The Grenville Phillips Column – Why is the Private Sector Recommending Austerity?

Grenville Phillips II, leader of Solutions Barbados

Both established parties, some of the newer ones, and almost all Barbadian and foreign based economists are warning Barbadians to brace for severe austerity measures.  Several prominent economists are even calling for a devaluation of Barbados’ dollar as a way to address our dire economic problems.  Surprisingly, none of these entities are being challenged to provide a plan showing how or when their austerity recommendations will end.  Instead, Barbadians are essentially being told to just shut-up and prepare to get used to their austerity plans.

Solutions Barbados has published the only non-austerity plan for Barbados’ economy, and it has undergone approximately 2 years of rigorous public scrutiny.  It requires no laying-off of public workers, no reduction of their salaries, and no national disruption.  The plan has been shared with the NUPW, CTUSAB, and anyone who would listen, with overwhelmingly favourable responses.  Therefore, it is highly irresponsible for persons to be advocating austerity, and it is reckless for persons to be recommending something as radical as devaluation, without them first discussing the only non-austerity published option on the proverbial table.

Why won’t they discuss our published non-austerity solutions?  I understand why the political parties won’t discuss our solutions, because they have their own political agendas.  However, why won’t members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) discuss them?  This one group will be most impacted by our plans, yet we were told that since we were not yet elected, we could not be allowed to share our plans with BCCI members.

That decision is regrettable – for them.  However, it is near lunacy for them to then join with the Barbados Private Sector Association and recommend austerity for the rest of us.  Why are these, and other private sector groups, so eager to push austerity measures, rather than to discuss our non-austerity plan?  It makes no rational sense.  What could they possibly be afraid of?

For the past two years, we have encouraged discussion, even criticism of our policy solutions in order that they may be improved.  However, we have found that a specific set of persons ‘run away’ from discussion, and flippantly dismiss our solutions as too simple in order to stifle discussion.  Let me confirm that all of our solutions were consciously designed to be as simple as possible – but not simplistic.

When approaching a problem, the first step is to design a solution that works.  This initial effective solution is normally complex.  The problem with complex solutions is that they are normally implemented poorly, because they are too complex for those responsible for their implementation.  Complex solutions are also normally more expensive to both implement and maintain.

If the aim is the efficient and economical implementation of an effective solution, then the solution needs to be made as simple as possible.  This requires repeated iterations of complex analysis in order to reduce the solutions’ complexity and implementation costs, while maintaining or improving its effectiveness.  This is the approach that I have successfully taken over my 25-year structural engineering career.

Analysts of Barbados Government operations generally conclude that our principal problem is one of implementation.  What do we expect if we persist in giving our public workers unnecessarily complex plans to implement?  Why does Government insist on developing these highly complex plans?  Why would anyone design a highly complex plan when a simpler one would be more effective, more economical to implement, and less of a tax burden on Barbadians?  Why indeed.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at

57 thoughts on “The Grenville Phillips Column – Why is the Private Sector Recommending Austerity?

  1. We have now moved on from 2008 and Solutions Barbados is still calling for austerity. They need to sit down with people familiar with the various arguments and design an economic policy.
    What austerity? Spell it out; where will the spending cuts come from and how would you deal with the impact on jobs, consumption and any likely social breakdown?

  2. “This one group will be most impacted by our plans, yet we were told that since we were not yet elected, we could not be allowed to share our plans with BCCI members.”

    That makes no sense, but both government’s track records are to do complex and nonsensical things that never benefit the people…..they however see nothing wrong with taking bribes from the same business people.

    The simpliest solutions are always the best and only solutions, if he has not already, why dont Grenville post a link only about those solutions, I think I may have read info on it though, not sure if it’s the entire plan.


    They cant trick the rating agencies.

    “International ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) says it is maintaining its outlook on Barbados in light of the recent Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.

    Back in March when it downgraded the country to ‘CCC+/C’, S&P had suggested that it could revise Barbados’ outlook to stable if positive results were seen in a number of areas.

    However, following Sinckler’s May 30 Budget in which he announced a whopping $542 million in austerity measures with a view to erasing a $537.6 million deficit, the New York-based credit ratings agency told Barbados TODAY its position on Barbados’ economic situation remained the same.

    “We could revise the outlook to stable within 12 months if the Government succeeds in stemming further slippage in its fiscal accounts – be it from implementation of fiscal measures or stronger than expected rebound in growth,” S&P said in response to questions posed by Barbados TODAY.”

  4. After election, the tale will be told.

    “S&P however said it continues to actively monitor the island’s fiscal situation with a view to recording any improvements in its access to financing, especially from private creditors locally and globally; and to accessing whether it had adequately stabilized its external vulnerabilities and bolstered its international reserves, which stood at $705.4 million or 10.7 weeks of imports at the end of the first quarter.”

  5. David,
    Of course I have. What I am suggesting is that austerity must be spelt out and not remain a vague term. My opening sentence should have read ‘debating with austerity’, but there is still a need for clarification, in my view and alternative proposals..

  6. Solutions Barbados clearly mentioned:

    “Solutions Barbados has published the only NON-AUSTERITY plan for Barbados’ economy, and it has undergone approximately 2 years of rigorous public scrutiny.”

    …………….. and he responded with: “We have now moved on from 2008 and Solutions Barbados is still calling for austerity.”

    So, it’s obvious he DID NOT read the article.

    Perhaps he should be reminded about what he wrote:

    “Hal Austin June 26, 2017 at 1:07 PM #: READING and UNDERSTANDING are quite IMPORTANT.”

  7. And guess which insane, numbskull, untrustworthy minister is desperate to become prime minister to sell the bajan population  to UAE Arab enslavers for 4 billion dollars, instead of austerity or any sane economic plan….he is ready to shove fumbling Fruendel aside, so he can create his own mischief as PM.

    Eager one
    Estwick openly declares his interest in PM’s job

    Added by Emmanuel Joseph on June 26, 2017.
    Saved under Local News, Politics
    In the wake of a just-released public opinion poll, which shows that the popularity of both Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is at an all-time low, outspoken Cabinet Minister Dr David Estwick Monday publicly declared his interest in filling Stuart’s shoes at both the party and prime ministerial levels.

    “I will say this: If Freundel Stuart steps away from the leadership of the DLP I will stand to lead it,” Estwick told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview, in which he contended that there was simply no one better to take over the leadership reins.

  8. As a starting point, the Barbados Parliament must be downsized, e.g. reduce the number of MPs; Senators; and their terms of employment (e.g. pensions). Second, the Government must spend taxpayers’ money wisely and be held accountable for doing so (e.g. provide a proper response to the Auditor General’s Reports). Third, the Government must implement effective measures for tax/debt collection. If not, there will be more taxes and job cuts to recover an ever-increasing amount of wasted taxpayers’ money – it’s a vicious circle.


    UPP is trying to address that one.

    UPP: Auditor General needs more teeth
    Added by Neville Clarke on June 26, 2017.
    Saved under Local News, Politics
    Under a United Progressive Party (UPP) administration, the Office of the Auditor General would have “more teeth”.

    That assurance came Sunday night from UPP political leader Lynette Eastmond who addressed the issue of corruption at a meeting in Licorish Village, where she also introduced her party’s candidate for the
    St Michael East constituency, Paul Forte.

    She complained that although the Auditor General produced a report every year identifying financial irregularities in Government departments and statutory corporations, under both Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administrations, no action was taken to deal with those responsible for those anomalies.

    “Up to this day not one single issue raised by the Auditor General in his report has been pursued by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC),” Eastmond said.

    Parliament’s PAC is currently chaired by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and includes members of both political parties sitting in Parliament.

    “Why has nothing been done about these malpractices through the PAC?”

  10. What history has taught is is that it is difficult for those in opposition to fashion appropriate or alternative policies. It is why the Estimates process is important because it ensures that those responsible for managing resources and are knowledgeable about the business (public servants) are best placed to cost and inform the politicians. All other talk about alternatives by the parties is counterfeit.

  11. @David at 5:07 AM …what I couldn’t find is the Solutions Non-Austerity Plan.

    I see there are now some implementation plans on their site which is an update since last I visited but I could not find details on the flat tax proposals (expected revenues etc) nor associated data.

    Previously I recall mention being made of dissolving some tax offices which would have meant civil service job losses but above it’s noted that there will be “no laying-off of public workers, no reduction of their salaries, and no national disruption”.

    Thus that previous plan has also been changed.

    All good but still didn’t see the non-austerity plan…or maybe I am overlooking something on the site.

  12. LOL @ Artax

    Boss, Hal seem to have gone past his ‘use by’ date yuh….
    Have you considered the possibility (frightening as it is) that he DID read the article…?

    ha ha ha

    …the man paid $1000 to a time share – with the intent of cancelling the arrangement the next day….

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    Ohhh Shiirttt!!!

  13. Yes Bushie as part of the daily comic relief…

    I was also looking for the details on the tax plan which my very limited comprehension skills, as affirmed last eve by your whacking partner, suggested that said ‘non-austerity’ blueprint might be therein contained.

    I will be guided by you and other more astute folks.

  14. Dear Grenville,
    In reference to the Solutions Barbados economic plans you ask “why won’t members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) discuss them?”

    I think it is because they do not find them to be serious or credible. If you do not make detailed projections of costs and revenues what you have published is a wish list, not a plan. As a businessman, I expect you know this. It is mandatory that you publish clearly calculated year by year estimates of revenues and costs for at least the first five years of your plan if you hope to be taken seriously.

  15. Isnt it interesting that the blp operatives are expecting and condemning Solutions for not presenting their “non austerity plan “however but quick to back and if possible to hand over the reign of govt to the Blp party lead by Mia Mottley who has yet to present any kind of economic plan.
    Well Well God help you hypocritical morons

  16. Grenville

    Never miss an opportunity to sell your ideas.

    Never write an article that scolds the chamber of commerce and the business community for denying your political program a fair hearing without saying what’s in your political program.

    That means distilling your message to bite-sized paragraphs and catchy slogans that even idiots can understand and absorb. It means repeating that message ad nauseum until it becomes ubiquitous.

    So don’t drone on about the fact that you have an anti-austerity program. Use the space to tell us what’s in the program, what makes it different, pand why it should be described as an anti-austerity program.

  17. Bush Tea June 27, 2017 at 7:23 AM #

    “Shiite!!!…the man paid $1000 to a time share – with the intent of cancelling the arrangement the next day…”

    Yes, Bushie……. And could you imagine he had the nerve to respond to me re: “I never cease to amaze you because you are not as BRIGHT as you THINK.”

    Not even me, who he described as having basic intelligence, would do that shiite…..…. and brag about it!!!

    That is NOT the type of thing you would do and write about USING your real name, “if not your friends, colleagues and relatives would know the level of your basic intelligence.” [Hal Austin June 26, 2017 at 1:07 PM #]


  18. Unbelievable anyone reading and seeing the condemnation heaped on Solutions by the blp block heads would be lead to belive that their party has and already bpresented the best if their alternative solutions for the Barbados economy except on occasion there was something which the blp party presented A message called The Convenant of Hope
    Well Well people living in glass houses ought not to throw stones.

  19. But why aren’t same question asked of solutions to show their plan not asked by the blp operatives of Mia Mottley
    Certainly what is good for the goose is good for the gander and also the question What does Mia have to hid should also be asked
    At least Solutions has made every concerted effort to present his views on occasion when allowed .
    Nevertheless Solutions has been condemned and Mia having said nothing is given a passing grade
    Lest the blp operatives forget barbadians are looking for solutions and on that foundation the next govt would be formed
    So blp operatives do not sit high and mighty on false illusions of grandeur presented as hope to a weary public expecting those expectations which you have not earned
    In all possibility you would be disappointed
    Have a nice day

  20. The truth is we have not look carefully at our model of development. we have a failing model and we have just talked about it for decades. No real research. No real evidence to look at the real problems. Just lots of scholarly papers, lots of meetings and no real effort as it is about selfish desires and not about solutions.

  21. @ WW&C

    I believe Lynette is being disingenuous in her criticisms of the PAC.

    As a former member of the PAC when she was a BLP Senator, Lynette has to be aware of the Committee’s inactivity and the criticisms leveled at it by Clyde Mascoll, when as Opposition Leader, in he was its Chairman and by David Thompson who assumed Chairmanship in January 16, 2006.

  22. Solutions present an agrument that is worthy of consideration noting that the moversand shakers who have an interest in the barbados economy has refused to meet with him or give him considerable time so he can present his alternatives to non austerity measures for the economy.
    The Barbados chamber of commerce citing what can be intrepreted that of Solutions is not a party that should be taken seriously with added meaning that there Solutions measures does not matter.
    What is so obvious about the BCC is their blantant disregard for the democractic process which gives way to an election process which by all accounts should be fully vetted in the interest of all of society and does not serves as a rubber stamp for a few.
    How dare does any one group individual or entity pursue a path of self fullfillment..just because!

  23. The whole world has been under austerity for up to 10 years, must of it.

    The ‘private’ sector, and there is no such thing in Barbados, has always followed what government has done. Where it has led.

    Along with austerity for most of us we’ve also had other economies for the rich. For example, the profligate creation of money by CBs, zero percent interest rates, massive transfers of public assets like NIS funds to private hands. Need we go on.

  24. In a tiny island like Barbados, the government cannot keep creating new Crown enterprises, acquiring assets, and launching capital projects without eventually getting into financial trouble. Every new organization needs money to operate, and eventually the government runs out of cash.

    The easiest way to maintain financial strength is to sell some assets to the private sector from time to time — at the highest possible prices. Yet any suggestion of this sort is greeted with howls of disapproval from the Pinko brigades. What a shame.

  25. That’s the problem Art…..elect the politicians to government and none of them see a need to follow up on their lying, empty promises.

  26. I keep hearing about promises and don’t deliver. Who promised what but didn’t deliver? #askingforafriend

  27. @ Chad
    The easiest way to maintain financial strength is to sell some assets to the private sector from time to time….
    The ‘easiest’ way is the way of the simpleton….and like the prodigal son found out, only works for a short time….

    The best way to maintain financial strength is to produce MORE than you consume….

    …but that takes wisdom, ….and it is compromised by greed.

  28. @ Chad 9999

    Have you ever done a study of how and why these state corporations came into ownership of the State in the first place?

    Have you followed the history of these state corporations after they have been sold to the private sector at an undervalue?

    Just go back 20 years. There are enough business cases for you to detect a pattern and maybe a hypothesis.

  29. The biggest problem with these state corporations was management. Their failure to remind the political directorate where general directions ( i.e policy) stop and where execution starts.

  30. If Barbados had started tightening its belt six years ago, we would be in the fiscal mess with 19 downgrades. PMStuart remarked after the last downgrade that he did not know why they were not talking about the positive things govt was doing…if they were doing positive things we would not be down graded. We should have saved foreign exchange by reducing the variety of imports. Not price controlling as that was a failed policy with Brandford Taitt and the DLP. Competition is price control.

    Barbados needs foreign exchange to grow, but people who are investing do not want instability in govt. NOR THE TOTAL LACK OF RESPECT THAT HAS BEEN MEETED OUT TO PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS. NOT ONLY TO OVERSEAS, but Barbadians also who are trying to improve things for visitors. This govt is arrogant and another ant. CRIME IS UP AND WILL CONTINUE TO GROW AS THERE WILL BE LAYOFFS WITH THIS ABORTION OF A BUDGET. It is obvious the budgets are not written by or read beforehand by the deliverer. Joker Ince got on his soap box and called the Private Sector parasites. I wonder if he has ever created a job for himself far less anyone else? Dennis Kellman said today on radio that they will win the govt. God help Barbados if they do.

  31. SB faces two issues.
    One is credibility.
    From an early May 17 article
    “It was in 2015 that I just happened to see our politicians’ report cards by accident. I read the IMF reports for Barbados and I was shocked to learn that we had been failing as a country for the past 20 years.”
    So it took you until 2015 to discover this, and you immediately devised this non-austerity plan, for we are only midway in 2017, 2 years out, the time line you frequently quote for the rigorous discussion of your plan.
    Obviously the groups you refer to do not buy into your plan? Neither did several bloggers when you raised parts of it in you mid-May piece.
    The second issue is the groups you refer to want the DLP out. Having SB split the BLP vote, (and despite your efforts to lean left, SB is viewed as ‘right of centre’); only increases the possibility of the DLP winning again? So helping to provide SB with credibility is not to their benefit.

    Much of SB plans, seem to be based on the belief (it may be accurate) that many residents are not paying their share of tax. And that by enforcing a flat % tax, the GoB can raise revenue to cover all the current excess expenditure. It would seem to me that many do not buy into this conclusion. And that “non austerity” is not possible in their opinion. It becomes your job to sell your ideas as being feasible and attainable.

  32. Barbados is not in a fiscal mess.

    The government has built a reasonably strong balance sheet, so to speak, but it is cash poor. The government’s “income statement” shows a deficit, but that problem could easily be fixed with a round of asset sales and a more disciplined effort at tax collection.

    Will the unwashed masses please stop crying wolf?

  33. Hal Austin where in any of my comments did i make mention of your name in reference to anything you have said on this topic.
    I noticed that you have taken liberty to use my name as a reason to respond to what some other individual had said about you.
    Maybe it is time you change your reading glasses

  34. @ David
    Justin Robinson was asking yesterday ..why so many Caribbean societies seem to have reached a ‘middle income’ status, only to then appear to stagnate into despair….

    Can you tell him that the answer is simple…

    it is because a generation of productive, NON-graduate, innovative, creative, industrious patriots worked their asses off to move these countries from tenantries to ‘middle income’ status ….and then they handed the reins over to people like himself…
    …..academic parasites – who are incapable of an original thought; who never worked at a real job; and who have the taste of their albino-centric puppeteers but the integrity of a snake.

    …and ask him what became of his commitments to provide basic financial reports for the NIS..
    …or to tell us how he contributed to the efficient running of our Central Bank…

    Why do these people speak in public nuh??!!!

    • @Bush Tea

      Heard him, you must try to respect our academics you know. As a people why do we harbour this anti intellectual sentiment?

    “I recently went into a supermarket, and after the cashier totalled the items that I intended to purchase, the cashier asked whether I wanted to purchase a plastic bag for 15 cents. I could easily afford the 15 cents, but why charge me to advertise their store?

    Then I saw my checked-out groceries laying unbagged on the cashier’s counter, and they were too numerous for me to carry out of the store in my hands. I recalled the past nine years of being forced to pay not only my taxes, but the taxes of those sectors which receive “Government relief”. To now have this store, which has already included the cost of the plastic bags in the products, to try to force me to pay for the plastic bag that I have already paid for, was my last straw.

    I paid for the items, but I realized that I did have a choice and I made it. I decided to never patronize that supermarket for the rest of my life.”

    (Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at

  36. Hants
    Support your view 100%.Vehicle manufacturers should complain to the WTO for this and other offending administrations which gouge between 200 and 500% on CIF values which artificially over price their products.Further Chris Sinckler then turn around and punish every bajan citizen for purchasing vehicle insurance which has to be re-insured by local insurance companies,resulting in more foreign exchange leaving the country to pay re-insurance coverage.

    • @Gabriel

      The reinsurance point and the need for customers to cover the full cost for insurance therefore impacting foreign exchange is interesting but this is a major source of government revenue and if it has to be changed in a significant way or the hole will have to be filled elsewhere.

  37. chad99999 you fa real? all these idiots have done is sink this country to the point of no return, the slaves have done us in. 10yrs of no growth, 23 downgrades, investors confidence shattered…..when dem entered power money ah nough was there, where it gone? look we all know politicans does get……but these here are a different breed. these have moreeeeeeee teething in the camp, than from barrow to owen……. suggest chad u read the auditor general report fro 2009- u know when. stop looking for excuses for these brute beast

  38. David June 28, 2017 at 5:16 PM #

    As a people why do we harbour this anti intellectual sentiment?

    Because in the english speaking Caribbean they have failed to deliver what was expected of them.

    They can do a research paper on it and tell us why they are great at talking but lack the ability to implement.



    Is this Scott Weatherhead related to Bernie Weatherhead, a well known shady character, an awful businessman who has the supreme court filled up with cases against him because he does not like to pay his bills, does nit pay vendors, believes he should have everything for free while everyone on the island pays him….very nasty individual.

    Investigate the backgrounds of Grenville’s candidates.

  41. Kammie Holder I find it hard to believe that people in this island cannot get their heads around trying to reduce our garbage and save the environment by taking your own bags to the Supermarket. I have been doing this for years and when a checkout wanted to bag cheese that was already wrapped I would explain it would only go into my garbage bin. I hate to say it, but There is a backward thinking mentality among our population. We think we are great, but we are really a nation of poor greats…sad, but we keep going backwards in so many ways.

  42. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 1, 2017 at 4:34 AM #

    Interesting….I saw that name Scott in the newspapers recently in connection with a court case.

  43. David

    No it was a supreme court notice…..will look back over the papers and let you know.

  44. David

    Lucky…..Sun Classifieds pg1 June 25 2017…….bottom right……Claim NO. CV 1695/2016.

    Too long for me too type out.

  45. Vincent…that is an active case, unless it’s been settled since 2016.. The Weatherheads always have the supreme court clogged with cases.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.