Walter Blackman’s Last Post Before the General Election About CLICO, Corruption by Politicians and the Bullseye on Ryan Straughn’s Back

The following is a response to the blogmaster’s observation posted on the  April 26, 2018 11:30 PM directed at Walter Blackman: – “What will be interesting in the days and few weeks ahead is how the various political parties craft their messages to the public”.

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

     –The Rolling Stones


In my humble opinion, pragmatic though ye maybe, you are thinking “old school”.

I find it more interesting to wait and see how the various political parties craft their response to the messages that have been sent by the public.

Please forgive me for being prolix, but I will offer three low-hanging examples to give you an example of how I am thinking.

Firstly, from the standpoint of governance, Mara Thompson continued to be a natural face of the CLICO debacle. CLICO policyholders were given a deadline to confirm all of the information related to their policies which were to be transferred to the new insurance company established by the government. If I remember correctly, the very next day after that deadline, Mara Thompson announced to Gercine Carter of the Nation that her life in parliament was now coming to an end. Politically, she had “false-started” and obviously was advised to claw back the announcement.

The government of Barbados officially transferred the assets and liabilities of CLICO to a politically contrived new insurance company. If my memory serves me correctly, immediately after that event, Mara Thompson announced her retirement from politics and handpicked George Pilgrim as her “successor”. She had decided to “take the money” and not run. The deal had been sealed. No need for any clawback this time. As a former Office Manager of Thompson & Associates, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mara Thompson now saw how easy it was for the political class to callously transform the wicked actions of evildoers into a financial burden of billions of dollars, and then to deftly place that burden upon the back of docile Barbadian taxpayers.

The CLICO scandal is extremely nasty business. It represents a large crimson stain on the white table cloth of our national psyche. Not too long ago, I submitted a poem to BU entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Hopefully, discerning BU readers can now see the similarity in the roles being played by the oysters in that poem, and by CLICO policyholders in real life.

The public’s message that has been sent to the political class is that we want the wrongdoers in the CLICO scandal to be punished, and that we want our regulatory system to be tightened and strengthened so that politicians, civil servants, and the whole range of a company’s management team cannot band together and collude to raid and destroy a corporation again.

It should be easy to see, which party crafts a response to this public demand.

Secondly, the Land Registry and the Town & Country Planning Dept. have a database of all politicians and civil servants who own and have developed property in Barbados. Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has a database of the income which these people have claimed to receive over the past decades.

I am sure that Balaam’s most prized possession, his female ass, is intelligent enough to line up the public salaries of civil servants and politicians with the properties they own and have developed. If an ass can do it, why can’t we? All sensible Barbadians are now calling for those civil servants and politicians who have misappropriated public funds, or who have laundered money, to be identified and punished as criminals.

Have you heard any major political party promising to take these elementary steps to deal with the corrosive influence of corrupt public officials in Barbados? Why not?

Thirdly, Tom Adams, arguably the most brilliant (despite his recklessness) Finance Minister that Barbados has produced to date, possessed enough confidence and political maturity to seek out and attract the talented Owen Arthur, who eventually became PM of Barbados.

On the other hand, the “Cammie Tudor installed PM” Erskine Sandiford, lacking training and expertise in the areas of economics and finance, had to get rid of Dr.Richie Haynes from his cabinet because the electorate had already begun to show some confidence in the Doc’s ability. In a similar vein, David Thompson, all style and no substance when it came to matters of economics and finance, had to get rid of Clyde Mascoll.

Having joined forces with others to rob CLICO policyholders, despite being Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Finance, David Thompson then had to push Dr. David Estwick, his former shadow Minister of Finance, to the perceived outer peripheral ring of his cabinet. Through his last-minute pronouncements, it became crystal clear that all of David Thompson’s preoccupations, in life and death, had now morphed into one concentrated goal: to make sure that details of the CLICO grand robbery never reached the eyes and ears of the Barbadian public. He and his co-conspirators, not to mention the Financial Standards Commission (FSC), failed miserably in that regard. God does not like ugly. All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.

Ryan Straughn, not recognizing that he has a bull’s eye on his political back because of his training in economics, attempted to give Barbadians a comprehensive and analytical view of the various options open to us a country when it came to making a decision on the Transport Board. Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis. With an eye towards destroying Ryan’s stature in the political arena as an economist, before he even got a chance to build it, political agents and his own colleagues immediately jumped into the press and advised members of the electorate not to pay any attention to the mouthings of Ryan Straughn. “This is a subject our party has decided to hide from the public. Ryan is a political rookie, an educated fool, a naïve ‘wet-behind-the –ears’ candidate who has now broken the rules of engagement with the public which the BLP has secretly established”, they effectively declared.

Given the fact that, in the absence of “divine” intervention, the Barbadian economy is about to crash (with thousands upon thousands of resulting fatalities), the Barbadian electorate wanted every serious-minded political party to invite decent, honest-minded Barbadians with backgrounds, training, and expertise in the areas of business and finance, to run for public office. These criteria effectively disqualify 99.9% of lawyers.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Barbadians have lost their trust and confidence in lawyers, and are now clamouring to see corrupt practices eradicated from public life, the major political parties still persist in foisting lawyers upon the electorate?

We shall wait and see what excuses the major political parties are able to come up with for disregarding this public demand.

I haven’t even mentioned FATCA and the opportunity that that imposed legislation creates for us to produce a list of politicians and civil servants with hefty unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts. Such a list should be read out in parliament.

Have you heard this message being preached by our political parties?

I can go on and on……

Hopefully, we shall reconnect after the General Elections are over.

20 thoughts on “Walter Blackman’s Last Post Before the General Election About CLICO, Corruption by Politicians and the Bullseye on Ryan Straughn’s Back

  1. David;

    Excellent article. I thought it was one of yours but the style doesn’t seem to match yours. It also doesn’t seem to match Walter Blackman’s style although some of the content would not be surprising coming from him.

    The writer makes a number of interesting points that present both major parties in a poor light and to that extent could be a supporter or member of one of the New Parties. But there are some aspects of it that don’t seem to be the natural fruit of a third party hoping to get a toe-in in the new Parliament. It is however the kind of post that should attract comments from several frequent BU posters on the major questions raised in the article and begs some in depth discussion as to the feasibility and legality of getting and using data in the manner suggested.

    It highlighted CLICO, David Thompson and Mara Thompson; The BLP put down of Ryan Straughn re. the Transport Board; The Political Parties foisting a plurality of Lawyers on the electorate; The need for a new Government, using an intrusive Cambridge Analytica like methodology with some input from FATCA data to publish lists in Parliament of politicians and senior public servants with hefty, unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts that negatively correlate with their salaries.

    Shouldn’t that list also include the prominent businessmen who make up the other side of the corruption story? Did the omission of this side of the corruption story give some clues as to the Party or Parties whose main thrust might be in sync with all aspects of the article?

    • @AWTY

      The preamble to the article is clear to credit Walter.

      Do Barbadians not personally touched by the CLICO matter care about the episode?

      Unless some sinister plot is uncovered the blogmaster fears this will be a non issue for most Barbadians.

  2. It reads like an endorsement for SB?
    GPII is the only one likely to break the ‘silent rule’ of not prosecuting politicians and those who have stolen from ‘the system’.
    The SB candidate list is ‘lawyer thin’. They are the only ones likely to tackle CLICO.
    That said, what about this ‘flat tax’, and a one year turnaround without austerity. Or is the message, cleansing and restructuring is so important, one must accept whatever comes with it?

  3. Grenville is not going to arrest any of the corrupt politicians, former ministers, now standing outside of parliament or their fellow corrupt colluders and bribers in the private sector, he was rambling on about some sissy fine for those he found corrupt eithin his one party, I dont recall him trying to lock up anyone for all the crimes and thefts committed against taxpayers and pensioners by the outgoing government and those who bribed them.

    Mia said she will address their corruption and call in the necessary agencies so did Alex Mitchell…those politicians, lawyers and business people involved in the over decades long rip off of land and money from the people ought to be in prison…none should be spared and all the stolen land and money returned to the people.

    I am looking forward to more new faces springing up as candidates in the next couple weeks…something has to give.

  4. I would Trade Any Day an Economy that is Growing Above one that is Shrinking.

    I would Trade Reduced Regulations that would Invigorate Businesses over one that Stifles Growth! I would Choose a GDP Growing Above @ 5 % in one year over one that Businesses are Closing! I would Choose Confidence in a Country over one that people just want to see the Backs of the Administration. I would Choose One that Encourages Infrastructure Development over One That Serves up Sewage on the Streets. I would Choose a Business Man any day over a Lawyer overseeing the Affairs of our Country. And in 2018 I would Choose that People’s Eyes would be Opened that they would Recognize the Ideology that is the Cause of All that Ails us that they may Choose to Make Barbados Great using more Open and Free Market Principles!–a-natural-free-market.jpg

  5. Mara aint had to do one thing with that PRIVATE company Clico. Im upset that my tax dollars had to go and bail out that PRIVATE company. But I guess it was to big to fail. The authorities should have stopped CL Financial from siphoning off all of Clico Barbados money and Clico Barbados should have sold its lands and assets to pay who they owe. Privatising the TB will certainly mean an increase in busfares and that will hurt the poor.

  6. David Mr Blogmaster, I said my piece already in response to Walter’s treatise so only one brief addition.

    This piece struck me then as now as from a man chomping at the bit to talk and take action not one to seek self exile

  7. @WW&C
    “Mia said she will address their corruption and call in the necessary agencies”…..since when do you believe any long term politician will do as they say? Alex M isn’t getting elected, so pass. Politicians SAY much, but DO far less.

  8. @june

    There is leadership and then there is political leadership.

    Panday famously said that “Politics has its own morality”

    Just observing

  9. Northern….oh we know that, but then we always have the pleasure of reminding Mia every day if she is being deceitful, if she is lying, if she is elected…nothing more I like to do than to remind politicians of their lying promises, I got along memory.

  10. I guess this is the best time to ask this question, never better, do any corrupt exministers/politicians/bribe paying business people have any bribe money/stolen taxpayers and pensioners money hidden in certain jurisdictions, I don’t know what to tell ya, but they are coming for yall, lol, hahaha.

    “The UK’s tax havens have featured in countless corruption and money laundering cases – ending their corporate secrecy will throw a huge spanner in the works of corrupt dictators, tax evaders and organised criminals.”

    Duncan Hames, director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: “Corrupt individuals everywhere will be deeply concerned that they are about to lose the secrecy afforded by the British overseas territories.”

  11. Ah forgot to ask the local drug dealing minority families, who have been around since the 70s fouling up the island with drugs and money laundering.

  12. “Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis.”

    I agree with Walter that “privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits (serious) discussion.”

    Barbadian taxpayers cannot continue with a situation where TB’s operational inefficiencies are a result of restrictive work rules, high labour costs, an equally inefficient bureaucracy and political interference.

    In an effort to improve cost efficiency, and against a background of constraints on public funding for transport, escalating costs and a decline in productivity, many Caribbean governments have privatized their public transport services……..such as St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis. And the transport systems in these islands are efficient, even though they are considered to less developed than Barbados.

    We can explore a “model of privatization” within a regulatory framework. As such, privatizing the TB does not necessarily mean that there would be a corresponding increase in bus fare, because government has the “ultimate authority” to regulate bus fares.

    The difference in road taxes for TB omnibuses and mini buses/route taxis is approximately $3,000. PSV operators could benefit from a decrease in taxes and the granting of duty free concessions (which are also offered to taxi operators that had permits for five years, to purchase newer vehicles)….which would lead to a decrease in operating expenses and bus fares could remain “affordable.”

    Additionally, it is generally accepted that competition has a positive impact on any industry’s efficiency, quality of provision of goods and services, innovation and productivity. Government deregulating the market and eliminating controls on market entry and exit would allow competition among private operators.

    Even if TB remains a state-owned entity, there must be a need to review the fare structure/system. Annual operating expenses have progressively increased….. the private transport sector has seen an increase in maintenance costs, taxes, insurance and general operating expenses, as well as fluctuating fuel prices…….

    …………while bus fare remained constant (unchanged under specified conditions).

    In the case of TB, government intervenes to provide substantial subsidies to offset the shortfall in operating expenditure.

    Although many people often refer to the “Singapore model,” I read information relative to their Public Transport Council (PTC) fare regulation framework. The PTC is an independent body that regulates public transport fares:

    “To guide PTC’s annual fare review exercises, the fare formula needs to be nimble and responsive to industry cost changes as our public transport landscape undergoes transformation. It is in this spirit that PTC will introduce a Network Capacity Factor (NCF) into the fare formula, to better reflect the cost movements due to changes in public transport network capacity (e.g. running more buses and trains over longer distances) and commuter usage (e.g. more passengers taking more trips on buses or trains). PTC will also update the weights for the price indices and the Productivity Extraction Factor (PEF) in the existing formula to reflect the latest industry cost structure.”

    These are the types of discussions we should be having pertaining to our transport system, which should be based on economic and financial analysis, rather than considerations of political expediency.

    For example, prior to the 1981 general elections, Barrow lowered bus fares to 25 cents to all destinations, without considering the implications. His decision was both political and irresponsible.

  13. @Walter Blackman “All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.”



  14. @Are-we-there-yet May 1, 2018 12:12 AM “Shouldn’t that list also include the prominent businessmen who make up the other side of the corruption story?”

    Yes it should.

  15. @May 1, 2018 10:01 AM “Mara aint had to do one thing with that PRIVATE company Clico.”

    Except she was in bed with CLICO’s lawyer.

    Except she is the beneficiary of the estate of CLICO’s lawyer.

    David Thompson.

  16. Except she was the office manager for the Thompson law firm and personally received and knew about the 3 million dollar laundered clico check.

    People love to have selective memories, even if it starves and kills them and their families, they still don’t know when to stop.

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