Notes From a Native Son: Pride Comes Before a Fall, Even for Some Governments

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

Introduction:
As the IMF troops gather at the gate, the people of Barbados have little time to reflect on how a once proud nation has found itself in this economic mess. But, as night follows day, it had to come; it is a modern-day example of Sodom and Gomorrah, of a people living so much beyond their means, partying and fornicating, that they forgot how hard work and good ethical behaviour has its rewards. For the national decline is not just economic, only that this time it is manifesting itself in an economic meltdown, but it goes right across the range of our social and cultural values. Although we can blame the 14 years of the Arthur administration for sowing the seeds of this predictable car crash, and rightly so, after nearly six years in government the DLP government can no longer use that excuse. The failure to manage the economy is theirs and theirs alone, first with the Thompson regime being caught off guard when it won the general election, and the political ignorance of Freundel Stuart to impose his mark on the post-Thompson government. But we are where we are and it is no good crying over lost opportunities. However, to kick off this period of tighter fiscal controls, government should impose a Bds$50m windfall tax on the commercial banks and use that money to fund a post Office bank; also encourage the credit unions to establish a joint credit union bank, both operating on balance sheet principles.

Policy Inertia:
Part of the DLP’s policy inertia has been its lack of vision, a mainly professional middle class and cadre of policymakers who do not read outside a very narrow self-confirming set of publications and, even if they travel overseas, they wear cultural and policy blinkers. The result is a very narrow vision of what is politically possible, and the absence of any intellectual curiosity to drive them towards looking for new answers. You can see these people in London and New York, Toronto and Paris, straight from Grantley Adams Airport doing the familiar things they do at home: black pudding and souse, dominoes, watching cricket, drinking too much. Sometimes one is left to wonder how people could visit some of the great cultural capitals in the world and have not the slightest curiosity about visiting the theatre, or a top restaurant, or museum, or even good bookshops. This is the root of the problem, of the failure of policy, since they depend on a small self-justifying group of people for their ideas, people they have known since entering the infant school system until they emerged from university. The net result is a cultural and intellectual deficit which expresses itself in the lack of innovative policies back home.

The same thing for the economy: failure to analyse closely how other governments are dealing with the problems faced by their economies since the global crisis means that the DLP government is left with a number of patch-work, juvenile economic programmes. They have failed to understand that the ultimate tool to combat a recession is to restore demand and this can only be done through the mechanisms of private sector investments, consumer demand or government spending. It is clear that the artificial demand driven by cheap money, such as the scandalous so-called Car Extravaganza offered by RBC, is a return to the boom years of pre-2007/8 which saw sub-prime lending getting out of control. It is true, the private sector is having problems of its own, especially the small hotel sector, but these are cash flow problems that could be resolved with innovative financialisation. Attempts by the government to drive the economy through a massive amount of unsustainable loans is quite obviously not the answer. The latest proposal to resolve the problem, widespread public sector sackings, smacks of desperation, but it has serious repercussions for the wider economy. It will reduce overall demand and put more households in serious debt while at the same time cutting the tax take.

Keynes has shown that a deficit is not the end of the world; governments, like households, must spend carefully, prudently, and borrowing or printing money to pay salaries is carelessness. Governments however must also invest for the future, so that generations to come can reap the benefits. This government has no such vision. One explanation for the policy failure which is now crippling the economy is that it has taken this government nearly six years to realise that the global banking crisis and the following recession was an opportunity to restructure the entire economy. Instead, it chose to focus on inter-party rhetorical rivalry, not realising that the party in power had all the levers to impose its own policies. And, when necessary, it milked the national insurance scheme as if it was the government’s piggy bank.

Housing:
Any government that wants to promote prosperity and redistribute national wealth should look first at housing. Since the Second World War, it is residential housing that has been the driver of household wealth in every western democracy. And this government had a black piece of paper on which to draft its housing policy – from clearing up the awful slums populate the city to many of the old traditional towns and villages.

Further, in an island of nearly 300000 people and only just over 100000 acres of land, density is important therefore comprehensive planning is of central importance. We cannot spread out, build swimming pools and golf courses, create recreational spaces, allocate agricultural land, an extensive road-building programme along with enough space for houses, offices, churches and other civic buildings. Something has got to give, and I suggest it is family housing that will have to give. This generation of politicians does not fully understand the transformative effect of home ownership, especially in the socially conservative environment that envelopes Barbados like a cloud.

Other Policy Failures:
Within the first 100 days of the Thompson government the DLP should have decoupled the Bajan from the Greenback, fix it against a basket of commodities and currencies, which would have provided a hedge against the need for a massive foreign reserve fund. Government should also outlaw the US dollar being used as legitimate currency for over-the-counter business in order to retain control over its money supply and reduce opportunities for small business people to carry out tax fraud by hoarding cash. It should raise the statutory school leaving age to 18; reform the school system with selection at age 14 to decide who would be best suited in an academic stream, a technical stream and a administrative stream. The next four years of their education will be focused on those streams as part of a wider policy on education and training. Government should also invite in new manufacturing and service industries, diversifying the economy away from an over-reliance on tourism. It should develop a sophisticate leisure sector, principally for Barbadians, but also of use to the tourism sector – a dry ski slope in the Scotland district, a permanent funfair in the Ragged Point/Culpepper Island area, develop the Seawell are as a commercial mall complete with restaurants, cafes, a three-star hotel, and a mono-rail running in the first phase to Codrington College.

When Barbados became constitutionally independent, we had a 15-strong trawler going up the Gulf fishing for shrimp. Why have we lost that industry? What has replaced it? We also had a very good, if small, dry dock, which we can also put back in operation servicing small yachts and boats.

Weymouth/Transport Board:
Government must act immediately to draw up a list of non-core assets which must be sold off in a strategic way. It has the biggest land bank in the country and should be compelled to come up with development ideas on how best to use that land, deciding what is for agriculture, what for recreational space and what for housing and commerce.

Government had an open goal with the under-performing Transport Board, its dilapidated vehicles and a prime development site. Combine all these with the need for financial innovation, in this case the need for a balance sheet retail bank, and the DLP administration would be in a position to claim, rightly, that it had done more for the economy of Barbados than 14-years of BLP rule under Owen Arthur.

First, St John is the safest DLP seat in the country and the nation’s poorest parish, so it was a no brainer to re-locate the Transport Board to St John. Then government should separate the business of public transport from that of vehicle repairs and maintenance and establish them as separate businesses. It should then replace the existing vehicles with a working fleet of buses and a professional management team, which it should then privatise, offering 51 per cent of the shares to existing and retired staff, unions and ordinary non-institutional investors. The other 49 per cent should be offered to local and Caricom institutional investors with a mandate to return a profit of at least two per cent above the base rate.

The current staff mechanics and managers should be formed to a limited liability team and offered the repair and maintenance contract for an initial three years after which it would have to compete in open competition with other service providers for the contract. The Roebuck Street site should then be developed in to homes, offices and shops for mainly young professional people, with at least 200 per cent of the units used for social housing. With properly architecturally designed homes and office and shop provisions for a doctor’s surgery, offices, a grocery, a membership gym, a swimming pool, and, including the Weymouth playing field, other amenities such as tennis, a leisure centre with an ice rink, badminton, squash, basketball and netball courts. The apartments could be offered to young professional men and women – through 100 per cent interest-only mortgages if necessary – and to non-Barbadians looking to buy holiday homes. With a deadline of three years to build the apartments and with off-plan sales, guaranteed by an independent NHC (which ideally would be part of an umbrella Sovereign Wealth Fund), the development would be self-financing within five to ten years.

Analysis and Conclusion:
As the dark clouds close in, there are two dominant issues that have led what passes for policy in Barbados down a cul-de-sac: first, the obsession with foreign reserves is out of date in contemporary macro-economic terms, as has been suggested on a number of occasions. The examples set by the big developed economies: the US, eurozone, Japan and UK – in printing money to refuel their economies then steadily withdraw those funds, what Ben Bernanke has called tapering, have proved very productive. The US saved the motor industry and until this week to pumped US$85bn a month in to the economy; it has now reduced that to US$75bn. In the UK, the Bank of England spent £375bn purchasing gilts back from institutional investors, mainly the banks and the European Central Bank has written a black cheque (whatever it takes). Instead of obsessing over foreign reserves for an exogenous shock that may never come, a reasonable proportion of those reserves could have been used to fund small and medium enterprise and create jobs for young men and women. Government missed that opportunity. Most of all, the government has failed to develop a youth policy which should go beyond just finding jobs, however, unproductive, to embrace education, training, recreational activities, and the criminal justice system.

Instead of dipping in to the NIS, government should have used the crisis as an opportunity to put in place a long-term saving vehicle and the creation of a sovereign wealth fund with a remit to return a minimum of two per cent above the rate of inflation annually. And with a Barbadian being one of the leading sovereign wealth fund analyst s in the world, we would have been starting from a pole position.

Sacking people at any time is devastating for the individual, but doing so in the middle of a recession (which the government and central bank governor still refuse to admit) could have long-term effects, as Steve David, of the University of Chicago, and Til von Wachter, of Columbia University, have pointed out (see: Recession and the cost of job lost).

Finally, we must look seriously at our growing population and the ill-thought out policy on the CSME free movement of people. It was bad when it was first introduced and it is even worse now in a serious economic crisis. All that is left to say is to wish you a most enjoyable Christmas and a most prosperous and traditional New Year.

265 comments

  • EXHIBIT B ……CHINA a country who lived and believed that “HOME DRUM BEAT FIRST. discard ..and has disregarded that mental barrier that kept them socially and economically in isolation and the rest is history………… A lesson to be learned

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  • @Bushie
    “Devaluation will be GOOD….because it will bring us closer to a position where we are living WITHIN our means”

    Bajans living within their means ?! Do you seriously think we know how to do that? Man the “informal green” economy would jstart to flourish and our imports would really be CSME and agricultural. lol.

    @miller
    “Barbados is living way above its productive means”

    We have the capacity to be productive but we choose not to be. Do you think devaluation will finally force us there (productive, less consumption) or will we just go the way of the dodo bird? Remember we have a habit of taking the lead from our leaders.

    Devaluation has some benefit based on bringing things back to where they should be. the problem is, we will take too long to get there, go through untold direct and indirect pressha and more likely than not NEVER recover given the lack of true national identity and the rabid partisan, socio-economical and class divides.

    Theoretically, we could go for devaluation…. but realistically…we would need supreme leadership to chart the way (not Chris please) and a return to our supreme being for help (which we should be doing anyhow)

    @Robert
    Love for others is a manifestation of the love you have for yourself. In other words it is impossible to love someone without having love inside you to begin with, even if you don’t recognise or call it that. We make peace with God, make peace with ourselves then make peace with the world and others. Thus the cycle revolves right back to the beginning. Most times though we don’t even realise or tap into what’s going on…we just exist and do rather than live and love.

    I think too that we use the wrong word (love and all that it wrongly implies) and therefore find it hard to understand. Your willingness to die for her is THE perfect example of “self-love” and it does serve your interest whether you think so or not…..lol.

    @David
    “what is the purpose of our existence anyway.”

    Man that type of question so early in the morning? lol. You gine only mek people forget bout economics and downgrades and instead go and fire two rums. 🙂

    Observing

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  • BT

    She’s got great legs.

    I would tell my daughter to follow her heart. But she doesn’t listen to me anyway. Indeed, why should she? It’s her life not mine .I’m just the fella she talks to when she wants something.

    Observing

    Of course I agree with most of what you said. But remember the conversation started with self-interest = self-love = love for another. That I don’t accept. But in your analysis we have, through our sense of religiousness (not religion), BECOME love and that is a very different thing.

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  • @ David & Observing
    Thanks for translating into simple terms the gibberish that Bushie has been confusing balance, Miller and RR with… 🙂

    @ Robert
    Man what follow what heart what?! ….with that advice what chance would the poor girl have against a bushman? 🙂 (and with great legs too…?!?)
    Your role and DUTY is to provide loving, fatherly advice based on your years of experience and your OWN years of wufflessness…LOL
    The correct answer ….NEITHER of the two scamps LOL Ha Ha

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  • @ HAL

    Another classic interpretation of things on the ground! A lucid, objective analysis of where we are as a nation and what needs to be done to get ourselves out the MESS we steered ourselves into.

    Withal due respect Hal, guys like you with the CLARITY of thought, the conviction of your ideas and the “UMPH” to see them through need to decide NOW where you are best needed!

    HAL, YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!

    If guys like you & many more like you on BU & elsewhere decided in the national interest to foment and agitate CHANGE – it would only be a matter of time before real change comes!

    Our nation as you rightly opined has been stuck in “LIMBO” for too long. The dearth in ideas; the egocentricity of our lack luster politicians and the GREED & RACIST behavior of the pale-skin folks on the island of Barbados have warranted our present condition!

    When you ADD up the financial clout of the 50 richest persons in Barbados – I wonder why our fiscal condition is the way it is?

    Does the Barbados government TAX the super RICH? What sort of $$$$$$ are offshore companies contributing to the economy? Are the nouveau riche (i.e. the RIRI’s, OPRAH, TIGER WOODS, CLIFF RICHARDS, TONY BLAIR et al) paying their fair share of taxes to the Barbados Exchequer?

    Most have a major problem with all these shenanigans given that based on the legacy of EWB (and we all know how he felt about rich, greedy bastards) – they would either have to cough up or find some other domicile to park up (often hiding away in tax-havens from their mother countries).

    For the record, 2 extremely wealthy AFRICAN businessman with a total investment of some US$500 MILLION could offer an olive branch to the Barbados government but the stipulations & conditions of that investment would cause a public outcry!

    ENOUGH SAID ON THAT ISSUE!

    Barbados gotta’ dig itself outta’ this massive hole it’s in – some of us simple, mere mortals have solutions but our government is inept, backward thinking and needs to step up into the 21s century!

    I am sure between HAL and a few others (LOL) a tranche of monies could be found to lend the government but as with any borrowing (as recently proven) – the MARKET is absolutely RUTHLESS!

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  • Look at all the things we are spending FX on then look at where are we going to get the FX to pay for them. If we want imported goods we have to make FX to pay for them. Tourism was and still is a major FX producer. We have to make that product more competitive. Pegging to the worlds strongest currency is one of the problems we are now facing Brasil for example has had a 40% reduction in the cost to visit in the last few years because of currency valuation. Canada has had a 15% increase in cost to visit Barbados for the same reason. If our currency can not stand on its own value and compete for tourism on a level playing field, then the hardship we will face will come about from not being able to pay for imported goods. When we cant pay for things, we wont be able to get them. A correct valuation of our currency is the quickest way to resolving how our future will unfold. In the short term stop buying new vehicles and cut petrol usage by 50%. Take the bus.

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  • BT

    Don’t worry about her. She does kick-boxing. Either would be in gross trouble if they mixed with her.
    Incidentally, though I have no idea if it’s original I thought your definition of an economist was hilarious. Since I’m not, I found the competing views of the BU punters actually proved you right. Mind equally hilarious were the Anon remarks above. When will these ridiculous eulogies stop? There’s at least one in every post. .I mean,gee -‘Your country needs you’ . Gee, not even David is THAT good. In Mossad mode I’d say I wish people would stop talking to themselves.

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  • I hope it has been noted from Boyblue’s post that the ten top wealthiest islands in the Caribbean, of which Barbados is not one, at least 1/3 or more of their population are involved with agriculture….grow your own food or starve.

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  • Ross said:
    “Well, the nurse is doing her rounds. She’s about to do me and will then do you. YEAH. I’d die for a piece of that.”
    ___________________________

    Ross…are you up to your old tricks again? I thought you had resolved all those issues?? lol

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  • David explain what ! stupse! all i know is that from bushtea mouthings he advocates separatioinst and protectionist idealogies……nothing practical or relevant to moving a country and people forward as we eter at warped speed into a new world order which leaves old methods and ideas behind

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  • Observing……you are on point.

    ANON….as usual you do not mix matters and get right to the heart of the problems on the island.

    Sith said.
    “When we cant pay for things, we wont be able to get them.”

    __________________________

    The way it is, if I am unable to pay for something, it means I don’t need it, that is another lesson Bajans will pay dearly to learn.

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  • T&T is second richest in Caribbean
    Published: Sunday, December 22, 2013

    T&T has been ranked second among the top ten wealthy Caribbean nations based on Gross National Income (GNI), according to a report by the World Bank. In its 2014 World Development Report, the World Bank used the GNI to measure the wealth of Caribbean nations. The information is data of the bank’s main criterion for classifying economies, the gross national income (GNI) per capita.

    The GNI per capita is the gross national income of a country divided by its total population. It is also the sum of value added by all resident producers, plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output, plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad, according to the World Bank. Bahamas grabbed the top spot with a GNI of $21,280.

    The full list based on the World Bank report:
    • Bahamas $21,280
    • Trinidad $14,400
    • Antigua $12,640
    • Suriname $8,480
    • Grenada $7,110
    • St Lucia $6,530
    • Dominica $6,460
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines $6,380
    • Jamaica $5,140

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/business/2013-12-22/tt-second-richest-caribbean

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  • @David

    Barbados is conspicuous by its absence from that list, what does it mean if anything? What year is that Report based on?

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  • @ David
    Perhaps Enuff can work out what Lowest Common denominator means now….
    We poor Bajans can now emigrate to Trinidad and Antigua (Cause the Bahamas ain’t bout this CSME shiite) and share in their newfound wealth…
    BUT WAIT…

    If the poor Bajans rush to Trinidad then THEIR GNI will fall ….LOL
    …and OURS will rise again – since we will be dividing by a smaller number…

    Enuff… Why don’t you and Miller leave for Trinidad…. LOL ..pack light cause wunna asses will be back in Bim in a jiffy… 🙂

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  • @Sargeant

    t must be an error, the link under to the T&T Guardians suggest it is the 2012 Word Bank Report info. Based on this link Barbados per capita was 15K USD in 2012.

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD/countries/BB–XR?display=graph

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  • @ sargeant wrote “What year is that Report based on?”

    probably 2013

    “In its 2014 World Development Report, the World Bank used the GNI to measure the wealth of Caribbean nations.”

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  • Sargeant if you in the GTA hope you are not affected by the storm.

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  • @David
    There are many different Reports and my familiarity with the subject is limited at best but here is one Report which list GNI by countries. It is an average of years and Barbados during the period 2009-2012 showed a GNI of $25670 while the Bahamas is $29,020

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.MKTP.PP.CD/countries

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  • @balance

    I was in no way speaking of Errol Barrow when I asserted what I did about leaders using CSME for ego. Barrow was of another era and another class. I was talking about the likes of Gonsalves, who in the modern era are the main sources of energy for the integrated project. OSA is far more impressive a being than most of the modern integrationists (which is why he was the best ambassador for CSME), but I still get the sense (and I have met the man many times, even played dominoes with him) that he saw himself as too big for the limited stage of local politics – and he may be right about that. But I just think that it must have blunted his normal hard-headed and perspicacious way of seeing what is good for Barbados and the region. The man clearly has an almost romantic soft-spot for the integration project, perhaps enhanced by his personal history (living in Jamaica etc.). I do not fault him for it. I just disagree.

    You are also wrong to think that Bahamians have some love affair with the USA. For all the benefits of living next to the USA (tourists, visa free travel, shopping in Miami etc.) we see horrible downsides too (tons of guns coming in from the USA by boat, dumbed-down American TV, stupid young locals thinking it’s cool to act like ghetto thugs from Compton). As for me, I have already stated how much I prefer Caribbean over US influences in our culture.

    But my point about CSME is simply that I do not see how it helps ANYONE (except maybe Trinidad) and definitely not Barbados. I realise that Barbados is now having cyclical difficulties, but I am certain that its basic model is correct and works best when it is left uninhibited by strained linkages that tie it to others politically and economically. I will not be so presumptuous as to say I know what is best for a country better than its citizens, but having been coming to Barbados since 1984, I just feel some of my same concerns for CSME in the Bahamas apply to Barbados as well. The two countries have more in common than you or many Bahamians may realise.

    @well well

    Barbados does not appear in the top 10 income list simply because it was not featured in the report this year. This may be because the statistics department missed a deadline. In reality Barbados would be ahead of Trinidad and, when measured at Purchasing Power Parity, would be even further ahead of Trinidad.

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  • Bahamred

    You are also wrong to think that Bahamians have some love affair with the USA. For all the benefits of living next to the USA (tourists, visa free travel, shopping in Miami etc.) we see horrible downsides too (tons of guns coming in from the USA by boat, dumbed-down American TV, stupid young locals thinking it’s cool to act like ghetto thugs from Compton). As for me, I have already stated how much I prefer Caribbean over US influences in our culture.
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    u want to trade! why do u think with everything u posit in the above people still risking life and limb to live in the USA YES bahamians do have a love affair with the USA and why not nothing wrong with living next door to a millionaire and enjoying some of the perks that falls from the table

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  • @ ac

    You clearly have not been to the Bahamas. Bahamians live next door to the US and very, very few opt to live there. I am a dual citizen (my father was studying in NY when I was born) and only travel to the US generally on transit to a third country. Most people who are half Bahamian and half American choose to live in the Bahamas. In fact, owing to a stupid Bahamian law, those with a Bahamian mother and US father have no right to Bahamian citizenship, which is a serious issue for many, many people who would like to move to the Bahamas and cannot.

    Many people from poor countries like Haiti want to go to the USA out of desperation. But contrary to what most outsiders think, most of the thousands of Haitians that come through the Bahamas are headed to NASSAU and NOT the USA. That is why we have some 40.000 living here. And if you ask the Haitians living here whether they want to live in the USA, they would laugh at you. My own Haitian gardener goes to Miami once a year to shop and comes right back (Haitians easily get a visa if they have a Bahamas work permit, since the US knows that having the right to work in the Bahamas makes the very low risk for wanting to overstay in the USA).

    I am amazed what a rosy view people who live distant from it have of the USA. That view is not shared by most Bahamians, who see it simply as a place to visit and shop – then get the hell back.

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  • @ac

    In fact, I would say of all people in our region, Bahamians have maybe the LEAST love affair with the USA. Jamaicans are crazily trying to get in always and I understand even Trinidad has a big diaspora in the USA.

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  • @ ac

    I doubt Bajans have a love affair with the USA either, since you have a closer affinity with Britain. While I have a particular distaste for the USA and its lifestyle/culture, I do think the Caribbean (including Barbados) is best off maintaining that British link in some or other form, if only because it helps balance the overwhelming US influence in popular culture.

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  • @miller

    Devaluation WILL NOT answer the problems of low growth, which are merely cyclical. Barbados has found its comparative advantage, which is in a price notch above most regional peers. It cannot and should not see tourism simply in price terms. There is more to it than that. There is a place in the world for more expensive/upmarket destinations like Barbados and it would be crazy to lose that place chasing the dollars of cheap tourists who presently visitn the DR.Just because time have been tough recently owing to a recession in traditional markets DOES NOT mean that it basic formula is wrong, and a strong and stable currency is a crucial part of that formula.

    What is needed is for growth to return to the economy by attracting massive FDI receipts and new developments. NOT devaluation, which will bring down everyone’s standard of living.

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  • @Bahamared

    What is needed is for growth to return to the economy by attracting massive FDI receipts and new developments. NOT devaluation, which will bring down everyone’s standard of living.

    Isn’t there a positive correlation between a buoyant global economy and FDI inflow? Further, much of Barbados’ FDI was in tourism construction on the South and West Coast since exhausted.

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  • @bahamered

    the problem with having “a price over regional peers” is you have to keep the facilities above those of your regional peers as well.. Sadly in most cases that has not happened/ Most of the Barbados facilities are not better than 3 star at 5 star prices. Tourists have discovered that there is much better value for money available at other destinations. This is not a cyclical matter. There has been what can only be described as a massive drop in FX reserves. The problem of declining FX has been added to by increased pressure by North American Governments to collect tax revenues that have been hidden in IBC’s, many of whom reside in Barbados.. That pressure will not stop. It is further complicated by a printing of money to fund deficits. All of my recent ATM visits dispensed brand new dollar bills. The rating agencies have figured out what the problem is even if the average Barbados citizen has not . .

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  • @Hal Austin
    You seem to have all of answers to all of causes that afflicts the current administration, so why don’t to run for public office; perhaps you’ll win. Who knows lol?

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  • @Bahamared
    (“I have met the man many times, even played dominoes with him)
    *********
    So was he a good domino player? Did he play Jamaican style or Bajan style? I won’t ask about partners one suspects Owen played “cut-throat”.

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  • Arthur is a good domino player and hearts too.

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  • Nobody aint answer me yet ya know.
    If the enviable Singapore sees it fit to be part of the ASEAN since 1967 when it was founded, with a “goal of regional economic integration by 2015 [and]….the following key characteristics: (a) a single market and production base, (b) a highly competitive economic region, (c) a region of equitable economic development, and (d) a region fully integrated into the global economy.” Why must Barbados not do likewise? The Africans Asians, Europeans, Latin Americans all doing some form of integration but somehow we in the Caribbean special so no we don’t need it.

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  • Miller, I really appreciate your analysis of the Barbadian National – Ego but I fear you might have bruised it severly-lol.

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  • @ Enuff
    Man you still wid dat?
    Steupssss…. So because Bushie plan to join the Cattlewash Millionaires Club and looking to join with some of them to form a Mega company to buy up all the assets that Miller trying to convince wunna brass bowls to sell…..

    Does that mean that Caswell should join up a millionaires club too?
    …or GP?
    Ultimately one needs to look at the PROS and CONS to decide what makes sense in each unique case…
    THERE are NO BENEFITS for Barbados from CSME….except a dubious legacy for YOU 🙂 ….but a loss of sovereignty for Bim.

    What the hell your children do you Enuff? ….you shudda cut their asses when they were young….then they would have grown up in the right path like Bushie’s…. Who will benefit FIRST from EVERY cent that the bushman got….

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  • @hal
    politicians lives are only for five years…. and your analysis require a much longer time to develop … plus, these men and women are not deep thinkers, just power hungry with half bake solutions… so it seem that we have to crash first them introduce changes

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  • @David
    Arthur is a good domino player and hearts too
    **********
    How do you know, did you play with him too? I won’t discount your knowledge about his playing ability but some people can play well when they have a good hand and it seems like he slipped up in his dotage with the Mia coup- a man with six blanks never exposes his hand by posing double blank.

    As for Freundel I think he had a bit of affection for cricket and eschewed games like dominoes but may have taken up poker – he called the bluff of the “Eager Eleven”

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  • @Sargeant

    Say what you want he was PM for 14 years and avoided the ignominy of Sandiford and Stuart.

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  • Steupse “avoided” the understatement of the night …more like put off the inevitable…LO and behold the long awited Creditors have finally showed up on our doors………one basket havung too much to bear

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  • Well BU predicted it, we are in a right mess aren’t we?

    When confidence goes it is irrelevant who some believe are right or wrong.

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  • @Sargeant

    Owen Arthur is a very good dominoes player and (as you would expect from a politician) an exceptionally good bluffer.

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  • Absorbing Caricom’s pain By Michael Harris Story Created: Dec 22, 2013 at 10:04 PM ECT Story Updated: Dec 22, 2013 at 10:04 PM ECT FINANCE ministers cannot be expected to speak the whole truth. When they speak they must choose their words with care. If their words are too gloomy they may have unintended consequences such as causing a run on the banking system, spurring capital flight or scaring off both external and internal investment. But if they paint too rosy a picture, and the expectations and actions of investors, businessmen and ordinary citizens are shaped by that picture and such expectations are not realised, then the same problem of negative consequences arises. So when Minister Howai stated recently that he has a “very positive” outlook for the T&T economy in 2014 we have to examine carefully not only what he is saying but as well what he is not saying to arrive at some approximation of what he really intends to say. We must note therefore that his “very positive” outlook is based on the “reasonable expectation” that there will be “normal performance” in the economy. If those conditions are met then our Minister of Finance expects to see growth of about 2.5 per cent over the coming year. Clearly if we were to examine that forecast more minutely we would want to ask the good Minister exactly what he meant by “normal performance”. But let us for the moment take the term at face value because a more urgent question to be posed to the Minister is whether and how, his “reasonable expectations” have factored in the effects on the “performance” of the economy of the impending collapse of much of the Caricom economy. The collapse of a large part of the Caricom economy is going to be brought about by the dire economic circumstances currently facing two of the so-called “more developed” states, namely Jamaica and Barbados, both of which are facing virtual economic implosions. In the case of Jamaica the core problem is the horrendous accumulation of debt incurred by that country over the last 20 years. The debt now stands at close to US$20 billion, representing some 140 per cent of GDP. Servicing of that debt now accounts for about half of the government’s expenditure. Forty-five per cent of the 2012/13 budget was financed by borrowing. Indeed Jamaica has become a prime example of the classic debt trap. So much of the country’s revenue is spent on debt servicing that after paying public service wages and salaries, there is nothing left to spend on the type of investments which would generate future growth which is, in turn, the only path to escaping the debt. In the meanwhile unemployment grows, poverty deepens, and productivity declines, all of which result in decreased revenues. Lest it be thought that I am exaggerating the problem, let me quote from the present Minister of Finance in Jamaica who justified the decision to go back to the IMF by saying that, “This is essentially a matter of the survival of the Jamaican nation as a viable nation.” In the case of Barbados the entire Caricom region was shocked by the recent announcement by the government of that country that it intended to lay off over 3,000 public servants in January as a first step in cutting government expenditure and reducing national demand for goods and services. For many in the region that announcement was the first real indication of how desperate the economic situation in Barbados really is. But the fact is that the Barbadian economy has been in trouble ever since the world economic collapse of 2008 and the government has steadfastly refused to make the difficult choices which its problems entailed. The recent IMF report of Barbados showed that government’s debt had risen to 94 per cent of GDP; the government’s deficit is expected to rise to 9.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the current fiscal year; the government’s wage bill had risen to 10.3 per cent of GDP in 2012/13; and, most worryingly of all, international reserves had fallen to US$468 million at end-October (from 19 to 16 months’ cover). What “reasonable expectations” can we derive from this gloomy economic outlook in Jamaica and Barbados with regard to the performance of the T&T economy in 2014? It does not take a great deal of insight to recognise that our economy will be significantly impacted in at least two areas. In the first place the growth of some 1.5 per cent in the local economy over the last fiscal year was considerably driven by growth rates in excess of two per cent in the so-called non-energy sector. And growth in this sector is heavily dependent upon growth in the level of exports to Caricom and, in particular, to the economies of Jamaica and Barbados. “Reasonable expectations” would suggest that what is happening in Jamaica and Barbados would therefore impact significantly on the fortunes of the non-oil sector in this country and ultimately affect levels of growth in the economy as a whole even if there is no major “maintenance” in the oil sector. The second area of impact on this country, from what is happening to the Caricom economies in general, is to be found in the increasing migration of Caricom citizens to these shores. Trinidad has historically attracted immigrants from other Caribbean countries. The difference this time around is that we are now attracting thousands of people from Jamaica, the most populous of the English-speaking Caricom countries. The attraction of T&T to Jamaicans who hitherto had sought escape north to the United States arises first from the fact that the economic recovery in the US has been very sluggish and moreover growth in employment has lagged behind overall economic growth. Meanwhile, here in T&T, not only is the economy still experiencing modest growth but there is in place an extensive system of social protection and welfare programmes which provides the immigrant, at very low risk of being caught, with an immediate and reasonable expectation of a sustainable level of existence. As the economies in Jamaica, Barbados, and the OECD countries worsen in the coming year, the levels of migration to this country from our Caricom neighbours, particularly Jamaica, are only going to rise, with or without Caricom-agreed rules of entry. Our Minister of Finance may want to explain to us just how he factored in the impact of such reduced exports and increased migration on our economic performance, as well as our social fabric, in arriving at his growth estimates for next year. • Michael Harris has been for many years a writer and commentator on politics and society in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean

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  • immigration…..don’t worry america will open its door to help with the unemployed in barbados ,,,,,with americas aging employed going into retirement they will need another hundred thousand or so of educated ‘cheap ” labour to refill those spots,, at the end of the day like they say there is always a silver lining,,,,

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  • @ac

    wow

    do you actually believe everything you post?

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  • @David

    An aside

    Many Bajans in the Southern Ontario area who probably read this blog are in the middle of power outage after a sever Ice storm blanketed the area. The power in my home was out for approx. 12 hours and I haven’t seen anything from people like A Cummins for a while. The estimated time of recovery as stated by Hydro is 72 hours for the 250,000 plus people in TO. Apart from the discomfort and dislocation of those without heat or those planning to travel or entertain friends and family over the Xmas period it is a virtual winter Wonderland.

    So to everyone in the GTA and surrounding areas who read this blog stay safe and use caution on the roads and I wish you a Merry and healthy Xmas and New Year.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/23/ice_storm_hundreds_of_thousands_still_without_power.html#

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  • There will be a mass exit to greener and better pasture u bet believe america is watching and accessing this situation.

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  • Step 1 on the road to recovery: admitting you have a problem. When will the DLP admit they have a management problem? Blame does not solve.

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  • Thanks for the update Sargeant, it shows how vulnerable we ALL are developed or not.

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  • @David
    “Well BU predicted it, we are in a right mess aren’t we? When confidence goes it is irrelevant who some believe are right or wrong.”

    The bloggers on BU have called it time and again since before the Stock market Crash of 2007/8. We have been calling for a change in direction knowing that it would only be a matter of time before shouts of “CAPTAIN THE SHIP SINKING” were heard across the starboard bow!

    Well, the inevitable has occurred!

    Adding insult to what is clear “INJURY” for the POOR, dispossessed and those on every BLOCK in BIM – we now have to cope with further JOB-CUTS (a global “spirit” of demolition) of the livelihood of the working class & the beleaguered middle class, young graduates, aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking to get on the property ladder.

    But when you have a “LAME-DUCK” government that wants to blame global fiscal tightening and a fickle CASINO-STYLE money market for the woes we are experiencing is frankly short-sighted, inept, static economic thinking and lacks genuine forward-planning by those in Bajan society who wield power!

    DAVID THOMPSON’s departure (timely or untimely depending on where you stand) exposed what was clearly for decades a “KINK” in the armor of the DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY! But false PRIDE”, over-inflated EGOS and the barrel of “CRABS” mentality have been unmasked for the world to see!

    Thompy’s charisma, good looks and ability to talk you under the table gave many the confidence that even if HUMPTY-DUMPTY had taken a great fall – he and ALL the king’s horses and all the king’s men could put HUMPTY back together again! And that’s giving credit – where credit is due!

    This “CONFIDENCE” is now gone!

    At home & ABROAD, the cries goes out – “WE ARE STUFFED”!

    Again, the ones who are really “STUFFED” are the poor, the 3000+ who will be worried like hell how they are going to make ends meet in 2014 & beyond! Notwithstanding, the spillover effect of those jobs loses and the ripple effect it will cause in other areas.

    Lawd hab merci!

    SIMPSON, COW, BIZZY, SEALE, GODDARD, CAVE et al (every doggone one of ’em) are all insulated against any form of future shock! Not a single one of them will have to take a “HAIRCUT” now or in the foreseeable future! They have their $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ in GOLD, SILVER, PLATINUM, (OIL & NATURAL GAS FUTURES), BIG PHARMA REAL ESTATE, BITCOINS & every other long term investment vehicle out there!

    So Donville and the CREW can beg the so-called “PRIVATE” sector all they want to cough up but in a time of “ENGINEERED” austerity; living way above our means; too many IMPORTS v too little EXPORTS and according to PLANTATION DEEDS the newly formed DBLP (LMBO) with donkey years of mismanagement, thiefing, embezzlement, BRIBES & KICK-BACKS and a form of largesse doled out to the so-called aristocracy in the country have brought the country to its already bloodied knees!

    Barring “DIVINE INTERVENTION” prepare for years of real hardship guys!

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  • @ ANON
    …your only slight error is in assuming that the rich boys are insulated…. You will be in for a big surprise…..as will WELL WELL and LOOK who somehow think that they are insulated in North America.

    @ Observing
    YES…..
    ….ac DOES believe everything that she writes.
    Bushie checked with her personally on a recent pass through Black Rock. You can often see her by the gate calling at passers- by …..
    They let her use the computer as therapy apparently. …. 🙂

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  • Bush Tea…..Happy Holidays to you David and everyone else on BU…..you really think i think that the rich will not be paupers by the end of this worldwide mess, guess you don’t know me very well. The only insulated I am was in knowing from as far back as 2003 that the die was cast and making preparations for the eventuality, otherwise, it’s each manjack (or woman) for his or herself….HA!!

    Alvin….hope you are doing well and power will be restored shortly presuming you lost power……power was lost in Kitchener, Waterloo for 12 hours but is now back on stream….ice is the name of the game Hants.

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  • Must people be always insultung all year round.fuh christ sake this is a time to spread and pray for peace on earth and goodwill towards men…….but in the spirit of giving i wish u bush tea a Shitty 2014 mix with vodoo tidings……

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  • NO ONE WILL BE INSULATED
    JUST READ REVELATIONS 18

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  • And then again we do live in a global world. THE USA govt is well aware of our .problems and are cognizant of the fact that we are heading for disater and some form of aide would be necessary in order for the country to be stablised quickly .having thousands of people laid off is not and easy feat for barbados to endured short or long term therfore it would be in everybodys interest if the internationa powers lend a helping hand in employment relief.both sides win .

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  • DENNIS McSHANE (Euro-Labor Minister in the TONY BLAIR gov’t) had his bags packed today before his court sentencing where the judge told him that even if your paperwork was chaotic – your “EXPENSES” abuse is a clear breach of PUBLIC TRUST!

    McShane will spend the next 6 months in JAIL and may get out by Spring on good behavior.

    My question once again: IS ANYONE IN THE BDLP (WHICH INCLUDES LAWYERS & TOP LEVEL CIVIL SERVANTS & CONSULTANTS) GOING TO JAIL OVER DECADES OF MASS BRIBERY, RAMPANT EMBEZZLEMENT, ILLEGAL KICK-BACKS & A CULTURE OF CRONYISM WHICH HAD MADE CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS IN BARBADOS VERY RICH?

    As citizens of this great country, we “MUST” demand accountability, justice & some arses be kicked into DODDS!

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  • @ Bushman

    But the suckers are “INSULATED”!

    Sincklair et al can’t touch these GUYS $$$$$!

    Their fore-parents “ILL-GOTTEN GAINS” has already proved my point 200+ years and counting – so why is it not LOGICAL to assume more of the same?

    These “SUCKERS” are gonna’ BUY & SELL right up to the very end! The spirit of “MAMMON” has been rife for centuries – why should anything change?

    As a matter of fact, the more things change – the more they stay the same!

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  • Time for the great grandchildren of the diaspora bajans from the islands come back to Bim and help Bush Tea to save this island of ours…

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  • Don’t dig nuttin ANON, it is not The “MOF et al” that the wealthy need to worry about…..
    As Bushie has been trying to tell……this particular problem is but a storm in a teacup …compared to what will follow shortly.

    You are ABSOLUTELY correct about the NATIONAL DISGRACE that is exemplified by the LACK of prosecution of such OPEN and PUBLIC dishonesty, bribery, greed and graft……

    WE ALL SHOULD BE ASHAMED AS A COUNTRY…

    ALL the politicians are EQUALLY guilty….. NOT A FELLOW has condemned the situation….
    …well not exactly….the COMPLETE Hunte of a senator (who tried his hand at VOB moderator) was just on again about how the BLP were guilty of about $ 1 Billion dollars in mismanagement….
    ….he NEGLECTED to add that AFTER SIX years, his DLP has failed to:
    – Charge a single fellow
    – Enact legislation to PREVENT future stealing
    – Charge the thieving moron Leroy P for robbing thousands – (including his non-leper friend, the PM.)

    The DLP is therefore EVEN MORE LIABLE for encouraging the overall thieving….
    …and by default WE ALL are too – for TOLERATING the lotta shiite….

    WE WILL HAVE TO PAY…….

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  • As far fetch as one might think the reality that family members living in the US are going to let their family members suffer given the circumstance and duress this country woud have to face with high unemployment.the immigration process would be easier. hence ther is where USA diplomatic policy comes into play with the aide of helping barbados. nothing to do with USA pemitting all and sundry .but one if diplomacy.without visiion we wil. fail.that is why this country has failed. VIsionless leadership

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  • He dsoira not coming to help niobobdy. first of all bajans comfortable with rethread and regurgitation.the dispora not going to give up a god life to come to barbadosand be ridicule with oulandish insults for just suggesting. the most theywill do is send money or try to get their famiies out of the island.

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  • @Sargeant.
    Back on line, back on track.Power was off for almost 72 hours; came back on at 1.30 this morning. Reinforced a lesson.
    It showed how dependent we have become on technology etc. and the need to be always prepared. Bajans should heed the advice from the weather people and prepare for the worse (hurricanes etc.) at all times. People here were scrambling to get flash lights etc. Anyhow all is back to normal, but with the amount of ice on the trees, left from freezing rain, the weight on the trees might see some more wires being brought down, and the current could go again.
    @Well Well,
    Thanks for your concern. I am fine and bearing up. It has been good chatting with you and I look forward to further vigourous discussions ( and disagreements; in the good sense) I hope you have very a enjoyable christmas and New Year’s celebrations, happiness and good health in the coming year. Have faith.
    @GP. Revelations; the book, was written by an old fatigued man, sick from his sufferings after many yeas in the salt mines. Any one in this century who still believe the gibbish John wrote needs careful counselling. Is there such a thing as self-counelling? You are a GP so you should know. All the best for the new year.
    @David, thanks for alllowing me to use this blog to get things off my chest, even if some o fhte things I voiced did not meet with fanour or even understanding. However I have a glimmer of hope that much of what I said is being paid attention to.
    @Bush Tea, You are a fellow Cawmerian; like me, (redundancy) but you could tell me in secret, You know anything about the 1.4 billion dollars that Henderson Bovell talk bout that was taken out of the island? Nuhbody won’t tell me nothing. Not Miller, Old onions, Crusoe, , not even Caswell. help me nuh!!
    Till next year, Have a cool yule and a frantic first.

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  • The dispora reads BU and are well aware of the “know it all attitude” bajans hold clear and dear even when they wrong they are pretentious and like to protray themselvesas intellectual giants. outside of listening and hearing themselves talk very Few in the dispora entertain them or take their mouthings seriously.

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  • PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2013 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    If you think that crooks , liars and scumbags did not get us there think again , Land Fraud is also key to the greed and Fraud upon the people,
    Keep hiding your heads in the sand and get kicked in the ass, Foot coming

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  • After five years, some of these policy suggestions still need consideration.

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  • Six years ago I was writing about how we should develop the Seawell area and that corridor of the island. it is worth a further read.

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  • Here is a good proposal.

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