Notes From a Native Son: The Poverty of Ideas is Worse than Material Poverty

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

One of the embarrassing things about the scramble for new policies to rescue the national economy is the paucity of ideas coming from the self-selected band of politicians and career civil servants. If nothing else, this alone is a reflection of the shortcomings in the framework of our education by rote, and of the building of intellectual barriers between party-affiliated thinkers, policymakers and unsure academics. It also reflects a stubbornness on the part of those in power which is in many ways a core part of popular Barbadian culture, something that the objectivity of a liberal education should have erased. In fact, on a wider note, this has been the promise of the Enlightenment – scientific truth, objectivity, impartiality, etc – which Northern European post-mercantilist culture has been preaching since the 17th century and continues, to this day, even if with less vigour.

Class Politics:
Enlightenment values had a hole right at the centre of its beliefs, and that was filled in during the mid-19th century by Karl Marx in his long analysis of the battle between labour and capital. But, if the great dividing line in Europe, and in particular Britain, was between the mill owners and the chimney boys, to those of us who came of age during the black power movement of the 1960 and the post 9/11 Muslims, who see religion as more important than class, not only was the sc9ientism of the Enlightenment wrong, so too was the post-Darwinism of Marxism. Some social attachments are more powerful than class or religion, a reality that may be more expressive in some societies than in others.

The Decline of a Nation:
Most readers in this forum are familiar with the empirical historical evidence of the commercial and political value and political importance of Barbados to the British colonisers in the early to mid 17th century. They will also be aware that within a relatively short space of time that commercial value started to decline and in its place emerged a kind of ‘soft’ influence in which Barbados assumed a role in the Caribbean, and within the wider Empire, based not on commercial prospects, but on the alleged quality of its education.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen this steady decline speeded-up until it has now reached a crisis point. But there is something in our cultural and social genes that prevent us from rebelling, or rioting like the Greeks, Egyptians, or Spanish or Brazilians or even the British and Americans. Apart from the 1937 riots and a little gathering of people outside the Abed store in Swan Street in the mid 1960s, there have been very few social disturbances. Ironically, given a culture of aggression and one-to-one violence, mob violence is not a feature of Barbadian culture. Had this not been the case, the daily abuse inflicted by this government on young people – through high unemployment, a repressive criminal justice system and an obnoxious social snobbery – would have led to a series of uprisings by now. Instead, given the absence of political leadership, these young men and women are quite prepared to waste the most important years of their lives playing dominoes, gossiping and doing the things that healthy young men and women do. This apathy will be the epitaph of a docile generation that has sat idly by and allow a group of over-ambitious politicians and career civil servants deliver them as offerings to the Gods of middle class pride, vanity and materialism. What is even worse is that these young people are trapped like rabbits in oncoming lights, unable to do anything for themselves, to form small cooperatives, to wash cars, help elderly homeowners, teach each other the skills they do not have. These are young people, the future of the nation, sitting idly by waiting for the government or private sector to rescue them from the depths of their own perceived failure. A generation that has lost confidence in itself, that official Barbados has given up on, and who have internalised that objectionable belief and have given up on itself. At some point, the younger generation must realise they must take their futures in their own hands and challenge the system.

Public Sector Reforms:
On the national level, however, we have now reached a fork in the road, a time when the trickery of civil servants and incompetent politicians have to make a hard decision. Already we are seeing the rats leaving the sinking ship: the governor of the central bank, once the principal cheer leader of the DLP government, is now saying publicly that he disagrees with policy; we are witnessing Donville Inniss launching an attack on the governor of the central bank, of minister Ince, the only properly qualified economist in the government, making a speech that can be read as a job application. And while all this is going on our prime minister is in hiding from his own ignorance, afraid that his shadow may expose his lack of knowledge of policymaking. All this goes on while the nation waits, and waits, and waits, all the while giving so-called trade unionists an opportunity to see no further than their noses.

Look at any public sector for an example of a system in decline: the administration of justice, the fight within the police and between the policy and the community they are paid to serve. Look at the failure of our educational system, both in terms of the poor quality of teachers, their street-wise rowdyism, and the colossal failure of our children in the classroom. It is all there, for the world to see, a once proud island community that has lost its confidence, its ability to govern itself and which, like addicts, is too proud to seek help. We have a government that has lost the ability to set clear, transparent and effective performance indicators, after negotiating with workers and their representatives; this is the failure of our nation.

Fiscal Failure:
Given the limitation of the government’s monetary and fiscal policy, and the clear evidence that minister Sinckler is not the most competent finance minister in our recent history, it is also my case that he has no knowledge of policymaking. A simple suggestion, but one that will be very relevant and effective in the current climate: a life-long savings vehicle.

Ignore for the time being the economics of savings’ impact on growth, apart from an irresponsible venture in to (Exchange Traded Funds) ETF’s early in his job, which I found horrifying – by the way it has not been mentioned since, and rightly so – Mr Sinckler has failed to develop any savings vehicles fit for our times. Had he offered households a long-term savings vehicle: saving taxed income to a maximum of Bds$15000 a year, with growth and withdrawals tax free and allowing only four interventions: marriage, university fees for self or children, home purchase and death, there is a highly likely chance that people would save more. Further, if the way that saving pot is invested is legislated for – 25 per cent in Barbados, 25 per cent in Caricom and 50 per cent globally – there will be a vast increase in liquidity and therefore the non-bank financing of SMEs, which is currently a major problem in Barbados.

Analysis and Conclusion:
The unpredictability of policymaking in Barbados is clouded by self-interest and the party dimension. Although in theory we have a generation of politicians and senior civil servants who worship at the altar of bourgeois nationalism, it is in fact a secular belief system that is contaminated with the narrow and selfish view of greed and corruption. Sometimes this manifests itself through party affiliation, seeing political parties more as lifeboats for achieving personal ambitions, than because of an ideological or commitment to social or religious values. Quite often these biases are echoed through a semi-educated chamber, devoid of any understandable of logical reasoning.

Where is our Tea Party, our Ukip, our rebellious young demanding better government, improved education, jobs and decent service? Why are we as a society tolerating 11 per cent of our productive labour – and even higher among the 16 to 24 demographic – staying late in bed, absolutely and totally economically inactive? I have said before, we are not just economic people, there is a wider social dimension to us as a society, living on a crowded island. It is this aspect of our lives, this sociality, that politicians and career civil servants find so difficult to deal with and to translate in to policy. Translated in to political economy, this economic crisis is an ideal opportunity for government – and the private sector – to be innovative, fantastically radical in policy formulation, forceful and dynamic.

What is the medium and long-term economic future of our little island – reaching out to 2030, 2050, and beyond? How are we going to cope with a demographic that will live to 80, 90, 100 and more years, and in the process demand hip-replacement operations, knee surgery, heart by-pass operations, women having children in their 50s and 60s because of the magic of medical science?

As professor J. Bradford de Long has observed: “To create wealth, you need ideas about how to shape matter and energy, additional energy itself to carry out the shaping, and instrumentalities to control the shaping as it is accomplished. “The Industrial Revolution brought ideas and energy to the table, but human brains remained the only effective instrumentalities of control. As ideas and energy became cheap, the human brains that were their complements became valuable.”

One of our greatest, if not the greatest, institutional failure is the economics department of the UWI Cave Hill. This economic crisis is their historical moment, it is a time when they can bring their expertise to bear on the national development programme. Yet, their silence is deafening and when they do intervene in the national debate they make juvenile contributions like a drunken uncles aroused from an afternoon nap. They have nothing of substance to contribute to the nation’s plea for help, no originality of thought, absolutely nothing of worth to inject in to the discussion. This is along with the other failings: to properly and independently analyse the national economy; to offer sound forecasts; estimate output; analyse public finances.

There are huge gaps in our knowledge of how our economy functions; the economics department should be our fiscal watchdog, but it has let us down. The same can be said for the school of business. I always find it difficult understanding why all students on the MBA course are not compelled to produce a workable business plan as a project, rather than some abstract thesis, so that on graduation they could seek funding to put their ideas in to practice. In fact, in an ideal world, the UWI itself should have a venture capital project doing just that and making a handsome return on its investments. This is a time when our public intellectuals should be coming out with competing grand visions of the way society should develop, of the kind of society we ought to be.

It is important to mention here that Errol Walton Barrow, one of our national heroes and a founder of the nation to his many fans, was educated at the London School of Economics in the early 1950s at a time when the economics department at the School was dominated by a West Indian, Sir Arthur Lewis, whose Theory of Economic Growth is still a must-read in development economics. Even as a law undergraduate Barrow’s intellectual curiosity should have driven him to a private reading of Sir Arthur’s works. Yet, since constitutional independence we have drifted in to a stultifying form of centralised bureaucracy, typical of India. This is the heart of the structural reform the nation is crying out for. Barbados is much worse off than is generally believed.

156 thoughts on “Notes From a Native Son: The Poverty of Ideas is Worse than Material Poverty

  1. Look……..exactly, the tolerance for lies, secrets and wide spread criminality by political leaders is toxic and destructive to any country, city or state.

  2. @ Well Well

    Barbados is accepting tolerance, corrupt lawyers & politicians, must stop, must also persecute and convict them. Detroit is doing this. Ex-Detroit Council Woman, Monica Conyers is wife of United States Representative (Michigan), John Conyers. Representative John Conyers, though, could not stop his wife, Monica from being persecuted and convicted, didn’t try either. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, an ex-United States Representative (Michigan) and mother of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could not stop her son from being persecuted and convicted, didn’t try either.

    Things are quite different in Barbados, but Barbados is still THIRD WORLD.

  3. Jessie Jackson Jr. ex-United States Representative (Chicago, Illinois) was just recently persecuted and convicted. His father, activist Jessie Jackson Sr. could not stop his son’s persecution and conviction, didn’t try either.

  4. Well Well

    ………………………………but you know its not him who was convicted of stealing CIBC money?

  5. Activated Carbon………who cares, i say maloney, never called a first name, one of the was convicted under the name maloney

  6. Ok…………I thought you were painting all of them with the ‘thief’ brush, that would not be fair.

  7. Activated Carbon | July 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM |

    Ok…………I thought you were painting all of them with the ‘thief’ brush, that would not be fair.

    Oh, i will be fair, the brother is equally as disgusting, he just was never caught………these two should never be allowed anywhere near the welfare or future of the people on the island. I don’t walk around making up stuff about people, i make sure before i ask a question, i always know the answer.

  8. LOOK……..they will have to sort it out one way of or the next, when you make your bed, you have to lay in it, people were warning them as far back as 2004 about what was going to unfold on the world stage, and those arrogant jackholes cussed them, not unlike how their yardfowls love to cuss people on BU, and let them know it cannot affect Barbados, Bim was isolated and protected from any worldwide upheavals, well I am sure they have already eaten those words, but in doing so there is nothing else left to eat………..i wish them a nice life.

  9. Well Well

    Is it the $57 or so million they are making from the flimsy-ass tanks at the Barbados Port that got you in such a knot?

    $2.280 million per annum for 25 years for 3 tanks.

  10. Activated Carbon………..actually, it’s the lies that the current government continues to tell the taxpayers ad nauseum while allowing tom, dick and harrylal to enrich themselves off the backs of the taxpayers, i don’t know if you realize it, but making millions don’t get anyone very far for very long, so i don’t care who makes millions.

  11. @ Activated Carbon | July 22, 2013 at 2:30 PM |

    It would be very interesting to know the actual construction costs of the 3 tanks and compare it with the total final costs (construction and financing).

    Then we would be in a better position to see if its stacks up favourably with the Prisons at Dodds. The Governor of the Central Bank told the unsuspecting people it is costing them $700 million to construct.

    We shall see if these tanks will cost $57 million to build.

  12. Miller………..we have not even inquired about the kickbacks that would be associated with that little scam, no wonder maloney is hot to take over the ideas for the future of the island, this whole lot of DLP vipers should be cooling their heels in Dodds.

  13. Miller
    A quality surveyor has estimated that3 concrete tans would/should caosr no more than bds$4 million.

  14. Activated Carbon……..see what pisses me off now, secrets and lies, scams, bribes and kickbacks, all at the taxpayers expense.

  15. @ Well Well

    Detroit, Michigan (USA) on Thursday 07/18/2013 you know filed for bankruptcy protection. A Michigan state judge, the following day ruled it unconstitutional. She demanded the bankruptcy petition be withdrawn.
    The situation in Detroit is bad but had it not been for the American System of Checks and Balances Detroit retirees would be shit up a creek with no paddle. Pensions are already protected by law. Detroit’s bankruptcy cannot prong pensions in any form or fashion. Detroit you may or may not know has in its possession 2.6 million dollars worth of artwork, authentic Picasso, Van Gogh, etc. housed at the Detroit Institute of Art; this amounts to 10% of its debt but ownership of that artwork also may be challenged. The artwork allegedly belongs to the citizens of Detroit not the city itself.

    Barbados in a similar situation (financially stressed) could learn something from Detroit, might even consider implementing the Checks & Balance System.

  16. Look………… you can clearly see, the government in Barbados is more interested in checking and balancing their own bank accounts, i have been hearing about the story about these tanks that cost so much to the taxpayers but in reality cost a lot less, so now you understand………..they are not going to implement a checks and balance system to investigate themselves, not in this life, nor the next one………..we have to wait until, diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart attacks and all those other wonderful diseases run their corrupt asses off this earth.

  17. @ Well Well

    The final cost of that prison in St. Philips I believed was never announced. Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and Dale Marshall, etc. benefited from that VECO Alaska company, VECO benefited from them too.

  18. Everyone is having a grand old time stealing left and right, both parties look at the taxpayers on the island as their payday, lottery payouts……….as i said, they each will have their day of accounting.

  19. Believe it or not England is where all eyes from Barbados are looking to depend for revenues from tourism, i will not even mention the other European countries cause things are so bad in those countries that people don’t know what to do. It pisses me off when i see these local tourism people highly deluding themselves and trying to convince others who are not aware that tourism is still a successful foreign exchange earner in this brutal financial environment where whites are also suffering.

  20. @ Sid Boyce | July 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM |
    “She has a council house with 3 bedrooms and the council deems she has 2 more than needed so is asking for £28.00 extra in rent or be moved to a 1 bedroom apartment.”

    The bedroom tax is intended to eject older people from their larger council-provided housing units especially those from the white and black ethnic backgrounds.
    These older people whose children have ‘flown the nest’ are the ones that worked hard for Britain but can now find themselves removed from comfortable accommodation deemed excessive by nitwit local government bureaucrats to make room for those benefits-dependent new arrivals with much larger extended type family arrangements and whose lifestyle is one of taking instead of contributing to the social pot unless it is within their own ethic and narrow cultural sphere.

    Britain is in deep social and economic shit and really has no time for its former overseas colonies.
    Not even a plea for Reparations from black managed ex-slave countries like Barbados at this time would receive a compassionate ear from the modern political decision-makers. A set of pretentiously politically correct cadre of wimps more keen to pander to other ethnic demands especially those with the potential threat of homegrown terrorism as a weapon of forced negotiation and capitulation to these outrageously cultural impositions that are anathema to the native social system and anti-Western in outlook all under the progressively dangerous cloak of multi-culturalism.

    The maxim that “when in Rome do as the Romans do” certainly does not apply here. It’s more a case of bringing Punjab to “Endistan” (formerly known as England).

    WE suspect Hal Austin might share this view.

    PS: In addition to the APD Britain is again going to put more pressure on the already suffering tourism industry in the Caribbean. It is about to issue serious health warnings to those travelling to places like Barbados and Jamaica regarding the alarmingly increasing cases of dengue among its nationals who travelled to the Caribbean.

  21. @ Sid Boyce

    Sid it now seems as if you have a strange impression of my views. I believe the so-called bed-room tax is a penalty on the poor; but then again I am not in favour of people having seven and eight children, no adults at work, and getting benefits of over £30000 a year, when the average salary in the UK is just over £26000.
    But as you know, some political parties have longed used social housing for social cleansing – do you remember Westminster and the problems in Paddington in West London?
    The Right to Buy was a remarkable policy and one that not enough West Indians took advantage of.

    • Hi Hal,
      I don’t think I painted a picture at variance with anything you wrote.
      My illustration was largely the plight of one lady I know.
      As the song goes – It’s the rich what gets the sweetness and the poor what gets the blame.

      Before the last election I articulated to the same lady what could be expected down the line but as usual poor people’s rationale is that governments never do anything for them and so why should they vote.
      I also told her many time that they may not know who you vote for but they know if you vote.

      If you don’t vote they can totally disregard you.

      A relative in West London saw the Tory candidate walk up his road right past him in his garden. Later he got a call on his mobile asking for his vote for the same candidate. When he explained what had happened he got an apology.

      Ten seconds talking to a non-voter is a total waste of time and candidates know that.

      £19,000 a reasonable pension? Probably if you do very little and have very little expense, even if that is after tax.

  22. It is from the ONS. It is the figure financial services work to.

    Average earnings rise by 1.4% to £26,500, says ONS
    The data in the annual survey of hours and earnings comes from a 1% sample of all employee tax records Continue reading the main story
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    Incomes ‘down 13% in four years’
    The average annual earnings of full-time workers in the UK rose by 1.4% to £26,500 in the year to April 2012.

    The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in its annual survey of hours and earnings.

    There was a cut in the real value of pay, however, as inflation was higher during the same period, at 3.5%.

    And the ONS data also reveals that inflation has outstripped the rise in average pay for the past 12 years.

    The survey results show that since April 2000, average annual pay for full-time workers has risen by 40%, from £18,848 to £26,500.

    In that time, inflation, as measured by changes in the retail prices index, has gone up by 43%.

    However, the trend has accelerated in the past five years since the onset of the international banking and financial crisis, the consequent recession in the UK and the imposition of austerity measures by the government.

    In just five years since April 2007, prices have risen by 18%, while average annual earnings have gone up by just 10%.

    That has left wages and salary increases lagging behind inflation by 8% in just five years.

    Stagnant progress

    The pay gap between men and women shrank in the year to April 2012, from 10.5% of men’s full-time hourly earnings to 9.6%.

    The ONS said the shrinkage of this gap continued the trend of the past few years.

    Full-time male workers earned on average £28,700 in the year, while women earned £23,100, a difference of £5,600.

    Among part-time workers, though, most of whom are female, the position was reversed.

    Looking at their weekly earnings, female part-timers earned on average 8% more last year than their male counterparts, with women earning an average of £158 a week and men £146.

    Looking at their hourly pay rates, part-time women earned 5% more than their male counterparts, at £8.12 an hour compared to £7.72 an hour.

    The TUC’s general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “The pay gap between full and part-time workers is actually getting worse.”

    “This is terrible news for the millions of people who need to work part-time to balance work and caring responsibilities, or who simply can’t find full-time jobs,” he added.”

    Daisy Sands, of the Fawcett Society, said progress in closing the gender gap had become slow and stagnant.

    “In an age of austerity and declining living standards it’s more important than ever that we tackle it,” she said.

    “We are concerned about plans on the table that will worsen an already difficult situation for women – moves to regionalise public sector pay and plans to enable workplace rights to be “sold off” via the employee ownership scheme could all impact negatively on the pay gap.”

    Public and private

    The ONS survey found that the average weekly pay of staff in the public sector was still noticeably higher than for staff in private sector employment, despite the government pay freeze on most employees in the public sector.

    Full-time staff there saw their weekly pay rise by 1.6% to £565, while those in the private sector saw their earnings go up by 1.5% to £479.

    The ONS said the long standing difference in pay levels was due to the preponderance of low-paid jobs in the private sector and the concentration of better educated workers in the public sector.

    “Consequently, differences in gross weekly earnings do not reveal differences in rates of pay for comparable jobs,” it said.

    “For example, many of the lowest-paid occupations, such as bar and restaurant staff, hairdressers, elementary sales occupations and cashiers, exist primarily in the private sector, while there are a larger proportion of graduate-level and professional occupations in the public sector,” the ONS added.

    Low pay

    Average weekly earnings were highest in the London region at £653 and lowest in Wales at £453.

    In districts around the UK, the highest average full-time earnings were in the City of London, at £917, while the lowest earnings were in Torridge in Devon, at just £348 a week for full-time employees.

    The ONS survey found that in April this year, there were 287,000 people in jobs paying less than the national minimum wage, who amounted to 1.1% of all workers in the UK.

    However, it warned that this did not mean they were all being paid illegally.

    “This is because it is not possible to determine from the survey data whether an individual is eligible for the minimum wage,” the ONS said.

    “For example, it is not possible to identify people such as apprentices and those undergoing training who are exempt from the minimum wage rate or are entitled to lower rates.

    “In addition, if employees receive free accommodation, employers are entitled to offset hourly rates,” the ONS added.

    It also take about £19000 for a comfortable pension.

  23. Now if we can only get the government in Bim to understand the dynamics of what is being played out in England and the consequent repercussions, maybe they would actually start some brain movement….it’s nothing pretty out here and getting progressively worse on a daily basis. With regard to reparations, England may have to go the route of Texas and deem black slavery merely internship and maybe charge a fee for training the descendants of former slaves, got my drift?? Time for the local leaders to use theirs brains and all the billions spent in educating said leaders who are not showing any real results.

    • Poverty of ideas – just look at what a good education coupled with enquiring minds, dedication and confidence delivers. It’s production cost is minimal and it’s worth is tremendous.
      This is the product of a cardiac nurse who displays a wide knowledge of how the heart works and an advanced knowledge of electronics and programming.
      Anyone from our Universities capable or actually demonstrating anything, not necessarily in the medical field, but something to demonstrate the quality of their educational attainment?

  24. Owen Arthur recently in the Bahamas offered them advice on VAT and the Bahamans were not impressed. The Weblog Bahamas on 07/20/2013 reported said statement: “I must admit it galls me a bit a politician that has left his country [Barbados] and citizens with debt and taxes up the wazoo would consider giving advice that we should follow his lead”.

    Alike Detroit, problems in Barbados are accumulative of several decades, Barbados tolerated fourteen years of Owen Arthur. Barbados we know will not get better but worse. Tourism is near death. GDP in 2012 was 0 growth. See World Data Atlas. The S&P just recently visiting Barbados, changed its economic outlook, moved it from stable to negative. The S&P and Moody’s will again be re-visiting Barbados and not with good news.

    Barbados has no transparency and does not persecute corrupt lawyers and politicians. Monica Conyers and Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit were both persecuted and convicted. All in Barbados should be persecuted and convicted: Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley, Dale Marshall, George Payne, Gline Clark, Sir Richard Cheltenham, Charles O. Williams, Mark Cummings, Samantha Cummings Leroy Parris too; their properties (homes, cars, banking accounts, etc) should be confiscated and auctioned. The United States government just recently persecuted and convicted Jessie Jackson Jr., wife Sandi too. Their homes in Chicago, Illinois (USA) and Washington, DC will be confiscated also ALL monies invested in their Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Jessie Jackson Jr. after completing his prison sentence still must pay restitution of 750,000 for looting his campaign account. Ex-prime minister David Thompson is now deceased. His estate, however, should be confiscated.

  25. @ Look
    That was a silly idea. VAT is a regressive tax and will penalise the poor and elderly.
    Arthur messed it up in the first place; he has introduced a tax on education (through the buying of books etc), along with leveraged growth.
    The asset to tax is property and introduce an inheritance tax. The rich and well connected do not want that.
    They want to pass on their wealth to their inheritors.

  26. @ Hal Austin | July 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM |

    VAT is indeed by nature a regressive tax if applied across the board.
    But how do you penalize conspicuous and discretionary consumption in a country with an extensive ‘free-for-all’ social and welfare system?
    What more efficient and comprehensive alternative tax strategy would you recommend to replace the VAT but at the same generate sufficient tax revenues to fund the country’s massive social programmes?

    I agree with you that taxing property (real and consumption-related like private vehicles and yachts) is a fairer way of generating tax revenues based on the ability to pay principle of taxation.
    But would such a narrow focus be comprehensive enough to generate the high levels of revenues needed to finance our burdensome governance system and social engineering programmes?

  27. @ Miller

    Zero-rate the basics: a basket of goods, books, pens, children’s school clothes, and penalise Champagne, Whisky, salmon, yachts, 4×4 luxury cars, etc.

  28. Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler in September 2012 commissioned a special audit at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA). Auditing at the Town & County Development Planning Office, the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and the Barbados Water Authority BWA should be continuous. Massive theft and corruption in Barbados has going on far too long. Time to stop the music.

  29. @ Hal Austin | July 24, 2013 at 10:52 AM |
    “Zero-rate the basics:”

    But that system is already in place. What is required is a widening of the basket to exclude from VAT more things the poor need to buy regularly.
    Alternatively you could have a two track VAT rate regime by increasing the rate on luxury type items to say 25 or 30%.

    I believe the cost of domestic electricity is a serious burden on poor households especially when there is only breadwinner or none at all. I believe that some concession ought to be given in that area without compromising the objective of energy conservation. The first 80 KWh’s or some practically determined reasonable threshold should be exempt from VAT or attract a lower rate, say, 5%. With the standard rate applicable to domestic usage above this lower limit.

    This loss of tax revenues could be recouped by a higher imposition say 25% on those who exceed a much higher band (say in excess of 300 hours per month) and
    deemed to be excessive for a reasonable energy conservation conscious household.

    Another rich revenue mine for justifiable exploitation through higher VAT or some other “premium” tax is that of mobile or cell phones.
    Don’t be surprised if the upcoming budget does make provision for such additional imposition on the luxury habits of Bajans. But this time in a workable manner instead of the one proposed by that blockhead Darcy Boyce way back in 2009.
    He took a good suggestion from a “perceived” Opposition source but in order to make it look like his own baby foolishly screwed it up thus making it non-implementable. There is a practical difference between the mechanisms required to collect a tax based on ‘ad valorem’ as opposed to ‘specific’.

  30. @ miller

    Then widen the basket. The real elephant in the room is the luxury apartments on the West Coast. Ordinary taxpayers are paying those multi-millionaires to live in Barbados.
    It is a scandal

  31. @ Hal Austin | July 24, 2013 at 11:43 AM |

    As much as we would hope for an ease on the poor using this option, I don’t think this is now possible given the fiscal corner this administration has painted itself into.
    Such a move will not be approved by those who will soon be fully responsible for our fiscal management.
    This time Barbados would find itself not with its hands in the lion’s mouth but its entire body politic in the guts of the international loan sharks.

    Far from easing their plight we might just see more impositions placed on the poor and a structured dismantling of social programmes with no means testing as a strategy to ease the burden of the materially dispossessed.

    In the spirit of the words of Peter Tosh, the poor man (through no fault of his own) really feels it when the economic shit hits the political fan.

  32. I wonder which country Roslyn Smith live in.Why is she now talking. I find it very strange that it now dawn on her that something is/was wrong from ever-since.Just heard her on VOB’s 12:30pm news. My dear Roslyn, Dennis Clarke has everything arranged with the government. I am convinced that you were sent to “front up” for the NUPW. There is nothing sincere in your intervention, and at the same time the NUPW has the nerve to be actively recruiting new members. The young people know better. UNIONS sell out workers with the exception of UNITY.

  33. @ Bag Juice | July 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM |

    Like June Fowler, Rosalind Smith is another supremely naive woman, or pretending to be, that is being used (and soon to be discarded) by wicked men playing political games with the livelihood of ordinary gullibly innocent workers who are in no way responsible for the current fiscal sate of this country.

    There is nothing that Rosalind knows now that she was not aware of prior to February 2013.
    Do you realize that none of these political lackeys hiding behind the façade of the workers unions has criticized to date the large overmanned Political Executive with a Cabinet full of oversized puppets and behaving as pompous idiots?

    How can these union officials allow themselves to be continuously used by their political sponsors in decimating the public sector by sycophantically agreeing to laying off lowly temporary staff without calling on the PM to trim some of the excessive fat at the top some of which is overloading his Cabinet and causing it to dysfunction in a state paralytic catatonic inertia?

  34. Agree with you 100% miller. So far, the public of Barbados have not heard any trimming of the fat of the salaries and perks of the ministers, but the lowly public servant must take the brunt of any dislocation to come. At least under Sir Erskine Sandiford then, he led be example, real or imagine. On top of that, the rampant corruption in the country with the sharing of the fatted calf. Only this morning on brasstacks David Ellis made mention of hearing on BBC where Barbados is one of the least corrupt country. (LOL)

    Well the temporary prison officers are shitting bricks now. For sure, 74 of them will not have a job. Temporary teachers look out. There are quite a number of you all in the primary and secondary schools. Will be watching to see if the schools in Husbands and Waterford will have all their temporary staff back in September considering that Stinkliar, Stephen Lasley and Byer-Suckoo have children at these schools.

  35. @miller

    That is what happens when you sell the family silver = BNB, ICBL, electricity – it is the politics of incompetence.
    Under WTO rules we have a right to hold on to our strategically important industries. Elecricity is strategic.

  36. Oh, how could I forget Crumpton Street with Donvile “Pornville” Innis children at that institution. This is relation to the 2:09pm posting.

  37. @ Hal Austin | July 24, 2013 at 3:02 PM |
    “Elecricity is strategic.”

    If you can see that and the miller can see that and even dead Gearbox would have seen that, how come this jingoistic administration can’t see that?

    You have to remember that those shares in the island’s sole electricity generation and distribution plant were sold at a time when the government’s fiscal position was not so bad neither were there such great pressures on the foreign reserves.
    Now how daft was that?

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