Barbados Pushing Regional Narrative

One of the noticeable marks Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley has been making early in her tenure is on the regional front.  By contrast former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was silent and usurped the leadership role Barbados has played historically in the region. Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the 2019 Caribbean Forum on Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth recommitted Barbados to the CSME project.  She stressed managed migration a la Canada and greater communication must be the focus to deepen regional integration. Following in the footsteps of her BLP predecessor Owen Arthur there is an intent by Mottley- who has lead for CSME- to expand the fiscal and financial space to the benefit of tiny Barbados.

An example: initially the blogmaster was critical of Senator Alphea Wiggins’ appointment as Special Envoy with a mandate to develop a strategic partnership with Suriname.   With a large gathering in parliament why not appoint a member of parliament? Feedback in this space proffered that the  resume of Wiggins the diplomat is ideally suited to the task at hand. Time will tell.

Barbadians have been told by Wiggins about land donated to Barbados by Suriname – in a government to government deal – to be utilized on a pilot basis by local farmers. Although Wiggins has expressed disappointment at the weak response to the opportunity provided to local farmers and private sector there is hope the mindset of our local actors will change from being inwardly focus. In 2013 resident billionaire Sir Kyffin Simpson was reported to have significantly invested in an agriculture project in Guyana.

The farm, located in Santa Fe in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region some 231 miles (or 371 km) south-west of Georgetown, will be producing rice, corn, soya, cow beans, guar and eventually moso bamboo trees primarily for export. Already 10 000 acres are being prepared for cultivation and this will be extended by another 30 000 acres as production is steadily increased. Sir Kyffin has the option of tripling this acreage if the venture proves successful – Sir Kyffin Simpson Shows Leadership Investing in Agriculture

Last week at a business forum to promote trading opportunities in Suriname and Guyana was held in Barbados – opportunities identified agriculture, agro-processing, construction, renewable energy, tourism, education, and services. To add impetus to the message being championed by government, Minister Sandra Husbands with responsibility for  foreign trade could have co-opted support from Sir Kyffin or designate to update on his investment in Guyana.  Local private sector actors sitting on the fence needs to be persuaded to shed a risk averse mindset.

The blogmaster supports the renewed effort to deepen regional integration.  All sensible people will agree small islands in Caricom must do better to improve avenues for functional cooperation. It should be obvious to those with an average level of discernment that both Jamaica and Bahamas in the North share no great appetite for CSME – maybe just for the movement of the unskilled.  The alternative approach by Barbados to create opportunities with our neighbours in the South is a countervailing strategy to salvage the CSME initiative.

The idea to have Barbadian capital and technical resources combined with Guyanese and Suriname significant land and natural resources to the benefit of both countries in large scale agriculture and other opportunities is an approach which keeps hope alive.








41 thoughts on “Barbados Pushing Regional Narrative

  1. Are thess the first steps to a Federation of Eastern Caribbean States (Barbados, OECS, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago)? Such a political and geographic space could more than provide all the psychological, material and economic needs of all the citizens of those countries. Are we clever enough to seize the prize? History and present trends would suggest not.

    • Will the politicians and ideologues be able to move us to a vibrant sub group or as Mottley says we need to improve the communication in a way that resonates with the masses.

  2. The people of St.Vincent and Grenada rejected the CCJ. A people suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome. A return to slavery is more likely than regional unity.

    • @Vincent

      Did you get a chance to listen to CDB’s chief Economist Ram on Morning Business Show by David Ellis this morning?

  3. @ David Bu at 10 :26 AM

    No. I did not listen to the programme. Did he say anything that will drive the Development Process in the CSME? Working in the CSME one gets tired listening to the same old platitudes that ignore the changing realities in which CARICOM has to survive.

    • @Vincent

      He expressed exasperation at the absent of will for our islands to make CSME work. He shared that there is a quarter billion in undrawn funds by Caribbean countries for projects. He mentioned the need to improve business facilitation in the region etc etc.

  4. @ David BU at 1 :22 PM

    Thank you very much David. The usual problem implementation deficit. Maybe the CDB needs to add one more criterion when evaluating loan proposals … the ability to implement !!

    This phenomenon is not unusual in the private sector except there is a ledger fee for not drawing down loans approved. Depositors, the source of funding, still have to be paid interest.,

    • @Vincent

      He also mentioned the high debt all Caribbean islands are saddled which leaves little or no fiscal space for development and growth programs. How has our region finds itself in current state? This is obviously not a Barbados problem per se. There is the system. We have become intoxicated by a voracious insatiable consumption we do not have the capacity to afford. This is the economic model we are unable to break free:

    • Although Grenada is being help as a model performer we must examine how it came to be. The island had to be significantly affected by a hurricane to implement some structural reforms. Is this what we are waiting for?

  5. The Suriname decision makes a whole lotta sense. For those with a modern and progressive view and understanding of economic integration, it is the missing piece of the puzzle. Hopefully it serves as the catalyst for the formalisation of a more structured approach to how see and develop our land in the context of a single economy.

    • Have you observed how the usual suspects are unable to discuss this initiative? One trick ponies, criticize, criticize, criticize.

  6. I wonder who are these one trick pony usual suspects. There IS something I am noticing lately. And it is not about the one trick pony usual suspects.

  7. @ Blogmaster:

    To really discuss the ‘economic’ viability of this gift of “20 acres” wouldn’t it be good to have a progress report on that other gift of ’40 acres’ in St. Thomas Barbados made a few years back to the UWI?

    After all the UWI is seen as the paragon of regional integration and ought to be the leading light in modern agricultural practices.

    Wouldn’t it be ‘educationally’ beneficial if the results from that earlier land enfranchisement- given as a small token of reparations- are known so as to inform the young farmers (probably UWI educated) about the agricultural way forward in the 21st Century Caribbean against a background of the much discussed climate change phenomenon?

    For now we would leave the pending CLICO land grab for alternative uses out of the ‘discussion’.

    • @Miller

      One is a gift to the UWI by a private citizen the other a government to government transaction to kickstart the bigger project. This blogmaster views the two transactions as two different animals.

  8. Can’t the earlier delivery from an old plantation owner inform the newbie as far as growing up in the agricultural world of management is concerned?

    After all, both involved gifts of land (although different in size) for agricultural purposes and not military or housing.

  9. @ David at 2:53 PM and 2:54 PM & 5:49 PM

    The high Debt to GDP has nothing to do with the “conspicuous” consumption of Barbadians.

    The high levels of savings to GDP refutes that lie. The high ratio of investments in GoB paper by individuals does not support that notion. The high levels of contribution in NIS and the Surplus Fund of NIS do not support that notion. These are National Savings. One cannot save and consume conspicuously at the same time.
    David please keep away from the Kool Aid Dispenser.

    2.It is a direct consequence of GoB to collect tax revenues and failure to keep expenditures of SOEs within budget.
    It is also a failure of GoB to effect an excess of revenue over expenditure to fund capital projects/ infrastructures.

    4 Savings in Credit Unions are also substantial These are on the opposite side of “conspicuous consumption”. Please check the social groups that are conspicuously consuming and borrowing and raping the Treasury.

    Initiatives? Do you call these hot air balloons initiatives?

    • @Vincent

      See the blogmaster’s comment. Ram mentioned the high debt to GDP and no room for government to develop. The blogmastwr extrapolated by highlighting our addiction oto conspicuous consumption. If we cannot develop drivers for growth in the economic compounded with the inability to pay our debts where does it put us?

    • Jamaica: On the Path to Higher Economic Growth
      November 7, 2019
      Jamaica has successfully concluded its economic reform program, which was supported by a US$1.66 billion Stand-By Arrangement from the IMF. The country’s strong ownership, as well as the government’s steadfast reform implementation have resulted in a stronger economy, an all-time low unemployment rate, and a significant reduction in public debt.
      A big reason for the success of the economic reform program in Jamaica resulted from the power of ownership. For instance, there was strong bipartisan support for fiscal discipline, and the social consensus to sustain it.Various stakeholders—for example, private and public sectors, civil society, unions—got behind the reforms across two administrations.
      That social partnership for change and the championing and monitoring of reform commitments by the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) was a critical force, which will need to continue to tackle the deep-rooted structural issues. In addition, phasing-in difficult reforms was critical (for example, the switch from direct to indirect taxes, increasing public employees’ pension contributions, and central bank recapitalization were all done over multiple years).

  10. @ David BU

    Thereare two methods of reducing a fraction. You either reduce the numerator or increase the denominator. the Debt ratio is a fraction. Das the debt been reduced? Has GDP increased.?

    We really making this thing look like rocket science. And employing mathematical models that are not bounded by realities.

  11. @ Enuff November 7, 2019 6:37 PM

    “Are the two situations similar? No! More conflation.”

    Here is an ‘idea’ you can ruminate on in order to find your way out of your own constructed contraption of conflated contradiction and confusion.

    What about letting each specialize in a particular field for growing crops?

    How about letting the Suriname-based Bajan farmers concentrate on growing the high-value ‘herb’ for medicinal purposes to meet the potential demand in Barbados?

    Whereas, the ‘gifted’ land in Barbados can be used to raise black-belly sheep to be fed on some of the same weed grown offshore so as to not offend the sensibilities of Christian Bajans like Bishop Old Joe who is somewhat aghast at thought of ‘grass’ growing in his god’s green acres?

  12. @ David BU

    The high debt ratio would decrease over time if they were not rolled over. They were staggered. They would have been replaced by a combination of increased tax collection and reduction in expenditure.
    Persons employed in SOEs and the Civil Service are retiring at increasing rates. Attrition would have taken care of that. Many SOEs were redundant and need to be closed. The process required proper strategic management.

    Off the shelf solutions does not make for competent public sector management.

  13. @ David November 7, 2019 7:22 PM

    So which should come first to get the region out of its current economic quagmire caused by a conspicuous consumption enigma?

    The FDI drivers for economic growth or a larger population as seen through the eyes of PM Mottley by poaching skilled adults from other territories to boost and energize the so-called greying Barbados?

    Where does that 75,000 odd Voluntary Idle fit into this economic picture?

    • @Miller

      Do you agree that the Barbados economy needs to be reordered? Do you agree Barbados should attempt to exploit opportunities afforded by the CSME? Do you agree the benefits of transformative policies will take time to bear fruit?

  14. David BU

    If one knows the source of a problem one removes the source.GoB created and perpetuated the problem. The” lack of room” ,whatever you and Ram mean by that,was GoB’s creation. Do you think it was created by some external power?

    • @Vincent

      There is the cause of the problem then there is current state read it has to be fixed. We have to keep agitating as a people that it will bring change.

  15. David BU

    Continue to enjoy the masquerade. Some of us work; others wuk up. The former is productive; the latter is a dance show/ exhibitionist, pure entertainment.

  16. @ David November 7, 2019 8:01 PM
    “Do you agree that the Barbados economy needs to be reordered?”

    Reordered to produce what?

    Isn’t this the same sermon of refrain which has been preached by OSA over the years?

    What Barbados needs to do is either earn or save forex at a level sufficient to maintain the current standard of living or reduce its population size in order to make effective use of its limited and high cost existing social services.

    So where, Blogmaster, is this foreign money going to come from other than by way of tourism and other forms of economic prostitution à la Bush Tea?

    Why aren’t you concerned about that 75,000 slice of the potential workforce (out of an overall population of less than 300,000) classified as Voluntary Idle?

  17. @ Miller November 7, 2019 6:29 PM

    “wouldn’t it be good to have a progress report on that other gift of ’40 acres’ in St. Thomas Barbados made a few years back to the UWI?”

    A very good question. As I have alluded to, elsewhere on this blog, the Ministry of Agriculture has divorced itself from having anything to do with it. Let me give some background information. Cave -Hill some years ago attempted to grant PH.D’s in agriculture. At the doctoral level, one is expected to have a firm grasp of statistical and experimental methodologies. This was not done and the people who attempted to supervise were not trained in agriculture but were biologists pure and simple. There were cases where students spent up to ten years doing PH.D’. When subjected to the oral examination all doctoral students have to undergo, there was an abysmal lack of knowledge displayed. As a result, St. Augustine has to okay any degree in agriculture given by Cave-Hill: as a matter of fact lecturers from St. Augustine play an active part in the program these days. The person in charge of the project is a glib talker who has no training in agriculture so one shouldn’t expect too much to come of that project. In any event, the proposed plan of action is nothing new; to the non-initiated the highfalutin words might sound great to the ear but that is about all.

    • Again the UWI project should not be confused with the government to government arrangement with Suriname. Why are we using one to explain the other? The government of Barbados is not involved in the decision making of Cave Hill.

  18. An attempt to greater the economic stability of the region, let alone Barbados, is a step in the right direction and an obvious, ” must embrace” move to promote self-sufficiency throughout the region. To the adventurous, the unknown awaits discovery; to the feeble and those devoid of quest, uncharted waters will remain uncharted amongst those differently reasoned. To this end, I give Mottley a thumbs up though I am very critical of her ability to be indifferent and rogueish. Be that as it may, she is making a colossal move towards a regional promo that is necessary for small economies to survive amidst a struggling that is a continuous forecast. If any reality of this is to be realised someone has to step out of line with the will to chart a path for all to follow. If Mottley is willing to put her head on the block and be tested, I will support her in that. The SSS will agree with anything that will assist Barbados and its people out of its misfortunes, because if anyone thinks that we are going to continue to sing the saving graces of tourism for all eternity to come, we better look to our current predicament to see that our number one forex earner is moving lately like driftwood. The reality of what is, what we face as a region, needs Free Trade Bridges and the insular thinking to be dispelled and be replaced by a new vision of CSME more willing, now than ever, to invest in the infrastructure we need to make things a reality.

  19. Miller
    You’re late boss! For years I have been promoting the idea of specialisation, not just in agriculture but also in tourism, medicine, finance, renewable energy, manufacturing etc. in a collaborative rather than the current competitive approach. Search BU and you’ll see.

  20. David November 8, 2019 3:02 AM
    “The government of Barbados is not involved in the decision making of Cave Hill.”

    You have to joking, right Blogmaster?

    We are sure you have heard the truism: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”?

    Like the Governor of the Central Bank apropos the Minister of Finance, the UWI is the creature of the governments which pay for its survival in the form of “Economic Costs”.

    We shall soon see who determines the future of that law faculty on the Hill.
    The Principal(s) or ‘BERT’?

  21. @ David November 9, 2019 10:28 AM

    So when is this “collective” voice going to inform the people who elected them and pay for their “collective” existence about the progress made by the plantocratic godsend to improve agriculture towards the ‘common’ regional goal of food security instead of importing food from China grown on foreign’ farms and fertilized with human fecal input?

    That’s all we are asking for, Blogmaster, a progress report to inform this new venture, albeit on a smaller-scale, in Suriname.

  22. What exactly is the goal of CSME?
    As an ordinary citizen how will CSME lower my supermarket price?
    How will it lower crime?
    How will it improve my kids educational choices?
    How will it improve my garbage collection?
    How will it lower my utilities bill?
    How will it reduce the price of gasoline?
    If it can’t address my basic reality why the $&@& should I care

    That sums it up. It is a political dream divorced from the reality of ordinary citizens

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