In 2015 when Canadian electric power house Emera huffed the Barbados Light & Power the blogmaster and others in the BU intelligentsia supported the view it was a short-sighted decision. The National Insurance Board under then chairmanship Tony Marshall decided to grab the 30 pieces of silver to bolster sagging international reserves.
It was an incorrect decision because by any rationale used the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) should have been labelled a strategic asset and ring fenced on behalf of future generations of Barbadians. BL&P is the sole electricity provider in Barbados therefore guaranteed profitability as a natural monopoly. Why would we sell a company responsible for the generation and distribution of energy which is a key input to the cost of living?
Since the sale to Emera Caribbean Barbadians have been experiencing a deteriorating level of service. Last month the ‘local’ power company applied to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) for a 11.9% increase in rate, citing rise in the cost that included the construction of the renewable energy plant in St. Lucy. To be fair to the ‘local’ power company the rate request comes after a 11 year interval. That said, it comes at the worse of times given prevailing economic conditions in the country. This is the main reason the sole electricity company should not have been handed controlling interest to Emera where creating a ROI is an intractable edict. As we transform from fossil generated energy to a mixed model to include renewables there is an opportunity to ensure Barbadians regain control of a guaranteed revenue flow. We will see if this is a case of locals learning from past missteps.
November 1, 2021 the Barbados government appointed Jens Thraenhard – a foreigner – as CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI). Before the blogmaster is accused of being xenophobic or jingoistic in outlook, try to understand the perspective.
Tourism is the main driver of the majority of economies in the Caribbean, some like Barbados more dependent on the sector than recommended. Notwithstanding the risk of managing a ‘one leg’ economy, it is a business we should know well, or so the blogmaster thought.
The newly appointed CEO of the BTMI from all reports is qualified for the job whatever that means – why not recruit him as another consultant? In the same way there is merit to having a local person in the role as head of state for the imagery it will project to locals and how it should positively translate to the psyche of Barbadians, is the same not true for the head of key tourism agencies? We do not have to follow established positions that Barbadians are employed overseas or the best man or woman must be recruited for the job and all the other rote positions. As a sovereign nation we have the autonomy to designate key jobs in Barbados as strategic positions to be done by locals only.
Billions sunk in education since 1966 and a fit and proper local cannot be found for the job of CEO of the BTMI with the acumen to assemble a qualified team to market Barbados as one of the iconic destinations on the planet? Why boast of our level of education if it cannot create a competitive advantage how we manage our affairs. Do we have to follow the script all the time?