A Country Marking Time

Cyprus, the latest EU country under the gun

Cyprus, the latest EU country under the gun

BU was under the impression that the 2013-2014 Estimates debated last week in the Lower House – and which will be rubber stamped in the Upper House this week – was set to be one of the most important parliamentary debates in a post-Independence period. BU makes no apology by stating that many of the contributions from both sides can easily be described as arrant nonsense.

Of great interest is the fact the Estimates debate (Appropriations Bill) revealed that several heads do not have enough money allocated to cover the annualized expenditure needed based on historical data. In fact it is patently obvious that the government expects it will have to return to parliament, soon, to seek approval for additional monies from the Consolidated Fund in the form of a supplementary. The bottomline is that the Appropriations Bill is meant to be government’s budget, and how is a budget defined?  An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

One therefore has the question what was the purpose of the five day debate in the Lower Chamber. How can one debate the Appropriations Bill if the Heads are not realistically budgeted for? Given the current state of the global economy this is not the time to be playing the donkey with public finances. The general election is done and we need our government to come clean and tell us what is the plan. There is no time for a preamble, please cut to the chase. How about an across the board slash in salaries of 15%? It is obvious we cannot continue to use the NIS monies to fund government’s day to day expenses. This is folly of an indescribable kind. The revelations by the Auditor General which both political sides love to quote but also ignore adds to the negative outlook.

Perhaps it is appropriate that the Lower House ended its week long session by the Speaker announcing that the People’s Republic of China had donated 60 laptops to all the sitting members of parliament. Barbados, a once proud little nation which the late Dipper Barrow promised to be friends of all and satellites of none. Only a poorakey parliament would embrace such mendicancy by compromising on its sovereignty.

On the subject of the NIS, BU eagerly looked for to the maiden speech of former talk show host and Chairman of the NIS Senator Tony Marshall. If ever there was an opportunity to hit it out the park…Instead he followed the same old predictable path to all those who spoke before and after him. Sir Roy raised the issue of the spectre of vote buying which seems to be on the rise in Barbados and which can lead to the hijacking of a democracy. His concern lacked sincerity when he failed to call for full transparency in how political campaigns are funded. Why focus on the tip of the problem when successive government have long been corporatized?

There is a sense that Barbados is marching time, yes the global environment is tough but we need our leaders to fire our nation’s people. We need Barbadians to understand what is the real state of the countries finances and social landscape. We need both of the political parties to stop lying to the people for the sake of creating political division. It is time for all Barbadians to unite against the challenge which confronts our small country.

  • Carson C. Cadogan

    when is the BLP electioneering going to end?

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  • Ca Dog gone……when are you going to tek yuh head outta yuh pooch?

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  • The annual exercise that is popularly known as the Estimates Debate is a sham perpetrated against the people of this country with both parties co-operating to deceive unsuspecting people.

    The Estimates Debate should really be about how the monies allocated to ministries and departments would be spent. Instead, every MP engage in time wasting second reading speeches on the Appropriations Bill. When they exhaust a few days talking crap, the House then goes into Committee of Supply for members to debate the Heads of Expenditure. There is then little time to adequately deal with the real business and purpose of the debate, and as time is about to run out, they pass all the Heads without debate.

    What should really happen? The Minister of Finance should introduce the bill and the Opposition spokesman would then reply. Thereafter, the House should go into Committee of Supply to debate the Heads. Instead, the country is treated to a debate of deception to kill time. They go through the motions but in reality, Parliament is treating the population as though we are idiots.

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  • PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2013 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    Never kept their word before elections , during election , and after elections bought and PAID for., Same old Fraud Masters , Just wait till the World catch up with All of them RATS in the Peoples House. 1937 part 2 . Next time the Earth shake that House need to fall. Let them meet in the Parking lot.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ Caswell Franklyn | March 27, 2013 at 11:06 PM |

    At least someone else recognized the ploy used by the government to limit the amount of time actually available for the detailed analysis of most heads of expenditure. The members just went around in circles speechifying on the same expenditure head over and over. Only Agriculture came in for some real grilling exposing the farce of making agriculture a significant sector for transformation of the economy.

    But what shocked me is the omission of any budgeted funds for the operational activities of the new St. John Polyclinic during the coming fiscal year. Unless this government has no plans of opening this complex in the next 9-12 months then the absence of a budget is another crass and vicious ploy to pull financial wool over the eyes of stupid Bajans.

    Imagine this new Parliament has already gone on 6-7 weeks break with so many pieces of legislation to be discussed and passed. The Electricity Amendment Act needed to push ahead with RE, the long in the offing Cultural Industries Bill, the revisions and amendments to the Road Traffic Act are just a few of the urgent things this government needs to get on with immediately. What is wrong with just 2-3 weeks break?

    Can we expect this will be the DLP future parliamentary strategy of filibustering (going on extended breaks) to avoid the pressing issues and deferring the inevitable financial decisions with its slim majority and regular attendance of all members might be unreliable given the health challenges of a few of them.

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  • We have laid the ground for another Cyprus. Governments feel they have the right to do whatever they want when they want and the citizens must accept it. Most times they will do whatever they want because they can. Recently I heard the OECS warn their members about borrowing from their NIS funds. It is a dangerous habit and will lead to dire consequences. Since we all have no idea the real state of the NIS fund for the past eight years means we have a greater problem on our hands. If the NIS financials are being hidden from the public means that the problem is bigger and greater than we imagine.

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  • Carson C. Cadogan

    “……..a return to election campaign “tactics of misdirection, distortion and exaggeration”.”

    As said elsewhere but very fitting to this discussion.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ islandgal246 | March 28, 2013 at 7:34 AM |
    “If the NIS financials are being hidden from the public means that the problem is bigger and greater than we imagine.”

    You have hit the nail on the head. Are we to believe that not even the financials up to 2010 cannot be produced as yet?

    There is certainly more in the empty mortar than just the lazy pestle as Tony Marshall would like us to overlook.
    Now here is an extremely out of place loquacious man who used to criticize the port workers for their laziness and costly low productivity and who continue incessantly to denigrate lowly public sector workers for their poor work habits.
    Here also the same man touted for his supremely outstanding management skills and business acumen especially during his stint on the CLICO Board who was in charge of the NIS and promised the financials in arrears by December 2011.

    Now that he is a so-called Independent Senator muzzled by his Fraternity bond of silence not being able to raise a word of protest against the people in charge of the NIS for the ongoing state of affairs. Every thing is fine with the NIS and the minister responsible is the greatest thing since Gearbox left town.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ Carson C. Cadogan | March 28, 2013 at 7:53 AM |
    “……..a return to election campaign “tactics of misdirection, distortion and exaggeration”.

    Direct that to the credit rating agencies and the IMF when they come a visiting for their Country performance review series of meetings.
    CCC, you can do a Duguid and cuss them to hell and back.
    You can carry along the toothless pit bull Estwick to do the brandishing. He has nothing to lose.

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  • What I am trying to wrap my head around is the dancing governor of the central bank declaring that Bim is low down on the totem pole of countries that have debt problems, ergo Bim has no debt problems; in using his example of how he came about this light bulb of wisdom is when he was in graduate school, the template he is using to analyze the current situation is what they were taught. Someone needs to enlighten said governor to the fact that since his days of graduate school, the economic world has significantly evolved, and it is very clear he did not do a refreshers course or he would be very much aware of the changes and the new way of doing business, I did a degree in new business ways as recent as 2001. Note to governor …………..Canada has in the last week labeled six of their largest banks too big to fail, they will be charged more than the average banks not to roll into a Cyprus scenario…………………hope he understands the significance.

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  • And oh yeah, he also deemed the recent S&P and Moodys junk bond downgrades of the island as utter nonsense, since other countries are worst off, eg Japan, someone needs to tell him that Japan is not tourist dependent and have enough liquidity to lend other countries………..cause he worked at some point at the IMF and knows everything. Hope he is not disappointed.

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  • Looks like the economies are starting to collapse in rippling domino effect style. Heard it’s on the news.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ AC:

    Any contribution to this doom & gloom thread penned by the mighty negative miller and hiding behind the anti-DLP government rant?

    Even your Princess from St. Andrew is admitting how bad things are with the government finances.
    But she is mad as hell because she can’t get her own “personal” secretary from her previous ministry to follow her to tourism. Is this our own local Marie Antoinette in the making while the King returns to his sleep in Il Laro Court?

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  • Sorry miller i have never been the member of a “pessimists” club. Your scholarly penmanship of all things ” negatives” forces me to read a book on optimism.

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  • Interesting contribution by Dr Leroy McClean on the talk show today. Bear in mind this is a DLP member.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ ac | March 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM |

    Well stop blaming OSA and the BLP for everything going wrong in Bim for the last 5 years. Now who is the pessimist and who is the optimist, ac, when we look over the 20 years of the slate?

    Be optimistic and see a bright future and stop looking back at 14 years of pessimism and inertia. You need to transmit the same attitude to Irene Sandiford-Garner who is now the Queen of Pessimism. Who next to be infected, the Governor of the Central Bank or Sir Frank?

    And the above is meant for Mrs. Ac not Mr. AC. Be a man, dc, and stop hiding behind the veil of your wife’s blind ignorance.

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  • @ David

    These estimates are a waste of time. We had previously forecasted that governments would start to take private deposits in banks to bail out big banks, like Cyprus. These kinds of seizures will increase to include gold, other precious metals and maybe real property. In Barbados, the government is taking public savings, NIS funds, and using them for essentially private concerns. We’ll bet you that not a words pointed at the collapse of capitalism will ever be uttered by the old boys/girls of the British Empire in the Barbados ‘Parliament’. Meanwhile, banks-runs are to become the order of the day at your local branch.

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  • @Pacha

    Why is it that these politicians who are mere mortals like anyone of us do not understand the inevitability of their actions? In Barbados the greedy hand of corruption touches every sphere of activity. It does NOT matter which political party is at the trough. Yet we have people who continue to let rabid partisan views reign above everything.

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  • David “In Barbados the greedy hand of corruption touches every sphere of activity.”

    So we are now level with some of our Caribbean neighbors.

    That is truly sad.

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  • @Caswell,
    “Can we expect this will be the DLP future parliamentary strategy of filibustering (going on extended breaks) to avoid the pressing issues and deferring the inevitable financial decisions with its slim majority and regular attendance of all members might be unreliable given the health challenges of a few of them”……………………………….

    That’s the plan, my friend! That’s the only way they can survive! Surprisingly, the reverse was true last December, they went up to Christmas and came back tight after. But then again, things were different then, eh?

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  • @ David
    @ islandgirl
    Forgive us. We forgot to cite islandgirl’s similar and correct comment. We however humbly disagree with you David. You seem to locate what is happening in the world as within the parameters of normalcy. The only normal about this state of affairs is its new normalcy. The world of yesterday does not present a model to deal with current issues. The politicians belong to yesterday. In other words cussing politicians about corruption is largely unhelpful. What we should be doing, as a people, is to change the whole paradigm, by any means necessary! Leaving neither root, branch nor stem.

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  • @Well Well | March 28, 2013 at 8:38 AM |

    “What I am trying to wrap my head around is the dancing governor of the central bank declaring that Bim is low down on the totem pole of countries that have debt problems, ergo Bim has no debt problems”…………..

    I had similar thoughts when I heard him last night. That is not what he was pontificating in 2008 when he was berating the outgoing OSA government. He said the debt then was killing Barbados and they had to now look for 30 million dollars to pay for the prison loan and falsely said the prison cost 700 million dollars. Out of which the loud mouth Trinidadian further berated OSA when she of all people should have known that the claim was not true.

    It is passing strange that the Governor now says that the debt is not a problem and this is after the Dems have borrowed over one billion dollars in five years, nothing to do with what they have swiped from NIS!

    I call these kinds of people deceitful!

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  • mmmmmm

    “Grenada announced Wednesday that it intends to revive a program that will essentially allow investors from across the globe to buy citizenship

    St. Kitts & Nevis’ citizenship-by-investment program has been operational since 1984 and a national passport provides visa-free travel to 139 countries, including all of the European Union. A foreigner can qualify with a $250,000 donation or with a real estate investment of $400,000. Antigua is hoping to emulate St. Kitts’ flourishing program. Meanwhile, Dominica’s passport offers travel without a visa to more than 50 countries and costs $100,000.”

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  • Pachamama
    Your rhetoric sounded lovely in the 1960s; however, the US and Europe do not need that rhetoric anymore to install their military industrial complex. Any rooting out shall you and your off spring to some jail or reduced to beggars within our lovely society.

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  • @ Caswell:
    When I was a Civil Servant, there used to be two debates that were of significance 1 was the Estimates of Expenditure and 2 was the Budgetary proposals. The Estimates Debate were concerned with discussing the money under each head that had been spent, and the amount of money it was ESTIMATED that would be required for the upcoming year. In those days each EXPENDITYRE from the previous year was scrutinized and each ESTIMATED increase in the expenditure had to be justified, thus if a truck was bought for the Hospital last year and a new one was put in the estimates for the coming year reasons had to be given for the new estimated expenditure.Following the ESTIMATES debate the BUDGETARY proposals or (budget debate) was held in which the methods for raising the additional revenue required from the ESTIMATES of EXPENDITURE. Having listened to both Estimates and Budget debates up to last yeaqr, I see no difference in the methodology between way in the past and now. The language may have gotten more exhausive and the degree of debate have no doubt differed in delivery, but the methodology is the same, so don’t go about giving the impression that things now are so “dread”. This constant putting down of our politicians has got to stop. I listen to debates here in Toronto in bothe the Provincial and Federal houses, and there is no real difference between what goes on here and in Barbados.Trying to give the impression that our politicians would cause Satan to hold his head in shame, ignores the fact that the politicians in Canada, and the U.S. as well as in the mother home of the Westminster System, are no different; none of them are paragons of virtue.
    And David, would it have been more acceptable to you if Bill Gates, Michael Dell, or the U.S state department had DONATED the laptops to our parliament? We have an Ambassador in China, is it possible that he was able to secure these computers through his own abilities, not necessarily through Mendicancy(begging). If we accept something some one offers is that mendicancy?You can come better than that. Don’t try so hard to make the government of the day look bad. A number of laptops were obtained (free of cos, supposedly, at the launch of EduTech. Where did they come from, was it mendicancy then?

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  • @Pacha

    You keep repeating your position and we ours. How do we get from here to there.

    @Alvin

    BU’s position is that the parliament of Barbados – located in a proud small sovereign nation – should NOT receive gives in the way this was done. Why do you see the need to stray from the fundamental point?

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  • Because someone offers something that doesn’t mean that it must be accepted. The government can afford to buy their own laptops and they have been the ones spearheading computer literacy in Barbados. They are duty free so they are affordable. Taking those laptops when you can afford to buy your own is definitely a sign of mendicancy and greed.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    Alvin Cummins | March 28, 2013 at 5:30 PM |
    “The Estimates Debate were concerned with discussing the money under each head that had been spent, and the amount of money it was ESTIMATED that would be required for the upcoming year. In those days each EXPENDITYRE from the previous year was scrutinized and each ESTIMATED increase in the expenditure had to be justified, thus if a truck was bought for the Hospital last year and a new one was put in the estimates for the coming year reasons had to be given for the new estimated expenditure.”

    Quite true Alvin!
    So if you are saying these days are just like the good old days then explain to the BU family how come there isn’t any provision for the new St. John Polyclinic far less the entire complex?
    Isn’t this polyclinic -scheduled to have been opened since December 2012 or before the just gone general elections- earmarked for opening during this year and to be up and running and providing full social services to the long suffering people of St. John?

    Now Alvin please don’t blame this oversight on the bad weather as you sought to do in the case of the renovations to the Stadium track that should have been long ready for this year’s local athletic competition.

    We know Good Friday is tomorrow but we just thought it would be godly holy to crucify the beneficent Alvin a day in advance just to be ahead of the risen Lord on SUN day.
    We don’t expect you to respond before 2018 on this piercing one to your partisan side.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ islandgal246 | March 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM |

    As a magnanimously equivalent show of appreciation each MP can go out and buy a laptop to be donated to some lucky but in need child at each school in each 30 constituency represented by each elected MP.

    They can see it as a form of penitence or the buying of catholic cathartic indulgences as payment for the many cases of vote buying that took place in the recent general elections.

    We are divinely sure that the god of anti-corruption would smile on such gestures of redemption.

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  • The acceptance of laptops by the MPs is demonstrative of a mendicant and gimme mindset and culture which has completely overwhelmed us.

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  • @all
    been tied up with wifely duties so still peeking at posts in between. Uh hope dat all yuh good

    @david
    “There is a sense that Barbados is marching time”

    Didn’t even need a sixth sense to figure out this one. lol

    @miller
    “Can we expect this will be the DLP future parliamentary strategy of filibustering”

    In a nutshell. Yip. Was a little disappointed that more heads weren’t discussed as well. Sign of the times.

    @Alvin
    “Don’t try so hard to make the government of the day look bad”

    They do that pretty well themselves.

    @anybody
    were the laptops donations to the Members of Parliament?? I’m unsure.

    Just Observing (quietly)

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  • man alvin don”t waste your time with these people .Afterall they still smoldering from the aftermath of the elections.now to think that a couple laptop computers can cause so much distress to the point where the word “corruption” is used for effect. OSA must be laughing out Loud!

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  • @Alvin

    Do you believe Errol Barrow would have accepted those laptops? Can you comprehend the significance of a sovereign country donating laptops to our highest law making body? Do you appreciate that any developed country in the world such a gife could not pass muster because of Ethical Code of Conduct?

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  • David….. when people so lickrish dem does get poison!

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  • Does the government have a code of ethics at all? They preach integrity and morality yet they do not even have a code of ethics to go by.

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  • @Observing(…)

    You can’t make this stuff up. Even half way decent private companies have codes of behaviour which governs how gift must be managed because of inherent conflict of interest issues.

    Talking about the Chinese and Barbadians, check this story out:

    Two years ago residents living at Maxwell Hill, Christ Church were up in arms over the massive construction in that area at Chinados Corporation who had bought the land.

    At that time the Chinese owners had ordered the Bourne family who had occupied a section of the land for over 50 years to vacate it.

    http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/land-locked-sisters-facing-problems/

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  • Computers
    No MP or Senator beg, request a laptop. A simple gift to our All MPs and Senators can not amount to corruption, donot pull down our Parliament.
    Get serious! Please!

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  • Maxine McClean called on Esther Byer-Sukoo to publicly speak about the NIS fund. We don’t want talk we want a printed copy of the financials for the past eight years. Talk is cheap!

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  • We also want to know the circumstances Tony Marshall’s tenure on the NIS Board was not renewed. Also the circumstances which led to Ian Carrington’s secondment to the FSC though his stay was short lived.

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  • New Blood you don’t have to beg nor request anything…..when you accept something like laptops from a foreign government to be used by elected government officials it looks suspect.

    BTW did those people move off the land they were occupying for over 50 years? If those squatters in Fort George have rights to the land then these people have as well.

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  • Code of Ethics
    The Cabinet Secretary and the Chief of Protocol do guide govt officials on the issue of gifts from foreign countries.

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  • @New Blood

    Where is the logic in your last comment when a Barbados Code of Ethics is non existent?

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  • @246
    MAM, OSA ,FS etc all were given

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  • Code of Ethics
    Kindly check with the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief of Protocol on this issue f

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  • David; Re. the gift of laptops to all parliamentarians.
    Is it possible for laptops to be bugged? Do we have the technology to determine if a laptops is bugged? Do we have the technology to determine if a computer does or does not incorporate a non standard GPS tracking system chip?

    Of course who in their right minds would want to bug or track Barbadian politicians so the questions above are merely tongue in cheek but nevertheless I hope that the MP’s will not use the gifts as personal computers but find some other use for them.

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  • NEW BLOOD | March 28, 2013 at 7:56 PM |

    @246
    MAM, OSA ,FS etc all were given

    New Blood …if what you say is true does that make it right?

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  • Caswell Franklyn

    Alvin Cummins

    It is obvious that you did not understand the process when you were a civil servant. In the old days, the House got into Committee of Supply much sooner and they discussed more Heads of Expenditure. In these days now that you are not a civil servant, they waste 13 1/2 hours on second reading speeches an barely get into the Heads. If you don’t know what you are talking about please refrain from commenting. You are exposing your partisan idiocy.

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  • Would someone please send Minister Lashley armed with his Antiques and Relics Bill for Alvin Cummin?

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  • Isn’t the Antiques and Relics Bill still buried in committee?

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  • Caswell Franklyn

    Why would MPs want laptops from China? During the last election campaign, one MP handed out a few hundred laptops, Kindles and iPads. Didn’t he keep any for his colleagues?

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  • @ David

    Yes, but I am that desperate to see Alvin Cummins ‘entombed’.

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  • Barbados is not marking time. New Converse store open on Broad street.The chinese are pleased unless Barbados is now manufacturing running shoes.

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  • The optics of the MPs accepting gifts of laptops from a foreign Gov’t is horrendous, if the Chinese wanted to make a donation they could have offered to donate a laptop to every High school student in Barbados (they can afford it) instead of the penny ante offer that the politicians lap up (pardon the pun).
    The notion of the laptops being bugged is not remote, the Chinese are becoming notorious for ferreting out information by cyber attacks and other means – they also use honey traps. The Barbados Gov’t doesn’t have much in the way of secrets that the Chinese could use but if someone sends or receives a compromising email the B’dos Gov’t may be a “persuaded” to vote in the Chinese interests at some International body and one vote could be the difference.
    How much does a laptop cost anyway? Just checked an email received from Dell today and they are offering a 15 inch Inspiron for $399.99 and they make a profit at that price, so they must cost the Chinese Gov’t $200.00 at most (given their labour costs), so for $6000 US BAJAN Parliamentarians are willing to surrender their dignity.
    What a shame.

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  • @david
    No, you really can’t make it up

    @new blood
    Suppose clico, or jada or COW donated 60 laptops (and a load of lumber, lol) to Parliament. What would ye say?

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  • If my memory serves me correctly, did not Jada donate a load of lumber to Parliament on the eve of the last election, received by Michael Carrington?

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  • @Caswell
    My apologies. I said “when I was a Civil Servant”, that was indeed a long time ago. There were not as many heads, the size of the budget was a couple tens of millions, and there were not as many ministers and ministries, today the budget is hundreds of millions of dollars (having reached or surpassed one billion dollars), so I should naturally expect the same amount of time to be devoted to discussion of these estimates, in supply committee. As you rightly point out I have lost touch. You were a civil servant much more recently than me. I bow to your superior knowledge.
    @The others, I guess I am not as cynical and suspicious as so many others. Again I apologise for my naivite, not my partisanship I just wonder when the hypocrisy will cease..
    @enuff. Why do you want to see me “entombed?” because I am not afraid to speak out? Have no fear I will indeed be entombed, no one lives forever. I would however invite all of you to read my books: “the Wind Also Lisens”, “The Royal Palms are Dying”. and the soon to be printed “Yeshua A.K.A. Jesus the Nazarene”. Couldn’t resist the opportunity to get some publicity. Buy the books, they are all good (not my expressions). Available on Amazon.com, UWI book store, The Book source, or Cloisters.

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  • New Bolod
    New Blood I now have to baptize you old blood; I actually thought new things would come from you. have you EVER seen any legislature in Europe or the US accepting lap tops from the chinese. You could even mention people from the village, town or city. You have become worse than a persistent period/menses.

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  • The donated laptops should go to schoolchildren who are not able to afford them. The Chinese have been accused of international cyber espionage and hacking. I hope that even though the Govt has accepted the laptops, they are not planning to use them to keep information of national importance on.

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  • LEMUEL
    You behave as if you were conceived during an extended period/menses

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  • BU notes with interest that Bajan economist living in the US has a serious warning for government regarding the proposed 600 million stimulus package.

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  • @ Micah

    Your serious comment on the gift from the Chinese of 60 keystroke recording devices which relay information to low orbiting satellites in the Chinese military geo-constellation will be lost on 58 of these 60 dimwits particularly Fumble and Seethru

    Mia is going to donate hers forthwith so will Buffalo Sincliar.

    I cud see the rest of them technological bunts shewing off to them wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, Jonesing, ” look what Fu Manchu give me… Am I not special??? Bow down to me (or bend over, depending on who we talking bout) and cry all hail”

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