Numbers Don’t Lie. People do!

We apologize to Walter Blackman for picking up his submission several days lateDavid

Walter Blackman

Walter Blackman

His silver hairs will purchase us a good opinion, and buy men’s voices to commend our deeds.

William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

I make reference to a Nation News article dated November 4, 2013, entitled “Numbers don’t lie” and written by Sanka Price. In that article, Mr. Erskine Griffith is highlighted as a top‐level civil servant who served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance under six Ministers of Finance and five Prime Ministers, dating back from his appointment to the post under Tom Adams to Owen Arthur, under whom he retired as the Director of Finance and Head of the Civil Service in 2000.

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121 comments

  • @Clint Eastwood

    your obvious attempt to obfuscate tells of a desperation which is becoming more apparent by the day.

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  • @enuff

    You forgot to mention cotton and the solar industry was not given enough support where Barbados could have been the centre of a regional industry. There is a start.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ balance | November 22, 2013 at 1:17 PM |
    “Prime Ministers and their years in office (1976 – 2013):”
    “I(f) Mr Blackman wants to be credible he has to include the 1961-76 period not data to suit his agenda.”

    I differ slightly with you about the time period for comparative analysis.
    If we accept the period 1961-66 as part of the time horizon then we need to include the period 1951 to 1960 when Barbados had fully elected representative government under the enfranchisement of the masses through universal adult suffrage.
    Why not start with the year after independence when Barbados became an ‘adult’ State fully in control (legally speaking) of its affairs both locally and internationally; thereby able to boast to be “a friend of all and satellite of none” as its foreign policy motto.
    The period 1967 to 2013 ought to be the time horizon under discussion.
    Do you agree then we should set aside Walter’s start period which fits in with his own work experience in the public service?

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  • are-we-there-yet?

    Walter Blackman;

    Thanks for your reply indicating how you arrived at the numbers for apportioning blame to the various PM’s since 1976. But, you must see that there is something missing in the derivation of those numbers.

    The PM’s in Barbados (except for the current one and the one before him, in an experiment which has failed abysmally) worked tirelessly to ensure that Barbados did not move away from the general precepts of good management of the economy and thereby pulling the society along with it. Each PM maintained the status quo in the majority of areas under his control. Incentivising the Private and Public sectors; Modernising the country’s infrastructure; providing for social upliftment; Maintaining relations with our regional and international partners; etc. etc.

    David Thompson led the charge to delink the society from the economy and thereby put in train what has been happening in the economy since then. FS followed but added his own touch of mute detachment and allowing Ministers to do what they wanted without any ostensible control except where he sought to undo many of the policies of his Minister of Finance, even though such policies bore the imprimatur of Cabinet.

    I said the above to try to indicate that one cannot reasonably ascribe a blanket blame percentage to a PM merely by a calculation of a simple proportion of the years in that office over the total years between 1976 and now. There should be some rational weighting which segregates the policies of a PM which are blame worthy from those which are progressive and forward looking.

    If you had identified the new policies of each PM which led directly to the problems we are now having and showed how those policies and the implementation thereof can be correlated with our current decline I would be totally on your side but instead, you use flawed data to come to what appears to be a desired conclusion.

    Your analyses are not believable if you only based them on years in office.

    Perhaps, for balance, you should do another piece that looks at the policies and tangible outcomes of the OSA years as compared with those of the last 6 years.

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  • No, I did mention sea island cotton. Solar? What gave or gives us an advantage?

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  • @Enuff

    It is a mature industry in Barbados and we should be able to leverage against the knowledgebase post Oliver Headley.

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  • David that’s the problem, it is neither the most mature or research-oriented solar industry in the world. To be a global leader in an industry, you need more than one Professor Headleys and that’s why I keep talking about agglomeration through integration. What handicapped the solar industry was COST; the sustained high costs of oil (accidental??) and “energy security” are driving the AE agenda as opposed to the environmental debate of the past. Between 1994 and 2008, oil prices were motly <$40 per barrel.

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  • It didn’t have to be the most mature and with support to the UWI and other agencies we could have come up with a product fit for market.

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  • are-we-there-yet?

    David / Enuff

    Seems like David is saying that the PMs’ of the relevant times did not give sufficient support to restructuring of agriculture re. Sea island Cotton and to the Solar industries that I suppose would now be called Renewable energy technologies.

    I wonder why most commentators cannot see that the development of new forward thinking industries is a partnership involving not only Government but the Private sector as well. Both are important.

    For both Sea Island Cotton and Solar water heating the Government of the day did their part. Thus, for Cotton, Government provided land and equipment to get the projects rolling. It is the private sector that did not follow through. You might also recall CARSICOT which had much to do with the apparent demise of cotton in Barbados. For Solar water heating, that industry, which appears to be still viable today, became so only because of initial tangible incentives offered to and taken up by James Husbands who built up a regional industry from scratch and by Tom Adams going out on a limb to utilize avant garde technologies on new Government buildings. The Governments could not have been reasonably expected to do more .

    But the battlefield in solar has moved from mere solar water heaters to Photovoltaics and other means of harvesting renewable energy. The main players in the relatively new Renewable energy technologies are the companies like Williams Industries, etc. It seems that this is how it should be; let Government offer incentives for usage, source project monies for development of the technologies here and let the money-people invest their money in implementing the technologies, taking the risks and harvesting the profits. Where the private sector is unwilling to play its part there will be no progress.

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  • Never mentioned renewables, we should have leveraged our early entry into solar across the region.

    If the private sector did not take the bait then one may reasonably conclude that the government did not do a good enough job enabling the environment and or finding partners/ strategic relationships.

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  • are-we-there-yet?

    David; re. your 8.40 pm post
    WOW! A classic example of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t do”.

    I vaguely remember seeing what looked like an excellent proposal sometime in the 1990’s by Oliver Headley for setting up a PV production facility in Barbados. I don’t think it was sent to Government. It went nowhere.

    Your analysis above would suggest that its failure to achieve implementation was because Government did not do a good enough job enabling the environment and/or finding partners / strategic relationships.

    Perhaps the overarching reason for its failure to get financing was that the time was not ripe for such a project. Today it might have a chance for success. Hey, perhaps UWI could get it from the files, dust it off, update it and get Government to get China to fund it.

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  • @ David
    You continue to miss my point…man I dun!!! Regionally….you can’t sell unless there is demand. Look at the 2m+ market in the then wealthy Trinidad where oil was subsidised making electricity (hence electrical water heaters) cheap. How lucrative would the other markets have been given the cost?

    As for cotton there was CARSICOT and under OSA Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean. Are we saying the problem is simply a lack of political will as is being trumpeted here? What are the other dynamics at play? We are now talking about a sugar cane industry, and the issue of volume is to be alleviated by paying farmers ‘more’. Again we seem oblivious to the dynamics of global trade; because it worked in Brazil does not mean it will in Barbados…land mass alone dictates otherwise. Can Williams compete with the big global photovoltaic players or only dominate the local market?

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  • @are-we-there-yet?

    It is not about factories BUT patents.

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  • are-we-there-yet?

    Enuff, re your 9.19 pm post.

    Please expand and educate me as I don’t recall dealing with either factories or patents in my posts on this topic. Where do patents apply in the Williams PV operations? Are they going beyond retrofitting their buildings for solar? Re. the Oliver Headley project proposal, perhaps patents for the process might have been a stumbling block.

    If it was Cotton you were referring to, the Barbados Government was or is essentially controlling the Sea Island Cotton patent through WISICA and was doing its best to modernize the Industry on a regional perspective so even from that standpoint David’s thesis of inadequate government support is somewhat flawed.

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  • Are we there
    I was just trying to say Headley patenting his works would have been more important than a PV factory in the scheme of things. Not attacking you…lol.

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  • Good points enuff but BU’s position is that Barbados and Barbadians tend to contain our ability to innovate using market constraints as the excuse. We have to be fearless and be willing to leverage our touted human capital to be disruptive in the marketplace to ensure our survival on a sustainably basis.

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  • are we there your post at 7.00 pm says it all.

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  • Dear readers and commentators all.
    Is there ANY project or activity that we ALL as a country can identify, plan and execute to the betterment of the society at large?
    It doesn’t have to be something major or breath-taking like we Barbadians like to undertake and then happily fail at, just something that can show value island-wide, is no too elaborate and whose success will validate in the minds of the population the value and importance of team-work?
    Is there anything?
    It’s O.K on some level to go back and forth here slinging mud at those with whom we disagree or believe to be ignorant and idiotic, but its time to save Barbados from the decay which it has been enjoying since the established class system has now proven itself to be a resounding failure.
    Can we find any little thing that we can all work at and succeed at and then move on to the next thing?
    Lets look.

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  • Mr. Walter Blackman

    Let us be real here. This is nothing but a failed attempt of appeasing the current administration’s entropy all due to lack of leadership….Gimme a break man we all know monies in the NIS cannot just lay idle….why is people of your ilk that told us so, not true? Monies must be prudently invested to make an adequate ROI and replenish the funds as it goes on….

    You speak of a slide….But of course they would have been a slide…again the odder actuary S.Alleyne had so informed us…. that due to something to do with increasing life span of the bajan elderly and incremental inflows by new entrances, more intense and prudent attention would be needed in managing the NIS fund. As we all know this was lapsed by this revenue hungry administration.

    When the MOF can tell the Chairman of the NIS to approve such or else what do you expect? We all recall the Brass tack moderatorNIS directors plight only too well….Point is there was inveigle bad management by this administration, in there desperate attempts of meeting ends….

    You all need to stop pointing fingers now and get on with the job at hand…..Is this what we can future expect from a Govt just given a mandate to rule for another 4 years?…Well heaven help us..
    Look do the damm job and stop the cry-babying…or GIVE IT UP ! The odder side more than willing to show you how it should be done.

    Complaining, complaining complaining…. it is getting tiresome now and gets us all no where…..

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  • are-we-there-yet?

    Enuff
    Thanks for your response. The point about our inventors patenting their work is a valid one but sometimes that work is not patentable for various reasons.

    Take for example the late Colin Hudson and his vast array of implements for agriculture, best exemplified by the sugar cane harvester. Most of his implements were slight modifications of existing ones that might or might not have had existing patents. In many cases Colin sold just one implement to far off places and that was the only revenue he got for his “invention” as the buyers modified it once they got their hands on it.

    The late Professor Oliver Headley was a genius, constrained to some extent by the system he operated in. Perhaps his son who used to post here could let us know how many patents he had and for what processes or systems. But I would hazard a guess that the numbers do not match with the breadth of vision of the man and his contributions. He worked with UWI in Trinidad and in Barbados and It is possible that that intellectual property rights clauses of his contract with the UWI might have militated against his patenting some of his designs. I don’t know but perhaps someone can put me right on that score.

    Nearer to the present, I understand that Jeff Chandler, of UWI, does have some patents on orchid varieties that he developed. So there might have been some progress made at UWI on the matter of patents over the past 10 years or so.

    But you are right, patents, more so than factories, is the way to go.

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  • @Gabriel, Miller, enuff ec,
    A visit to the Skeete’s Bay fish processing facility will show evidence of Professor Headley’s vision, and the failure of the government of the time to understand the significance of his contributions. Profesor Headley pioneered the building of a Solar Ice making plant to provide ice for the fishing boats who used the faacility. I distinctly remember the disdain which he had to undergo, from the government of the day, and many naysayers in the country who laughed at his efforts. The facility was allowed to deteriorate; the solar batteries and inverters became subject to the elements (salt air) and no effort was made to provide the necessary assistance either by government or private sector to push his efforts forward. Government could have helped by providing funding to supply other fish landing sites with the technology, and/or providing funds to the University to help the development go forward. Private sector could have helped in the research and development (things like develppment of sealed containeers for inverters, batteries etc.) and personnel to help in the innovation and development. Farmers have used as an excuse for not producing enough onions is the absence of a drying facility. The University Professor Headley) developed a Solar Drying facility. Has Private industry taken up the potential of this facility and advanced it? No!! Did Private Industry support the government in the CARSICOT issue, when there was an attempt by outside forces the interfere with the obtaining of a patent on the Sea Island Cotten Brand? For reasons unknown the whole issue was part of a political campaign aimed at the government rather than seeing the benefits for the island as a whole.
    This is our problem as a country. Individuals politicise everything.

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