Another Heather Cole Column – Bajan Monopoly
Submitted by Heather Cole
In the original game of monopoly, players roll two six-sided dice to move around the game-board buying and trading properties, developing them with houses and hotels. Players also collect rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy. Lots of money is available but the stakes are high and players can end up in jail, which they cannot move from until they have met some specified condition.
While Bajans suck salt, under 9 years of harsh economic conditions, the current DLP Administration has committed numerous acts for personal benefit that are not aligned with the plight that majority of persons now find themselves in. The ruling Administration appear to be playing a corrupt version of the famous authentic board game. We have Ministers buying expensive properties, giving away land to their friends for housing developments and hotels while collecting superfluous taxes from the people of Barbados. They have also been borrowing extensively on the international market at exorbitant interest rates; an act that can potentially drive the country to bankruptcy if unable to meet their repayment obligations and into to the arms of the International Monetary Fund.
When many persons lost their jobs , in response the government raised [reinstated] the salaries of the Ministers. This can only be described as a slap in the face especially after hearing the Prime Minister justify raising the salaries.
While many cannot afford cars, cannot afford to repair their cars due to damages caused by pot hole in the roads, or can even get reliable service from the government operated Transport Board, Ministers are now driving luxury vehicles that cost in excess of $ BDS 150,000.00. These vehicles are not even within the means of their income.
With death of the middle-class on the horizon due to the fact that hundreds of persons have lost the homes which was their only investment for decades and the rise in homelessness and vagrancy, Ministers of Government are building mansions as though they are living in Victorian England where the peerage built massive mansions as though they planned to live forever. The government has not even bothered to look into the mortgage crisis, not even said a word or acknowledgement that the archaic CAP 236 is need of change. It has in is possession about 15,000 empty houses that were built and never occupied that are in some state of decay. With such a housing stock no one on the island should be homeless. The Ministers of Government have been busy rolling the dice and playing monopoly to notice.
There is an old saying that “yah can hide and buy land but yah cahn hide and wuk um.” The latest possession revealed is a house that sits at 91 Rolling Hills St. George. It is owned by none other than the Minister of Finance. The lot on 17, 551 sq. ft. was put up for sale at US$ 177, 900.00. Unconfirmed reports now value the house and land at US$ 2,500,000.00. From the exterior, it is a charming house pleasing to the eye.
However, according to SI 2016, signed by Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance on April 15th 2016, The annual salary of a Government Minister is BDS$152,382.00, with an entertainment allowance of BDS$ 24, 170.28 and travelling allowance 0f BDS$23, 773.93. There is no housing allowance. The combination of 9 years of salary plus benefits amounted to BDS $1,802,935.89. So where did he obtain the money to purchase this land and build this mansion plus the luxury vehicles that he owns? Where does he keep his stash of monopoly money?
At writing it has not been ascertained that any bank or financial institution has financed the mortgage for this property. However, if indeed one of them has, it is hoped that they undertook the due diligence regarding the source of the funds and that they can show a paper trail.
It appears that the DLP Administration have become monopoly professionals. From “go” they have been spending freely as though they each owned an unlimited supply of money, beyond what the public purse pays them. They are also living the life styles of the rich and famous. No one knows for sure where their taxes go. Ultimately, one expects that the inevitable will occur and a throw of the dice lands them all in jail and that no amount of money is allowed to be paid to get those corrupt politicians out. Adding another insult to injury today, the Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who lives like a king in olden days, off the fat of the land, had the gall to blame the commoners who are “sucking salt,”‘ for living lavish life styles that have depleted the foreign reserves. When will this game end?