOW! His whole life has been one of “I want, …..therefore someone provides it to me”

    Perfect weather, beaches and climate
    Free education
    Free uniforms
    Free bus fares
    Free health care
    Free school books
    Free housing
    Free pensions
    Free water
    …..and everything else cheap, or available via some back door deal.

    As ofter is the case with the spoilt playboy types, It will take a shock of REALITY to bring us back to our senses.

  37. Now that I think of it.

    A new Barbados Labour Party Government might even require Bajans to pay for their morning “sea bath”.

    Barbados Labour Party PARO POLITICS at its best!



  38. “A senior university lecturer says the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) tax-cut proposal is an election gimmick, and has issued a warning against privatizing state enterprises that provide social services for the masses.

    Professor of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Michael Howard, yesterday gave a thumbs down to the BLP plan to restore the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15 per cent, give a land tax ease, introduce a new tax rate for middle-income earners, and make allowances tax-free again if it is returned to Government.”

  39. the MoF said (and correct me if i wrong) that VAT at 17.5% bring in more than they expected. now we have some making a case that it should not go back to 15%.

    i really want to see how the voting public will respond to this “election gimmick”. i know how they will respond and CCC will not like it at all.

    • @David (not BU)

      The issue really is that the public will go for the promise of more money in their pockets. The question which it raises is whether a popular decision is the best decision.

  40. Morning to you too, Dexter
    Bushie is not anti-A…. But you must admit that he does have some solid points. (LOL if only he would stop getting himself Banned from the various news outlets)

    @ David
    You are correct.
    It is only obvious that Bajans will vote for who ever promises them the easiest, cushiest, most luxurious future.
    Is this not what you would expect from a spoilt person? Would you expect a 50 year old, who had it sweet all his life, to opt for a choice of having to WORK and SWEAT and THINK for a living? ….or for a promise of continued sweetness….even if that promise came from Trinis, Canadians, or the devil himself?
    ….even though the person making the promise clearly has no way of keeping that promise…?

    We are in a hole and we continue to dig…..

    Look, the point here is that we need to take a whole new look at what is important in life. If we truly think that the temporary physical “things” that we will all die and leave behind (and in many cases soon, we will live and leave behind) are what life is about, then we all deserve what we are sure to get.

  41. David
    Are you saying that bajans are stupid?
    It is not the promises. The BLP supporters projected Owen Arthur as the greatest thing since slice bread when it comes to economics. They said he has the ability to take the country out of the recession and no one else in Barbados can do it.

    He had four years to put his genius to work so he came up with this plan along with the other genius Clyde Mascoll.

    The echo of his voice had not yet fade away at the annual conference when the other economist recognized that this man isn’t ready to run Barbados again. They light into his plan SAYING IT WAS RECKLESS.
    Where is his creativity? He said he did it already but a good dissection would show that HE BORROW AND BORROW AND LED US INTO THIS MESS.

    OWEN ARTHUR NEVER TOOK AN UNPOPULAR DECISION WHILE BEING PM OD BARBADOS. When he did take unpopular decisions he did it sneakily like the secret tax that he got instituted on the people without them knowing

    In today’s Flying fish and coo coo article the economist and Journalists are getting a taste of what is to come if he is returned to office with the calls starting again threatening them because they do not agree with him.

  42. @Miller

    What is your feedback on Professor Michael Howard’s pronouncement on BLP promises? It must be a bit of a dent to the pride of the BLP who boast of five economists in the ranks?

  43. @ David
    The professor can only make such comments if he knows what are the other components of the plan. Unlike the Dems, the Bees usually have coherent policies. But I must add that when the MoF first introduced the increase he said it would be reviewed, and as David (BU) said above he then in the Budget claimed in garnered more revenue than the government expected. Selling 10 pairs of shoes at $10.00 brings the same revenue as 5 costing $20 each. As I said earlier, if the Howards of B’dos had called the DLP promises in 2008 a gimmick too, we would not be in so much shite.

  44. @ David | November 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM |

    I have not yet read the full story but has Howard offered any alternative solutions for the recovery this comatose economy? He is just another armchair critic on the Hill who only shows his academic head above the parapet when his briar patch is threatened. What is Michael’s position on the funding of the UWI for Bajan students? What is his position on the multi-million dollar arrears due to the cave Hill campus?

    I am not in full support with some of the proposals put on the table. But at least they are on the table and that is what both you and the DLP hacks on this blog have been calling for. If OSA is going to reduce the VAT rate he has to ensure a much higher rate of compliance and collection right across the tax collection spectrum. Fiddling with rates alone will not cut it; whether VAT, land tax or income tax.

    Let Michael Howard offer alternative solutions which can be incorporated in the DLP manifesto.
    Professor we urge you to come on BU and proffer some alternatives for the economic salvation of Bim in the absence of which we will be witnessing the unstitching of the socio-economic fabric of Bim which our generation was so generously wrapped in swaddling cloth. Ask Bush Tea!

    Up and on Michael H, up and on Professor!

    • @Miller

      Looking forward to hear the BLP defend its proposals, it is what we should be about. He has chided the BLP for wanting to privatize and divest which is supply economics. Remember Howard is a big proponent of reducing the education budget to the UWI.

  45. Listen bushie your political raving and rantings would apply to those who have lived off the government troff it easy to paint every one with the same brush my husband was educated out of barbados by hard work and blood sweat he was willing to forego the trapings and influence of the western world and establish a succesful law firm without govt assistance or subsidies of any kind and has been able to employee a small staff contributing in some way to the economy and never asking or looking for freeness.

  46. @Enuff
    “The same David Thompson promised the moon and stars and no one asked him for details–promises that even without a global economic melt down the Barbadian economy could not afford”……..

    I agree with you totally. Those 100 days promises were unrealistic and none of those now asking for specifics cared to ask DT for specifics then. All they wanted was change and change they got. Now we are all paying the price!

  47. The problem with the BLP plan of privatistion is that it lacks confidence and presents numerous uncertainties leaving more questions thanswers as to how those policies would be beneficial to the country long term so far what is being presente is half a loaf

  48. @enuff
    “if the Howards of B’dos had called the DLP promises in 2008 a gimmick too, we would not be in so much shite.”

    True True

    @David and all
    Notice the BLP Friday column did not mention the VAT reduction. I suspect an election platform will not contain all of his pronouncements. Majority, but not all. And the public WILL vote for who they think will make life better/easier for them. That’s hard reality.

    Just observing

  49. I have not seen a Nation yet and from what was said above, I have no problem with Dr Howard voicing his concerns.

    However, we have had the Governor of the Central Bank running rough shod with the economy and saying that his way is the only path and not a word from Dr Howard.

    Dr Worrell poo-poos every word from Owen Arthur and Clyde Masoll and I waited to hear an alternate view from Dr Howard but nary a word. It would have been to
    the benefit of Barbados to hear from Dr Howard if Dr Worrell’s path is the only path for this economy! At least Ryan Straughn tries to say something!

  50. U guys are amazing because a person does not endorse OSA trickle doiwn economics where the rich gets richer off the backs of the working poor and people would have to pay more taxes for the inevitable fall out from these polices one must now defend their comments with an alterNative plan?

  51. “It will be a Labour war in Barbados if either political party or group seeks large scale layoffs as its remedy for the current economic problems.

    In one fo his most strongly wirded statements since the global economic crisis started in 2008, general secretary of the Barbados Labour Party Sir Roy Trotman, said yesterday that the union would not not take kindly to suggestions of privatisation of several state institutions and possible mass layoffs.”

    The corrupt Barbados Labour Party’s PARO POLITICS are in trouble.

  52. “The head of the island’s oldest trade union slammed economist whom he said had “forgotten their roots and who will cut off public sector jobs without proper regard for the social mayhem that will result” .The BWU cannot and will not 20 years later speak for all as labor as we did them Sir Roy said with reference to the 1991 islandwide shut down and marches against similar action by the Government. But the union stalwart warned: the BWU however wishes to state unequivocally that it considered as an enemy of the working class, any agency or political party which at the state presents a policy to reduce jobs either in the public or private sector. Today however the workers are hearing threats of loses at the [Queen Elizabeth Hospital]and at the transport board both facing privatization and depending on whom you chose to believe either 6000 or 10000 in the private service as we speak to free up the private sector to realize its potential and maximize profit Sir Roy remarked”

  53. “it considered as an enemy of the working class, any agency or political party which at the state presents a policy to reduce jobs either in the public or private sector.”

    That enemy of the working class is THE BARBADOS LABOUR PARTY. With its WHITE CAMPAIGN manger who most likely gave those draconian measures to the “Black” Barbados Labour Party to carry out. The Barbados Labour Party a party full of OREOS.

    The Barbados Labour Party is in capable of doing anything other then SELL, SELL, SELL just like the PAROS who frequent Bridgetown and elsewhere on a daily basis. They have learned well from them.

  54. @ ac
    You need to do some research before talking. The bus service in London is 24 hours, children between 11 and 16 travel free, students 18+ get a 30% discount and persons 60+ also travel free; yet, and I quote directly from TfL’s website, “Most bus services in London are run by private operators who have been awarded a contract by TfL.” TfL sets the routes and FARES and you know what TfL is a government body responsible for managing transport and developing strategy. What is the role of our Transport Authority and why can’t that body be mandated to do what TfL does?

  55. If civil servants in Barbados want to loose their jobs by the thousands, then all they have to do is to vote for the Barbados Labour Party.

    And the next day they will be on the bread line.

  56. “The union boss told members of the media during a press conference at the union’s headquarters that 20 years ago the unions and the private sector teamed to reject wholesale layoffs in the public sector. The two groups he said, “rejected a collapsed social protection floor, and as a result would fight against cutbacks in our educational programmes and we made it clear that public transport should be not be privatised and that our airport and seaport would remain under the control of the crown.”.

  57. @ Carson C. Cadogan | November 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM |

    If both public sector and private sector workers in Barbados want to loose their jobs by the thousands, then all they have to do is to vote for the Democratic Labour Party and under a forced IMF restructuring programmme they will both be on the breadline by June 2013 when all the forex would have been used up like déjà vu 1992.

  58. Now that the citizens of Barbados are aware that they will loose their jobs by the thousands if the Barbados Labour Party is reelected they are understandably afraid of that Party now.

    The fact that thay will have to pay for all their sevices at the Queen Elizebeth Hospital and all Government Health care facilities and will have to pay for all their childrens educational needs at Secondary schools and University, they are now very afraid.

    The cat is out of the bag and Bajans dont like the type of cat that they see.

  59. millertheanunnaki(neitherBnorD) | November 3, 2012 at 7:07 PM |

    Listen Kerry Simmons no one take you seriously.

  60. The 800 pound gorilla has entered the fray on the side of the working class, that is not good news for the Barbados Labour Party who is anti working class.

  61. There is no doubt that for Sir Roy to make his strongly worded statements he must have been bombarded by both private sector and public workers afraid of losing their jobs at the hands of the Barbados Labour Party.

  62. Wait Carson…you don’t sleep?… you on pun this ting like a microphone…..nobody ent payin you no mind …you ent realize?…

  63. If you can’t sleep …go and buy a bottle of LARD OIL …and drink it….you musse got dry mouth by now !….. eva since this morning you in hay talkin SHITE ! Man hush Do..

  64. onions man cccpelting nuff licks in wunna a…ss i see wunnna pull back,saying nutting de cat like it bite wunna tongue onions now listen to chris to add some more blows

  65. @ ac
    I get this morning 7.oo am say my prayers….Carson did in hay…..left…went out canvassing til 3.00 pm…..come back Carson did in hay…….left when Cxxxx for a meeting…come back..Carson did in hay….WAIT HE GOT IN DURACELL BATTERIES OR WHA ?….In case you ent notice, BEES working….we ent got nah time for all ya distractions….like Balaam broken record.. BTW Gf.I hear today elections might be 9th Jan ..AGAIN….man tell Stuart call D damm ting do …they wukkin me too hard…I want to return to normal life…doing my lil fishing instead of all these meetings….like wanna want to kill D ole man…

  66. Here is the question we have been asking on Facebook since yesterday with no response yet except from Pat Hoyos:

    According to Clyde Mascoll and Tyrone Barker domestic spend contributes 75% to GDP. BU wants to know where is the empirical evidence to support what we have to label an assertion for now.

  67. Question: If domestic consumption contributes 75 per cent to GDP, then why is policy focused on tourism? Why is there no drive towards greater endogenous growth? Where is job creation, home ownership? Why is there no focused quantitative easing? How is a future BLP government going to resolve this?

  68. @David

    I guess the best emperical evidence is in the real GDP breakdown from central bank report failing this and you want more evidence it would be then at the inland reveneue department./banks to show income derieved from internal and external measures.

  69. @Anthony

    As you probably read on Andrew Brathwaite’s FB page there has been robust discussion but the only one who has addressed the question posed twice by BU is Pat Hoyos. He said the last figure he heard was 60%. To your point can the static reporting you refer really give a clue to what % of spend settles in the domestic economy?

  70. @david

    Haven’t seen the discussion and can’t find it either :(. Could you post the link.

    The reporting is not static as is based the growth of each industry to 1973 cost levels without inflation. It show in turn how each industry is growing or declining. It would also show how external and internal part of economy effect it. The main issue with any such report is if figure where properly acquired to procduce accurate results. if they were true then result are true and document reflects the current barbados economy. if their false they no one really know the real state of the economy

    • @Anthony

      Please explain for the lay people on the blog what the trend in the nontradables is telling us based on this report.

      On 4 November 2012 20:04, Barbados Underground

  71. Based on the trend tourisum and tradeable receipts are going down. This may lead to balance of payment issues latter on if this trend continues. Also mean that while tourism can bring a slight better picture for gdp growth it our non tradable that truely grow the economy faster. part of the non tradable is the international buisness sector which is one area we should be pushing for more growth.

  72. @Anthony
    “part of the non tradable is the international buisness sector which is one area we should be pushing for more growth.”

    that’s what the BLP’s been preaching. As said earlier, would love to hear someone from the government’s side defend or debate so we have a clearer picture. I would suggest establishing additional non tradeable sectors in line with technological growth. It’s a big interconnected world.

    IS Hoyos’ 60% guess reliable?

  73. @Observing

    I do believe karib cable/(flow barbados/colombus commincation) will take card of our isp push us to a tier 1 ict network interisland. We need more underseas fiber for better speed to the global world. While they can put the infrastructure in place we also need buisness to push the ideas that will make it all profitable and make us market leaders. IBS need lots of bandwidth/ low lattency/low jitter and propper QOS for it the function as if the office was next door to the one overaseas. Our infrastructure need to aim for that situation.which the two new market entrants should be close to offereing.

  74. @ Anthony
    Maybe we will now understand the strategic importance of the decision by the previous administration to demonopolise the telecommunications sector. Sadly we have persons who continue to chastise the BLP for not ‘restructuring’ the economy while at the same time praising the efforts of this government’s alternative energy programme without recognising (or refusing to) the similarities.

  75. @enuff

    The alternative energy programme is great in theory. the implementation hasn’t been in the best way. Lime/Digicel have been given enough lead that any new market entrant should have move heaven and high water to get their customer. What we have saddly is market that ripe to be taken by a service provider who offer great speed, reasonable price, and reliability to it customers and great customer service.

  76. The transport and works solar panels and some other small site. for IDBs 45 million US where has the money gone/been spent. For those who forgot it was paid in single lump sum with none of the normal balances and checks idb normal has in place for the proceurement cycle.

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