It is the start of the hurricane and there has been the usual awareness talk to remind Barbadians to install roof straps, ensure adequate insurance coverage, know where hurricane shelters are located etc.
It was last year a freak storm with the name Elsa wreak havoc on the housing stock in Barbados. The destructions caused the then Minister of Housing William Duguid to order hundreds of steel framed houses from China at a declared cost of 28 million dollars. It is not surprising that one year later only a handful of the houses have been assembled. A national disgrace with nobody held to account by Prime Minister Mottley. We remain ignorant about the role of EWBSB in the procurement of the steel houses. No wonder successive governments have made it a priority to hoodwink the electorate on the enactment of transparency legislation in the form of integrity and freedom of information laws.
I noticed the decline about one year ago. I first had difficulty remembering things that I had routinely needed to recall every month – then every week – then every day. Fortunately, I was functional because while I could not recall the information, I still knew where to find it.
I was not ready for dementia. I tried to determine what I had done wrong to bring it on. Was it the effort of doing a Doctorate in Structural Engineering that permanently exhausted my brain? Was it how I slept that put too much pressure on my brain? Researching the subject did not help – so I accepted my fate and prepared to retire after my contracts were completed.
On 15 December 2022, I read a US Consumer Report article on the high levels of cadmium and lead in dark chocolate . For years I had been habitually eating dark chocolate every night before I went to bed. The cadmium level in the brand that I ate was safe, but the lead level was about 1.7 times the maximum allowed in California.
The launch of Sagicor Bank has been generating interest in the Bajan social media space. Besides the fact that it manages business electronically; a win for GenX and GenY, it has been paying significantly more interest for deposits than its more established counterparts.
Barbadians in recent years have been starved of a decent rate of interest on savings after the government through its agent the Central Bank of Barbados connived to eliminate the minimum savings interest rate requirement. Some suggest it was a not too obvious tactic by the government to attract borrowing through the popular short term government paper savings bonds
The graph of a simple interest rate calculation on three deposit amounts using three different interest rates based on what Sagicor Bank is offering illustrates the ‘tidy’ sums depositors will now benefit. It is better than its counterparts BUT a more sober blogmaster is aware the bank must be offering higher rates because it need to grow deposits to a level before it joins its competitors to lend for the usual consumer items. In other words, it is not offering higher interest rates out of kindness for Bajans. At some point interest rates will settle to what is being offered in the market.
Between 2013 and 2018 the accusation was correctly leveled at the then government that they were not doing enough, not saying enough, not taking decisive action. We felt the impact and the results of the 2018 election sent the message loud and clear.
Fast forward to 2023, with two 30-0’s behind us and what do we have?
Apparently a “walk back” and “kite flying” government instead. Take a moment to look at some of the “bold policies” that had to be put on pause, “walked back” or caused confusion.
1. Breathalyser Test (still outstanding) 2. Child Protection Act (More input now needed according to the Minister) 3. Two Deputy Commissioners of police (law had to be changed) 4. Education reform (nobody knows!) 5. National Republic Day (the people spoke) 6. Integrity Legislation (where is it?) 7. Speightstown traffic changes (common sense prevailed) 8. Public Service Contracts (we now have a Hollywood civil service) 9. Covd-era restrictions
The Child Care Board Act (CAP 381) was intended to be very limited in scope to care for children who clearly needed help. Anyone with common sense could identify such children. Two problems became apparent. The first is the recent poor management in implementing the Act. The second is the abuses of this digital age that the act did not foresee.
The Solutions are obvious. First, manage the implementation in accordance with international standards like the ISO 9001. The second is to amend to act to include the observed abuses of this age. This solution was rejected in favour of abolishing the Child Care Board Act and replacing it with a new Child Protection Act – which is currently in Bill form.
One of many concerns Barbados Underground has been championing through the years is the rate of depletion of NIS funds. Quoting former Minister David Estwick who addressed the matter last week, “the operating balance at the NIS becomes negative by 2028, six years from now…and the NIS funds would be depleted in 12 years. Compounding the problem is a matter of poor compliance”. Do we have the capacity to run with the message for the purpose of engaging in constructive debate?
There are not many other ways one can continue to express concern about the management of the NIS by the Barbados and Democratic Labour parties through the years. Although Prime Minister Mottley has given the assurance the NIS is nowhere near to a crisis situation, the reality of the numbers tells a different story for the independent minded.
The country awaits the outcome from a recent national consultation on the NIS when it is anticipated significant changes will have to be implemented. As it stands our NIS contribution is one of the highest in the region with age eligible for full pension benefit being 67. The fact we are labelled an ageing population with restricted opportunity to expand the pool of contributions has opened the door for managed immigration.
While this blog highlights the NIS fund, the burgeoning pension liability of government for the public service, both central government and SOEs adds to the problems a future generation will have to wrestle.
Barbadians have jumped on the bandwagon and have become addicted to the latest flavour of gossip news. In the meantime…
The following article posted in the Nation newspaper on May 25, 2023 with the title Retirement crisis looming, says former Minister is recommended reading.
In the name of transparency, integrity & accountability Minister Ryan Straughn should account to the public by answering the question as to where is the public register of all government issued contracts over $1M as mandated by the BERT since December 2021?
To quote from transparency international “Covid-19 was not only a health crisis but a corruption crisis”. I am calling for a full audit of the government of Barbados’ covid-19 expenses.
The issuing of government contracts to respective business players comes under the microscope and luckily the IMF in it’s Article IV consultation & Memorandum of Understanding of Economic & Financial Policies with Barbados, displayed vision in asking the Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn to table a Public procurement Act 2021 in order for crisis related expenditure to be tracked and traced.
The minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn explained that the new legislation was necessary as it was mandated by the BERT austerity programme. BERT was amended In May 2021 and a new line item was supposed to be listed in the 2021/22 budget which required all COVID-19 related government issued contracts in excess of $1M BDS be reported to the Barbadian parliament
According to the agreed IMF MOU of Economic & Financial Policies both the contract and the names of successful bidders of government contracts along with a public register of all government contractors were to be made available in the Barbados corporate registry by the end of 2021.
Today’s Nation newspaper editorial with the title Matters lawyers must address attacks some of the many issues Barbadians have been complaining about for many years. However, a point made in the editorial that “…the immediate answer to the existing problems by the Bar Association and the Law Reform Commission is to reform the Legal Profession Act.” This is incorrect, such a view gives lawmakers a pass.
In a Barbados Underground post on May 11 with the title ‘Johnny Cheltenham Files Injunction Against Disciplinary Committee, Barbadians continue to witness a senior judicial officer in the name of Johnny Cheltenham able to exhaust legal options to the chagrin of the Claimant. To the credit of Claimant Everton Cumberbatch, he has been persistent in his claim that Sir Richard Cheltenham engaged in unethical and unprofessional behaviour in a matter that was the subject of court case 770 of 2008 that was defeated in the Barbados courts. A matter that was slow moving in the Barbados court system for more than a decade.
On a political platform in 2018 the then leader of opposition announced that “Common Entrance must go!” The crowd cheered.
For three years the appointed Minister pronounced ad infinitum that “Common Entrance must go!” The masses bellowed.
For the last two years this Minister (when she actually speaks) joined the choir to lustily sing that “Common Entrance must go!” The audience applauded.
And of course the 66 year old once retired Director of Reform said emphatically and conclusively in the House of Parliament that the new system would be in place by September 2022 and “Common Entrance must go!” The pundits thumped their desks.
Like almost every other Barbadian, I used to be unquestioningly confident about our banking system. But in 2018, Barbados banks voted against depositors’ interests. My bank voted for the Government to confiscate some of my retirement savings, and hold the remainder hostage – not allowing me to access all of it until the year 2033. Therefore, they gave me every reason to distrust them.
This year, Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank that lent us money with unfavourable terms, was failing. Fortunately, their depositors were insured to 100,000 Swiss Francs (BD$225,000). In the UK, the insured amount is 85,000 British pounds (BD$215,000). In Canada, it is CAD$100,000 (BD$150,000). In Europe, it is $100,000 Euros (BD$220,000). In the US, it is US$250,000 (BD$500,000).
think it is high time regional governments intervene in the functioning of the CXC. This email is not designed to point fingers at any particular person in management, but I think it is clear that a thorough shake up of this agency is necessary…
The word today that there has been an exam leak comes on the heels of a headline speaking to the CXC’s concern about the use of AI in the SBA process and the obvious issues this would cause for fairness and distribution of marks for this form of assessment.
But back to today’s leaked exam…I dare say another leaked exam, because I am quite sure that this has happened in the recent past. The rest of the region has accepted that a leak occurred…But the CXC’s rhetoric suggests that it needs verifying in the face of photos posted on social media and imbedded in the story by St. Vincent media and others. I get that you need to be sure, but good God CXC speed up, act businesslike. Yes you will need to prosecute under the law and all that good stuff, but a blind man can see that you need to make changes and substantial ones..
Having failed, so far, to strong-arm enough CARICOM member states to act as a fig leaf behind which it could launch an invasion of Haiti, the US is doubling down on its efforts. In early May, it was reported that Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations had visited Brazil to press the recently elected president, Lula da Silva to agree to Brazil leading the invasion force against Haiti.
The blogmaster is prepared to be dismissed as simplistic but he has been accused of worse through the years. There is man and there is woman. Not too long ago it was not difficult to make the distinction. Today a biological misfire is accepted as normal. A lifestyle undergirded by an abnormality is accepted as normal. The Blogmaster’s perspective is not meant to be homophobic, only a sincere perspective based on commonsense.
The blogmaster takes a note that Sir Richard Cheltenham continues to perform in the role of Chairman of the Parliamentary Reform Commission (PRC). The blogmaster has no issue with the quote attributed to him in yesterday’s media – “We have inherited a bicameral system; a House of Assembly and the Senate, but now we have to ask ourselves whether we should continue that system or whether we should have one chamber; a unicameral [system]…We’ve always used the first-past-the-post system that gets most votes at the polls to determine membership but there are questions about whether a mixture of first past the post and proportional representation. . . all of those questions will be on the agenda and have to be carefully considered”. It is important work and hopefully the PRC will deliver on its mandate.
What the blogmaster has a problem with is the fact Sir Richard Cheltemham has a matter pending with the Disciplinary Committee of the BAR association. Several blogs have been published on Barbados Underground (BU) through the years directing the public to matters requiring answers from Cheltemham and local authorities without success. BU also questions those who agree to sit on a committee with Cheltenham with serious accusations outstanding waiting to be ruled on by the Disciplinary Committee of the BAR. Further, BU questions why a Mottley government advocating a political agenda of good governance and integrity continue to appoint persons who are being investigated for possible wrongdoings.#peterodle