Under Mottley has the country progressed?

All right thinking Barbadians are vested in an improving economy, we live here. In has been a challenging last 15 years for Barbados and it is no secret we are losing some of our best young minds to the global market because as a result. This exodus comes at a time government is concerned about an ageing population which has negative implications for our tax base and the threat caused to the National Insurance Fund. As a consequence, government has been essaying thoughts about importing labour to increase the labour force to be able to sustain a standard of living Barbadians have become addicted – see Draft Barbados Population Policy Available for FEEDBACK.

This week the blogmaster listened to Minister of the Environment Adrian Forde heaping praise on the Prime Minister for the splash she has been making in the international area. He cited concomitant benefits, one being able to access low concessionary interest rates on loans for development purposes. While government continues to pat itself on the back, the average Barbadian is very concerned about the debt burden. Government will counter to say we can afford to service the debt but they often neglect to add – ceteris paribus. (All things being equal). It is fashionable for today’s unimaginative governments to engage in deficit financing with successive Barbados governments gleefully joining the party.

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OECD continues to flex on SIDs

Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivered a ministerial statement last Tuesday to amend the local tax structure in the context of constant changes from the international environment to avoid resultant pressures. The nature of the local economy means government has to be compliant with tax and related legislation to avoid being blacklisted by the capitalist north.

The following is a query received from BU family member John A about the new tax system to take effect from January 2024.

With Section 2 4 and 5 payment of corporation tax monthly should prove a challenge. Some companies may make money for 4 months of the year then lose for 8 months in the tourism sector for example. That’s why corporation tax is based on 12 months of business.

Many retail businesses see December recording the highest sales and revenue of the year. It is also the last month of the year. If for example 50% of profit generated comes from December sales, where is cash flow going to come from to pay 1/12th of this in each month for the Q1 of the same year with cash flow already stretched covering normal operational expenses in your lowest revenue period?

How is Section 2 of the change going to work?

Here is EY’s communication of the change:

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Submitted by John A
Minister of Finance
The Honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley

We have heard the word inflation being bandied about a lot recently, but what does it really mean to the average Barbadian in real terms?

I sent BU a menu which was posted on the the 4.4% growth NTSH blog – see menu. This showed what a popular beach restaurant in St Michael was charging for their offerings in 1975. At this time there is no clearer example of inflation I can think of than what this menu brings to light. The question then when we look at this menu and compare it to today’s prices, has to be, are we better off today than in 1975? As numbers don’t lie let us now turn to them and compare 1975 to now. In other words has our personal GDP kept pace with inflation over the period or are we poorer in real terms?

  • Coke large 25 cents 1975 cost $2.75 in 2023, 11 times more
  • Salad large $1.50 in 1975 cost $15.00 in 2023, 10 times more
  • Steak & chips $4.75 in 1975 cost 38.00 in 2023, 8 times more
  • Ice cream lg 40 cents in 1975 cost $9.00 in 2023, 20 times more
  • Cheese burger 75 cents in 1975 cost $9.00 in 2023, 12 times more

So the average factor of increase over 48 years on the above is 12.2 times higher prices.

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4.4% Growth, NTSH

Central Bank 9-month economic review confirms 4.4% growth

Governor of the Central Bank Kevin Greenidge was pleased as punch to share that the Barbados economy grew 4.4% in the period under review. The blogmaster joins others to be concerned that the main reason for the growth was as a result of our main economic sector, TOURISM. Governor where are the green-shoots to kindle optimism that our export earnings are positioned to take off?

Nothing to see here!

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Debt Swap does not mean debt relief

Debt swap does not mean debt relief.

Ryan Straughn
Ryan Straughn, a minister in the Ministry of Finance

First it was Ryan Straight singing the benefits of Barbados entering a debt swap arrangement with CIBC FirstCaribbean and Credit Suisse International. It was reported both institutions agreed to the government of Barbados buying back BDS$150 million each. The mechanics of the deal: savings generated from rebooking the debt at a lower rate will be used to finance government’s marine conservation plans.

See related article – Debt swap

Next it was Prime Minister Mia Mottley last week announcing another debt swap worth BBD$600 million to be utilised to finance the upgrade of the controversial South Coast Treatment plant (SCTP). The financial agencies mentioned with the deal were the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the Green Climate Fund.

See related article – PM says capital for upgrading South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant won’t increase Gov’t debt

In both cases there should be no criticism about the need for government to allocate resources to upgrade the SCTP and marine environment. Barbados is a small island developing state that is heavily dependent on a pristine environment to maintain its character. The country is beginning to take on a haphazard appearance with the high volume of vehicles on the road, photovoltaic panels littering our fields and hills, houses being planted everywhere, itinerant vending everywhere, et cetera.

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Development by any means necessary

Owen said that land must fetch its highest economic price.

Submitted by Observing

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Back in 2003 Owen Arthur touted the Pierhead Marina Development Plan. For some this was a visionary idea, for others in the years after it was a chance to get out licking. 20 years later a flurry of activity has indicated that investment development on the island’s south-west corridor is back at an all systems go stage

Savvy on the Beach
Not much more that can be said here that hasn’t already been ventilated. It is absolutely clear though that Kinch must go.

Marina shops
These shops were slowly shuttered up over a few years. A recent article with the owner of Marina Restaurant who was locked out in 2020 confirms that it too is time for him to go. Miss Daisy has spoken.

Cavans Lane renters
Though two remaining renters have vowed to fight their “sudden” eviction, they know they are only renting and they will have to go. A public notice has also confirmed that the next four years will see the entire area transformed.

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Interest in rate of interest is interesting

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.

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Government failing the transparency test

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

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.

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Stop blaming the monkeys

Barbados Light & Power Company Ltd

Once upon a time Barbadians held Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) in high regard. The country never experienced outages with the frequency of recent years. Last week the country experienced another countrywide outage which seems to be a ‘BL&P error’ although predictably the monopoly was vague in its explanation of what triggered the nationwide outage.

One does not have to be an electrical engineer to conclude that the BL&P has a power quality challenge. To be clear – the definition of power quality equates to RELIABILITY. The leadership of the growing monkey population is fed up with having to deflect blame every time there is a problem with the power grid.

What is the problem with BL&P being able to deliver on power quality? 

Does the current state of play represent a failing of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC)? 

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A Cloudy Economic Vision : The Barbados Dollar and it’s Sovereign Risk

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

The strategic strength of the BDS dollar has been eroded by the lack of growth in the local economy, overall drop in GDP, rapid increases in foreign debt, an inability of the Barbados market to generate increases in foreign income, the external debt restructuring, foreign debt default & being barred from international capital markets along with a continued spiral in oil and good and services. The commitment to the 2:1 peg requires a widening commitment to borrowing larger than usual sums of foreign debt to fill the gap thus continuing to drive up inflationary prices which will then be passed onto local consumers and later collected via indirect taxation. The present BDS dollar was created after the establishment of the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB), which was founded by an Act of parliament in May, 1972. The Barbados dollar replaced the East Caribbean dollar at par in 1973.

Since 5 July 1975, the Barbados dollar has been pegged to the US dollar. Since the Erskine Sandiford IMF experience, the IMF officials hold a view that the 2:1 currency peg needs to be softened or devalued in order for Barbados to attract substantial foreign direct investment/income. The Mottley administration’s most recent move to benefit from the foreign exchange circulating in the banking system is the Exchange Control Amendment Act 2020 which provided for the continuation of the collection of a foreign exchange fee implemented by the Stuart Administration in 2017. However the IMF recommened that it be repealed.

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Barbados watch out, another global financial crisis on the horizon

Another global financial crisis seems set to engulf the world with the collapse of banks in the United States and Europe, two of the major financial markets in the world. Attempts by regulators and big banks to intervene by bail ins and other means have failed to calm unease in the markets. Banking and other financial stocks have seen declines which reflects a lack of confidence by investors.

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Reform a MUST to survive in this world

Source: Nation Newspaper

The  Science and Technology Festival is currently taking place on the grounds of UWI, Cave Hill under the Graduation tent, it ends today (18th March 2023). The festival is being organized by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Smart Technology and the Faculty of Science and Technology at Cave Hill.

It is a good idea for parents and guardians to expose children to the event anticipating where global demands for skills is headed. For details of the event see the Ministry’s Facebook Page. The event is showcasing the innovation and inventions of Barbadian students up to University level’

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2023 Budget Talk

The Honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivered a budget yesterday anchored to a transformation theme. The blogmaster agrees with Professor Justin Robinson’s summary of the budget with one addition. There was no serious mention of the plan to address the recapitalization of NIS.

See summary of Robinson’s budget review.

Robinson: Domestic market the target 

GOVERNMENT IS SEEKING to woo the confidence of domestic investors once again, five years after the country underwent its debt restructuring exercise.

This was the takeaway of economics professor Dr Justin Robinson in his analysis of the 2023 Financial Statement And Budgetary Proposals delivered by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Robinson, who was a panellist on the NATION’s State Of Our Nation’s post-Budget analysis, said Government’s announced $74.8 million partial repayment to 5 407 holders of Series B bonds, was in an effort to restore confidence in the domestic investment market.

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Central Bank of Barbados

It was announced earlier this week that public workers represented by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Barbados Worker’s Union (BWU), Barbados Secondary Teacher’s Union (BSTU) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) finalized five months of wage negotiations. The deal reached as reported is 3% increase for the next two years and a lump sum payment of $1,500.00 in the first year. There was also agreement to some non financial terms.

Since the announcement social and traditional media and other voices have been strident in condemning the paltry sums employees at the low end of the scale will be receiving. The blogmaster will always be sympathetic to the plight of workers, however, in this case the question must be asked – was processed followed by the unions involved before agreement with government was finalized?

As far as the blogmaster is aware actors sitting at the negotiating table with government had to take direction from the respective membership bodies before agreeing to close negotiations. The blogmaster would be interested to know if the traditional process of negotiating the wage increase was followed. 

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The 2023 – 2024 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure

The following was received from a BU family member – Blogmaster

The Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the financial year 2023-2024 was laid in Parliament last week. Started in 2019 a new format has been used for the Estimates debate in Barbados. Senior Civil servants are now required to come before the Finance Committee of Parliament to account for each programme being funded by the tax payer and answer any questions which MPs have about programmes or projects for which they have the responsibility of executing.  These hearings will begin tomorrow Monday 20th of February as the Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straugh explains in this video.  The Minister further gave a preview of the administration’s spending priorities in the coming fiscal year.    


After contracting sharply in 2020 by approximately 14 percent due to travel restriction brought about the the Covid 19 pandemic, Barbados’ economy recorded a fairly robust recovery in 2020 of 10.5 percent, meaning, that the economy is still about 3 percent below pre-pandemic levels. In 2022 we also saw a major increase in government revenues, some of which can be attributed to higher economic activity and greater transaction taxes due to elevated consumer prices caused by imported inflation. The projection for 2023 is that the economy might grow by between 4 and 5 percent, if this holds then Barbados could return to or slightly surpass pre-pandemic levels this year.   

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Garbage and Sewage Tax Audit a MUST

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

As the 2023 budget looms, the IMF program BERT 2.0 specially focuses on SOE reform. Is it a coincidence that most SOEs are crying broke? In the Sunday Sun , The general manager of the BWA made some earth shattering revelations in regards to the economic , financial and social survival of the island’s sole water management entity.

The financial state of the water utility company has been hampering its ability to fully tackle water woes in Barbados due to mismanagement of its resources and other structural problems such as cost/price imbalances. Currently the due for disconnection stamps are coming in on water bills for amounts as little as $80. Letters from BWA to collect arrears are destabilizing many households who just can’t afford to clear their BWA arrears.

There’s all justification now for the government to cut the GSC tax on water bills as GM Keithroy Halliday pointed out that the BWA had sought permission to borrow from the Garbage & Sewage Contribution as it was unable to meet its “financial obligations”. The fact that this tax which earned over $344M is being collected directly by the BWA was never transparent.

The financial statements of BWA since last we were informed by Minister Ryan Straughn, are not up to date which is in contravention of the new public financial management act, if found to be so. However the public hardly ever sees financial statements of an entity like BWA so where was it ever transparent ?

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Fair Trading Commission mired in the politics of the moment – waiting for electricity rate hike, waiting for relevant renewable policy, waiting

Minister of Energy and Business Development, Lisa Cummins

Barbadian will have to tarry a while longer for the decision from the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) on whether Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) request for a rate hike will be approved. Yesterday the FTC directed the BL&P to revise some assumptions downward used in calculations presented to support the rate hike application. Although it is premature for consumers to assume which way the win is blowing from the current stage of proceedings, it seems reasonable to assume the hike if approved will not be as significant as originally forecast.

The angst being generated at the prospect of a hike in electricity rates should move the government and Barbadians to appreciate the importance of implementing an effective national energy policy. After many years of talk by successive governments about transforming the Barbados space to one where renewable energy sources are prioritized, it seems we continue to labour to get over the hump in the quest for a relevant mix. It does not take a rocket scientist to anticipate the negative effect on inflation accepting that Barbados is a price taker. It seems the majority of Barbadians are oblivious to the fact a significant percent of what we consume is imported. We buy and sell and the rich merchants live fat off the profit margin.

See FTC decisionFTC Issues Decision & Order on BLPC’s rate review application

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Dr Kevin Greenidge: A Friend or Foe?

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

On the sentimental side, Dr Kevin Greenidge as an ambitious young economist took on a career path and educational training that would have led him to pursue his goal of being elected governor of the central bank of Barbaods. Congratulations to him on achieving his boyhood personal & professional ambition. However, let’s move the conversation past sentiments.

On the Barbados side Dr Kevin Greenidge has been actively involved in providing advice and instruction in respect to the daily management operations of the Central bank of Barbados as just an IMF consultant. The freedom of the central bank to pursue it’s independent agenda has come under scrutiny from the IMF as a need to be more fiscally responsible and free from the government’s budget cycle.

Barbados’ government faces a shortfall in finances, it will not have the use of the central bank’s facilities to bail out the government. Dr. Greenidge’s hallmark will be his role in operating under a new central bank law aimed at cutting the tentacles of the Minister of Finance , cutting his/ her power to hire and fire the governor and allowing the bank to operate on a purely fiscal nature.

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Cleviston Haynes Out, Dr. Kevin Greenidge In

It is official, the appointment of the youthful Kevin Greenidge was officially released yesterday. It ended weeks of speculation by the usual suspects an African was shoo-in to take the post.

The broad definition of the role of a Central Bank according to cbben.Thomson Reuters.com:

◦ Set and implement the monetary, credit, and other financial sector policies
◦ Provide central banking services to the government and financial sector 
◦ Develop the financial sector and enhance confidence therein

It is fair to say in the context of Barbados the Central Bank and previous governors have been slaves to government’s directives with the exception of the widely influential Dr. Courtney Blackman. Who can forget the term popularized by Blackman that the position of Governor of the Central Bank “is a creature of the minister of finance’. 

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Barbados’ future handicapped by a One Leg Economy

Indar Weir, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

At least one minister in the Cabinet of Barbados gets it. Barbados will not or cannot support our standard of living given the traditional heavy reliance on tourism. 

Listen to Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir’s 2-minute side-burst from 1hr:12min of his presentation on the floor of the House (24/01/2023). As a member of Cabinet in a parliamentary system that is bound by the convention of collective responsibility, the cadence of Weir’s delivery suggests there is disagreement with his government’s approach.

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Rush to implement fare increase

Last week the government legislated an increase in taxi fares with immediate effect. The increase came 15 years since the last was given – see Road Traffic (Amendment) Regulations, 2023.

The Chairperson of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Renee Coppin reacted to the announcement by given support to the increase, BUT, criticized the process. She opined there was a lack of proper consultation with key stakeholders by not giving sufficient time to factor the increase in business planning by those who will be most effected. There was a suggestion the increase could have been implemented after a 90 day disclosure period.

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Barbados Secures Another $100 Million

The borrowing continues with the general Barbados population non the wiser about the economic strategy – Blogmaster

World Bank Approves US$100 Million for Barbados’ Green and Resilient Recovery 


Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 

ESG Climate change Clean Energy Transition Financing Multilaterals 

World Bank release

Bridgetown, Barbados, January 11, 2023 — The World Bank approved yesterday $100 million in financing to support Barbados’ low carbon economic development and resilience to climate change.

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Duguid Steel Houses

Senior Minister William Duguid

Barbados has been fortunate through the years to avoid significant damage from acts of nature. Until Hurricane Elsa and a freak storm struck Barbados last year, one had to go-back to hurricane Janet of 1955. 

Many will argue with justification Barbadians were lulled into complacency, observing weather systems veering from Barbados year after year. The consequence is that a touted Building Code was not followed or enforced with any rigour. The reality is that the quality of the local housing stock is questionable, one that includes a high number of chattel buildings owned mostly by the low income segment.

In 2017 the then leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley stated … “one man cannot get a $24 million contract at Valerie, $28 million housing contract at Grotto; a $42 million molasses storage tank, 20-year contract in the Barbados Bridgetown Harbour… Coverley which is over 1,100 houses at which the government is only receiving less than $2.50 a square foot on the land there; 2,300 lots at Bushy Park that have been committed to in an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] but mercifully the contract has not been signed [by] the National Housing Commission to give them the lots”. See BU blog – Mark Maloney Take Your Advice, Guhlong

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Talking Garbage

There is a lot that can be said about Barbadians and the way we manage garbage disposal. The observation is true at the household and country level. In many developed countries garbage is treated as a raw material to convert to energy and in the process contribute to protecting the environment. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has become a spokesperson since being elected to office in 2018 on environmental issues in the international arena, it is therefore ironic that in the country she leads, we continue to oversee a primitive garbage collection AND waste disposal system.

A peeve of the blogmaster is to be subjected to the perennial call from public relations persons employed by the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) – Alf Padmore is the incumbent – asking Barbadians to desist from including green waste in garbage to be collected by the SSA. Nobody ever heeds the calls, including SSA workers, who are always willing to please the many households served. The increase in built-up neighbourhoods in Barbados and concomitant lifestyle guarantee that green waste will be ‘trashed’. Isn’t a manicured lawn integral to the look and feel expected of the heights and terrace?

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A Sober Mid Year Review of the Barbados Economy Required

The following is an update from a BU correspondent with a few edits applied by the blogmaster. It is important we maintain focus on the management of the economy. It is encouraging to observe in recent days the Nation newspaper has been guided to also focus on the economy and related news as Barbadians immerse themselves in matters related to celebrating Christmas. The challenges facing the country will be waiting patiently for a return to more sober ways.
The Estimates for 2022/2023 confirm the common practice in recent decades of successive governments constrained to fund ugly deficits to support our consumption behaviour, graft, financial incompetence/mismanagement exposed in annual Auditor General Reports and Central Bank Reports. The estimates for 2022/2023 read a shortfall of $173. million dollars.
David, Blogmaster

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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.

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Face it and Fix it!

Submitted by Akil Daley

Since Independence many of our public institutions have had little (if any) serious structural changes to make them fit for purpose in the new global environment. The inefficiency of governmental bureaucracy has plagued our public institutions for decades and has hampered effective service delivery to the masses. These public corporations are no longer fit for purpose and drain finances through yearly subsidies and transfers accounting for most of the shortfall in financing afflicting these institutions.

This ill-advised formula can be blamed for the structural adjustment program Barbados now faces which prescribes bitter reforms to our statutory corporations. We must now as a country focus on how these services will be rationalized, paying special emphasis on the most vulnerable and needy.

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Are we as Barbadians prepared for what must come?

Submitted by Akil Daley

To live within our fiscal and debt management means, we now have to be circumspect in creating more social entitlements, save and except for the truly needy and reform some of our entitlement programmes to eliminate expenditure wastage.

Owen Arthur 2007

Do we truly understand what living within our debt management means would look like?

Former Prime Minister Arthur must have asked himself this question.

It is no secret that much of the progress in Barbados was driven by investment in the Social Sectors. It may also be concluded that the Social Sector is now too large for the economy to carry at a time when the economy is itself undergoing a difficult transition. A thorough rebalancing of the relationship between the Social and Economic Sectors, seems to be necessary to bring back harmony to the process of National Development.

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It is Wonderful to see

Minister of Energy and Business Development, Lisa Cummins

It is wonderful to see the number of ‘vendor pop ups’ popping up on weekends. With the fear of COVID 19 receding Barbados has joined the global community by switching to back to normal mode despite the caution from the Chief Medical Officer Kenneth George.

We have talented individuals in Barbados who are producing quality products, Barbadians need to support this budding micro business sector, including the government. One suspects our small scale of production is a disadvantage finding significant export markets, however, Barbados’ high import volume creates the opportunity for import substitution. There is no reason why Barbadians at our stage of development should ignore the benefits of a thriving domestic market.

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Alternate Views – Governance by Committee and Councils

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

On the front page of the Nation Newspaper today December 4th 2022, Barbados has approached the IDB for another 200 Million in loans.

Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn said in his letter to the IDB that the fourth component of the letter was aimed at economic and fiscal strengthening for after the pandemic. One of the most interesting measures listed for justifying this loan is the use of a progress report of the measures prioritized by the jobs and investment council.

If viewers can recall the Jobs and Investment Council was put in place by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in April 2020. The Jobs and Investment Council started with eight committees – 8 chairmen of working groups undertaking a mandate of preparing a guide for the survival and transformation of Barbados and a wide cross section of persons was said to have been called upon to serve on the committees, including Barbadians in the diaspora.

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Alternate Views – Put Barbados first

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

Barbados on December 7th will be heading into another IMF program named BERT 2.0. The PM of Barbados said in a recent press conference that next 2023 will be hard for all of us.

Barbadians are in a serious economic pit as the global economy is set to run into turmoil and price inflation will push the cost of living /goods& services to higher as the festive holiday season kicks in.

Minister of Industry Davidson Ishmael recently recommended Bajan consumers to buy local as , as far back at October 2018, government placed VAT on online transactions to encourage local shopping. With NSRL removed local prices were supposed to drop instead they increased. While patriotic by Minister Ishmael the high cost of living in Barbados has been eroding paychecks and savings as people are shopping according to what’s affordable to their pockets.

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Where Must Barbados Earn Money to Support its Conspicuous Lifestyle?

It is no secret Barbadians are addicted to the conspicuous consumption lifestyle. We can debate why educated Barbadians – successive governments included – continue to ignore the the consequences of having champagne taste and mauby pockets – wantonly running budget deficits in the post Errol Barrow era is with us. We can no longer support ourselves UNLESS we borrow as a creative approach to ‘reprofiling debt’ or lobby to access concessionary and grant funding. The question we must ask is if such an approach is sustainable. At some point the country must reengineer the economic model to organically grow GDP to effectively earn enough to pay our bills (support our conspicuous consumption habit). In other words running budget surpluses must not be jettisoned for the lazy and fashionable budget deficit approach to managing our financial affairs.

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley Defends frequent travel overseas

Prime Minister Mottley on her return from overseas after taking a few days off as well as attending COP27 in Egypt, Rwanda and South Africa called a press conference on her return to Barbados to brief the nation. There is criticism Mottley’s time could have been better spend on island given the precarious state of the economy and rising crime situation. DLP spokesman Paul Gibson has been scathing in criticism levelled at Mottley, questioning cost of trips overseas and size of delegations.

The blogmaster has cautioned many times in this space that managing the optics in any situation is important, however, Mottley has demonstrated with the appointment of a bloated Cabinet she intends to do it her – she has an aggressive style – even if it is obvious the configuration of the Cabinet is about political considerations and not about many hands making light of the work. Some of us are not fools although we understand the games politicians play at the expense of the masses.

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Alternate View on Barbados’ Economic Road post Republic:The Independence Economic Order

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

Barbados national day represents the death of government led socialist values, a transition over to a new economic management style of governance where the trappings of the old independence subsidized social services government begin to diminish and Citizens will be required to each pay more to fund their basic living necessities as government can’t continue to subsidize the cost of providing some goods and services and at the cost asked of Barbadians. International debt service and IMF terms and conditions are already eroding the independence economic model as Barbados now look to China for social investment to fund our new international lifestyle. A lifestyle without God where the innocent are exposed to international banks who violate directives by government ministries.

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Alternate Views: Addressing Professor Justin Robinson’s Position on Barbados’ Debt Problem ( 2005-2022)

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

In the recent launch of the BERT 2.0 the term lost decade is still a heavily used term in that document that can be reinforced by the unassuming mind in reading a recent article published by Professor Justin Robinson on Thursday 27th October 2022 on the level of government debt in Barbados. Professor Michael Howard, Professor Don Marshall and Economist Carlos Forte offered that Barbados is in a debt trap.

To add facts and context to Dr Robinson’s naked assessment of Barbados’ public debt . The global financial crisis which is categorized as a shock similar to covid hit in 2007-2008 and Barbados’ public finances saw an upsurge of domestic debt. The economic strategy of government at the time relied heavily on local debt from the Central Bank of Barbados via money printing, the NIS , Treasury Bills and debt and interest payments owed to these local Barbadian institutions skyrocketed causing unsustainable fiscal deficits.

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Economic Performance January to September 2022 – Growth of 9.8% with Uncertain Investment Appetite

Central Bank of Barbados Governor Cleviston Haynes delivers the Bank’s review of Barbados’ economic performance in the first nine months of 2022 and takes questions from the media and online audience.

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Believe You Me – It is Still About the Economy Stupid

In recent weeks the country has been consumed with the news about an IDB/Barbados government survey administered by some schools to 11 year olds without the consent of parents. Yesterday Member of Parliament for St. Michael North West Neil Rowe was charged with rape and is scheduled to appear in Court this morning to formally answer to the charge. Not to forget his month the number of murders surpassed prior year.

These issues should not make us lose focus of the perilous state of the economy. Despite the narratives being pushed by talking heads about improved credit ratings, reduced debt and the security blanket BERT II affords, there is reality that has not changed. The Barbados economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism and to a lesser degree international business. How many Barbadians are aware there is a negative outlook for the global economy by the IMF for 2023 with growth predicted to slow to 2.7%? To quote the IMF – “2023 will feel like a recession for millions around the world”.  

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Barbados’ Fintech Push

This week Barbados will the host of a global fintech conference called Fintech Islands from October 5 to 7 welcoming 300 delegates from across the world and attracting sponsorship from prominent global players like Visa, MasterCard and Delta Capital Group. The government must be given credit for being the enabler by placing emphasis on the emerging fintech sector.  Some of the initiatives the Mottley government has spearheaded include:

  • Rollout of the Regulatory sandbox in late 2019 which BU commenters will recall generated raucous discussion. 

The government has also moved quickly towards digitisation by executing the IDB Public Sector Digitisation Project which is being rolled out across all ministries at the back end, at the “front end” the rolling of the new National ID card which will have an accompanying optional Digital ID. The government must however do a better job communicating with the public about the New National ID card.   

A government’s job is to create the environment, legislative and otherwise to encourage private sector to drive economic activity. There is consensus our over-reliance on fickle tourism as a SIDs makes the economy more vulnerable to exogenous shocks. The 2007 global financial meltdown and recent experience arising from the pandemic is a sorry reminder. In 2016 late Prime Minister warned of the need for policymakers to introduce radical measures to add new earning sectors to the economy, instead the Central Bank was repurposed to be government’s ATM and as they say the rest is history after incurring 23 downgrades.

We live in a world that has transformed to digital cum services era, building new sectors to drive economic activity is not only about building physical factories. Rolling out fit for purpose regulation and other initiatives to improve business facilitation is the new alternative.

Barbados has built a reputation as an offshore financial hub, however, since the mid 2000s as Arthur mentioned in the above video, Barbados lost a lot of business to Cayman and has never fully recovered. It was one of the problems which plagued the Stuart government and as Arthur pointed out – from 2016 the country lost $259 million in foreign exchange and tax revenue which the then government sought to replace by imposing heavy domestic taxes on a shrinking economy and taxbase.  

One of the things the Mottley government seems to be trying to do is to reconfigure the business sector from which Barbados can offer modern services to replace the old tax haven model. The OECD has shown they have no problem shifting the rules of engagement ‘during the game’. It must be helpful that Barbados also added to its brand in the fintech space by being first to market with the Barbados Welcome Stamp program which allowed high net worth professionals many from the fintech world to work remotely during the pandemic.  

Quietly the Ghanaian fintech company Zeepay has setup in Barbados with plans to launch in Guyana next. Some have been asking are we there yet? This is a rhetorical question.

Today Ends Barbados’ Lesson on the IMF

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

However On September 28th 2022 the Prime Minister of Barbados announced the details in regards to signing another IMF program. Included in this new IMF program is pension reform and reform to state owned enterprises

In the press conference earlier this month the Prime Minister when asked by a reporter she venomously denied that pension reform will be included in this new IMF program but it will be done in the old program which ends september 30th today .

The mention of the credit rating agencies, keeping Barbados’ credit rating at stable is nonsensical as Moody’s already indicated publicly in a release that Barbados will not be downgraded as long as it signs another IMF program. Barbados has not regained access to international capital markets after the voluntary default in 2018.

Prime Minister Mottley said it was difficult to say how deep state owned enterprises reforms would be under the new program . This is a confusing statement as the government circulated a survey previously under the first program asking citizens which SOE’s should or should not be privatized.

The strategy to cut as many SOE’s from government funding is still in place. The strategy is to fund them via a tax or levy or privatization . The PM made reference to urban and rural development which will be merged into one department, she made mentioned of CBC which will be privatized , the BWA will be privatized as the first hint of this plan was when former Water Resources Minister Charles Griffith indicated that government is appointing a 20 man water committee to tackle the water woes. The committee is made up of a list of wealthy businessmen , BWU leader Toni Moore , Director of Finance Ian Carrington who was the IMF press conference , Dr. Clyde Mascoll, as quizzed by myself, admitted on Brasstacks that the government is now seeking to find the right price for water. The IMF in 2007 recommended that to achieve savings and to reduce the amount money government spends on BWA that automatic price increases will address the cost prices imbalance in deliver of water to Barbadians

The PM hinted that she provided an additional 30 Million to BWA instead of increasing prices , as this program progresses the BWA will face a price increase in water rates once the electricity rate increases. Transfer funding to entities such BWA are to be cut as part of the IMF deal and in observation of other countries worldwide under IMF programs saw private water companies emerging when the conditions took their toll on governments , the GAIA is still in negotiations to be leased out

The new IMF program will continue to focus on digitization of the public service as the impact of Covid-19 pushed many economies to focus on delivering services online. The government declared that their policy is to take Barbados into fully digital and cashless society under the original BERT plan

The recent tongue lashing and attack by the Acting PM Santia Bradshaw on government workers who are attached to economic programs such as the Ash program is a bluff to create reasons for the cutting of these programs as a condition of the new IMF program. The programs were always intended to be temporary but were used as tools to hand out jobs for election purposes. That vile tongue lashing was unnecessary when the truth could have been told. In order to bring improvement in the government’s fiscal position all covid related expenses and ash expenses will go. The implementation of a fiscal rule to limit domestic deficit financing will tighten in.

The writing is on the wall as further expenditures cuts in government will see some thousands of government workers laid off under the new program. The wage bill of government which stood around $850million is the one of the main consumers of government funds and the IMF recommended that it should be cut.

As the PM spoke about the UK’s currency devaluation as a reference to Barbados not being as bad as other however the continued borrowing of foreign debt to keep the 2:1 peg avoiding external devaluation comes with measures to implement an internal devaluation which is one of main reasons why prices are so high in Barbados. The internal devaluation comes in the form of government laying off workers and cutting the wage bill, reducing funds allocated to Ministries , reducing and cutting pension monies , placing caps on capital expenditures and overall cutting government provided income. Dr. Kevin spoke of how government is going about the internal devaluation while speaking with Lisa Lord on CBC tv in an interview.

The mention of Barbados having 17 Billion in debt in 2018 vs 13 Billion today is numerically true but disingenuous and misleading because the government simply wrote off $4billion in debt overnight owed to Barbadians overnight in a very draconian debt restructuring and still has not repaid those debt. The CBB lost $1B and still needs to be recapitalized and this is another missed target under the first IMF program , the NIS lost close to $1B , treasury bills were cut to the value of $1B causing Barbados to make world economic history as this action only ever occurred in Russia 1998, Ukraine 1998 and Uruguay 2003 . The last $1B were in overdrafts , government guarantees, SOE debt and arrears. The danger that locals face moving forward is that there is a high chance of another debt restructurìng and reprofiling happening where the bond payments that government promised these creditors are postponed. The likelihood of local creditors being repaid in cash is extremely low and precedence has shown that government can abuse it’s parliamentary majority by using the clause included in the debt restructuring bill which states that only 75% of creditors need to agree to any changes for new debt restructurings.

One last potential abuse of power is the government’s new thirst for compulsory acquisitions of land. Under the government’s passage of the debt settlement bill in parliament persons whose land has been taken under the Land Acquisition Act, section 4 made provision for those persons whose land was acquired by the government to be paid in bonds, this provision also covers all legal claims or outstanding liabilities.

So the question must be asked of government , once they compulsory acquire the properties in St Lawrence Gap will the property owners be paid in bonds according to the law passed via the Debt settlement bill?

Countdown to the end of the IMF program Continues (September 30th 2022)

Submitted by Kemar Stuart

Barbados is still under a state of emergency and the Emergency Management Act holds supreme as law of the land as it was extended for no logical reason by the Ministry of Health yesterday September 13th. AG Dale Marshall in the press conference sought to defend the state of emergency legislation which de facto keeps the country under a prime ministerial dictatorship.  This state of emergency legislation has a clause that gives the PM absolute power over the country as previously stated in my video and in the nation newspaper. 

(4)    When a proclamation of a public health emergency referred to in is in force, it shall be lawful for the Cabinet to make any Orders whatsoever it considers desirable in the public interest. This is a parliamentary dictatorship 

(6)    In an Order made pursuant to subsections (4)  the Cabinet may delegate to the Prime Minister the power to make such directives as may be required in the public interest. Prime Ministerial Dictatorship 

There is no emergency existing in Barbados, there will be no need to tighten protocols as we proceed full steam into the tourist season.  These dictatorship type laws need to be removed to bring democracy back to Barbados’ political system. The WHO and USA President Joe Biden declared the pandemic over however the government still finds a need to hold onto a power grab not because of a non-existent pandemic but the advantage of side stepping traditional processes under the old independence constitution which have some checks and balances in place.

While the Acting PM Santia Bradshaw and AG Dale Marshall were addressing the issue of relaxing covid protocols as recommended in my previous video and publications, a point also made by the Head of the private sector and also the head of the BHTA. The real PM mia mottley was meeting with the IMF to discuss BERT 2.0 as the countdown to the end of this current IMF comes to an end september 30th having divulged that her team are in advanced stages on pension reform . In her press conference previously she told a reporter that pension reform will indeed happen under this current program which is soon at it’s end.

Having feeling both internal and external pressure Barbados recently announced that majority of the covid-19 restrictions are to be dropped from 23rd September the financial losses are becoming too deep and this decision was announced in a press conference by acting PM Santia Bradshaw The loss of money from absent cruise ships and empty airplanes along with the fact most countries have moved past Barbados months ago is high on the list of reasons for the dropping of these restrictions as articulated by the acting PM.

This was long overdue as we had many mishaps, discrimination in how some classes of persons were treated by these covid laws and public events like general elections, crop over, unctad conference , the Afri – caribbean Conference as the public which includes the PM long ago decided that they will live with the presence of covid and lived life accordingly often ignoring the protocols.

However purposely left out the fact that The public should note Barbados has no declared constitution in place since the transition of the country to republic in 2021 and an update on when the new republic constitution should’ve been on the agenda for the acting PM and Ag’

Barbados is still under a state of emergency and the Emergency Management Act holds supreme as law of the land as it was extended for no logical reason by the Ministry of Health yesterday September 13th. AG Dale Marshall in the press conference sought to defend the state of emergency legislation which de facto keeps the country under a prime ministerial dictatorship. This state of emergency legislation has a clause that gives the PM absolute power over the country as previously stated in my video and in the nation newspaper.

(4) When a proclamation of a public health emergency referred to in is in force, it shall be lawful for the Cabinet to make any Orders whatsoever it considers desirable in the public interest. This is a parliamentary dictatorship

(6) In an Order made pursuant to subsections (4) the Cabinet may delegate to the Prime Minister the power to make such directives as may be required in the public interest. Prime Ministerial Dictatorship

There is no emergency existing in Barbados, there will be no need to tighten protocols as we proceed full steam into the tourist season. These dictatorship type laws need to be removed to bring democracy back to Barbados’ political system. The WHO and USA President Joe Biden declared the pandemic over however the government still finds a need to hold onto a power grab not because of a non-existent pandemic but the advantage of side stepping traditional processes under the old independence constitution which have some checks and balances in place.

This act must be discontinued and government should not pursue another IMF deal or pursue pension reform with this act in place.

Barbados is now a country that has no opposition leader , a country without a constitution and a country with directives that gives a PM such absolute power without any checks or balances in repeat is bordering on rouge governmental practice

Therefore committing Barbados to another program spells uncertainty especially for the future of democracy especially if your livelihood is dependent on government payout .

Countdown to the End of Barbados’ IMF Program

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

Government will be forced to decide the fate of Barbados very soon as the decision to enter into another International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme will be publicly known in some days ahead. In my analysis the Prime Minister may seek to table the proposed changes in legislation before September 30th 2022. In the press conference hosted by the PM she indicated that the NIS is not in crisis really but we must act now to save it. The rush to amend pension is the government following the dictates and timelines imposed by the BERT plan endorsed by the IMF.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley on May 13th 2022 told reporters at Ilaro Court that the current programme would end on September 30 , 2022 and discussions would begin once the mission report “passes the board” at the end of June.Mr. van Selm said Barbados had reached a staff level agreement with the EFF, following its latest review and once approved by the IMF Board in June, the country would have access to US $23 million in funding.

From the recent NIS political showcase with Actuary Derek Osbourne which caused serious civil & societal discomfort across the country . The GOB is going ahead to alter pension to meet the draconian proposals agreed to by signing the IMF program back in 2018. Pension reform is one of the major agreements the government agreed to enact and to date the government has not lived up to it’s end of the bargain with the iMF as the current IMF program winds up in 23 days and pension reform is still due.

The odd timing chosen by the Prime Minister to raise the NIS and pension reform conversation was not to sensitize the public about the NIS which she categorically stated is not in crisis but we must act now to save it was but a cliche is to hide the force and pressure being applied against Barbados to live up the agreement made with the IMF within the specific dictates and timelines imposed. This is why Bajans may have to work to 72 through no fault of their own.

My prediction is that the government may move swiftly to amend the pension before September 30th to avoid running over into the end of the IMF program. If no decision is made by then this will be an indication of the government’s intent to indeed enter into another IMF program come September 30th and pension reform will be a high priority requirement for the government to enact in the next program. The next program will be more difficult than the first including more cuts to jobs, deeper cuts to pensions especially non-contributory , cuts to SOEs, increased taxes and levies on government services, cuts in budgets to all ministries and to also privatize more government assets such as the GAIA airport which being leased out to an unknown we speak for 40 years and the water authority which is undergoing serious changes to it’s operations as we speak .

Prime Minister Mottley said that “From July, we will start discussing. Will we have a successor programme? If so, what type of successor programme? Will we go it on our own or is it time or is it right to go on your own when interest rates are rising globally? Or do you stay in the comfort of concessional interest rates by having a programme or working closely with the other regional development banks and international financial institutions . July and August passed and no discourse took place

The Prime Minister of Barbados mentioned the possibility of a roadshow in September to start to tell our story to the capital markets pointing out “whether we go back into an IMF Programme or not, we believe that our story, which is a credible story, has to be told, in order to be able to…get our way back to investment grade. Barbados was barred from capital markets because of the voluntary international debt default by the Mottley government in 2018 and in 23 days September comes to an end therefore the public should monitor social media over the next 23 days starting september 7th for comments from the Prime Minister surrounding Barbados’ fate in regards to signing another IMF program and proposed NIS reform.

AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022 – Closer Ties a Must

The ongoing pandemic has given impetus finally to governments in the region assigning additional resources to improving food security. Barbados in the period has been developing a closer relationship with Guyana and we have seen cooperation to increase black belly sheep production to satisfy local and some regional demand for lamb. There are additional initiatives we hope to see bear fruit in the coming weeks and months mentioned in a previous blog – Government Initiatives to Address Food Supply – The St. Barnabas Accord. Last week Minister of Agriculture reported there is a plan to slash food import bill by 20% when a food terminal is established in Barbados with the help of Guyana. It is a reminder the founders of CARIFTA envisioned Guyana to be the bread basket of the Caribbean almost 50 years ago.

Yesterday a direct flight – a first from Nigeria – to bring delegates to attend a 3-day investment forum one may argue is the result of the effort of the government to forge close ties with some African countries to create business of opportunities. The AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum will take place in Barbados from September 1-3.  The forum represents an opportunity for the Caribbean and African private sectors  to explore opportunities for trade and address challenges that have historically prevented deeper collaboration.  The forum is being hosted by the African Export-Import Bank. The blogmaster is hopeful there is meaningful collaboration coming out of the engagement.

In a previous BU blog – Barbados based Fintechs on the MOVE the entry of Barbadian Fintech companies was highlighted and from reports have been reaping success on the African continent. It bears no reminder that 95 percent of Barbadian are of African descent, we therefore share a historical bond. 

Related Link:

CEO of Export Promotion Facebook page.

Government Jettisoned Sinking Fund Arrangement for 2018 Restructured Bonds

The quoted comment was posted to the blog From Private to Public – Cinnamon 88 to CLEARWATER BAY, a concern for taxpayers. It is a nugget of information – see blogmaster’s highlighted text – that has not registered in the BU space, however at this seemingly late stage it is a matter ripe for discussion. To be fair to government the amendment occurred in the light of day however …

The Government response has ‘promise’, and certain bodies, like the Accountant General have much on their plate. Of news to me, was “following the debt restructuring exercise in 2018, the Local Loans Act was amended to remove the 2% sinking fund requirement in respect of the restructured Series Bonds. The sinking funds were then transferred to the Consolidated Fund…”

This was yet another step to aid in the cash crunch, and gave the GoB cash. It also means there is no provision to periodically set aside money (sinking fund) for repayment of the ‘restructured Series Bonds’.


The common explanation for the purpose of a Sinking Fund is “a fund containing money set aside or saved to pay off a debt or bond. A company [government] that issues debt will need to pay that debt off in the future, and the sinking fund helps to soften the hardship of a large outlay of revenue. A sinking fund is established so the company can contribute to the fund in the years leading up to the bond’s maturity”.

The obvious explanation to which NorthernObserver alludes is that the government because it is broke ignored the importance of a good financial rule i.e. creating a sinking fund to make paying at maturity of the bonds easier. In other words to mitigate against a default. The biggest irony in this case is that a selected default by the Mottley government in 2018 must have informed the decision to jettison the sinking fund arrangement. Oh what a tangled weave when first we practice to …

The decision to do away with the sinking fund arrangement obviously had the approval of government’s banker. Four years later the government feels confident enough to issue bonds. In the prevailing climate stoked by NIS fear, 2018 restructure and a hostile economic climate, it will be a hard task for the government to convince the most patriotic Bajan to buy government bonds. There is the reminder every decision has consequences.

Here is a copy of the Local Loans (Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed in our parliament on the 24/10/2018.

Barbados One of the Most Expensive Countries to Live in the Region

This report out of the Virgin Islands identifies Barbados, Bermuda and The Bahamas in the top 5 most expensive countries to live in the WORLD. Allow the blogmaster to ask a silly question, is this reality reversible?


NIS Town Hall – The Golden Chip

Today is the scheduled NIS Town Hall for a concerned public to share feedback to the revelation our National Insurance Fund (NIF) needs another lifeline. In recent days the buzz is a concern the eligibility age for NIS pension will be extended to 72 years old.

The blogmaster is willing to bet Prime Minister Mottley being the political animal she is anticipated that NIS reform currently being contemplated will significantly deflate her popularity, she needs the time to implement reform and win back favour BEFORE the next general election, the perfect political gamble. Especially if she is serious about demitting office at that time. Therefore one of the reasons for an early general election call.

Follow the NIS town hall at Combermere School, Waterford at 6PM.

Barbados Needs Good Focused Leadership Says Bajan Living Overseas

The following comment was posted to blog Democracy, Apathy and the National Insurance Fund  by a commenter resident overseas – Barbados Underground


We have to accept facts and reality. I am and always will be a PROUD Bajan. ALWAYS.


But facts are facts. We have not done nearly enough to remodel the mindset of our people and our economy over the last 50 years to result in a level of broad based, diverse innovation that leads to large FX inflows. It’s just a fact. No debate. This could only mean one thing. Barbados is headed for worse, harder times.

Dreamy, fantastical talk alone that will not change that trajectory. Other countries and economies have failed. We are not exceptional and immune to basic facts. We act like we do but in reality we are not. That is what our pride would not let us believe. We think we are special, punching above our weight with our 98% literacy rate. This is who we are. We have been sold a bunch of sh7te that is just emotional fodder but never really grounded in fact and does not translate to a sound economic future.

We are at that moment where bullcrap can’t plaster the crap anymore and we can’t kick the can any further with cheap loans. Unless we find oil now like Guyana our standard of live WILL drop and times will get tougher . It can and has happened to other well meaning, well intentioned countries. Sri Lanka??? It is FOLLY to ask bloggers and citizens to do what elected country managers failed but were paid handsomely to do over the last 50 years. We don’t have access to all relevant information and our elected officials want to make this situation worse. Imagine that. But yet have the gall to say they are interested in public discourse. We are not driving the bus. Even if we protest and strike. What happens next? Who leads and implements the day after? At the end of the day without good focused leadership, nothing changes after the protests and strikes.

Whether we believe or not. Facts and consequences follow their own truth. They do not care if this is who we are. They are not interested in watching muh.

The writing is on the wall. Who chooses to see it is irrelevant.

The ONLY solution is GOOD FOCUSED leadership. Always has been. This is where we failed the most:

Signed – PROUD but realistic Bajan

National Insurance Fund in Critical Condition

After the dust settled yesterday evening at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Sandiford Centre (LESC) Prime Minister Mia Mottley confirmed in flowery language what some in this medium and elsewhere have been alerting the public. The National Insurance Fund (NIF) on its current trajectory will be unable to honour its obligations to persons eligible for benefits from as early as 2034 – that is a short 12 years.

Briefing on the state of the NIS Fund (10 Aug 2022)

Was Prime Minister Mottley quoted in the press correctly that she was alerted to the danger faced by the NIS in June 2022 by actuary Derek Osborne? Surely the Prime Minister does not believe some of us are so gullible? That aside the blogmaster is pleased on the occasion of the availability of the 17th Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund, Unemployment Fund and Severance Fund as of December 31, 2020 it has finally been positioned on the front burner. 

A bone of contention has been the inability of the NIF to produced up to date financials. We learned yesterday during the press briefing at LESC the challenge is linked to reporting cash and accrual items and is being addressed by the NIS Board and Auditor General’s office. Again the promise of when current financials will be available is cloaked in non committal language. Although the NIS continues to struggle to produce current audited financials the prime minister’s message is correct, the structural problems afflicting the NIS looms large and must be the priority 1 concern.

The key takeaway from the briefing yesterday is that in a short 12 years the NIF will not be able to pay benefits to those eligible IF reform measures are not taken in the short term. With an ageing AND shrinking population there are limited corrective options available that will not be ‘painful’- add an underperforming economy to the mix and houston, we have a problem. 

Source: NIS

That it has taken so long to get to where we are today is bound up in politics but we are here now. Better late than never some say. Deputy chair of the NIS Board Rawdon Adams appears to have a grasp of the problem and seems earnest in his comments to move the matter along. We wish him and his Board of Directors well. The NIS is our rh life line.

As Fuel Prices Rise, what are we going to do?

The economic uncertainty caused by the Russian and Ukrainian conflict, disruption to global supply chain because of the pandemic, an under performing US economy, an of recent a possible ratcheting up of tension between China and the US linked to Taiwan among other negative factors continue to be a source of concern for small developing states like Barbados.

Recently the blogmaster was intrigued to read about a local campaign by a leading gas distributor promoting today (Tuesday 3 Aug 2022) as as an opportunity to earn 200 bonus points if more than x dollars was spent at the pump. While the marketing department of the large dealership is pulling out the stops to sell more gas, there is the report Barbados experienced a spike in import cost reported as $2.05 million dollars of which $634.3 million was for fuel for the first six months of the year. The fuel bill for 2021 was $685.8 million and for $506.6 for 2020. Although the comparative to 2020 and 2021 was influenced by less activity because of the pandemic, it does not change a scary reality that significant chunks of Barbados’ foreign reserves is being used to pay for fuel. In the first half of the year $813 million was earned from our main foreign exchange earner to give an idea of the significance.

Sourcing affordable fuel is the objective of any country because it strikes at the heart of maintaining a stable standard of living and economy. At the household level rising fuel will soak up discretionary funds. Of immediate concern to Barbados is that this translates to potential travelers to Barbados forced to make alternative plans. Barbados is a price taker, we produce precious little commodities of what we consume. The domestic economy needs fuel for transportation, EMERA generates mostly fossil based electricity, input for business etc. An increase in the price of fuel negatively affects cost of living. Although the government is expected to create a buffer, there is a limit to mitigants available.

Last month Minister of Commerce Kerri Symmonds implored Barbadians to appreciate the seriousness of the predicament Barbados find itself and to consider engaging in tactics to conserve. The reality is that the majority of Barbadians are not prepared to make adjustments, for example car pooling, accessing public transportation, businesses (including public sector) reverting to working from home during this difficult period to assist individuals. There are decisions we can make to ameliorate the effect of out of control fuel price, however, we appear to be in reactive mode.

We have a country struggling to get a public addicted to conspicuous consumption to conserve and there are the countervailing forces like gas dealerships encouraging consumers to purchase more fuel. We live in interesting times.

To coin a popular expression, challenging times create the opportunity for an inventive people to rise to the fore. Are we there yet?

Sargassum Menace

For the last several years the coastlines of Caribbean islands have from time to time been clogged with sargassum. It is a seaweed that floats on the surface of the sea, inevitably reaching the coastlines of landmasses in its path. 

Besides the unsightly look of the seaweed covering the beaches, the stinking smell of the sargassum as it decays is worse than the smell of a thousand wet farts.

It does not matter if the sargassum menace is caused by global warming or a freak of nature. What matters is that it represents a formidable threat to the economic survival of small island developing states in the region. Since 2011 sargassum has been an economic threat to Caribbean islands and unsurprisingly, it has not provoked a collective response from our leaders. 

It seems foolhardy for economic planners in Barbados and neighbouring territories to be committing millions, billions of dollars to the tourism plant and at the same time ignore the threat sargassum posses to the sector. After a decade the region seems helpless to fight back. We have to find a solution to trap and collect the seaweed at sea before it pollutes our beaches. Who wants to travel thousands of miles to have the rotting stench of sargassum assail the nostrils and the unsightly look it presents?

The following link is presented as a positive step to addressing the issue. Why are we not sensing greater urgency from leaders in the region about combating the threat sargassum posses to the livelihood of the region?

Stinky seaweed is clogging Caribbean beaches – but a New Zealand solution could turn it into green power and fertiliser


Published: May 31, 2022 3.16am BST


Thanks Bentley!