Appropriation Bill 2021 – A Time to Discuss Money Matters of State

The Appropriation Bill 2021 will be debated in the House of Assembly starting Monday 15, 2021 at 10AM. It is one year since Covid 19 occupied the attention of countries on planet earth with the impact on Small Island Developing States (SIDs) obviously the most affected. There is no doubt the debilitating impact on the economic and social well being of earth dwellers has not been fully felt. The blogmaster has not forgotten that before the pandemic showed its head the economy of Barbados was precariously perched.

Read the Appropriation Bill 2021 designed to “provide for the grant of a sum of money [$1, 682,795,117] out of the Consolidated Fund and to appropriate the same for the service of Barbados for the Year ending 31st March, 2022.

117 comments

  • @ Donna March 13, 2021 8:02 AM
    I happen to KNOW that they are being worked on in some cases for sure and that pressure was applied by both BLP and DLP governments for years from as far back as Owen Arthur. And ministers are forever demanding some report or the other urgently.
    Unfortunately the accounts are so far behind that it would take ages to get them current without additional staff dedicated to the matter. What normally happens is that current staff is asked to address the backlog along with their current work. That makes the going slow. And really you cannot hold current workers accountable for work that should have been done before by somebody else who got paid for it.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Who is putting blame (solely) on the shoulders of the “Current Staff”?

    It is and has always been a top-management problem and reinforced by political irresponsibility which was deliberately exercised to achieve their partisan objectives of feeding from the pork barrel of largesse funded by the hapless taxpayers.

    We are sure you have heard about that oft refrain sang by the political head honchos when it comes to the award of government contracts: “Where is My Cut?”

    Even Donville the blabbering giant- who could not pay his bills from his minister’s salary was caught with his hand in the crooked cookie jar locked away in the big Cabinet- confirmed that getting one ministerial palms greased is par for the ministerial course in lilywhite Barbadoes.

    Let’s put aside the distant past of incompetence and corruption for a moment and yourself what is being done about the glaring financial infelicities which took place at the BWA and the TB (including other SOEs too numerous to mention) and highlighted in the recent AG’s reports with recommendations to bring legal prosecution against the ‘alleged’ wrongdoers.

    Even the chief accuser declared there was sufficient evidence stored in a red bag to bring a some redress to the financially-raped taxpayers.

    Maybe you have inadvertently hit upon the highly probable reasons why those long overdue financial reports cannot be completed in a true and fair, even if untimely, manner.

    Like

  • #déjàvu

    Payne queries Preconco’s involvement
    GOVERNMENT’S INTENTION to partner with 18 private sector companies in housing construction is being questioned by former Minister of Housing George Payne.
    The St Andrew MP, who was reshuffled out of Cabinet last July and replaced by Dr William Duguid, specifically queried the engagement of Preconco Limited and advised his successor that the ministry should be doing more to help small contractors.
    But Duguid and other senior officials in his ministry defended the joint venture arrangement and said the arrangement for Preconco to construct 275 homes in Chancery Lane, Christ Church, while given overall approval by Cabinet, was still being negotiated.
    Speaking during the Estimates Debate as the $75.7 million allocation for the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance was being considered, Payne said “the charge is sometimes made that whenever the Barbados Labour Party is in power that they are interested in big business”.
    He questioned why Preconco was being contracted and called for full disclosure on the deal.
    “It is not a criticism, but I am only saying that if these particular entities are to be allowed to carry out this type of work, well then we have to make sure that we follow the rules and that . . . the Auditor General does not have to come to the Public Accounts Committee in the next year or so for some explanation as to how these contracts were awarded,” he said.
    Protect
    “I am not condemning the minister for anything, because he hasn’t been there long enough, I am just cautioning.
    “You also speak to about 18 other builders who were interested in joint ventures and I am just trying to protect you. I just want to make sure that down the road nobody could point their finger and say that the Barbados Labour Party administration between 2018 and 2023 or whenever, and the Minister of Housing, was guilty of certain infractions.
    “I am just trying to protect you, no matter how excited you might be with respect to next year being the year of implementation. I think that this House has a right to know exactly what . . . the details of this transaction [are],” he said in comments directed at Duguid.
    Duguid told Payne he did not need his protection because “certainly the permanent secretary and the legal officers of the ministry and of the National Housing Corporation are very capable and very able and they would not allow any questionable activities to take place”.
    He said Government had provided work for small contractors building 15 houses at Todds, St George, and would be doing so elsewhere soon with another 15 homes.
    “Government cannot do everything, . . . and the only way that we can even make a dent in . . . the requests that come in for housing is partnering with the private sector. So we have made that decision through the tender and look for strategic partners mainly to do the construction of the houses,” Duguid said.
    Permanent Secretary Timothy Maynard said Preconco was one of 18 entities that tendered for housing projects and Cabinet approved all of them “for submission of joint venture arrangements with the ministry”.
    He said the Preconco initiative was agreed to under 239 of the Financial Rules in the interest of speed and helping Barbados’ “suffering” economy.
    “We have found that it is essential at this time to engage the confidence of the private sector in helping Government to obtain its objectives. With respect to the matter in relation to Preconco, National Housing is expected to engage with them in order to ensure that at least 275 houses are built. We are currently still in discussions with Preconco.” (SC)

    Source: Nation

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  • Atherley chides Labour Minister
    MINISTER OF LABOUR and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan found himself in the hot seat during yesterday’s Estimates debate, fielding burning questions from Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley.
    Several questions were asked of Jordan and his team about the operations of the ministry such as the flouting of labour laws by employers; the ability of the Labour Department to respond to conciliatory issues in industrial disputes and the operations of the Employment Rights Tribunal.
    In his opening remarks, Jordan gave a synopsis of the ministry’s operations and also zeroed in on specific programmes.
    But the Opposition Leader challenged Jordan and expressed his dissatisfaction with Jordan’s alleged “silence” on matters related to his Ministry.
    “I hold the view that the honourable gentleman is the most silent of all Labour Ministers that we ever had in this country, certainly in independent Barbados, and I don’t think he has been speaking enough and speaking substantively enough to the pertinent issues around the labour relations in Barbados,” Atherley charged.
    Union busting
    He cited employers’ efforts to prevent workers from joining trade unions, saying: “We have still got problems with union busting, especially with foreign-owned businesses, and some locally-owned that don’t want the people to become unionised.”
    He added: “We talk about collective bargaining agreements but how viable are they in a culture where it is permitted that companies, because of who they are or because of what they have or because of what they bring to the table, will stop employees from becoming part of a union or would want to bust up union activities.”
    The Opposition Leader also raised the question of “exploitation of the labour force . . . especially women”.
    “A lot of these things predate COVID and will still be with us after COVID if nothing of substance is done,” Atherley said.
    While Jordan did not say the practice of union busting was pervasive, he admitted to seeing evidence “of an attempt to reduce the effectiveness of workers’ organisations”.
    He said Government was working to strengthen labour legislation. (GC)

    Source: Nation

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  • We are in for a rough period, declining revenues, reducing taxbase and demand for more pay. All during a pandemic. Something will have to give.

    It’s not enough!
    Moore seeks more as Jordan proposes $8.50 minimum wage
    THE MINIMUM WAGE in Barbados should increase to $8.50 an hour – or $340 a week – by April 1, says Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan.
    But Government backbencher Toni Moore, who is general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, says that wage cannot adequately meet the survival needs of workers at the bottom of the ladder.
    The minimum wage issue was raised by Moore and Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley while Jordan and officials of his ministry were fielding questions from parliamentarians during yesterday’s Estimates Debate in the House of Assembly.
    The ministry has been allocated $7.2 million in the 2021-2022 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
    Feedback
    In replying to Atherley’s request for an update on the status of the minimum wage discussion, Jordan said the proposed Minimum Wage Order was being circulated for public feedback. He added that the minimum 40-day period required for circulation of the proposal would end in a few days, and the order would have to go through other processes before being finally approved by Cabinet, before going into effect from April 1.
    However, Moore told the House that the proposed amount was inadequate to sustain workers and not in keeping with advancement of the decent work programme as set out by the International Labour Organisation.
    “I want to find out what is the ministry’s specific plan to move that $8.50 proposed for a minimum wage towards what would align to a living wage, a wage that the average citizen should be able to get by on,” she told Jordan.
    The St George North MP also quizzed him on the ministry’s plan to boost the island’s social protection system, in view of the extent to which Government had to lend assistance to people found to have no national insurance coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Acknowledging Moore’s complaint, Jordan submitted: “At this point in our history we recognise that the existing minimum wage is much too low.” He said it was for too long “a poverty wage” that did not allow workers to provide adequately for themselves.
    ‘Step system’
    However, he said given the current economic situation, in making the increase Government had to be “very cognisant of the environment within which we find ourselves”.
    Jordan suggested that Government would most likely have proposed “a step system” to get to the desired minimum wage level, under normal circumstances. He explained the current figure represented the first step and there would be a review “in early 2022”.
    The Barbados Minimum Wage, Labour Law and Employment Data Sheet lists the minimum wage rate at $6.25 per hour for shop assistants. The minimum wage was last changed on March 1, 2012.

    Source: Nation

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  • Some years ago, on this forum, I suggested that legislation needed to be enacted to protect homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgages.

    Legislation to ensure that they would be protected from being turned out of their home. Further, that any settlement of the arrangement would wait until such time as a judge had a review of the case to ensure that the matter was settled fairly in the interest of all parties.

    While this is part of any humanitarian approach in a civilised society, it also ensures that the homeowner is able to receive full payment for their property based on fair market value, in all cases and that such property is properly advertised and auctioned, if a judge so decides, to ensure that such market value is achieved.

    The current conditions may see much more of these occurrences and I would venture to say that it is inhumane to recoup loans in this scenario, when it is logical that the pandemic is causing severe distress to many.

    Such legislation would have served to protect people now. Unfortunately, the then government did not act on any such suggestion and now people are bearing the result.

    But remember, negotiation and working with people can often yield more than cutting the ground from under them. Especially in difficult situations.

    These days are funny nights and it may not be advisable for a company to be making itself unpopular at this time.

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  • @ Crusoe

    All you need is a court order before eviction and court applications cannot start within six months of default.

    Like

  • Hal AustinMarch 17, 2021 8:16 AM

    You are right but it should be a policy initiative at first instance.

    Like

  • @ Crusoe

    You get policy when the voters demand them. But in this case you do not need new legislation. What you need is a competent financial regulator.
    For an educated society, our politics are very elementary. We must stop allowing the banks to get away with murder.

    Like

  • @Crusoe
    Some years ago, on this forum, I suggested that legislation needed to be enacted to protect homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgages
    +++++++++++++
    You is a boy I like but yuh talking sh.te

    The Gov’t should not be expected to protect everyone against every eventuality, we already have a nanny Gov’t and now you want the Gov’t to bail out some people who may over- extend them selves to get that “dream” home.
    The best thing that can be done is a required high school course that teaches a basic course financial literacy, financial planning and the ins and outs of making poor financial decisions. We would be on much better footing if people knew the risks of what they may be getting into and how to protect themselves.

    Next thing somebody will propose that Gov’t enact legislation to protect us from the next pandemic, when we only have to avoid drinking water 😊.

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  • Financial literacy has nothing to do with people who fall on hard times. The problem in Barbados is not financial literacy, although that is badly needed, but opportunities for income protection cover, so that if someone loses his or her job, for at least six months they will continue to receive an income equivalent to their monthly salaries.
    The intention is that within that time they should be able to get a job or make other arrangements. In the meantime, the financial regulator should restrict lenders from repossessing properties at the first sign of a default.
    I suggest they should only be allowed to do so after obtaining a court order. This is not being a nanny state, it is good government.
    By the way, during CoVid government should impose a mortgage and rent holiday. We do need financial literacy as part of a general curriculum; we also need a minister for the portfolio.
    As things stand, we do not even have a senior official at the Central Bank responsible for financial literacy, nor do our media think it is important enough to run a regular column on the subject.
    How about a BU financial literacy blog? We can start that today.

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  • @CrusoeMarch 17, 2021 8:13 AM

    Your proposal makes a lot of sense from the point of view of consumer protection.

    However, please bear in mind that the banks already had to suffer a lot as a result of the debt cut, while our population did not make any sacrifices for the national bankruptcy. The banks simply cannot bear a qualified moratorium. Furthermore, once the matter goes to court, it will take at least 20 years for the local sleepyheads to get a first-instance decision.

    At most, a simple moratorium until September is in line with the market. Anyone who cannot pay after that must move out. The beach is a wonderful place to live under the open sky and with palm trees. Instead of a supermarket, there is free love, sea air, bathing fun and coconut milk.

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  • Sir Courtney Blackman died in the USA at the age of 88.

    Condolences to his immediate family, relatives and friends.

    Should we discuss Sir Courtney tenure as Central Bank Governor and his contribution to economic policy?

    Like

  • @Artax

    Wasn’t Sir Courtney a creature of the minister like his predecessors and successors?

    Like

  • @ David

    Yes, but, he was the Central Bank’s FIRST Governor, which I believe is much more important than the politics involved, and he should be given some recognition.

    Why not focus on his contributions to the development of the Bank?

    Although some people are of the opinion, for example, the Governor General, Commissioner of Police, etc, are likewise ‘creatures of the government or minister,’ we still recognised the contributions of our first native GG and Police Commissioner and their contributions to the society.

    Like

  • I have heard of instances where banks sell foreclosed properties for way below fair market value as they are only interested in recovering their interest.

    Sometimes I hear about hook-ups.

    Crusoe is correct.

    Like

  • @Donna

    There is fair market value and then there is what the market is prepared to pay. The arithmetic suggests a financial institution will want to recover as much of the out of pocket as possible.

    Like

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