First it was the Barbados National Bank (BNB).
Followed by Nation Corporation to T&T owned Caribbean Communications Network (CCN).
Then Barbados Shipping & Trading (BS&T).
Not to forget the take over of Light & Power by EMERA.
And on the weekend there was the report Collins after 134 years in local hands sold out to yet another Trinidadian concern.
In recent years several local companies were sold to non Barbadian interest, however, these five listed resonate.
If Barbados is to develop empowerment through access to financing must be integral to the process. Maintaining an influential ownership interest in the commercial banking sector should have been a no-brainer for any government. When majority ownership was acquired by Republic Bank in 2003 of BNB the local commercial banking sector became 100% foreign controlled. How can a country with a legacy of chattel slavery not see the lack of a significant presence in the banking sector as a form of modern day slavery by ceding to non Barbadian interest?
The transaction that ‘galls’ the blogmaster the most is the sale of the Nation newspaper, founded by leading lights from the Black community, men like the late Harold Hoyte, Al Gilkes, Fred Gollop et al. An observation by a local historian best sums it up:
“A valued and distinguished institution now stands like a colossus astride our information landscape.” Professor Hilary Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. (Nation Newspaper, November 23, 1994)”
We sold Nation publishing in 2006 to another T&T concern although it was described as a merger. It was with that announcement the blogmaster , although an eternal optimist, knew the fight to ring-fence the real Barbados identity was under threat.
BS&T at the time of sale to T&T conglomerate Neal & Massy in 2007 was the largest conglomerate in the country- pregnant with undervalued assets. Not a dissimilar situation to when Plantations Holdings sold out to CLICO in the 90s, immediately with the sale swaths of land switched to non Barbadian ownership. Why so called Barbadians without compunction sold our finite hills and fields to satisfy the highest bidder is mainly the reason we find ourselves in the current sorry state. Our largest private conglomerate ‘huffed’ in the name of good because local leadership fell asleep at the wheel.
Many blogs can be retrieved from the BU Archives describing how Light & Power – a national strategic asset – got to be controlled by Canadian EMERA. It was interesting to learn last month Dominica regained control (52%) of Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC) from EMERA. The move is intended to allow the Dominica government to aggressively pursue a renewable energy strategy, in particular geothermal. The blogmaster is not unkind to saying customer service level from the EMERA owned company has declined to Barbadians since changing hands.
Finally the sale of 134 year old Collins Ltd should also hurt self respecting Barbadians deeply. These days many will dismiss the sale as a routine commercial transaction between buyer and seller. Shouldn’t it be seen as a lot more to educated Barbadians? Should the sensibilities of Barbadians be aroused to the sale of our best ASSets; companies to non Barbadian interest? Do you mean we have invested billions in education post independence to produce a class people for them to lack the perspicacity to be able to retain ownership and efficiently manage our best companies? It begs the question, what is the point? Educate our people to be a subservient class?
Is it too much to hope that award winning Four Square Distillery will not be the next local company placed on the selling block?
Piss in the blogmaster’s pocket do!