It was generally agreed that the DLP managed public services extremely poorly. So extreme that their quality of incompetence was perfect. So perfect, that many people could not bear to watch Barbados fail and do nothing. So, several new political parties were formed, bringing the total number to 11.
The BLP won all 30 seats and started governing with a lot of public goodwill. Many offered them very good advice. However, like the DLP before them, the BLP seemed to reject good advice and accept only the worst kind.
The Bridgetown Port, BWA, SSA, QEH, BAMC, BRA, Licensing Authority, Transport Board, and Education were all perfectly managed under the DLP. Managing them any worse was impossible. The DLP had reached rock bottom, and there was nowhere else to go but up. Yet, the boards and authorities managing these entities are today achieving the impossible.
At first, the BLP rightly blamed all of Barbados’ problems on the incompetence of the DLP. Since the DLP were the last administration, they should take all the blame – but only for the first three months of a new administration. After three months, any poor management is only a reflection of the current managers’ incompetence.
Why are our public services always being so badly managed? The simple answer is that extreme supporters, who behave more extreme with every election, must be rewarded for their extreme behaviour. Normal supporters do not qualify for such rewards, since they are unwilling to do the things against their fellow Barbadians that the extremes may do.
The typical reward for extremes is to allow them to play with our public services. Letting such highly unqualified persons have fun with our public services, has never worked well for us in Barbados. The perfect mismanagement of our public services during the last DLP administration, led to every DLP candidate losing in the last general election.
The current boards have achieved things that defy explanation. They have fouled-up public services so much that the former DLP Ministers now appear capable by comparison. How is that even possible? These boards have now put the lucrative lifetime pensions of the new BLP Ministers at risk.
Our Ministers have a problem. Their extremes believe that their partisan behaviour entitles them to play with our public services. However, if they keep abusing our public services, they will only frustrate the public, and bring down the Ministers. If they are fired, as their appalling performance justifies, then they may not be as extreme during the next general election. So what can our Ministers do?
One effective solution is for every Minister to appoint two advisory boards. A technical board for the benefit of the public, and a political board for the benefit of their party.
The members of the technical advisory board should be experts in the relevant field. These should be volunteer (unpaid) positions. Monthly advisory meetings should be held with the Minister and the CEO of the statutory corporation, with the only agenda being the improvement of the public service.
The political advisory board is to reward the extremes. They should be paid the same salaries as they are currently receiving, by the political party. They should meet with the Minister as frequently as the Minister wishes, but they should have no contact whatsoever with the public service.
This is a win-win-win solution. The Ministers win by receiving credit for dramatically improving public services, which improves their chances of being re-elected and achieving their lifetime pension goal. The extreme political supporters win because they get to maintain contact with their Minister, and keep receiving spillage. The public wins through much improved public services.
Our Ministers know the harm that unhappy extremes can do, and now seem intimidated by those whom they have appointed. They have allowed the tail to wag the dog for so long, that the tail believes itself to be the dog. Our Ministers need to muster the courage to get their politically appointed boards to stop working miracles.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com