Adrian Loveridge Column – COVID 19 Exposes Some Businesses

It is almost impossible to intelligently speculate on the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, as it appears to radically change by the minute, so I will attempt to avoid it until some middle to long term scenario comes into place. My apologies if circumstances have overtaken the time between writing, and this column appearing in print.

As a small business person spanning over 50 years, our concentration and efforts will now be spent on survival, until hopefully a form of normality returns, so that we can reasonably think beyond damage control.

How can we defer or delay essential ongoing payments like various utilities and Government taxes without being subject to penalties and what at this stage can only be described as usury rates of interest. Obviously areas are electricity and water, but in the first case you still cannot, in this technological age pay online or by personal visit, using a credit card.

With our water bill, paying by credit card still involves a personal visit, but how much longer this will remain, we are as yet unsure, until, their offices are inevitably closed to help minimize the possibility of infection.

We can currently pay our telecommunication bills online, but even with the threat of disconnection, have taken the decision to postpone payment, as we feel it is grossly unfair, the $1,000 security deposit we paid back in 1989 has not attracted a single cent of interest, at least to us.

At a modest rate of 4 percent annual interest compounded over 31 years, that $1,000 would be worth almost $3,400 today.

And before anyone points out that 4 per cent interest is an overly optimistic one, then think back to the nineteen nineties, when that decade recorded an average yearly base rate of 7.9 percent before commercial banks added their margins.

Even Barbados Light and Power pays annual interest on deposits, albeit at a much lower rate after the Canadians took over. How on earth has this inequity been allowed by our regulatory authorities for so long and it makes you question their effectiveness and/or impartiality.

Paying by cheque is of course, still a reluctant option, but an expensive and time wasting one, when you take into account the issuing and processing fees, especially when relatively small payment amounts are involved. No-one in their right mind intentionally visits a bank branch any more, unless there really is no practical alternative and exactly how banks will remain open and observe anything close to ‘social distancing’ remains a mystery.

If ATM’s are kept functional, then strict disinfecting protocol will have to be effectively implemented and enforced.  The banks too, have to fundamentality change the way they conduct business, if we are going to see any form of rapid recovery following some form of emergence from the current crisis.

As this column goes to press, I am still awaiting, three weeks after applying for a debit card for its arrival, to help reduce physical bill paying. Repeated follow-up voicemail messages to our branch go unanswered for days.

33 comments

  • Adrian: Just a brief comment on the sanitizing of ATM. How difficult would it be for the user to use a tissue to push the buttons, remove the money or deposit and then discard the tissue? .

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    Welcome to the New Normal. It is temporary. But it should remind us that nothing is permanent. I hope we learn something from it.

    Like

  • Adrian. Wily has been paying all his utility bills online for years through various systems, bank, ezpay, Revenue Authority, merchants etc. The only issue is BARBADOS WATER AUTHORITY still operates in the dark ages and has no online bill/payment presence, WHY IS a good question. Most other business Wily deals with are also online, insurance etc.

    The government needs to enact legislation to ensure business pay appropriate interest on any deposits required.

    Like

  • Adrian Loveridge

    Lowest OIL PRICES for 20 years. Is Barbados Light and Power going to following Grenada’s example and reduce electricity bills by 30% during April, May and June to help businesses survive?

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Wily

    Check this link where the BWA advises how to pay bills online.

    http://barbadoswaterauthority.com/?p=117

    Like

  • @ Wily Coyote March 30, 2020 9:39 AM

    I pay in advance; for instance I do not have worry about the bill until the end May

    Like

  • @David

    Wily uses Surepay to check what’s owing at BWA and uses bank online to pay. What BWA needs is an online access and pay portal for customers directly. If SUREPAY can get BWA customer data from BWA why can’t customers get it directly also ? Suspect there is some middle man in this situation creaming and preventing BWA offering this service directly to customers.

    @Robert Lucas

    Wily refuses to deposit any of his funds at a utility company in advance if he dies not receive a monetary credit for same. This is like paying Bank fees.

    Like

  • Wily,

    The discussion is once again a hundred light years behind the state of the art.

    The European Union has free direct debits with an opt-out period of four weeks. With this system, you no longer have to worry about bank transfers.

    In Barbados, however, this will not work because the accounts of the local impoverished masses are empty. It is an illusion to believe that a six-month deferral of payment (as with Scotia Bank) will do anything. People will be even more unemployed in six months. Everyone’s getting their rocks off on Corona in Barbados now. The rude awakening comes next winter when the tourists are almost completely absent. Then comes the IMF program called STARVE.

    Like

  • Look who’s still building houses in Barbados. People have been short of money since 2008. Either super rich people build or the NHC wastes taxpayers’ money on completely overpriced dog kennels.

    Even in the gated communities, very few people are building. Apes Hill Plantation and other gated communities still have an open space for development of 80 percent or more. Of course, the naive local population does not know this, because they do not have access there. I count Baloney among this naive crowd, who apparently smokes the wrong stuff because he still hallucinates about the Hyatt.

    But anyone with some brain cells, eyes and ears left knows that Barbados has never recovered from the slump of 2008/09. Now comes the next blow, which will set us back economically to the 1990 or even the 1980 level. What we need is not cheap speeches from the Governor General, but a sincere analysis of the situation, which will prepare the population not for stagnation but for a deep recession, sorrow and tears by 2030.

    Like

  • #COVID-19. Three Bajans died in New York.

    Like

  • #COVID-19. Three Bajans died in New York.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    @ Hal DO YOU KNOW THE NAMES OR HAVE A LINK TO AN ARTICLE?

    Like

  • @Adrian Loveridge: “Is Barbados Light and Power going to following Grenada’s example and reduce electricity bills by 30% during April, May and June to help businesses survive?

    BL&P’s rates are partially a function of the Fuel Clause Adjustment (FCA) which tracks the costs (to it) of fuel. So, the rates /should/ be lower.

    Stay safe everyone. Stay at home!!!

    Like

  • @ Baje

    No. Will try to get them.

    Like

  • @Wily Coyote March 30, 2020 9:39 AM “Adrian. Wily has been paying all his utility bills online for years through various systems, bank, ezpay, Revenue Authority, merchants etc. The only issue is BARBADOS WATER AUTHORITY still operates in the dark ages and has no online bill/payment presence, WHY IS a good question. Most other business Wily deals with are also online, insurance etc.”

    This is NOT true.

    I have been paying my water bill online for years now, and so have my children, and my siblings. We all bank at different banks.

    Like

  • According to the Sunday Sun of March 30, 2020, page 6A former Barbados Olympian Pearson “PG” Jordan died on Friday night in a New York hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19. According to the report he is originally from Sand Street, Speightstown, and was a CP old boy, and formerly a teacher at the now defunct Speightstown Boy’s School.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Wily Coyote March 30, 2020 11:04 AM “Wily refuses to deposit any of his funds at a utility company in advance if he dies not receive a monetary credit for same.”

    But Wily if you are dead a monetary credit won’t help you at all, and tobesides since you are going to heaven you know that the streets there are paved with gold, so you can well afford to leave a few dollars with the water or the power company, the gas company or even the telecommunications company.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I hate lines so once it was available I have always renewed my driver’s license for 5 years at a time. So if i die before the 5 years are up and my estate can’t get a credit?

    Frankly I won’t care.

    Let those who are living deal with it.

    Lol!

    Like

  • It is only money folks.

    You can always earn some more.

    Nope. You won’t get to take it to heaven with you.

    And if you leave it for your children/widow/widower, you won’t get to see them enjoy it.

    And in any event you won’t know if your children/widow/widower use it wisely. Maybe like Donald Trump’s brother they wil use the money to kill themselves with illegal drugs.

    Maybe your widow/widower will shortly find a new spouse and spend “your” money on the new partner.

    Once you are dead you don’t OWN anything.

    Like

  • Even dead billionaires don’t OWN anything.

    Like

  • fortyacresandamule

    Hopefully, after this crisis is over, e-payments and e-commerce will take off in the region.This could rapidly ushered in a cashless economy. Work- at-home jobs and technology will see huge growth. That could be a huge plus for the region’s business outsourcing industry. Last but not least, the global supply chain will have to be overhauled.

    Like

  • @SillyWomen

    Please tell Willy what is the BWA URL where you can login and see your account and monthly bill and pay. Enlighten WILLY as he’s been counting his $’s and adjusting his millions in his portfolio, I know this level of finance is a forgien concept for Silly women.

    Like

  • @ Wily

    If you know anybody that want one I selling coffins with safes in them! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  • I was in Barbados earlier this year as a close relative of mine had sadly passed away. From the middle of April they had left their family hone and moved to a nursing home. The relative gave a set of keys to their brother and to the son of an old family friend who is a man of the cloth. Both individuals are beyond reproach.

    If turned out that Barbados Light and Power had been heavily overcharging my relative in a house which was unoccupied. The bills were horrific. The clerk at BLP added that a meter had been installed in October. The owner did not receive any prior information of this.

    The BLP clerk stated that the high usage must have been due to someone using the property. She also asked if there was an outside power supply. Everything was secured in this property. It is a high end area with some well know black Bajans who reside in it.

    The BLP have questions to answer: why are they overcharging customers and installing meters without notifying their customers. This practise would not be allowed in the UK as it would be deemed to
    to fraudulent behaviour. By the way this relative was friendly with a sitting MP and her sister. If this matter is not sorted we will consider passing this story to a senior journalist who also knew this relative.

    I believe that this story is not an anamoly with this organisation. I would urge them to rectify this gross injustice with immediate effect.

    Like

  • @ TLSN

    This is the price you pay for having the so-called Social Partnership snoozing up in bed with the government, while leaving consumer protection outside peeping in.
    It is not in the interest of the Social Partnership to have stronger consumer protection; and it is not in the interest of the government (DLP or BLP) to marginalise the business community.
    Do you notice how the keyboard warriors become ever so defensive when you make any criticisms of Barbados, however legitimate? Reason goes out the window and they go on the attack. What you actually say becomes irrelevant – even when you are calling for greater consumer power..
    By the way, if my memory serves me right, sometime ago you asked a question about airline landing slots at airports and as far as I remember you have not yet got an answer. Is that correct?

    Like

  • @John A

    Too late, built my own several years ago, standing up in office with shelves until needed, ha, ha.

    Like

  • @Hal,

    The utility bills for water and telecommunications were consistent. They reflected the absolute minimum cost of having a monthly service provided by the utility company.

    So what had caused the bill to be so high? The American style fridge was on; as well as a couple of bedroom lights. Oh the telephone and the TV was plugged in. And that was it.

    The government should carry out an investigation into this. How was it possible for The Barbados Light and Power to have consistently manufactured “questionable” bills on a property that had remained unoccupied over such a long period.

    I would like to give the benefit of doubt to the BLP. However, I remain convinced that this is not an anamoly. I presume that in Barbados they have heard of an ombudsman? Or perhaps I am just being naive.

    Like

  • @TLSN

    Never underestimate the appalling ignorance of our political leaders. We now have a government, in which the president is a senior lawyer, which signed an agreement with White Oaks, under the laws of England and Wales, for advice on its external credit. There are also firms operating in Barbados under which agreements are under US law.
    If we cannot get the basics right when it comes to our contractual laws and state business, how then could they even care about the ordinary consumer, but apologists will come out and make excuses for this incompetence. There are some services that are too strategically important to be in private hands.
    By the way, sometime ago you asked about aircrafts landings. Any answers yet?

    Like

  • It continues to amaze how a retired senior journalist who worked for an elite UK newspaper always find a way to weave comments posted to support your theory of the “Bajan condition “. Here it is we have an anonymous commenter leveling an accusation at EMERA and per usual you seize the opportunity to connect it to White Oaks.

    #appallinglyignorantblogmaster

    Like

  • john A what a strange place to put condoms

    Like

  • @Lawson

    Well I don’t know about the condoms cause a muslin friend of mine told me, that all the talk about 72 virgins is misinterpreted and that in fact it is 1 virgin that is 72 years old! LOL

    Like

  • @TLSN April 1, 2020 7:16 AM

    Sorry to hear about your difficulty with the electric bill. Contrary to what Wily says I do keep a sharpish eye on my finances, I have to, because unlike Wily, sadly there are not millions in my portfolio.

    I paid my utility bills last night. The bills are about the same every month except when the “wuk-up” crew visits. Wuk-up crew being the children, nieces, nephews, and their friends who come to enjoy themselves at Crop Over.

    Water: $74.43
    Electricity: $75.94

    Like

  • @Wily Coyote March 30, 2020 5:21 PM “SillyWomen Please tell Willy what is the BWA URL where you can login and see your account and monthly bill and pay..”

    Please note that I never said that that the BWA has its own payment site. I said that water bills can be paid on line. Some people do it through their banks,some through SurePay Online.

    Like

  • Yes John I also have a Muslim friend but he is afraid that the72 year old virgin is male

    Like

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