Barbados Improvements Part 2: Thoughts and Ideas
Submitted by Freedom Crier
Right Sizing Government
I have seen the PM speak at times and her desire is to get the government working again quickly and effectively for Barbados as any government should, from the roads/sewerage to the business of government like planning/development/courts etc. her practicality is heartening and welcome, her energy shown is greatly needed I hope it is infectious to her other ministers.
1 Reduce the size of Government: Stop Hiring, Let normal attrition do its work. This will reduce the government work force by 10 % a year minimum. Presently for every 4 people working we have 1 civil servant this should be more like 1 in 20. How can 4 persons pay the wages for 1 person and still pay to run the government. No wonder the people are crying out and the government finances are in shambles. Use the magic of the computer age to help with the endless Bureaucracies and cut the endless duplication and red tape. You may have to employ practical and computer people to give guidance on how best to implement this not just the bureaucratic computer consultants that government hire but practical persons with a track record of thinking outside the box. Sometimes the paper legacy Bureaucracies we have can be used to show what we need to accomplish and how to achieve it as the paper legacy is a vast accumulation of knowledge of what is sometimes needed or useful.
2 Look at duplicated functions in all ministries and Statutory Agencies and eliminate. Imagine that you do not have to pay licence for vehicles anymore but the same amount of people still works there and we all must still waste our time to get a disk every year this is a time waster and crap of government bureaucracies gone bonkers send it in the mail to the car owners if you think we need it the same way they mailed the renewal notice.
3 Privatise Public transport, close down CBC and have the cable providers do a common news channel with government oversight and input if desired. Only privatise the statutory corps that have revenue, only those will be attractive to the private sector. For EG: do not privatise the SSA as the population already pay their taxes so that their garbage is removed. The private sector will buy into the transport system even if it is the mini bus men forming an association/company to buy it. Presently the mini bus men run their buses with a conductor in a minivan and less than 15 people per trip and they make money yet the government can’t make money with 40 passengers and no conductor, losing money to the tune of I think of 70 million a year yet they do not want to sell. Who dreams up this stuff? Do not give me the bogus story that the privatise bus will not go the whole route so farther out travellers will not get to and from work. Any business have a cost of doing business and this one does also (go to the end of the route) even if it is not every bus but every other bus/or third bus goes to the end of the route the extra distance that they may have to travel going from the first turn around point to the end of line can be charged $1 extra. People that have cars pay extra for their gas in traveling their longer routes.
4 Contract out the road cleaning, grass cutting, gutter cleaning ETC. no longer have to pay 10 men to do the job of one person. The private man will use a weed whacker, the government workers will use a hoe and put the gutter dirt at the side of the road for a later pick up which does not happen and at the first rain the weeds and muck is back in the gutter. Use small contractors for this.
5 Pot-hole department works 5 days a week driving around filling the pot holes this is not expensive and you do not need 10 people on a truck to fill pot holes these same persons can give reports on the road conditions that they may find as to which roads may need recovering and a final inspection made by someone in authority. A simple phone app with proscribe fields to fill in ETC can do the reporting to the head office with pictures to show the condition. This report need not be more than a few lines. After the road is fixed the same information can be brought up on the phone and with additional pictures and saying the job is now complete.
6 Consolidate the amount of ministries not expand it. Barbados is too small. This should be the goal, I concede after hearing the PM speak that the PM may have an expanded amount of ministries but this must be only temporary if this passes 3 years the Bajan public will not look at this favourably.
7 The Government Drainage unit was absorbed they did good work, we no longer have the gullies flooded like the old days but more work needs to be done like the wells created in the gullies to contain the water and channel it underground, filling up the aquifers rather than letting it run off to the sea with flooding in low lying areas. Restart digging the wells in gullies program.
8 Sell all Government housing as is, to the renters do not rent anymore. Have a tribunal to make quick decisions if needed. Arrange with a mortgage lender to finance these homes and if the people default the lenders will have to deal with that. Now is the best time to divest, interest rates are low and favourable to the purchaser. If there is a problem with the law in detailing the extent of the property, amend the law to include this class of housing.
The coming changes at Town & Country Planning bodes well for Barbados, the wiliness to listen to other views shows that the Bureaucrats may be getting wisdom. (I hope) even a chicken picks here & there and at the end still gets a belly full so I hope they will listen to “We the people” and implement what we need/want/require/etc. especially speed & less burdensome/costly regulations.
9 Instruct the Town Planner he has forgotten why he is there, it is to promote the development of Barbados quickly within the rules/regulations that the Town Planner & his team has to follow.
10 Have the town planner give revised guide lines as to what is allowed so that other private Planners/Architects/Engineers/Builders/Landscapers/Environmentalist can comply before submitting and this will speed up the process. The guide lines are just that Guide lines they may have circumstances that you are not able to completely comply with.
11 I love the idea of immediate approval for small houses the threshold should be those that do not need to have run off water storage tanks. Just a meeting with the planning department to see if all is right and the services are available.
12 Have a fast track approval for projects over >1 Million dollars or X square Feet. Approval or rejection within a hard and fast 3 months but quick access to planners at town planning so that the rejection is not abrupt. Changes, advise given or made during the 3 months to help lead to a successful application. We need the construction Industry to thrive. This department should be an enabler for the development of Barbados not an obstacle course that People/Business/Hotel Industry/Industry have to overcome. An example of crap by Town Planning it has never allowed a water slide into the ocean using sea water or a beach facility using sea water and we are surrounded by it and the tourist would love it. It is unique & no kind of sea water park/pool/recreation facility in a tourist destination? Sea Water is not a resource we will run out of, it sure beats using fresh/drinking water in Pools at every hotel and increasing water rates on the people.
Imagine a Waterslide like this Constrictor landing you into Crystal Clear Blue Water.
13 Conceptualisation desk at town planning for projects over $5 Million Bds with 2 top officials (persons that can make easier decisions) for early meetings to say if this is something we want or not. These meeting and the contacts made are important to the investor that his project is getting the respect and attention that it deserves, as this at this time is of utmost importance to the investor, and will give the investor confidence that what he is proposing will fly/or not fly, he just needs to fulfil the planning requirements leading to outline planning approval. At this point the booklet of revised guide lines can be given to the applicant or his project manager if they do not already have one.
14 Have one stop agencies for permission to open a business or build. EG: To open a restaurant one needs the permission from 6 Government agencies: (a) Town planning, (change of use, zoning etc.) (b)Traffic planning used to be called MTW. (c) Environmental Health. (d) Public health. (e) Police, liquor Licence (f) Fire service. All or any of these agencies can say no at any time even when you have finished the building and your money is spent. Also each planning arm of the various agencies should be in the same office to fast track
15 These extra costs in the aggregate can mean extra productive construction we now do not have. It is 22 years that the onsite storage of runoff water was made mandatory, from all of my experiences it does not work, it does not help, it is an unnecessary cost to any project and who is going to use brown literally brown water, do you want to see when you flush the toilet the water is brown? And when it is dry you cannot irrigate with it because there is none left, it is easier to use hardy plants and shade that can survive dry spells. Do your homework who uses the water, not Lanterns Mall not any hotel I know on the South Coast not even Sandals it is built and forgotten and marked as a cost of doing business in Barbados.
16 In Barbados we have had regulations that force professionals on to the public EG: anyone can do the paperwork to start a company but it cannot be registered unless a lawyer signs it. Please do not foster on us the requirement that you have to have an approved engineer/architect sign off on it. If the concern is structural integrity for earthquakes etc. in your building guideline say if the external walls must be 8” or 6” or have brick force steel or rebar’s etc. these can be and should also be shown on the drawings that are submitted for approval. I know that the registered architects and the registered professional class are itching for this as it will guarantee them work/$$ in which their input is minimal. Are they not going to try to implement a scale of fees like the lawyers? All big Jobs will already have an architect and an engineer to make this a requirement will only effect the hundreds of good house builders who were in most cases trained on big job site and under the best of construction firms also some of these same individuals are engineers but are not now practicing so your requirements may force an builder/engineer to hire a registered approved engineer to sign off on something that he is already competent at, adding cost to the small house owner or job. The types of minimal accepted structural components necessary can easily be included in the planning guide booklet by a onetime hire of an engineer. EG: How to reinforce a wall.
National Insurance Scheme:
17 Revamp some of the NIS policies, the waste is great because of people taking advantage not looking for work until the end of 3 months living off of the freeness, or getting a job and saying to their employers do not take out NIS until I tell you when the 3 months are up.
18 When government borrows money from the NIS who pays it back? It is not the government, it is the people, and the Government must first get the money from the taxpayer again to repay the debt. This must stop. On paper the NIS says all is well we have Government IOU’s, the books are in good shape but the NIS do not have the cash to pay its operating expenditures the government has taken it all/most. And the tax payer is faced with paying the NIS money twice, once for the NIS and secondly to the government to repay their loans from the NIS. This is not right.
19 The NIS wants to raise the retirement age hoping that we die before we can collect any pension. Go to work at 18 years retire at 67 that means we work 50 years paying 20% (10.25%+11%) of our wages to get a small amount and say that is retirement pay till death at 75 years life expectancy. Who is able to work past 60 like we did when we were younger, imaging an agriculture worker after 60 having to work till 68 to collect pension they will go on disability and collect full pay then collect pension it is better to have a flexible lower retirement date (60-68) than force people to work longer and push them to game the system and collect full pay with disability until they retire at a later date like they do now with unemployment. How long will people take to learn to game the system. The actuaries no matter how brilliant they are they do not see what I have outlined above they are bright bureaucrats not business people they will always lengthen the time to retirement with their attractive graphs showing the propose growth of the NIS funds. This will lead to more gaming the system. Here again the slothful person reaps the sweets while the honest man will try his best to reach the date proscribe and who do we reward? Bureaucrats always miss the mark they always make the wrong decisions.
20 Institute merit based immigration whether you are poor or rich. A man might be poor but, may have a Skill (Carpentry). But also have Citizenship by Investment say over EG: $3 Million US. Barbados’ Structural Adjustments might be workable but too painful and I would like to make a Suggestion that Barbadian Citizenship should be granted by Investment of a Deposit not less than $3 million US Dollars (choose a number) in the Local Banking System to be used for Investment, Spending, Starting Businesses and setting up Holding Companies. Just Attracting 100 of these High-Worth Individuals who may desire to have an additional Citizenship of another Country (Barbados) will net the foreign exchange position by $300 Million US Dollars. And that is only for a hundred people. If we can encourage these Wealthy Individuals to seek greater Participation in the Local Economy through the formation of partnerships with local Entrepreneurs bringing with them their skills in Finance, Big Management Know How that will raise the local Companies reach globally. Imagine if you opened up the Citizenship to a 1000 of these Rich Individuals that would give you an in-flow of $3 Billion US Dollars that could more than pay off the Barbados Debt with no IMF in Sight.
See previous BU article at this address: https://barbadosunderground.net/2018/07/13/for-the-good-of-our-country-barbados/
The Brick & Mortar business are the ones under pressure because of all the regulations/taxes etc. but we have a wealth of talent in the electronic/digital field these individuals are horning their talents and skills but no capital as yet. Now is time to change course and make the individual important, a committee did not start Apple nor Microsoft nor any of the innovative companies in the world including BITT in Barbados. Barbados will boom with the right condition that you create with the freeing up of the individuals, regulation, taxes & size of Government,
It is said that when you give a man a hammer he sees nails everywhere. We have had lawyers for leaders and we get laws that bines men’s spirit, nothing that encourages, it always hinders that is the nature of a law, it never encourages. As the scriptures say “the law is an ass” Get some real business (Practical) men in the government or advisors not the ones who believe in crony capitalism where they use the monopoly status or concession to fleece People/Government via subsidies. All living at the expense of the tax payer with these special subsidised carve outs.
I will continue to pray for Barbados it is my Home and I want Live and to be Buried here, I want the best for us and pray God will bless us all to make the right choices.
Merit Based Immigration & Citizenship by Investment:
Barbados Improvements Part 1: Bridgetown
Still to come Barbados Improvements Part 3: Agriculture
Still to come Barbados Improvements Part 4: Looking to the Future