Open Letter to Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn

Submitted by Kemar J.D Stuart, Economist and Director Business Development , Finance and Investment Stuart & Perkins Caribbean

Dear Mr Straughn ,

This letter is an issuance of grave concern with the government of Barbados & the IDB Loan seeking to borrow $200 M and the heightened perception of corruption and unethical practices within government.

Taken from the executive summary of transparency international “This year’s corruption perception index paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. The pandemic is not just a health crises or economic crises but a corruption crises with countless lives loss due to government corruption undermining a fair and equitable response to issues of the day”

A letter to the editor of the Nation newspaper featured on December 7th 2022, submitted by myself Kemar Stuart raised alarm to some sections of a letter to the acting IDB President signed by yourself as minister in the ministry of finance.

Component 4 of the letter to the acting IDB President said that the loan is for economic and fiscal strengthening for post pandemic .The blatant red flag in component 4 of your letter is the use of reason for borrowing this loan which are recommendations from a progress report of the measures prioritized by the jobs and investment council. Investigations into the missing report revealed that at no point in time did this jobs and investment council report or publish their findings and recommendations to the public via consultation / town hall or press conference, written media or else.

The Job and Investment Council met in April 2020 and according to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, the members were expected to report back to the Government within two to four weeks. Some developments changed the operations of these committees or working groups. Since being established 2 years ago , former PM Owen Arthur has died and Former Finance Minister Chris Sinckler has been working abroad

Please don’t allow the announcement of VAT free day distract as these circumstances create a non-transparent environment , therefore allegations of unethical practices and heightened perceptions of corruption in government herein that the minister may have falsified a letter to the IDB in claiming the use of recommendations from the jobs and investment committee as a reason for borrowing a loan, the non-functionality of this committee is hereby in question and raises a challenge with queries on if the committee did in fact made the recommendations to borrow 200M from IDB as contained in the letter.

In a bid for transparency Minister Straughn you were asked to publish this progress report mentioned in your letter as the reason for committing Barbados to an additional 200 Million in debt, the publication should include all members and their compensation. The absent report would clear up any allegations of wrongdoing against the minister’s name

Minister Straughn addressed the public twice since the alarms had been raised surrounding the scenario at hand, both in parliament and press conference; however no public response was issued by Straughn nor the publication of the report was made public.

Analysis from transparency international shows corruption not only undermines a global response to the pandemic but contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy. Over to you Mr Darwin Dottin the newly appointed head of Barbados’ anti corruption unit.

With Regards

Kemar J.D Stuart

48 thoughts on “Open Letter to Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn

  1. Check your facts and revert back
    I cannot see Corruption in current leadership
    just hearsay and tittle tattle and tentative links
    Thank God they are not the worst like Trump
    going back to the selfish herd theory abstract..

    Escape-route strategies

    The selfish herd theory may also be applied to the group escape of prey in which the safest position, relative to predation risk, is not the central position, but rather the front of the herd. The theory may be useful in explaining the escape strategy chosen by a herd leader. Members at the back of the herd have the greatest domain of danger and suffer the highest predation risk. These slow members must choose whether to stay in the herd, and thus be the most likely targets, or whether to desert the herd, and signal their vulnerability. The latter may entice the pursuit of the predator to this sole individual. In light of this, the decision of the escape route by the front members of the herd may be greatly affected by actions of the slowest members. If the leader chooses an escape strategy that promotes the dispersal of the slowest member of the herd, he may endanger himself—causing dissipation of his protective buffer. Five types of herd leadership have been proposed based on the decisions of the leader:

    ● Seemingly cooperative leadership: route chosen by the leader happens to be beneficial to the entire herd
    ● Openly selfish leadership: route chosen by the leader minimizes their predation risk, but does not minimize the total predation risk of the herd
    ● Seemingly altruistic leadership: route chosen by the leader may be favorable to the majority of the herd, but may be difficult for the fastest members
    ● Seemingly populist leadership: route chosen by the leader is easier for the slowest members to follow, but may be harder for other members
    ● Apparently spiteful leadership: route chosen by the leader is difficult for all to follow, but is nearly impossible for the slowest members to follow

    Although some types of escape are seemingly altruistic, they promote the stability of the herd, and thus decrease the predation risk of the leader. This choice is often affected by the terrain of the area.

  2. The loan is from the IDB. After the MoE testing fiasco, which was IDB led, the investigate report on this seems to have received an early burial, without a funeral.
    Despite all the loans, several come with strings (rope?) on what they may be used for.
    The GoB, is back to experiencing a cash flow crunch. (Not sure it was ever out of this)
    The former admin of GoB opted to ‘grab cash’ by not paying it’s bills, and those of SoE’s, by redirecting NIS contributions from its own employees, not issuing BRA refunds, nor honouring past commitments, like compulsory acquired land.
    This administration made a sizeable dent, but we’re unable to fully complete this repayment exercise. Hence, the J Bond?
    So we might expect this ‘general loan’ will help with cash flow? A ‘favour’ after the testing debacle?
    Once one continues to spend more than one collects, the shortfall must be funded, or recipients will get IOUs versus cash.
    Transparency and accountability continues to concern.
    The good news is the NIS isn’t the debt mule. There are still plenty of local bond issues which may be comprised in a default, but the loan portfolio is decidedly more “bi lateral”.

  3. “We hear all the critiques, missing are real solutions- if there are any- to the economic mess we find ourselves.”

    Bajans like to think they are punching above their weight
    but are more likely to be overweight and can’t even punch
    they should invest more in their body mind and spiritual health
    instead of worrying and panicking about their money or lack of thereof according to which side of wealth inequality fence they are on
    the rich side or the poor side

  4. Twenty-one precious artefacts that were looted by British soldiers from the former west African kingdom of Benin 125 years ago have been handed over by Germany to Nigeria amid laughter, tears, and some audible frustration with the ongoing silence of the country that first stole them.
    Bushman – Robbery Aggravation

  5. What is a “real solution”?
    They are finding loans. This means they don’t have to drastically cut expenses. Money buys time? And hope springs eternal.
    Elsewhere Prof Howard voiced his concern the IMF isn’t being fully transparent and consequently, maybe too optimistic.
    Barbados under Mia has proved a formidable foe? She, whether guided by my ‘main man’😀 or not, has forced their hand. The IMF is a VERY political entity. Hence, they will be very hands off, at least publicly. Mia is dangerous, because her tact is to argue on behalf of many.
    As long as the IMF can collect more than their costs, their benefactors (global governments) will be quiet. If that changes, defaults grow, then the rubber hits the road.

  6. They are only 2 solutions really. One is to cut back on government spending and the other is to increase the efficiency of government’s collection agencies like BRA and Customs.

    Running up more debt by borrowing is not a solution. It is simply an easy way to patch a wound that is politically friendly thats all. Until we tackle one of the only 2 above SOLUTIONS we will remain brek and unable to pay tax returns it seems as stated by minister Straughn.

  7. I wonder if Mr Strughn stopped to think before making that statement that a large majority of those owed may also be severly cash strapped as well?

  8. @ David

    When your interest and transfers and subsidies is greater than your goods and services and wages that should send you a warning.

  9. @ David

    That is why the IMF will insist the government must be shrunk and effeciency improved. Right now our interest cost AFTER the dept restructuring, is in the area of 20% of the cost of government. That is unsustainable and we all know it, yet no one will address it.

    I guess its bad politics to do so.

    • @John A

      Expect to see a more aggressive approach to rationalizing SOEs and pension reform in the early part of this government’s term.

  10. @JohnA
    The relevant statistic is debt related costs, service + repayment, as it relates to REVENUE.
    The CBB loves ‘Primary Balance’, which is the surplus/deficit while ignoring debt related costs.
    If your revenue is double your expenses, debt service can be 40% of your costs?
    Also the debt default of ’18, delayed many debt service payments such that they didn’t start until Sept’22. The “hiatus”.
    “The UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) warned in a report published on October 3 that a significant number of both low- and middle-income countries have seen their debt servicing costs rise well above 20% of annual government revenues”
    The CBB reported a Primary Balance surplus of $367M. That is what annual debt costs can total to achieve balance. The debt interest costs are $245M. What are the total DEBT costs?

    • Govt seeking $200m more
      by SHAWN CUMBERBATCH shawncumberbatch
      GOVERNMENT IS SEEKING to borrow another $200 million from the World Bank.
      The Green and Resilient Recovery Development Policy Loan, which is expected to be considered by the international financial institution’s board of executive directors on January 10, follows the recent approval of a combined $804 million in financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Inter-American Development Bank.
      Last year Barbados received a $200 million loan to “support the country’s COVID-19 relief efforts and promote a resilient economic recovery from the crisis”, and this needed the World Bank to issue a waiver of its graduation policy.
      The same action will be required again this time with Barbados’ income status keeping it on the World Bank financing graduation list since 1994.
      Cary Anne Cadman, the World Bank Group’s blue economy coordinator for the Caribbean, said in a new appraisal of the programme that “given the lingering impact of the pandemic, compounded by multiple external shocks, including natural disasters, [Government] has now requested a stand-alone green and resilient development policy loan . . . focused on scaling up resilient recovery efforts with a dedicated focus on climate adaptation and mitigation; promoting low carbon economic development; and strengthening climate and disaster resilience.
      “The operation is closely aligned with the bank’s climate change policy commitments and functions to strengthen Barbados’ overall resilience to climate, health and economic shocks. The operation
      is also designed to support Government’s efforts to tackle poverty exacerbated by the multiple system shocks and crises, and promote shared prosperity and inclusion during and following the recovery process,” she outlined.
      Two pillars
      Cadman added that development policy loan programme was “comprised of two pillars emphasising Government’s priority of ensuring resilient recovery”.
      The first one was green and blue resilient recovery with policy areas, including supporting climate-resilient water resources management, groundwater protection and climate smart agriculture; advancing marine pollution control for environmental and tourism resilience; and supporting improved environmental conservation, and climate change management and finance.
      The second pillar – low carbon and resilient infrastructure – included supporting comprehensive disaster risk management; low carbon transition with scalingup of renewable energy; and the introduction of climate budget tagging.
      The proposed World Bank loan programme will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment. Cadman said this included “collecting and monitoring information related to programme implementation and progress toward the achievement of results, [and] coordinating with all other ministries and agencies involved in the reform programme supported by this development policy loan”.
      In its new Barbados country report, the IMF said the new World Bank loan would “complement structural reform measures” under the External Fund Facility/ Resilience Sustainability Facility (RSF) through
      which Barbados is borrowing $604 million from the Fund.
      The IMF said measures to be funded by $378 million in RSF loans were identified “in close coordination with the World Bank and other international partners”.
      “The arrangement under the RSF will provide financing to support the country’s climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, and support Barbados’ ambitious goal of transitioning to a fully renewable-based economy by 2030,” it explained.
      “Reforms under the RSF include the mainstreaming of climate change in the budget, the introduction of ‘green public financial management’, including in procurement, and measures that would incentivise private sector investments in climate-resilient infrastructure and into renewable energy projects.”

      Source: Nation

  11. Is the emphasis by media, politicians and business leaders worldwide on a supposedly rapidly mounting “climate crisis” forcing us to change ASAP from fossil fuels to renewable energy only a smokescreen for a cover up of a deeper, underlying, economic problem with no easy solutions?

    The economy is moving from a tailwind pushing it along to a headwind holding it back

    By Gail Tverberg, a retired U.S. insurance industry actuary.

    The problem is hitting limits in the extraction of fossil fuels

    We know that historically, many economies around the world have collapsed. We also know that there is a physics reason why this happens. Growing economies require a growing supply of energy to keep up with a growing population. At some point, the energy supply and other resource needs cannot grow rapidly enough to keep up with population growth. When this happens, economies tend to collapse.

    In their book Secular Cycles, researchers Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov found that economies tend go through four distinct phases in each cycle, with each stage lasting for quite a few years:


    Based on my own analysis, the world economy was in the Growth Stage for much of the time between the Industrial Revolution and 1973. In late 1973, oil prices spiked, and the world was put on notice that the energy supply could not continue rising as rapidly as in the past. Between 1973 and 2018, the world economy was in the Stagflation Stage. Based on current data, the world economy seems to have entered the Crisis Stage about 2018. This is the reason for saying that headwinds are beginning to hold the economy back in the title of this article .

    When the Crisis Stage occurs, there are fewer goods and services per capita to go around, so some participants in the world economy must come out behind. Conflict of all kinds becomes more likely. Political leaders, if they happen to discover the predicament the world economy is in, have little interest in making the predicament known to voters, since doing so would likely lead them to lose the next election.

    Instead, the way the physics-based self-organizing economic system works is that alternative narratives that frame the situation in a less frightening way gain popularity. Political leaders may not even be aware of how dependent today’s economy is on fossil fuels. Researchers may not be aware that their “scientific” models are misleading because they look at too small a portion of the overall system and make unwarranted assumptions.

    In this post, I show evidence that the economy is reaching energy limits.

  12. Financial articles make people go glassy eyed and lose interest like when people are speaking in a different language


  13. The problem with an interest expense at 20% of total operating expenses is that it is only interest. It does not include the payment of principal. Our problem is one of cash flow. In that our expenses leave us where we have no room to operate without heavy borrowing. As I said this is unsustainable unless we plan to pay off loan A by borrowing and using loan B to do so, hence having a ponzi scheme as opposed to an economy. Also remember with the debt restructuring a large portion of debt was pushed down the road and cashflow will be required to service that as well.

    All this has resulted in the cash crunch the minister spoke of.

    • @John A

      The better discussion we need to have nationally is the strategy for sustainable growth. NO doesn’t like that S word but it must be the focus of the country for BOTH PUBLIC and PRIVATE sectors.

    • David: it is not about like, for what is sustainable for you may not be for me.
      What was manageable at a 3.5% interest rate, may not be at 8%. Just ask variable rate mortgage holders in NA.
      This 60% Debt:GDP target number which gets bandied about, is a joke.
      So the S word should be banned, it is all relative

  14. Barbados had a poor credit rating and couldn’t borrow money
    To improve credit rating you borrow more and maintain payment
    building up credit rating gives you access to cheaper credit

  15. @DAVID

    Patiently waiting for the day when you wake up and discover BARBADOS is a “TURD” World Country run by a bunch of UN-intelligent African descendants with “HIGH” GIVE ME educations.

    Country has Champagne tastes and Mauby pockets, except for numerous politicians on the TAKE.

  16. When Grenville departs from his usual track he delivers some hard hitting commentary. His ending of ‘Reparations” in e BT’s epaper is a refreshing read.
    Grenville 👍
    Merry Christmas

    • In BT “Tow Tests against Zimbabwe In February”.
      Perhaps they meant
      or they meant to write “Another losing Series of Tests against Zimbabwe in February” and we got the typo “Tow”
      Hey! Commenters on BU can make obvious typos, a newspaper should not.
      I give up

  17. 4 articles on cricket on BT …
    This is Christmas and BT is being cruel.
    I read none of them.
    I would like to believe it is 4 big typos…..
    I was about to make a few points, but this cricket thing drove me off the road.
    Talk about a downer..

    And one guy talking about “Smart road save lives”… We already have smart roads… those potholes are there to tell the idiots to slow down. We need smart drivers. I smell a scam in the making.

    Have a great day folks. I cannot tek no mo.

  18. Theo…dont mind any of them with their fakeness and misleading lies, trouble enuff coming their way. IDB done tell them already.

    “IDB warns Caribvean to prepare for higher prices, fuel prices in 2023”

    They better listen to their IDB masters and try to figure out a way forward or not, cause not a fella int showing them or telling them nutten ever again. Evabody looking out for themselves and individual family units as they should at this unstable time. The days of sharing lifesaving and future changing information are over. Done..No more squandering other people’s intent.

    Dem pon dem own.

    Dem so screwed.

  19. @DAVID

    “Have you thought to send evidence of politicians ‘on the take’ to the blogmaster”

    EYES WIDE SHUT, cut the BS, your well aware just as well as JOE BLOW is. You talk a good line, however the BAJAN is fully ingrained, TALK IS CHEAP, ACTION REQUIRES AN INTELLIGENT INITIATIVE, A PLAN and completion with follow thorough.

    The corruption runs rampant throughout all aspects of the government and SOE’s.

    Latest is Government cannot pay Income Tax Refunds as they are short of funds which were spent on ASH CLEANUP, GIVE ME A BREAK from this BS.

    • Growth must be the priority
      Today as we approach Christmas Day, it is usual to give thanks to the Almighty for sparing our lives and allowing us to see another day. The commercialisation of the season has reached such a stage that without some new item, even a coat of paint, the sense of the occasion is lost.
      Fortunately, or unfortunately there are signs of a subtle politicisation that probably will soon become an entitlement in years to come. Barbados does not officially have a Black Friday but will no doubt have a VAT-free Wednesday every December henceforth as Government tries to find a feel-good moment for Barbadians.
      The difference with Black Friday is that retail goods are heavily discounted by the business sector in order to get rid of stock to make way for the fall and winter merchandise. In Barbados, Government is getting into the act by ostensibly giving up revenue it desperately needs by way of VAT to “stimulate” consumption of mainly foreign-exchanged purchased goods.
      However well intentioned, it is perhaps not an ideal way to stimulate business activity for one day. Why not just reduce the
      imposition of VAT across the board? If consumption is VAT-elastic, there would be an increase in consumption and a consequential increase in VAT revenues.
      It must therefore have been a surprise to Barbadians who were hoping to receive their income tax refunds before Christmas that they will have to wait a little bit longer. Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn admitted on Monday that while some refunds had been paid, Government was strapped for cash and was not in a position to pay all the outstanding refunds at this time.
      If Government is strapped for cash, then the vast majority of its citizens are in a similar position. As always, some will be doing much better than others as we are seeing that major banks and other large businesses are doing very well even during the COVID-19 pandemic; but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture.
      Government has to reduce its expenditure but will only do so if it is forced to do so. As long as it maintains the illusion that it is getting loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) at concessionary rates, it is going to defer making tough decisions for as long as possible.
      To get a good guide about the economic difficulties facing a large segment
      of our population, one only has to look at the number of people needing hampers and other assistance and the demands made on the Salvation Army and other charities and non-governmental organizations. This is somewhat dehumanising.
      Straughn explained that Government had expended a significant amount of its resources in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and in recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Elsa and the ash fall. It is often forgotten that Government resources are taxes.
      Although it is Christmas, the needs of the people are amplified because everybody wants to celebrate. The material aspect has now reached epidemic proportions as everyone expects a gift or donation of some sort around this time.
      This defeats the very essence of the season: that of rejoicing. We buy more than we could possibly consume – or afford – and the lure of advertising is intense at this time. It is no wonder that many people are under stress during this period.
      All the celebrations and spending will be in vain unless there is growth in the economy and the opportunity for wider economic participation is expanded. Nonetheless, we hope everyone has an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas.

      Nation Editorial

    • WoW!

      Symmonds to enlist skills of consular corps
      Government is seeking to enlist the support of the consular corps in Barbados to strengthen its international commercial diplomacy efforts.
      Minister of Foreign Affairs Kerrie Symmonds told honorary consuls that Government recognised there was a “diasporic aspect” of their work which needs to be strengthened and repurposed” and announced Government would be doing “extensive work with them next year in this regard.
      In an address at the corps’ annual Christmas mingle at Southern Palms Hotel recently, Symmonds announced: “Part of what we will engage you on in January and into February next year, is the way in which we can better utilise your skills, but also connect you with the Barbadian diaspora across the world with a view to strengthening the development trajectory of the country.
      “We have to be in a position where we increase the investment in Barbados from $975 million on average to become in the vicinity of $2 billion and we need to do so in the shortest possible time. You guys are our bridge to the rest of the world.”
      Symmonds also told the
      representatives for several countries they would be “called upon to be Barbados’ face as we reach out across Europe and other places where we are going to have to build the type of partnerships that allow us to get the fundamentals here in place, to make sure that green technology revolution is completed”.
      He disclosed that Barbados’ first wind farm, with a one-megawatt capacity, will be opened in Guinea, St John, thereby advancing the country’s progress in the area of renewable energy.
      Successful meeting
      Symmonds also shared Government’s plans for development and expansion of the agricultural sector, outlining a project slated for a 2 000-square-metre area of Roraima, Guyana where “a variety of foods” will be grown and exported to Barbados “to begin the process of seriously diversifying the economic base of this country via diversification of the agricultural sector.”
      “We have also just come out of a very successful meeting with the Government of Cuba where we have come to an agreement, much of which you will see us doing next year along the lines of producing prawns and shrimp.”
      He also spoke about “the creation of a honey exchange in Barbados where we will seek to supply not only this region but the rest of the world with honey in association and in partnership with the Government of Cuba”. ( GC)

      Source: Nation

  20. There is a Bajan perception of corruption which clouds the conversation about the nation. But, when asked to name and shame them they go quiet proving the talk and insinuation was empty.

  21. “EYES WIDE SHUT, cut the BS, your well aware just as well as JOE BLOW is. You talk a good line, however the BAJAN is fully ingrained, TALK IS CHEAP, ACTION REQUIRES AN INTELLIGENT INITIATIVE, A PLAN and completion with follow thorough.”

    The very reason no more information is forthcoming, talk is cheap, whisky is expensive.

    Information goes where it does the most good, in very capable hands with super intelligent minds that can generate positive results/ real action, which are best achieved out of the limelight and glare of social media. Which i noticed my friends have completely taken over, rendering most sites, completely useless and inoperable for what is actually needed.

  22. Ya should have been true to yaself and ancestry instead of bending yaself in half and working overtime to keep ya own people trapped in a racist slavery status quo that robs them of everything generationally.

    Exactly how did you expect all of this would end. Afrikan minded people are not interested in slave hood, subservience and as generational victims to a criminal system.. We know who we are and where we came from.

    Too bad for those who dont but am quite sure that Hiel HitSchwab and Lord god Rothschild will be more than happy to show them. Those types can be trusted to do exactly what they say.

  23. I stopped believing any numbers that I see posted by GoRoB

    “Symmonds also shared Government’s plans for development and expansion of the agricultural sector, outlining a project slated for a 2 000-square-metre area of Roraima, Guyana where “a variety of foods” will be grown and exported to Barbados “to begin the process of seriously diversifying the economic base of this country via diversification of the agricultural sector.”

    2000 square meters =21527.82 square feet =0.0007722043 square miles.
    (I checked and rechecked)
    21527.82 square feet is like 100 houses each 2,000 square feet.

    Let’s hope that is a typo and not some Guyanese ripping off the smartest men in the world.

  24. Leaving now….

    WI cricket
    Hopefully, those who will say a prayer for the men’s team say a second prayer for the women’s team. It wouldn’t hurt to use the service of an obeah man as well. I know a good one and can sell you the chickens.

  25. “Let’s hope that is a typo and not some Guyanese ripping off the smartest men in the world.”
    No such worry…
    Symmonds is FAR removed from that status.

  26. @African Online Publishing Copyright(c) 2022.

    “The very reason no more information is forthcoming, talk is cheap, whisky is expensive.”

    Talk is indeed cheap, “GOOD” whiskey is expensive, Mount Gay Rum is NOW expensive(price doubled in last few years) but is not the same XO(aged)Blend, but now contains mostly immature aged rum made from Jamaican molasses. Another example of Barbados batting above its weight. Well the International Rum World has taken NOTICE of this attempted slight of hand to improve the bottom line and are now not stocking the Mount Gay product line like they did 10 years ago. Internationally you see a NEW PLANTATION BRAND showing up representing the Caribbean, bottled in various Caricom states, priced as a premium product and in numerous cases the country of origin is not stated.


    Now as to “reason no more information is forthcoming”

    The intelligentsia realize that as long as Barbados overseers(Politicians) are not serious about legislating and enforcing an INTEGRITY Legislation then all that’s warranted is CHEAP TALK.

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