From lost decade to clawback period

How can this Mia Mottley earn credibility regarding Mission Transformation but ignore incompetence within the bosom of her Cabinet?

Minister of Education Kay McConney

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in unprecedented manner won the last two general elections. It should be noted the two general elections occurred in 2018 and 2022 – a period of just over three years – in a system where a general election is constitutionally due every five years.

The electorate had enough of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) given the state of the economy during the so called lost decade. Barbados is a two party system, a duopoly, therefore when there is time for a change the country has only one alternative. A reasonable conclusion to make is that the opposition party whether BLP or DLP do not win elections but rather sitting governments lose.

Political pundits often discuss why the third party movement has not gained traction in Barbados in a climate of rising cynicism and apathy being experienced by the electorate. A good answer is that there are multiple factors at play – no appreciable difference in political ideology, ragtag candidates who want for coherent articulation, lack of structure and resources to list a few.

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Cabinet ministers rewarded for foul ups

Minister of Finance
The Honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley

In recent days a principal of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAB) was severely critical of the lack of support given to the Auditor General’s department by government. In a sponsored program on the Voice of Barbados titled Talking Financing the President of ICAB did not hold back venting on government’s lack of support for the Auditor General’s office, an important watchdog in our governance system. It was refreshing to listen to an independent agency in Barbados frontally address an issue untainted by political rhetoric and association.

Barbadians have been expressing concerns about incompetence and a stench of corruption to be found in decades worth of Auditor General reports which have been largely ignored by successive governments.

We will therefore strengthen governance in all of government’s affairs, ensuring that our public affairs are managed in a manner that is transparent, participatory, equitable, responsible, responsive, inclusive, and people centred.

2022 Barbados Labour P arty Manifesto

There is definitely a crisis of governance in Barbados with two consecutive general elections registering ALL 30 seats in the Lower House won by the Mia Mottley Barbados Labour Party (BLP). The result has created a dysfunction in parliament how important working committees have not been working as envisaged by the framers of the original Barbados Constitution. Some may suggest even when there was an elected Opposition working committees only served to check the process and procedure box, a different conversation.

From observation since Barbados Underground was established in 2007 there is an irrefutable conclusion to be made. In the system of government practiced, we struggle mightily with holding feet to the fire when government officials contravene rules, procedures and expected standards of performance.

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Politicians too fat, cabinet too large, too many consultants

One day coming soon some disgruntled persons will attempt a Sidney Burnett Alleyne.

On the 15 July 2023 Prime Minister Mia Mottley sat down with veteran journalist David Ellis (see 90 minutes interview below) to answer questions raised early in the administration after she became the first woman to win government on 25 May 2018.

Interview with Prime Minister Mia Mottley

The blogmaster from time to time has circled back to this interview to use it as a measure of performance of Prime Minister Mottley and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) from 2018 to the present.

You will hear her stout defence for appointing the largest Cabinet per 1000 of population in the world. She will now argue the fact her government was reelected in the controversial snap election in January 2022 and won another clean sweep confirmed the electorate bought into government’s playbook. The blogmaster is of the view it was more a case that in the land of the blind a one eye woman is queen.

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Too much jucks and wuk ups!

Wuk up and jucks left right and center!

Submitted by Observing

Now that the crop over dust has settled it is clear that we were always in the wukking and jucking season. Videos and photos all over social media shows the old, young, black, white, slim, fat, rich and poor jucking down the place and wukking up like mad.

And, as if on cue, we the people continue to bend over and tek these jucks sometimes without even looking back to see who the owner of the banana is.

We get juck down with a change to NIS. Now the big boss begging for everyone to come on board after the fact.

The BTMI CEO get juck all the way cross the ocean over to Africa. Guess he couldn’t wuk up good enough!

The NCF juck down revelers with a whopping 13 hour jump and 8 hour wait that ended in darkness and jumpers in distress. Then they put their hands up, rolled their batties and told us that it was the best Kadooment ever.

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As if it Never Happened

Solutions Barbados
Submitted by Dr. Grenville Phillips II

My life may be described as before and after 2015. That is the year I started Solutions Barbados in response to Prime Minister Stuart’s instruction. Everyone has a right to speak, but he explained that getting into the political trench was the way to be heard by the Government on economic matters.

I was later informed that I had committed Barbados’ unpardonable sin. I should have joined one of the two established parties instead of starting a new one. PM Stuart did not specify that critical point.


I was informed that my penalty would be to be blacklisted by all organisations controlled by the two established parties in Barbados, including: business and professional organisations, schools, churches, clubs, and the media. I did not believe then that they had such control. Eight years later, despite being out of elective politics since 2020, I am no longer an unbeliever.

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The DLP is Dying

A predictable event has fired up yet again in the DLP.

It was obvious to the greenest political pundit Dr. Ronnie Yearwood would have to face a challenge for the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) sooner or later. Many subscribe to the management concept leaders emerge and therefore Yearwood must be able to fight off all comers to establish his bona fides. Although true in theory there is a reality that nuances the political landscape of Barbados given the results of the last two general elections and how it has decimated the DLP brand. The DLP may no longer be considered a credible altenative. If the DLP perform as miserable at the next general election, Barbados will have a constitutional crisis on its hands.

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has been reduced to a comatose state because of two significant defeats by a Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in 2018 and 2022. Former DLP President Verla De Peiza for her futile effort leading a DLP in shambles post the so called ‘lost decade’ had to resign. There is a reality that the DLP decision makers must accept, little has occurred since 2022 to positively reposition the DLP brand in the minds of a cynical and apathetic public. It does not mean Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the BLP enjoy the best support. What is means is that in the land of the blind, a one eye woman is Queen.

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The Cheltenham Affair

The matter covered by Barbados Underground for more than a decade between Sir Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham versus Everton Cumberbatch continues to play on the civic minded among us- see BU Archives. The blogmaster has a problem with a very senior lawyer AND elder of the governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP) continuing to be selected for important national appointments while a serious complaint is pending with the Disciplinary Committee (DC). It is instructive to note the DC is blocked from doing its work- if it had any intention of doing so- because Cheltenham has been granted an injunction pending the completion of an application of a judicial review as reported in the Nation as follows:

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A poor choice: A do nothing group or a walk back group?

Submitted by Observing
The Honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley

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

and the list can go on.

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Politicians Doing what they do best – Liaison Officers to be hired for Government Backbenchers

Government backbencher Marsha Caddle – The ‘fine work’ of serving communities

The gap in our system of governance which resulted in the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) winning two consecutive general elections continues to expose inadequacies. More and more important pieces of legislation and information contained in Bills is being discussed in a relevant manner from the Upper Chamber. The latest is Senator Monique Taitt sharing concerns about the plan by government to appoint liaison officers for backbenchers. 

The reason for the liaison officers explained by deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw is to address the high demand from constituents – to quote Bradshaw, “It’s necessary because we have 30 MOs and the ministers are entitled to personal assistants and constituency assistants…when you have 16 or 18 seats, the volume of work is not the same, but in an environment with 30 seats, everyone is coming for them and they don’t have any support system. This will allow them to function better”.

In today’s (29/03/2023) Nation newspaper MP Marsha Caddle was allowed a 1-page spread to defend the decision to create the post of liaison officer for backbenchers. It was a very well articulated defense of government’s decision the blogmaster admits and under normal circumstances would command the support of the blogmaster.

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Just beyond your imagination?

Submitted by Paula Sealy

In his column in the 14 April 2017 edition of the Daily Nation column, Clyde Mascoll begins paragraph 6 as follows: “The tax policy of the Government is a perfect example of arbitrariness.”

The fiscal policy decision to raise VAT from 15% to 17.5% has been maintained despite the BLP 2018 manifesto ‘pledge’ on page to return VAT to 15% within 18 months. The 25% withholding tax on Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSP) has been retained and Mascoll has also been retained in a prominent role as an economic advisor in the Mottley administration.

See Related: VAT Online Transactions

Now Barbadians feel the weight of the fuel tax at the pump, the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) whether or not their homes are connected to the sewage system, the Amazon tax and the online tax on foreign currency transactions. Is there any difference between being assaulted by thugs in red or thugs in blue?

Assault is assault even if you are colour blind.

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After Mia, who?

The late Errol Walton Barrow died in 1987, 36 years later the political party he founded, one of two main parties that have dominated the political landscape- the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), continues the struggle to ‘find’ itself. On the other side of the political fence the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is led by the personage of Mia Mottley whose style has endeared her to the local and international community.

There is the suggestion Prime Minister Mia Mottley will elect not to offer herself as a candidate in the next general election. Political pundits again suggest that were this to occur the BLP will likely find itself in a similar state to compare to the DLP. From where the blogmaster is perched there is no obvious successor to Mottley. Some say Santia Bradshaw is being groomed, others are of the mind leaders emerge, a lazy premise if the blogmaster were to opine.

Who is the BLP leader in waiting?

I Forgive You

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

I normally take my best advice. Therefore, I wish to publicly forgive those whom I have publicly criticised for doing me harm.

I forgive the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration for confiscating part of my retirement savings and pension, changing the laws of Barbados to make that theft legal, and not allowing me to access all the remainder of my retirement savings until the year 2033.


I forgive the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration for what the BLP called “the lost decade”. During seven years of that decade, I was not allowed to tender on construction projects in Barbados because of their corrupting procurement policy.


I forgive our politically partisan professionals. They include: economists, accountants, lawyers, journalists, and political scientists who criticised behaviour when it was done by the political party they did not support, and praised the same behaviour when it was done by their preferred political party.

I forgive our established media, who work with their political party to suppress the voices of credible Barbadians, so that the media’s audience is mainly informed about the views of the media’s political party.

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Minister of Education McConney Survives Cabinet Reshuffle

Minister of Education Kay McConney

The latest in the world of local politics has been the announcement by Prime Minister Mottley of a Cabinet reshuffle that includes the deployment of MP for the City Corey Layne to the Attorney General’s office. Minister of Education Kay McConney continues to enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister at a time there is public dissatisfaction directed at the Ministry of Education over the IDB Survey. 

Before the news of the reshuffle the blogmaster intended to share a thought about the political chaos unfolding in the UK. Particularly the fact members of the cabinet and prime ministers have been routinely resigning. The UK will have 5 prime ministers in a 6 year period with the recent resignation of the Prime Minister Liz Truss holding that office for 44 days. 

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Politicians Make Promises and Tell Lies

From time to time the blogmaster retrieves the various manifestos shared over the years by the two main political parties in Barbados and it makes for interesting reflection. It is obvious the objective by the BLP and DLP is to baffle a gullible electorate. Have a read if you are a doubting Thomas –

The blogmaster was drawn page 30 of the BLP manifesto titled Rebuilding the Economy, Financing National transformation. Notwithstanding the country had to battle the Covid 19 pandemic for the last 3 years there is a view that with an unprecedented large Cabinet the government should have made more progress implementing several of the promises made in the 2018 manifesto. 

Last week the government received a donation of personal equipment supplies and Minister of Health (former chairman of the controversial NIS) took the opportunity to remind Barbadians so far, fighting the pandemic has costed government about 100 million dollars. The ministry of health should be congratulated for being transparent and efficient to share the cost with the public. We will wait to have the number validated by the Auditor General.

While congratulating the Minister of Health for being able to share the cost to fight the pandemic so far – why should we be congratulating for this anyway – the public has seen roadblocks to ascertain the cost of the Barbados Digital ID Project. It is ironic that Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael has been unable to share projected and or actual cost given the type of ministry he is responsible. It is too much of a big pill for the public to swallow he has no idea the cost of the project. He was quoted in the press as saying – “I am going to provide the public with the costs related to this project very soon. The thing is, we have the information relative to the cost [but] that information is spread across many financial years, many different components, many different agencies, departments and ministries”. 

The blogmaster understands the ID project has had several iterations across financial years straddling BOTH administrations. Is Minister Ishmael saying that at minimum he is unable to share cost incurred under his BLP government with the caveat information will come at a later date regarding prior years expense? It is the height of arrogance by the minister and flies in the face of this government’s pledge to be transparent. Is this another case of public servants messing up the bookkeeping by being complicit with politicians in the award of contracts to private sector players?

In today’s Nation the editor in chief Carol Martindale calls out government ministers for not returning calls to journalists pursuing information in the public’s interest. Again a read of the 2018 BLP Manifesto promised a government committed to being transparent. In reality, it is about making promises to win votes from a gullible public, or shall we say damn lies. Is the proclamation of Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation still a promise?

We have a Ministry of Health quick to toss around a 100 million dollar price tag for propaganda purposes, BUT, in a another ministry there is a veil of confusion about how tax payers dollars have been allocated to the Barbados ID project. Why do we have annual Estimates debates and Appropriations Bills? Surely Minister Ismael can tell the public he serves monies allocated to the project under his term? Is this a case for the Auditor General to unravel in a special audit? This maybe the case based on what the blogmaster was been made aware. If only public servants would do the damn job and stop politicians from interfering ways.

Mottley Cabinet is Bloated

One of the more interesting decisions made in 2018 by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government led by Mia Mottley was to appoint the largest ever Cabinet in our history. Her justification for the ‘relatively large’ Cabinet was because of the overwhelming mandate received from the electorate. From 2018 until the present – with a cosmetic tweak in 2022 – the Cabinet has remained large.

Enough time has elapsed to fairly judge if a large Cabinet adds value to how the country has been governed since 2018. It has been a government led by the larger than life and seemingly indefatigable Prime Minister Mottley. Her style of delivery and oratory skill has endeared her to the international community. It is worth a reminder she inherited an economy with a GDP north of 150 with junk status credit rating. There was a feeling of renewed hope in the nation post 2018 general election.

Out of the gate the Mottley government committed the country to a debt restructure on domestic and local holdings which right sided the debt to GDP indicator BUT immediately shot the confidence of local and foreign investors. The lack of confidence to invest persists four years later. To be expected economists are divided on whether it was the right strategy, these decisions are never easy we must admit. 

In Mottley’s defense she will postulate that the COVID 19 pandemic, Hurricane Elsa and La Soufriere volcano ash fall combined to derail government’s rebuild effort and in fact caused the economy to significantly contract. To reasonable onlookers she has a good defense. However hungry mouths well not be as sympathetic. The debate will continue about the BLP’s performance since 2018 until the next bell is rung.

Political pundits are already surveying a barren political landscape for alternative voting options. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) under rookie leader Dr. Ronnie Yearwood is in the early stage of a rebuild and the many political parties that presented at the polls in 2018 and 2022 have done the usual vanishing act of which Houdini would have been proud. 

What is the blogmaster trying to say in too many words?

Prime Minister Mottley has taken the reins of government at a challenging time in our history there can be no doubt. This is precisely why decisions taken by Mottley must be fit for purpose for the extraordinary times to guide a 166 square mile open economy island through the economic tempest and other challenges. There is no good reason the country should have to suffer a bloated Cabinet not to mention a bevy of financial consultants in 2022. Mottley must stop pandering to political inclinations and instead send clear signals to the population she and her government are prepared to make the sacrifice and walk with the people at a difficult time in our history. 

What the blogmaster fears most is – when the next general election is called the electorate may have no choice to abstain or vote anyone posing as an opposition, a default position. The level of apathy and cynicism in the country is already low. Whither our democratic system?

60 Love Can Lose

It would be remiss of the blogmaster if the yesterday’s 2022 Grenada general election was not highlighted in this space. Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) won consecutive general elections in 2013 and 2018. The Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won consecutive general elections in 2018 and 2022. Today the Prime Minister of Grenada is 44 year old Dikcon Mitchell who led the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to office based on preliminary reporting 9 seats to 6. To his credit 75 year old Keith Mitchell won his seat.

Another example of the people expressing its will in a democracy. Time will tell if the NDC is able to satisfy people expectation or another case of shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It exposes Mia Mottley and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) should NOT take its unprecedented mandate for granted. Less than a year into a second term and there is growing discontentment from Barbadians largely because of increasing harsh economic conditions brought on by negative movements in the external market. The main political opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) – not dissimilar to the NDC – is led by a new young Dr. Ronnie Yearwood. In fact Dickon Mitchell was invited to speak at the DLP’s Extraordinary Conference on 1 May 2022. The win should help to inspire Yearwood and his team to what is possible. 

Some of us recognise the winning of a general election does not translate to manna from heaven, although it relieves concerns about a threat to ‘democracy’ by becoming a de facto one party state. Grenada like Barbados is a small island developing state which makes the job of governing for any government a challenge.

In the case of Mottley and Barbados one suspects if Yearwood is able to present a set of believable plans for Barbados and surround himself with a tean that is perceived as credible, who knows what is possible next election round. The recent decision by the Barbados government to borrow $256 million is not resonating well with the public. In theory many Barbados may understand we need to fix roads and attend to physical infrastructure BUT at what price. The debt stock of Barbados is north of 13 billion!

The blogmaster will continue to retreat to a position some do not accept. Citizens must continue find ways to agitate against our governments – to hold feet to fire. Politicians are in the business of popularity even if it comes at the expense of the people who elected them.

Crisis of Governance – No Damn Labour Party (NDLP)

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was founded in 1938 and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955. For many the BLP and DLP dubbed the Duopoly are the only political parties we know. In recent years both political parties have been criticized for not being sufficiently progressive to sustain a quality life for the majority of Barbadians, present and future generations. Noticeable has been the inability of alternative parties to establish themselves as credible alternatives in a ready environment.

In 2018 and 2022 the BLP won both general elections with an unprecedented consecutive 30 to zero result. While political supporters of the duopoly have understandably contrasting feelings about the results, the more independent minded continue to be very concerned. 

A strong democracy depends on quality political parties. Strong political parties depend on quality members. In recent years both DLP and BLP have been unable to attract quality individuals to stem rising voter apathy and cynicism. No need to listen to the taking heads who try to justify declining voter turnout with statistical speak. Unbiased political pundits agree that today’s voter across the globe “appear to be turning away from traditional political organizations”. It forces the question – can the democracy practiced in Barbados survive without fit for purpose political parties?

The Barbados system of government which is a parody of the Westminster system is predicated on the “public’s trust in the integrity of government”, one that embodies “a framework of ethics, professionalism and transparency”. It has become obvious EXCEPT for rabid partisan supporters our political system has been hijacked- whether it is because of a less than meritorious selection of candidates or anonymous sources of funding for political parties that flavour how decisions are made when politicians ascend to government. There is a growing bloc of disenchanted citizens- here and elsewhere- who represent a view the time has come to usher in a more direct participation by citizens to how we govern. Find ways to diminish the role of political parties and the professional political class. The days of the ‘grassroot’ politician whose sole objective was to selflessly serve the public is a faded ideal.

Barbados presents a good case study to prove the notion of a system of government failing because of a declining political party system. There is the BLP with its charismatic maximum leader- remove Mottley from the BLP leadership and there is a good chance the party will flounder to mimic the death throes being exhibited by the DLP. In the meantime and in between time the people are left with no option than to vote for twiddledee or twiddledum.

The majority of Barbadians despite our boast of being an educated people hesitate to discuss governance issues in a meaningful way. That is unless cloaked in a salacious, adversarial and contentious theme. There is the saying, a people always get the government it deserves. Across the globe this is being witnessed.

Sound of Silence

Freundel Stuart was the prime minister of Barbados in the period 2010 to 2018 after assuming the caretaker role from David Thompson who became sick on the job soon after the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was voted to office in 2008. The legacy of Stuart’s stewardship is still being written although some pundits at this early stage are happy to label it worse than the Sandiford administration. The tactic engineered by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – the other member of the duopoly – has enjoyed success with branding of the Glorious Years as The Lost Decade.

The failure of a third party movement to gain traction in Barbados means the health of our democracy is nexus to well managed DLP and BLP political parties. A strident dissenting voice is a feature of the Westminster system we try to model – the lacuna created by the recent general election and ensuing legal challenge regarding how the Senate is constituted is a case in point. A good argument can therefore be made that the business of political parties is the public’s business although classified private entities. In fact the unwillingness of quality citizens to offer themselves to join political parties who aspire to selflessly serve the public is at the heart of the type of governments we are saddled.

Some of us who comment on political matters are not surprised at the dysfunctional state of the DLP. It was not difficult to forecast. Barbadians except for the rabidly partisan are turned off by the quality of politics and governments we have been getting since the Tom Adams era which ended in the mid 80s. The blogmaster opines both DLP and BLP political parties have been rotated to govern the country based on the level of voter apathy and lack of credible alternatives and little to do with substance. The unprecedented 30-0 victories at the polls by the BLP in 2018 and 2022 should give Barbadians reason to pause. The BLP despite making several mistakes in a brief tenure of just over three years the political opposition was unable to gain the public’s trust.   The quality of our system of government whether we like it or not is tied to the quality of individuals attracted to serve in political parties. There is that symbiotic relationship only a fool would deny.

Today makes 32 days since the last general election and except for a public position in response to a contentious offer from Prime Minister Mottley to participate in a discussion about accepting two Senate seats, the DLP has been silent and irrelevant in the public space. Sensible observers appreciate it will take the DLP time to assess, reorganize and mobilize BUT there is a reality to be considered by the DLP and onlookers. The silence coming out of George Street is consistent with the ‘glorious years’ of the Stuart administration and the longer it persists, the more difficult it will be for that party to be perceived as a credible alternative. The blogmaster is aware the DLP has skin in the game based on the matter that is before the court brought by AG Brathwaite – who we know is acting de facto for the DLP. Some of us are not so stupid to believe otherwise.

This is a cry for a different type of citizen with a passion and body of work for serving the public to join the two main political parties. An organization assumes the character of its members. If we want our governments to change how business is done, it must begin with the quality of personnel attracted to political parties. Today it is the DLP in crisis, it is not inconceivable the BLP may find itself in a similar position when Mia Mottley demits office whether for a forced or unforced reason. If that happens all of us will be adversely impacted.

The type of government we get starts with YOU!

Another Abracadabra Moment

In 2018 the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won all 30 seats in parliament. It created what pundits described as a political dilemma for the government because the Barbados Constitution recognizes the role of the Leader of the Opposition.

At the eleventh hour Reverend Joseph Atherley who was elected to the House of Assembly on a BLP ticket decided to cross the floor and like magic the constitutional crisis was averted. Before Atherley saved the day there was a move afoot to amend the Constitution to provision for two senators to be appointed by the Governor General from the losing political party winning the most votes. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) would have been the beneficiary of the amendment. However, we recall campaign manager Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris criticized the move to manufacturer an opposition presence in the Upper House. His reason – a political opposition should earn its place in parliament.

…Robert “Bobby” Morris, said they would rightfully reclaim their seats in the legislature in time and there was no need to take up the offer.

However, George Connolly, one of the new candidates who ran in St James Central and who lost his deposit, took an opposing view. I’ve heard the comments of ‘Bobby’ Morris and I have a lot of respect for him, but I disagree vehemently with the position that he took on that. I think we need a voice, and a senatorial voice is as good a voice as any. You can’t effect any major changes, but certainly you can have a voice. So I am in total agreement if the offer is made that it should be accepted, he told Starcom Network yesterday.

In hindsight given the outcome of last week’s general election the government should have amended the Barbados Constitution to address the lacuna in the improbable event a political party again won all the seats. A discussion being had across Barbados is whether there will be another convenient crossing of the floor by a ‘disgruntled’ BLP member days after campaigning successfully on a BLP ticket in the mold of Atherley or if the shelved 2018 amendment to the Constitution will be dusted off.

Whether there is the convenient crossing of the floor by a member of parliament to create a leader of the opposition in the Lower House or amendment to the Barbados Constitution to create same in the Upper House, it is unfortunate a dissenting voice has to be created arising from the first past the post system we practice. In this regard the blogmaster does not agree with Morris that the DLP should refuse to participate in the Upper House if the opportunity is created to do so. There are commentators like Dr.Kristina Hinds who posit a view there are avenues outside of parliament to make ones voice heard. 

The blogmaster’s view is that parliament provides a prominent space for an opposition voice in our system of government. It gives the opposition earned exposure that helps to create a national profile for the political party given the credibility it adds through participation from in the bowels of the parliamentary system. The country witnessed how former Senator Caswell Franklyn did it with good effect. We should not trivialize the optics of opposition participation in parliament by the public.

There is concern two unprecedented 30 to 0 mandates pave the opportunity for the Mottley led government to run roughshod over the views of members in civil society. Especially given her rambunctious leadership style. Decisions taken by the government of Barbados in the coming days have deep implications for our way of life to come. 

God Bless Bim!

BLP Win 30-0, Again

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in a surprising result won all 30 seats again in a snap election called 18 months before constitutionally due by Mia Mottley.

In the coming weeks there will be robust debate about how our democracy optimally serves Barbadians with a muted dissenting voice. One may argue a healthy democracy requires a strident dissenting voice. Barbados is traveling an uncharted path given the 2018 and 2022 general election results and BELOW 50% turnout (anecdotal). In the coming weeks our attention will turn to government’s management of COVID 19, the economy, the health of political opposition and a few other key issues.

Whither the political opposition?

The blogmaster congratulates the BLP on the win and offers the advice – to whom much is given, much is expected.

Democratic and Barbados Labour Party Candidates 2018 vs 2022

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Democratic Labour Party Candidates – 2018 vs 2022

Early this morning (very early) I posted my analysis of Barbados Labour Party candidates 2018 vs. 2022. Now it’s time to have a look at the candidates the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) fielded in 2018 and what they are bringing to the 2022 elections. I will not go over the methodology used, as it is…Read More

Barbados Labour Party Candidates – 2018 vs 2022

UPDATE 1: Having received reliable information on the birth year of Senator The Hon. Kay (she is 54, not 55), I have updated The Table. No updates were required to the Discussion Points and the Age Distribution Chart. This is a revised post to the original one that was made on January 11 (and removed…Read More

BLP and DLP Governments Use Media Practitioners for Propaganda

Submitted by Paula Sealy

The current administration has invested in the media and media personnel has invested in the Mottley administration. Some media practitioners were forced out of CBC and landed at Starcom. But some of the others are riding the fatted calf for all it is worth. (David Thompson spoke of the fatted calf being shared among the DLP members after the elections in 2008. Fourteen years later we are still there.)

They may be professionals but how many of their statements in the print media, behind a microphone or in front of a TV camera were motivated by a political agenda or professional integrity.

The Market Vendor aka Vic Fernandes has been used to influence the public with comedy and encourage John Public to rail against individuals and groups with views against the government of the day. Don’t forget when the vendor lambasted the DLP government.

Corey Layne was said to be an objective moderator on the airwaves. Any person who is a critical thinker must question that thinking by now.

We must be more aware of what is being put out by the media, who is the source and why news items are considered newsworthy or not.

Pay attention to where these people have turned up…

1. David Ellis, Starcom (Station Manager, Retired) – COVID-19 Public Advisor (Sep. 2021-present)

2. Sanka Price, Starcom/NATION (News Editor) – CEO, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (2020.06.15-present)

3. Roy Morris, Barbados Today (Editor-In-Chief) – Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

4. Vic Fernandes, Capital Media (Chairman)

  • Chairman, Grantley Adams International Airport (2018-2021)
  • Chairman, Barbados National Oil Company Limited (2021.07.01-present)
  • Member, National Cruise Development
  • Commission (2018.08.16-2019.02.15)

5. Carol Roberts-Reifer, Starcom (Radio Personality)

  • CEO, National Cultural Foundation (2018-present)
  • Deputy Chairperson, Board of Management, Christ Church Foundation School (2018-present)

6. Corey Layne, Starcom (Radio Personality) – BLP Candidate, City of Bridgetown, 2022

Policy Performance and Outlook (Part 1)

General Election will be held in Barbados 19 January 2022. One expects a key issue of the campaign will be economic plans to move Barbados forward and the Mottley led government will be asked to defend its management of the economy since 2018 notwithstanding it must have been a difficult undertaking based on what the state of the economy was and then the pandemic. The following was shared with the blogmaster and now posted for comment – David, blogmaster

Context – How did we get here?

To judge them fairly, one would have to first look at the state of the nation upon the administration assuming office in May of 2018.  In 2018 the administration faced a debt to GDP ratio of 158.26% or 174% if you include arrears. These arrears were simply $1.9 billion the government refused to pay to ordinary Barbadians and businesses as opposed to money borrowed. This includes money owed to government contractors for work done or goods provided, income tax returns to individuals, vat returns to businesses, reverse tax credits to the working poor and $250 million in civil servant pensions Which government had stopped paying to the NIS.  Therefore, it is fair to add it to the total government debt as the current administration does. The total debt to GDP ratio of 174% was up from a ratio of 83.3% in 2008 when the Thompson administration took office. That is a staggering increase in the Debt to GDP ratio of any nation in just 10.5 years. For further context, when the Owen Arthur Administration took office in 1994, the country’s debt to GDP ratio was 55.93% an increase of 27 percentage points in 14 years in which Barbados; Rebuilt a Highway, Built a Cricket Stadium, built two new Secondary Schools, rebuilt a prison. refurbished an Airport and placed technological equipment in all schools through Edutech and built new Tenantry roads through the Urban and Rural Development Commision. The Mottley Administration also assumed office with less than $400 million in Foreign reserves with a foreign debt payment due in just over a month, very low to no economic growth for a decade, An economy headed back into recession despite the global economy growing at 3 percent at the time according to the UN Barbados was the third most indebted country in the world after Greece which is backed by the European Union, and  Japan which has the second highest amount of Foreign Reserves in the world after China. The question then becomes, Why did the Thompson/Stuart administration struggle so much to manage the country’s fiscal and economic affairs?     

Fiscal Management  

To find answers we cannot speculate but we will need to take a look at the Government’s accounts aka “The revised estimates” you can find here: Estimates and the Central Bank of Barbados data on Government operations. In order to be fair to the previous administration we can only examine the Fiscal Balance on the Current Accounts since this does not include repayment of interest on loans from the Arthur or Sandiford Administrations. The examination of this data does not paint a pretty picture. Since Grantley Adams Administration in 1952 Barbados had only recorded a fiscal deficit of it’s current accounts five times with four of three occasions being so small it hardly registered twice under Barrow, once under Tom Adams and Twice under Sandiford, with the largest being in the fiscal year 1988/89 of $20 million. The reasons behind this rule are two fold:

Running a fiscal surplus or balanced budget on the current account takes pressure off the Central Bank to print money to finance it . which in turn secures the fixed exchange rate since money printing depletes the foreign reserves.   
Secondly, It creates fiscal space by allowing the government to borrow for purposes which are desirable like to build roads. schools improve public transport and water resources.

Then in 2008 something happened, Barbados departed from an “unwritten fiscal rule” which we had followed for decades, we went terribly off track as the data shows in 2008/2009 we spent 189.4 million more than was received in revenue  2009/2010 486, millions more than tax revenue, in 2010/210 $638 million, 2010/2011 $266.2 million, 2011/2012 $614.3 million 2013/2014 was the worst year in which we spent $786.7 million more than was collected in taxes. Every year until 2018 Barbados borrowed to pay wages and salaries and to keep the “lights on” so to speak. This was not to invest in infrastructure or digitizatization or upskilling for the future but spending in the current period. In the financial year, 2010/2011 (page 27) Capital Expenditure actually fell by 41.2% and it never recovered throughout the life of the administration. This means that the administration which ran the largest deficits in the history of the country all invested the least in its future.  The administration also reduced investments in human Capital in the form of  higher education, by 2012, our government had racked up arrers to UWI to the tune of $150 million  and by 2013 Government officially announced tuition fees for Barbadian students after not paying the University for some time. This wasn’t during a pandemic, global flights were not halted and we had not been hit by a major hurricane (thankfully).  To be fair, there was a global financial crisis between 2008 and 2010, however the previous administration did not have a revenue problem. The 2008 budget which Thompson delivered ensured that tax revenue remained at 2008 levels despite the Canadian’s signing a tax treaty with Cayman which reduced our International business taxes.  In fact by 2009 the Government raked in 2.6 billion dollars in taxes, surpassing 2007 levels.  However, the country had a spending problem, driven by a category called transfers and subsidies, mostly going to State owned Enterprises. We were adding obscene amounts to the national debt not to build roads. bridges, schools, clinics. hospitals and to digitize and modernize the economy but to throw into a dark hole called SOE’s.  What happened as the years went on was those deficits lead to short term borrowing, which lead to credit rating downgrades which lead  to higher interest costs.  This spiral ensured that the country could not buy a single bus, leading to stories like this, or garbage trucks or upgrading sewage plants or fix crumbling school infrastructure or supplying water to parts of the island where people were suffering from dry taps. We simply had no fiscal space.  When the deteriorating credit rating scared off Institutional investors. We resorted to borrowing from the Central Bank (printing money),this money printing led to the Foreign Reserves plummeting even after we managed to borrow, at very high interest rates (10-13%) from Credit Suisse at.  

Fiscal Space and Restoring Credibility 

I don’t know much about politics, but as someone who thinks who has often derided politicians for trying to trick people, one thing that struck me in reading the BLP’s 2018 manifesto was the lack of “pie in the sky” promises and the honesty about the need for debt restructuring (page 8) and going the IMF , which is almost unheard of in a political campaign in the Caribbean.  To be frank, this style of candid campaign lead to the new administration being able to make the decisions it needed to upon assuming office.   

After 3.5 years what has been their Record?   A week after assuming office the Government announced that Barbados would be suspending Debt payments and entering talks with creditors and the IMF in order to stop the slide in the Foreign Reserves and get Fiscal Space.  This debt restructuring exercise was wrapped up in 2019 details: here.
Just over a week later, the Minister of Finance went to parliament to deliver the so-called “min-budget” which was just a set of adjustments to the Estimates presented by the previous administration in March. Measures in these adjustments were meant to close the still large fiscal deficit which the island struggled with by going to the root of the problem, Transfers and subsidies to SOEs. Government proposed taking a number of SOEs off of the Consolidated fund and forcing them to fund their operations using their own revenue streams. Some Measures included:  Airline travel and Development tax for tourists coming from outside Caricom to go directly to BTMI while taking BTMI off the Consolidated fund (partly privatizing it) Product Development levy on Tourism services to create more revenue stream for BTMI. Moving the SSA and the Water Authority off the Consolidated fund though the Garbage and Sewage Contribution. A PPP to let a concessionair run Harrison’s Cave so the Government can take it off the Consolidated fund, the entity which was later chosen was Chukka Caribbean. The Purchase of new garbage trucks and buses. The resumption of payment of tuition for students at UWI The increase in non-contributory pensions from $155 to $225.  

What were the results of these adjustments? 

To be clear, a number of these measures were tough, but they had a simple theme, to stop taking money from the consolidated fund and throwing into dark holes called State owned Enterprises like SSA, BWA, Harrison Cave, BTMI and BTPMI and Transport Board, The type of Spending which choked the country for a decade.  By March 2019 Barbados was recording a small fiscal surplus on the current account of $167.2 million.  During that same period the administration sought to address the infrastructural decay of the country with Temporary fix to the south Coast Sewage problems: New Garbage trucks arrived by January 2019 and more would arrive by December 2019: The purchase of new buses which arrive by mid-2020.  Reinvesting in primary and Secondary Education through repairs to schools like St Giles primary,  or St George Secondary  Establishment of the Education Reform Unit and the the upgrade the electrical wiring across all schools and fence to fence wifi connectivity. Bringing in Coding and Robotic kits to launch the coding and robotics programme in 2022.For a long time people have been crying for water relief in parts of rural Barbados and the administration spent money to fix water distribution issues facing them see: here and here. Residents in parts of St.Andrew, St John and St Joseph are benefiting as seen by this tweet.  The administration also repaired and rebuilt several roads across Barbados, the latest being in St. Phillip seen here and here.  

Arrival of Covid

Just as the country recorded a fiscal surplus current account surplus of  6%, the largest surplus in the Country recorded in decades.  The pandemic struck.  Note: In part 2 I will examine the Administration’s response to the pandemic and what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses going forward.  

Do they Care?

Submitted by Observing

In the silly season we tend to look only at politics, but it is also Covid season.  A look therefore at the recent election call through the eyes of a pandemic situation is necessary

The charts above show statistics  for Covid Cases and Positivity Rates in December. Remember we came from highs of 400 and rates of 20+% in October and November

Since then we have learned about Omicron which was first recorded in November, spread around the world by December 1 and reached the Caribbean a week or so later

What did Barbados do?

We relaxed the policy at the airport without consulting BAMP, botched the rollout of Safe Zones without consulting the Unions, started home isolation and stopped contact tracing without initially letting the public know.

Now on December 27, 2021 snap elections are called.  18 months early.  Let that sink in.

The government holds ALL medical information, projections and forecasts.  He/she is aware of all potential national security and health issues.  They more than anyone, know what the attached charts and regional situation is showing. Yet, despite this, there was a mad unilateral rush to Republic and now another mad unilateral rush to an election 18 months early.

But, just for comparison, let’s look at a few other recent elections regionally

  • St. Lucia, held July 26, 2021. 7 day Covid average at announcement = 7
  • St. Vincent, held November 20, 2020: 7 day Covid average at announcement = 0.86
  • Jamaica, held September 3, 2020: 7 day Covid average at announcement = 18
  • Trinidad, held August 10, 2020: 7 day Covid average at announcement = 1
  • St. Kitts, held June 5, 2020: 7 day Covid average at announcement = 13
  • Barbados to be held January 19, 2020: 7 day Covid average at announcement = 72…and climbing

 I think we get the picture.

In the above cases, constitutional constraints mean elections HAD to be called soon. In Barbados’ case, no such demand existed other than political or individual calculation.   A Prime Minister asked once when will leaders lead.  Leaders do not plunge their people into a state of uncertainty, in a pandemic, in the season of Advent, before the start of school with not even their own people being aware just because “they felt like.”

  • Leaders bring people together of all stripes and loyalties to heal divisions real, perceived or created by themselves.
  • Leaders go beyond just talk and live up to the ideals and values that THEY said they would.
  • Leaders take care of home drums first then worry about attention abroad after.
  • Leaders build trust through transparency and honesty. 
  • Leaders focus on all persons, not just a select few.

I think we all know that this election was not called based on national goals or unity. The general public and the electorate are clearly secondary considerations. 

Keep safe whenever you campaign or wherever you vote.  Long live the Republic.

Silly Season Time Again

A short three years ago in 2018 then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart remained in office for 90 days beyond the five year anniversary of the first sitting of parliament permitted under the Barbados Constitution. Three years later incumbent Prime Minister Mia Mottley has called a snap general election eighteen months before it is constitutionally due. 

The early ring of the bell has caused tongues to wag with rumours and rumours of rumours rolling off the social media conveyor belt. The blogmaster reconciled a long time ago that political parties are in business to win general elections and this is the single consideration to reflect on when evaluating and commenting on political issues.

Every election cycle we hear talk about the need for the enactment of fixed term, campaign financing legislation etc. When the winner is announced on the night of the 19th January there will be further calls campaign financing laws and amendment to the electoral laws etc. To be expected, nothing will be done to address the issues raised by the politicians who raised them.

This week there were howls of protests from members of the public when it was discovered the voters list was posted online with personal information. The majority of Barbadians were oblivious to the fact the Representation of the People Act was amended in 2020 to make legal what occurred. What it has exposed is the lack of interest the majority of Barbadians have in what is debated in parliament. It should make the debate promised about the Barbados Constitution very interesting.

The blogmaster will resist the usual political punditry at predicting who will win which ‘seat’ on the 19th. Given the current hopeless economic state of affairs in the country, it seems a pointless exercise to expect B or D will make a difference. Both political parties have to bear responsibility for where we are today. Do not expect manna to fall after nearly fifteen years of famine.

The blogmaster and others have blogged many times on governance issues, however, BU dashboard shows these blogs record lower hits than the others. What does it say about our ‘intelligence’ as a people? 

The government you elect is the government you deserve.

Thomas Jefferson

Will average Barbadians be encouraged to seriously debate the merits of imposing fixed term laws to eliminate the opportunity for a prime minister to attempt to manipulate the result of an election? The blogmaster is not optimistic. Stuart tried in 2018 and supporters of the Democratic Labour Party defended the decision. Mottley three years into a five year term has done similarly and Barbados Labour Party are stridently defending the decision. Around and around we go, when it will stop nobody knows.

What will be the issues this time around?

Same old, same old – NTSH

19-11 for BLP after Jettisoning Dead-weight?

Submitted by Observing

With only three weeks to guesstimate, a dispassionate analysis of the ruling party both at the constituency and Government level clearly shows that coattails washed in some dead weight in 2018. To be fair, the other lot had to go, but, 3 and a half years gives enough time to see who we were working with.

Disclaimer: These views do not take the opposing candidate into account unless there is a glaring reason to.

Who must and should go

Peter Philips – Did little to nothing for St. Lucy even after being planted in the Ministry of Housing.

Colin Jordan – Has done even less for labour than Esther Byer-Suckoo, go figure. A known name in St. Peter but little to no representation where it matters most.

Dale Marshall – Wins the award for being contradicted the most by the PM, for paying out the most taxpayers money SECRETLY even after winning a case twice and the most bungled rollout and retraction of recent laws. St. Joseph has sucked salt (without water) for too long

Sandra Husbands – Sandra who?

Neil Rowe – Coattails worked in 2018. Neil’s abundant and extraordinary weakness as an MP and a candidate are profound. The alternative is better by far.

William Duguid – For selfishly refusing to pass the baton and for being the worst Transport Minister ever. Didn’t do much better in housing either except for giving away contracts to Mark Maloney and money to the Chinese.

Indar Weir – Big talk, little action. St. Philip South hasn’t been this neglected since a certain former PM.

Ryan Straughn – Has done little to nothing for Christ Church East Central. Admittedly he was working with the 5 other Ministers of Finance, 4 consultants and reps from White Oak to increase debt and shaft voters with bonds every chance they get. Who has time to serve lowly constituents in all of that!

Sonia Browne – Nice lady. Should stick to the medical profession. Politics and politicking clearly didn’t work out for her.

Who can go back home
Kay McConney – No amount of unilateral Constitutional changes can gloss over her being dead weight at the constituency level.

Rommel Springer – Just like the DLP’s Harry Husbands Dr. R only warmed a seat and did nothing in the education ministry for just over $180,000 a year

Who could go but won’t

Edmund Hinkson – Backbencher extraordinaire aided and abetted by George. St. James North will no longer have a voice

Toni Moore – for pure betrayal of workers and shameless capitulation to capital and political expediency.

Charles Griffith – Nice fella, but you can only do so much after so many big promises.

Wilfred Abrahams – Waste of time, but the alternative is far worse. Far far far worse.

Ralph Thorne – Was never really a Bee but if the train is moving then roll with it!

Kirk Humphrey – For only showing up when a camera is around or too much noise is kept. Not to mention totally neglecting “certain specific” parts of his constituency

Who should stay due to good national appeal, constituency work, general competence or all the above

  • Mia Mottley
  • Adrian Forde
  • Marsha Caddle
  • Ian Gooding-Edghill
  • Santia Bradshaw
  • Arthur Holder
  • Trevor Prescod – Even though he now has to hold his nose and support his leader
  • Dwight Sutherland
  • Kerrie Symmonds
  • Cynthia Forde

New toss ups with nothing on which to assess

  • Corey Lane
  • Davison Ishmael
  • Christopher Gibbs

There you have it. An objective 19-11 or 18-12 government come January 20, 2022 with the power to change Constitution no longer in the hands of one person or party.

Long live the Republic!!!

BLP DLP Same Party – NTSH

The blogmaster checked the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) website and the list of candidates to run in the upcoming general election is not current. The same observation for the DLP with a general election on the horizon only 16 candidates are listed. Needless to say manifestos are also a work in progress with the DLP website offering a ‘Coming Soon’ disclosure. Given the perilous state of the social and economic affairs in the country, should we be satisfied with the lack of urgency shown by the major political parties to ready its ‘political machinery’? Should the electorate be satisfied by the lack of urgency?

One expects after the Michaelmas break political parties AND operatives will ramp up activities. Unfortunately barring a divine intervention the next general election contest will be between the two major political parties pejoratively dubbed the Duopoly. Like many countries across the globe Barbadians have shown little appetite for third parties who for the most part have been unable to attract quality candidates and craft a compelling alternative message.

The next general election will be interesting for many reasons. At the top of list of political pundits is how the DLP will bounce back from the unprecedented 30 to zero drubbing in 2018. On the flip side there is a BLP managing a sick economy made worse by the ongoing panic resulting in a conservative 17% unemployment number. It is a scenario ready made for a political opposition to make good progress. Then again there is the political adage oppositions don’t win elections. Governments lose them. The Mottley government must be aware the pandemic has given rise to an anti-government sentiment with several losing general elections in the last year.

Will the central theme of the next general election be about which political party has the superior inferior leadership? How about the economy stupid. What we know is that tired narratives of old should not apply. We have a more enlightened electorate and active social media. The blogmaster is the eternal optimist. Then again what are the political options that spell a departure from the tired policies of the Duopoly? Credit to the government it has been promoting increase use of technology to improve efficiency to manage our affairs and forging linkages to non traditional markets BUT the same old issues remain. Have a read of post 2018 Auditor General reports, the state of the National Insurance Scheme, public debt accumulation, irrelevant education system to enable Barbados to compete in a global market, over-reliance on tourism, passive private sector; entrepreneurial class, declining social behavioral, increase lawlessness etc etc. Although the government is not solely to blame for everything ailing the country, it sets the tone.

Where do we go from here?

What should citizens demand from political parties given the signs of the times. What role must traditional media play to assist in the the transformation to ensure relevance. Recently the blogmaster viewed asocial media posting of a young female journalist who appeared to be besotted with Prime Minister Mottley because she was handed the opportunity of an interview. How does it contrast with trade unionists of yore who refused on principle to drink and break bread with those on the other side of the table?

A read of the tea leaves indicates NTSH.

Waste of an Unprecedented Mandate

To whom much is given, much will be required.

Luke 12:48

The result of the 24 May 2018 general elections delivered an unprecedented result to the Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) winning ALL 30 seats in parliament. In the minds of many a clear message was sent by the voting public, it was disgusted with the performance of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government to an unimaginable degree. In the minds of many the Stuart led government surpassed the unpopularity of the Erskine Sandiford administration, no mean feat.

The 30-0 result was confirmation the two main political parties win governments by default. Rising apathy and cynicism in the electorate continues to strike at the heart of how we fashion our so called democracy. Some of the members washed into parliament in 2018 because of public discontentment, do not qualify to be servants of the people. A short three years later with a DLP still working to recover from the 2018 defeat, there is the possibility the DLP will pick up seats having done very little to promote a compelling alternative message to inspire public confidence. Sadly the duopoly is entrenched with no serious challenge from a third party movement.

The BLP inherited a stalled economy and managing during a pandemic and other challenges have not helped the cause. All reasonable Barbadians understand the hostile environment that continues to challenge economic recovery. We get it!

What some of us also see are decisions being taken by this Mia Mottley government comparable to failed former administrations. The first questionable decision was to appoint a 26 member cabinet supported by 2 parliamentary secretaries and several consultants – the justification; many hands make light work. An obvious case of trumping national interest with narrow political interest by removing the threat of a large backbench and rewarding ‘friends’ of the government. In a nutshell, the same old, same old. There is another popular saying, start wrong and you will end wrong.

The next interesting decision was to pay a boutique advisory company White Oak 27 million dollars to advise on restructuring our domestic and foreign debt. While some have agreed negotiating with foreign bondholders required a level of financial expertise to justify contracting White Oak like services, it boggles the mind why the company was retained to restructure local debt. 

Two years in the making of the cancelled ‘Little Island, Big Barbados” tourism campaign at a reported cost of USD750,000 raised questions about the sensible use of taxpayers dollars. A relatively small sum but the process which led to the cancellation of the campaign does not engender confidence in government. A parallel issue is that the birth of the Welcome Stamp idea belongs to Peter Lawrence Thompson and to date the government has not done the ethical thing by giving him recognition. Not surprisingly the DLP and other opposition agents have not seen the opportunity to advocate for the wrong being corrected.

The recent example of the Maloney Scam revelation threads a story of a government bedevilled by controversy. Ironically another controversial decision to import prefab houses from China caught the attention of a weary public. Why was Maloney – who is into construction – not selected to partner with government to supply the houses instead of brokering a deal gone south to procure COVID 19 vaccine? – see Minister Duguid, Who Are the Owners of EWBSB? What it has done is to quickly erode much of the political capital earned from May 2018. 

The blogmaster has a record of giving a new government the opportunity to find its way before levelling criticism. There is no doubt the Mia Mottley government inherited a bad hand. There is no doubt the ongoing pandemic and other challenges have complicated the task of governing Barbados. The blogmaster has been quietly observing for the last three years and what comes to mind is – what a waste of an unprecedented mandate.

To be continued…

Nothing to See Here (NTSH)

Submitted by Observing

First the strategy was smoke and mirrors, then it was detract and deflect now it is “nothing to see here” (NTSH)

The Prime Minister announces a willingness to pay $48 for vaccines which cost $12. NTSH

A permanent secretary signs off on a $10 million dollar agreement without their own Minister’s knowledge. NTSH

The biggest Cabinet of ministers and Ministers of State most of which we hardly hear or see, along with consultants, committees and advisers left, right, center and underneath. NTSH

20 months of Covid, millions spent, a depressed economy, extra salaries and largesse for a few but no budget or expense reporting to inform us. NTSH

Marches up and down about sewage tax and NSRL, but, cost of living is now the highest in decades with purchasing power at its lowest. NTSH

An entire law created to get TWO Deputy Commissioners of Police, yet finding ONE who was NOT a Deputy was akin to pulling teeth. NTSH

Houses imported from China, contractors left in the dark, only a “promised few” will be able to install and erect them. NTSH

A Republic is being forced down throats at break neck speed but yet we promote the gospel of consulting and engaging stakeholders. NTSH

Four sitting MPs retire, two sitting MPs castigate their boss in parliament and gag orders seem to be the order of the day. NTSH

A Minister and a Chief says online learning is going well. A million Frenchmen know otherwise. NTSH

On Moe minister takes 8 months off with full pay and no repercussions. NTSH

In December we said tourists must come, in January we said one death is too much, in October it’s we have to live with it. NTSH

Visitor protocols changed overnight without consultation. BAMP in the dark. 300+ cases and deaths continue daily. NTSH

The best candidate to market a Barbadian product is actually a German-Canadian. NTSH

Once upon a time MAM proclaimed MM as horrible, corrupt and deserving of jail. My how things change. NTSH

A candidate is publicly chosen and endorsed, then the branch is told you now have to decide if it is O-Kay. NTSH

We should all get a dollar when a Minister lies to our faces and says “I am not aware of that, I will have to look into it, I don’t know what you are talking about.” NTSH

Oh and before I forget….the decades old Kingsland Estates matter is adjudicated with half billion dollars going to the plaintiff while implicating local “power players” in fraud, deceit and corruption over many many years. But hey! Clearly, there’s nothing to see here.

Anyhow, don’t think about it too long folks. Pretend you didn’t read this because after all…no matter how bad it gets, how many lies are told, how many mistakes are made, and how much we are made to look like fools…THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

One Term Government?

The electorate of Barbados decided to give the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) an overwhelming and unprecedented mandate on the 24 May 2018. The result was a repudiation of a hapless Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration led by Freundel Stuart, as it was a belief by Barbadians in red bag-promises from Mia Mottley. We know the proclivity of human beings to want to believe in something, anything if it means being blinded to facts. Barbadians have shown themselves to be no different.

As we prepare – how time flies even when not having fun – to enter the early phase of another election cycle, the question being discussed quietly in some circles – is it possible the Mottley government could become a one term government? It harrows the mind of the blogmaster that after a 30-0 drubbing of the DLP three years ago some are open to the possibility of the incumbent suffering the ignominy of an Alan Chastanet in St. Lucia. 

The pandemic is proving to be an x-factor driving unpredictable human behaviour, beleaguered electorates suffering from economic fatigue has seen governments of SIDs struggle to govern. An absurdity tossed up sometimes by political talking heads is that some elections are good to lose. Is it possible this is the case for Verla Depeiza and her unready team? A scan of the DLP’s ‘newly minted’ website suggest the party is a work in progress.

Barbadians accept that the DLP represents the only option as the credible opposition party going into the next general election (The blogmaster was unable to find a website of the official opposition party led by Joe Atherley). We are therefore vested in a competent DLP being equipped to share alternative, progressive programs and to present a competent team to implement same to move the country forward. Based on what we have seen can we say – are we there yet?

The honeymoon period has disappeared for the Mottley government and much of its post-2018 political capital. Although the blogmaster is not convinced at this point Mia Mottley will suffer the fate of Alan Chastanet at the next poll, there is a level of apprehension in some quarters driven by the hostile environment governments of SIDs are presently negotiating. Making it more difficult for the experienced Mottley are rookie mistakes made so far, helping to reaffirm a perception that six of one, half dozen the other. 

It is unfortunate given the level of political apathy shown by the electorate, it has not given rise to a vibrant, credible and alternative political movement. One must conclude there are serious underlying issues preventing Barbadians of integrity and the other prerequisite characteristics to offer themselves for public service. The result has been successive governments who lacked the ability to sustain Barbados’ position on the socioeconomic ladder.

Now that Vela Depeiza has shown her mettle to win against internal combatants George Pilgrim from old guard and upstart outsider Guy Hewitt, is Verla battle harden enough to take on Mia Mottley?

Moe is Back from 8 Month Leave @taxpayers expense

Reading the Nation newspaper back page story of 30 September 2021 with heading ‘Moe not in breach‘, should make all Barbadians- those with the required level of civic awareness- to pause. An easy conclusion to draw from the report is that Senator Lucille Moe was deliberate how she MANAGED her absence from the Upper Chamber. In fact she was well advised.

You will recall the goodly Senator suffered a bad reaction to being dismissed from Cabinet by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in July 20, 2020. It is no secret Moe up to the falling out was a good and faithful servant of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) AND Mia Mottley.The Moe incident is reminiscent of George Payne who inflicted a long period of silence on the Lower House while serving under Owen Arthur. The difference is that he did while present.

The blogmaster is always offended when public servants elected or selected to do the people’s business show obvious disrespect to the task AND the unwillingness of citizens to hold such offenders to account. Lucille Moe returned to the Upper House last month after her unexplained absence after eight months – and it is business as usual. The disrespect for the people of Barbados was measured in her contribution of that day when she criticized the ‘powers that be ‘for not facilitating remote access for Senators. One should assume this was her concern?

Read the Nation report.

Moe not in breach 

SENATOR LUCILLE MOE will keep her seat in the Senate as she did not infringe rules in the Constitution by her prolonged absence from sittings.

This was stated by President of the Senate Reginald Farley at yesterday’s sitting, after he presented a detailed report in response to Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn’s earlier call for him to take action according to the Constitution and have Moe’s Senate seat declared vacant.

Farley said: “At the sitting [of] 18th August 2021, Senator Franklyn drew attention of the President that Senator Lucille Moe had not been seen since December in the Senate and thus in his opinion in accordance with Section 39-1 of the Constitution her seat should be declared vacant.”

He reminded senators that Section 39-1 provided “that the seat of a senator should become vacant (according to Section C) if he is absent from Barbados for a period exceeding 40 days at any time when the Senate is sitting, without the leave of the President given in accordance with the provisions of Subsection 2.”

That section of the Constitution permits the President of the Senate to grant leave to any senator to be absent from Barbados for any period not exceeding six months at any one time.

Farley continued: “The records indicate that Senator Lucille Moe attended the sitting of the Senate on 18th December 2020. The House of Assembly had earlier sat on the 15th December 2020 and thereafter went on annual recess, returning on 12th January 2021. So when the Senate met on December 18, 2020, it thereafter followed and went on recess until 12th January 2021.

“This fact is important as in the calculation of time towards the 40 days mentioned in the Constitution, days when the Senate is in recess are not to be taken into account in that calculation.

“Our information is that Senator Lucille Moe was in Barbados on the following days – January 5, February 20-21 and May 16-20, 2021. These days are also important, as the Constitution references absence from Barbados. When the periods are taken together, that is when the Senate was on recess and when Senator Moe was in Barbados during the periods that the Senate was sitting, the limit of 40 days was not breached.

Farley further explained that the House of Assembly

went on the usual break after the Estimates and returned on April 23, 2021.

“So when the Senate met for Estimates on March 24, it thereafter had gone into recess as well, the recess ending on April 23, 2021.

Farley said Moe applied for leave on May 19, 2021 adding that leave was granted for three months expiring on August 18, 2021.

“It should be noted that on every occasion when Senator Moe was not able to attend the Senate, her absence was communicated to the clerk and the President.

He noted: “However, the clerk had informed Senator Moe that while she acted in accordance with the standing orders of the Senate and notified both the clerk and President of her inability to attend Senate, she was made aware that such correspondence did not escape the operation of Section 39-1 of the Constitution and she was reminded to follow the prescription of Section 39-2.

Farley said Moe did follow this advice in May and sought leave from the President, which was granted for three months expiring on August 18, 2021.

“It should be pointed out that Senator Moe attended Senate on the 8th September 2021,” he said.

The President added: “I thank Senator Franklyn for raising this matter for the attention of the Senate and want to assure him that the clerk and myself were meticulous to ensure that the laws which govern the honour of the Senate were indeed followed.” (GC)

The Duopoly: BLP and DLP Must Step Up!

There is the saying he who plays the piper calls the tune. As it pertains to the political sphere, whether abroad or local – players with deep pockets who contribute to political parties expect when said party wins office, political contributions will covert to influence. There is enough evidence in post independence Barbados to agree.

In May of 2018 the electorate gave the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) an unprecedented mandate of 30 to 0. A prevailing opinion leading into that general election was that the level of apathy and cynicism was tailor made for a genuine third party movement to take root.  Unfortunately we had a situation which confirmed suspicions – our best citizens are not motivated to present for public office. To support the point, combatting the duopoly in 2018 were political parties led by Alex Mitchell, Bajan Free Party, Neil Holder, Barbados Integrity Movement, Steve Hunte, Kingdom Government of Barbados, Mark Adamson, People’s Democratic Congress, Grenville Phillips, Solutions Barbados and Lynette Eastmond – see Caribbean Elections  for list of candidates.

It is a fair conclusion to make that a credible so-called third party will not be an option for Barbadians any time soon. The alternative is for quality individuals to infiltrate the Barbados and Democratic Labour parties to act as change agents. Given the entrenched culture of the duopoly some will argue this is a near impossible task but it must be done.

The blogmaster is a keen observer of local politics and it is obvious both political parties have become slaves to a ‘democratic’ system that promises the electorate A but on winning office must reward B the campaign donor. What it means is if neither of the two main political parties when in government implement laws to better regulate campaign donations, nothing will change because every election cycle the duopoly will start with the advantage. Why would the duopoly lead change especially if the citizenry is not overly concerned with ‘boring’ governance issues?

Where do we go from here?

Political students are taught when there is a gap in the expectations of a people stoked by the political directorate, and the inability of said political directorate to deliver on promises made, there is a likelihood this will breed revolution – peaceful or violent based on the triggers. 

Barbados is a country stalled at the crossroads, heavily indebted, crumbling systems and infrastructure, uncomfortable crime level, an educational system not fit for purpose, moribund court system, inefficient garbage and sewage systems, 1970s economic model and a people with diminishing esprit de corps.

Every day the blogmaster listens to the old guard criticizing social media instead of embracing it to co-opt the support of the new guard. Instead we have so-called social media influencers whose ignorance or deliberate misinformation is allowed to go unchallenged. We have immerse ourselves in a culture of divisiveness. We have shown an inability to negotiate and reconcile difficult issues. There was a time a win win solution was the sole objective, now it is win lose.

On this blog we have had robust debate about the merit of a gradualist approach to confronting challenges as a Small Island Developing State. Across the globe – to a lesser degree in Barbados – there is evidence of declining political influence given the level of public protest actions we have been witnessing. It is evident to this blogmaster the citizenry is beginning to adopt public protest action as a means to express dissent instead of the traditional avenues entrenched in our governance system.

We are a country at the crossroads. The level of disharmony in the country does not bode well for a better Barbados. Leadership in the country must find pathways to rebuild trust between the people, private and public sector arms of society.  Rightly or wrongly civil society has ceded leadership responsibility to political parties. From this premise like minded citizens and actors in civil society will have to exert pressure on the local duopoly and others in the political sphere to reinvent by constructively engaging the general public to win back trust.



A Heather Cole Column – Governance by Confusion, Who Gains?

About 20 years ago as we crossed the street to get on to East Street there was a group of people ahead of us and one of the women was lugging a suitcase. We were going to the East Street Vendors Market in London. My son who was five then was with me and when we reached the market, we started to browse. Suddenly raised voices were heard above the normal chatter. Two women on the other side of the street were arguing loudly and it was escalating. Next, they seemed to be on the verge of exchanging blows and all eyes were focused on them; no one was focused on the items on display. From my distance across the street, I was trying to figure out what was happening and if to leave when my son said, “mummy look! that woman is putting the people’s things in her suitcase.” He could not see what was happening across the street only what was happening on our side at his eye level.

It was then that I realized that the distraction had been planned. The group had created a distraction and shifted everyone’s focus and in the ensuing confusion, made the vendors goods easy prey to theft.

Is this what has been happening in Barbados? Think about it, the prorogation of Parliament for no reason that has been made public to this day and the Throne Speech from hell with its mandate for a Republic, the buying out of the leadership of the Barbados Workers Union, the largest trade union in Barbados and the by-election in St. George North. Even the pandemic played into the government’s hand as they used it to change the terms of the Severance Pay Act.

The above distractions have caused confusion and shifted the attention of the people of Barbados away from the performance of the economy, unemployment, the fact that this Administration is not providing any solutions, a refusal to diversify the economy, increasing debt and the Chinese invasion of Barbados.

The Prime Minister does not deliver clear messages. There is more information in the foreign press than from the Government of Barbados about its relationship with China. It looks good and sounds great to hear that the Prime Minister had a telephone call with President Xi but ask any Barbadian what was discussed. They will not have a clue. One wonders if ever there was a time since independence that an Administration in Barbados has acted in such a deliberately shady manner but again it is meant to cause confusion.

What is significant to note is that the Private Sector too is confused. However, what occurred over the last weekend in which the government’s move of political expediency not to make vaccines mandatory should be a wake- up call for those businessmen in that sector. They have a clear case of nearsightedness; they can only see what is right in front of their noses.

In particular, the voice of the private sector has not been heard in the debate about the Republic so no one knows what they envision but it cannot be business as usual.

In the scope of things, unvaccinated workers do not pose as great a threat as China. Perhaps if the Private Sector can envision a scenario in which Barbados is unable to repay China, that China takes over the ports and then raise duties on all imports except from China, it would remove the biblical beam from their eyes.

If there is another move of political expediency that involves China, its products or government contracts, the private Sector, will be on the losing end as China does not hand out debt to settle for scraps.

With only 166 square miles and limited manufacturing, one does not envision the survival of local manufacturing as Chinese investments begin to roll out. Those lucrative government contracts will become a thing of the past. Ultimately with billions of Chinese yens at their disposal the present Administration will not need the private sector to fund their election campaigns.

The ordinary people in Barbados do not have anything to lose but that is not so with the private sector.

The private sector has a choice to make. It is either:

  1. Stand idly by as the fire breathing dragon approaches and watch Rome burn. Or,
  2. Act like they are concerned citizens of Barbados and press for transparency and involvement for all the people of Barbados in the process to becoming a Republic which ultimately benefits them.

One kept hearing for weeks on end that the government had been doing an assessment of the housing stock that had been damaged or destroyed in the freak storm, to the point where one really had to wonder what was going on, only to find out in the newspaper a few days ago that the government is purchasing emergency housing from China. Surely this is a sign of things to come. Especially with unemployment so high in Barbados, this should never happen.

There is a connection between the method that the current Administration has chosen to become a Republic and China. As this unfolds, it appears that neither the public nor the private sector will benefit when Barbados becomes a Republic if all of this has been devised to hide China’s impending control over Barbados by placing it in its debt trap. The Chinese debt trap is a pattern that is being rolled out across the globe. They loan countries billions of dollars that they know they will never be able to repay. When the debt is called the Chinese exhibit their love for ports and utility companies.

In confusion, planned or unplanned, the brain does not think clearly, and someone always benefits. Should Barbadians continue to blindly accept what is going on with the pending Republic?

Mia’s Blunders

In recent weeks two events created embarrassment for the Mia Mottley led government. First it was the still born Little Island Big Barbados BTMI matter followed by the snub after she demanded the smutty Trojan Riddim video be removed from the YouTube streaming service.

Three years after achieving an unprecedented victory in the 2018 general election and riding the crest of high popularity, several blunders and unwieldy execution of projects have been the bane of the BLP administration in recent months. Notwithstanding severe economic challenges, a raging COVID 19 pandemic and a brief encounter with ash fall, the general public has become increasingly impatient with a government that has over promised and yet to deliver on several promises: Freedom of Information legislation, enhanced governance to effectively treat with perennial concerns of the Auditor General and related matters, timely delivery of justice from the courts, NIS  fix, reform education, arrest crime, rooting out corruption in public life by holding transgressors accountable to name a few.

One suspects despite the blunders the government still has its head at the front of the 2023 political race given the unpreparedness of the main opposition party. That said a week is a long time in politics. However, the black eye the Mia Mottley government has received as a result of the clawback on the ‘Little Island Big Barbados’ issue, capped by the snub delivered by the Trojan Riddim artistes must be worrying. Why pull the plug on the Brand driver initiative after it was paid for? How will a committee of locals determine a brand driver for the visitor? Why demand local artistes remove the video from Youtube if Mottley more than most should have been acutely aware of the uncompromising loyalty enjoyed by said artistes with the underground audience?

Brand drivers are a set of adjectives that describe your organization and are used as a way to influence your branding in the marketplace. … The marketplace, your customers, and others outside of your organization are the ones who actually determine what your branding is.

Brand Drivers

More worrying for the blogmaster is the confirmation of a crisis of public morality in the country. Public morality is considered to be the moral and ethical standards a people try to maintain in the society; embodied in our laws, how the police force enforces the law and the peer to peer influence by citizens. The cohesion required for a well ordered society is the ability for all segments, Alpha, Millennials, Baby Boomers et al to ensure mutual concerns overlap on the ‘ven diagram’. What we have in Barbados are disparate groups unable to create a path to defining acceptable social values 

Note to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the country needs leadership.

The attributes of true leadership are honesty and integrity, authenticity, responsibility, the will to inspire and act, passionate communication skills, the drive to innovate and create, to name a few.

However, I believe the real stuff leaders are made of is when they live their values out loud. That’s where leadership has its roots. That’s when a leader becomes inspiring. That’s when leadership is real.

The Stuff Leaders are Made of

Honeymoon Period Over for Mottley Government

Swordplay and ripostes are a feature of the political landscape of any country. Two years out from a general election constitutionally due in 2023 we have started to see a ramping up of the political vitriol and rhetoric by the two main political parties.

There is no doubt in the minds of political observers the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) took management of a poorly performing economy in 2018. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) before its historic defeat was reported at one point to be borrowing 50 million monthly from the Central Bank of Barbados to meet salary commitment to the public sector, and the financial position of the NIS fund had deteriorated as a result of operating as government’s ATM. The foreign reserves dipped to a low level, for the first time Barbados achieved junk status credit rating and had become a pariah in the capital market. The parity of the Barbados dollar was under attack with predictably the D-word being mentioned as the ‘lord and saviour’ of our economic problems.

The Mia Mottley led BLP immediately on winning office took unpopular decisions to default on local and foreign debt by hiring White Oak Advisory, a boutique financial advisory outfit based in the UK see Barbados creditors fume at ‘absurd’ $27m advisory fees. Appointed the largest Cabinet some suggest in the world on per 1000 of population supported by the tagline – many hands make light work.

Along with taking over a poorly performing economy, external events have not been kind to the incumbent. The DLP in 2006 had to manage the economy during a global recession and in 2019 the BLP has had to manage the economy in a COVID 19 induced pandemic. That said, members of households although sympathetic to macro issues are always more concerned with bread and butter issues; maintaining an acceptable quality of life.

After 3 years in office the gloves are off and the performance of government – notwithstanding the challenges presented by the times – is attracting greater public scrutiny.

Enuff a pro-BLP BU commenter posted the following in defence of government’s performance and what is in the implementation pipeline.

  1. … who is about to redevelop the same Temple Yard through the UDC?
  2. Who about to give 50 acres to youth at Wakefield for farming?
  3. When your opponent is in your strongest seat racking up achievements and with zero seats in parliament your leader (Verla De Peiza) runs away, you’re in a bad state.
  4. More frightening is the leader in trying to get a foothold in St.Lucy is reported as saying “there is really a lot that needs to be done in St Lucy”, this is after the parish was represented in Parliament by a DLP member for 32 unbroken years starting in 1986, 18 of which the party was the government.
  5. Added to this are the topics she focused on water and buses when the BWA busy laying mains in St Lucy, a desal plant is in the works, more buses are coming and a mass transit framework. So that platform dead in the waatuh!
  6. The fact is that Dems can’t handle the government’s performance and know that with 2 years still to go another beating awaits. QEH upgraded A&E opening early next month.
  7. More HOPE housing coming, including St.Lucy and St.John.
  8. Vending legislation coming.
  9. National digital ID, licensing authority sorted (ASYCUD a lot of early noise too), new ways to pay and receive money, new mechanics and bodywork clusters.
  10. Scotland District rehab
  11. More buses
  12. More road improvements.
  13. New recycling and garbage collection.
  14. Vineyard project, new reservoirs, more water from Ionics.
  15. IL (the legislation for the commission has already been passed), whistleblower legislation etc etc all before the next election.
  16. KLM and Aer Lingus starting flights later in the year. Yuh remember empty Gol from Brazil? The Dems would do better to send a bowling machine.

Discuss for 5 marks.

Little Island Big Cabinet

The Barbados government recently launched the Little Island Big Barbados campaign and immediately those responsible are having to defend against a torrent of criticism from the public. The thrust of the concern: the campaign is a tired concept several islands have used to promote tourism for which Barbados is whispered to have forked out $700,000.00.

In the blog BLP and DLP Cancer of Adversarial Politics the blogmaster raised concerns that are applicable in this case. 

Yesterday the Reverend Guy Hewitt (also see: Is Guy Hewitt the Way, Truth and Light for the DLP?) was featured in the news in clarion voice calling for the resignation of Minister of Tourism Lisa Cummins. The good Reverend as spokesman for the DLP- our government in waiting- has the right to call for the resignation of Cummins. If we want to promote a culture of high performance built on meritocracy, when mistakes are made or persons perform poorly, there should be consequences. Although the facts of the matter have not been disclosed to the public – pending an internal investigation by Chairman of the BTMI Roseanne Myers – there is enough smoke to the story to suggest public concerns are valid given the large sum allegedly disbursed for the campaign.

Source: DLP St. Andrew Facebook Page

A takeaway from the imbroglio for the blogmaster is the use of the resignation tactic by politicians on both sides of the aisle. It was not too long ago the incumbent Attorney General (AG) Dale Marshall called for the resignation of then AG Adriel Brathwaite. There were calls for the resignation of Michael Carrington to resign as Speaker of the House Assembly the revelation he had to pass around a hat to collect donations to make good on a client’s monies owed. The blogmaster joined strident calls for Denis Lowe to resign after the Cahill Expose. Fast forward to the present there have been calls for Dale Marshall over concerns about crime, before that it was Wilfred Abrahams and the sordid practice by GIS staffers to emotionally and physically abuse detainees at the GIS, whomever is responsible for the fiasco at Barbados Revenue Authority re car registrations and the latest Lisa Cummins to step down or be fired. They all survived the job. No doubt when the dust is settled so too will Lisa Cummins, one of those Mottley has pencilled in on her succession plan.

A critical examination of the way recent governments have operated in Barbados is that firing has not been a go to option. The calls from political talking heads for opposite members to resign is all about generating froth to feed a perception of relevance in the eyes of a disengaged and unsophisticated electorate. One has to go back to Arthur’s obvious firing of George Payne and Elizabeth Thompson to find good examples of ministerial sackings. Some may offer that a reshuffle is a form of demotion given the pecking order of some ministries, it is not a firing.

In the climate of adversarial politics the DLP is doing what the system allows for a political party to seek traction and visibility in the eyes of the public. Especially two years out from a general election.

BLP and DLP Cancer of Adversarial Politics

The politics practised in Barbados is based on the adversarial system borrowed from the colonial master. There is the opposite more consensus (constructive) type of politics but such as approach seems esoteric and anathema to who we have been educated to be. 

The first past the post system gives the victor the spoils and leaves no room for political parties to meaningfully collaborate on issues of national importance. To observers a key differentiator between political parties in the adversarial system is the ability to generate criticism even when it is not warranted. The result is a torrent of vacuous commentary useless to adding value to what is required.

There is a thin line to observe when critiquing the ability of a people in a well functioning democracy the right to dissent that has oversight for the collective. The challenge will always be the ability of the national leadership to contribute to an ethos that encourages cognitive reasoning.

We enter a period of transition to a Republican style system to signal to our people we must be craftsmen of our fate to continually search for ways to unshackle our minds from mental slavery. Whether in thought words, deeds and use of symbols educating our people that indigenous and original thinking must define and give vent to who we are as Barbadians must be prioritized. This critique must extend to the system of politics influencing how we govern.

In simple analogy, if there is a tumour in the body the best chance of survival is to remove it. If we survey the social and economic landscape of Barbados it is honest to surmise that there has been an alarming degradation of systems and quality of life for Barbadians; there is an inertia that breaths life to the cliche we suffer from implementation deficit, a casual acceptance that indiscipline in our people is reflected in wanton lawlessness; crime, disrespect for the environment and so on. To the detractors, quality of life is based on the criteria of the human development index.

To fundamentally change anything one must effect changes at the root cause. The governance system has relaxed to the point people participation is only required when the political class calls an election. Placing an X on a ballot is just one means of citizen participation in a healthy democracy. We have to modify the current system of governance to encourage every day citizen participation. We must be able to leverage from the majority of what is deposited in the national knowledge pool. The culture of secrecy by central government and the public service, a legacy of our colonial past has to change.

Nearly 50 years our elected officials (DLP and BLP) have avoided enacting and operationalizing transparency legislation. Talking heads from both political parties and members of the political class present ‘compelling’ reasons why the legislation and supporting activity has not been implemented AND we supinely accept it. Who should be blamed for the current state of affairs? The politicians mirror YOU, YOU, YOU. We were raised in the same neighbourhoods, attended the same schools, hangout in the same bars and restaurants, marry into families. Politicians are not aliens, they are born from the same environment we are part. For there to be meaningful change YOU, YOU and YOU must lead the CHANGE.

You, You and You must become more involved in the running of the country. Demand more from our leadership via the channels available, protest action and other forms of civil disobedience. Disengagement is not a sensible option.

Department of Public Affairs Setup to Serve WHO/YOU?

The news that government recently created the Department of Public Affairs (DPA) as a bona fide government headed by Director Pat Parris supported by Tyson Henry, Tyrone Lovell, Christal Austin and Lisa Lorde has set tongues wagging. If one separates from the political arguments there is no doubt concerns are valid in a scenario the government of Barbados currently holds a 29 to 1 seat advantage in parliament. Then you add to the mix the country is currently operating under an emergency mandate because of COVID 19 which extends extraordinary powers to the prime minister. Even if we are persuaded that during a pandemic any government in the seat will want to be in a position to make quick decisions unencumbered from the bureaucracy of parliament there is a razor edge balance to be managed all must agree. Who was it that said “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”?

The blogmaster will not be as extreme as others by comparing the establishment of the DPA to a Joseph Goebbels move, except to say on the face of it there are reasonable questions the prime minister must answer if we cursorily critique the resumes of those appointed. And this is after hearing a reasonable justification for the establishment of the DPA in the first place. They all qualify as Barbados Labour Party (BLP) supporters. The blogmaster is prepared to give Lisa Lord a bligh.

The blogmaster suspects the prime minister being the political animal that she is has an eye on a general election that has loomed large on the horizon and feels comfortable to establish a unit that will disseminate information and respond to concerns from citizens in the government’s/BLP interest. The prime minister is obviously prepared to write-off any political fallout in the face of a weak political opposition.

No photo description available.
May be an image of text that says "-2- Ms Christal Austin Senior Public Affairs Officer, Media Relations Email: Ms Lisa Lorde -Public Affairs Officer Email: These officers will be in contact with your Ministries/ Ministries/Departments in the course of planning and executing their duties. 5. I look forward to your collaboration as the new Department rolls out its activities. Senlra Philhno Sandra L. Phillips (Ms.) Permanent Secretary"

For the avoidance of doubt the blogmaster does not agree with the establishment of the DPA at this time. It is not a fit for purpose approach in the prevailing climate. There must be a more creative way the prime minister could have achieve the political objective. The is insensitively too naked a political move.

Some Ministers of Government Not Earning Pay

In May 2018 the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) achieved the unprecedented in a general election by winning all 30 seats. Although Bishop Joseph Atherley seized the opportunity to defect and by default forced the Governor General to appoint him Leader of the Opposition, it does not detract from the shellacking of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) at the 2018 polls.

Immediately on winning the government Prime Minister Mottley continued with the unprecedented by establishing the largest Cabinet in the history of Barbados AND the world. Her rationale- ‘many hands make light work’. In an interview soon after her momentous win Mottley explained to retired journalist David Ellis that Barbadians should judge her government over time on its performance to justify the large selection – An Interview with Prime Minister Mottley.

Students of politics are aware the appointment of a large front bench is designed to blunt the back bench. Unfortunately it is the political gamesmanship and chicanery our adversarial politics encourages.

As the countdown to the next general election 2023 starts the question included in the poll must be fairly considered.

Related Link: An Invisible Mottley Cabinet

To BLP Administration: Re. Covid 19 protocols

Submitted by William Parker

I wish to congratulate the BLP government on their handling of the Covid 19 in 2020.

Now that the various “versions” of the original Virus has reached here and the infection rate and deaths are spiralling out of control it is apparent to some, including me, that the government has no answers and is reacting and not pro-acting.

I understand the need for the current lockdown and we all know that 2 weeks is just a start and it will be needed for a lot longer.

However the shutting on the mini marts and way side vendors leaves a lot of us bewildered as the logic behind it. In the area that I live R&R convenience, Mikes Mini Mart, EZ mini Mart and all the others are closed. These were locally owned shops where the poor, and not so poor, could get a little credit until the NIS cheque arrives, when the Post Office reopens, and walk a short distance home in the fresh air.

Now these people have to get an occasional bus to Massy in Oistins, and mix with those in the shop and be infected not only by the current shoppers but those who were there one or two hours ago. Are you telling us that it is safer for a person, who does not have a car, to catch a ZR and travel to Oistins to get a few items than to visit the corner shop?

The word that I have heard from more than one person is that in the last shut down the Major Supermarkets lost a lot of revenue because people switched to minimarts and a lot of way side vendors started. Is the way to make sure that the large foreign owned companies got more of the pie? It certainly seems so.

You have closed them on weekends so their overall sales will increase and their overheads will decrease. Bajans have been very good in following the new rules, and rightfully so, but there is a growing undercurrent of frustration and if the government is not careful there will be mass disobedience. This will hurt everyone. I hope that you can take a pause and consider the additional hardships you are causing a lot of Barbadians.

Thank you. I am a proud Bajan and supporter of the BL&P in the last few elections.

Election Day in St. George North

Today the electorate of St. George North will vote for a member of parliament to fill the vacancy created by the ‘retirement’ of Gline Clarke. The blogmaster’s assessment is that it will be a straight contest between Floyd Reifer (DLP) and Toni Moore (BLP). Of the so-called third parties Grenville Phillips should retain third option in the number count. We can debate if Barbadians are ready for a third party or is this a case of the quality of the options presented. The blogmaster respectfully suggest the latter.

The result of the election will answer a few questions for political pundits.

  • Has the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) regain its standing as the credible alternative in the eyes of voters?
  • Despite managing the affairs of state in the most challenging period post independence, will the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) be able to convince the SGN electorate that it is the most competent to govern at this time?
  • Will Grenville Phillips increase his penetration of support in the constituency to forge the way for third parties in the future?
  • How large will the protest vote be which has been fomenting in a climate of austerity for the last 3 years?
  • Has the last 90 days of campaigning confirm the urgent need for electoral reform in Barbados?

So far by-election activities has been largely peaceful in keeping with Bajan tradition. Let us continue to make the country proud by delivering an uneventful event. The blogmaster’s vote will be cast for David Walrond, the agriculturist and community practitioner.

Enforce Existing Laws Please

A major breakdown of the South Coast Sewage plant leading into the last general election created a ‘black eye’ for the country. It was one of many issues that probably led to the large defeat of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 2018. The sight of sewage flowing on the street in Worthing, Christ Church forcing tourists and locals to navigate with caution remains a vivid memory. The government of the day in a PR move designed to assure the public the area was safe saw former Ministers John Boyce and Richard Sealy taking a ‘dip’ in the Worthing Beach. The Barbados Government Information Service soon issued announcements that the beach was closed because of poor water quality.

It is worth mentioning that the Bridgetown Sewage plant is also under stress because of a deteriorating physical plan and it will take millions of dollars to rehabilitate the existing plant or build a new plant to efficiently manage waste in Barbados. The question asked and discussed on BU’s pages is why would a functioning government apparatus have allowed the good management of the sewage plant to have become compromised.

The blogmaster read with interest a report in yesterday’s Nation newspaper Warning: Keep grease from sewerage system. The report highlighted the misuse of the sewage system (after all the problems) by south coast users which has led to creating additional pressure on a failing physical plant.

THERE IS TOO much debris and grease in Barbados’ sewerage system, says Minister of Water Resources Ian Gooding-Edghill, to the point where it is time to take another look at the penalties associated with clogging it up … We [continue to] have a major challenge with grease. Since the plant was constructed in 2003, we’ve had some challenges in respect to that. Here at the South Coast Sewage Plant we haul out about 170 000 US (United States) gallons on an annual basis and at the Bridgetown Plant, I am advised we haul out about 400 000 US gallons annually,” he said.

Nation newspaper 05 Nov 2020

What this blogmaster struggles to understand is why would this government suggest it needs “to take another look at the penalties associated with clogging it up [South Coast Sewage Plant].” Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill had the opportunity – while touring the facility last Monday – to name and shame the offending companies to send a strong message. Why should a few actors operating businesses on the South Coast be allowed to compromise the health of the country, injure the national brand and in the process create a significant financial liability for the country.

The blogmaster can find no evidence that offenders of the sewage system have been fined based on existing laws. What the situation reminds us is the reluctance of successive governments to enforce laws on the books. We have those who withhold NIS and VAT monies into the Treasury. We have the flouting of traffic laws by private citizens and PSV operators. There are many examples available to expose the failing of the authorities to enforce laws on the books. There is a failing of private citizens to exercise discipline to observe the laws of the country.

We can continue to engage in trivial political debate about if BLP or DLP is responsible and see where that leads us at this juncture in our history.

Rawdon Adams Sighting in SGN

The blogmaster must admit that following the platforms of ALL political parties campaigning in the St. George by-election has been a slog. In Bajan parlance- boring is shyte.

The highlights- negative for the BLP (time will tell)- of the campaign have been 79 year old Delisle Bradshaw’s statement ‘any idiot can play cricket’ and the questioning of Gline Clarke’s dual citizenship. A press report in today’s Nation confirmed that Clarke always intended to renounce Canadian citizenship. One is left to speculate why BLP political strategists allowed the issue to grow wings by not getting ahead of it

For the blogmaster the appearance of Rawdon Adams on the SGN campaign trail makes for interesting rumshop discussion. Minister Santia Bradshaw (daughter of Delisle Bradshaw) reference to pedigree has set political tongues wagging with cries of elitism. What is it about the Bradshaws!

It is no secret the blogmaster has a lot of time for Senator Adams. His unflappable style, obvious intelligence, exposure to the outside and yes ‘pedigree’ and heritage equips him to be as good as or better than any other candidate. His entry to local politics would in the opinion of the blogmaster add value to the political landscape of Barbados. The obvious conclusions being made by onlookers is that he will be declared a candidate coming soon. Others suggest it is a case of Adams answering a call by Mottley for ALL Bees to swarm SGN.


For those who missed Adam’s presentation forward to 2hrs 40m of the YouTube video.

Public Meeting in Taitt Hill, St. George (Oct. 25)

A Hunte for Moore

The selection by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Toni Moore to run in St. George North has piqued the interest of political pundits. BLP representatives have been quick to defend by representing a view many political parties at home and abroad find deep roots in the labour movement. It cannot be denied the two main political parties have had the benefit of a strong relationship with the trade union movement, over the years unionists have served as members of the Upper and Lower Chambers.

What makes Toni Moore’s appointment interesting for some, the appointment has come against the backdrop of an incumbent government that won all 30 seats in parliament, until Bishop Reverend Joseph Atherley fill the vacancy of Leader of the Opposition (the subject of other blogs and commenters for years to come) to avert a constitutional crisis.- the outcome of a court filing by Grenville Phillips II to challenge the appointment of Atherley is pending.

The unholy haste with which Moore was made a member of the BLP, the exit of Gline Clarke from a safe seat at midterm to jet off to serve as Ambassador to Canada to replace Reginald Farley, who was recalled to fill the vacancy left by former President of the Senate Sir Richard Cheltenham, whose brother Patterson Cheltenham was recently appointed Chief Justice… Some believe Mottley is playing a long game by including youthful, bright and influential actors to ensure the BLP can be sustained as a relevant entity for years to come. One only has to compare to the Democratic Labour Party since the departure of Errol Barrow to appreciate the importance of succession and human resources planning.

The Trade Union movement represents the organized economic power of the workers…it is in reality the most potent and the most direct social insurance the workers can establish.

Samuel Gompers

The blogmaster does not have a dog in the fight and having listened to all the arguments for and against the decision by Mottley to run Toni Moore, remains unconvinced that it serves the best interest of labour at this time. The strength of labour has been considerably diminished during 12 years of economic hardship post the global meltdown 2007- with COVID-19 the economic forecast/outlook remains bleak in the near to medium term. If there ever was a time workers need a focussed, strident representation from the largest trade union in Barbados, it is now.

The resignation of Toni Moore from the Senate, a simple exercise made clandestine by the lack of transparency, created the opportunity to appoint a replacement to represent labour in the Upper Chamber. The selection by the Governor General of Julian Hunte is interesting for a number of reasons. At the top of the blogmaster’s mind is that Hunte was the BWU general secretary in waiting and training until Toni Moore, to the surprise of many and the backing of her predecessor, got to drive the merk. The appointment of Hunte to replace Moore in the Senate is therefore riddled with irony. Hunte fled to the private sector and currently serves at the UWI, Cave Hill as Assistant Registrar for Industrial Relations.

The question in the blogmaster’s mind is – can the interest of labour be better served by Senator Julian Hunte while detached from a trade union? In the period Hunte represents the labour segment in the Upper Chamber will he shine like a beacon the consequence of which leads to a reentry to the BWU or other trade union? Is is obvious there is opportunity given the dearth of leadership in the trade movement.

Power to the people!


Submitted by Caleb Pilgrim

While one must never forget the past, nothing is to be gained by overly rehashing the historic failures of the previous DLP Administration. These speak for themselves. Cheap excuses do not suffice, either.

Nor do recent attempts by “the old guard” to reincarnate and resurrect themselves after their May 2018 near absolute annihilation. Pray tell what is their relevance today in terms of party viability, political vision, and Barbados’s future? Others have already asked what do they offer now that they could/should not have offered before. They would better be invited to rest in perfect peace.

But, in moving forward, let us essay a slightly different approach, notwithstanding partisan chatter about the “Deceased Labour Party”.

Assume that women make up a rough majority of the Barbadian people, say 51%+/-. Assume further that the Barbadian women MPs, in terms of Parliamentary seats, typically number at most a disproportionate 20%+/-, despite the fact that women make up more than a 51%+/- majority of the population.

Recognizing such widespread disparities in demographics, a number of universities long ago introduced programs aimed at empowering women and helping to enhance their prospects for electoral success, e.g Women Political Campaign & Mentorship Schools at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics; the short annual Women’s Campaign School (WCS) at Yale Law School; the LBJ Women’s Campaign School at the University of Texas at Austin; courses at Fordham University; the University of Florida; George Washington University. etc. There is obviously a reason for the existence (raison d’etre) of such campaign schools.

The DLP’s “old guard”, given what some perceive as their apparent hubris, their previous erratic behaviour, perhaps their inattentiveness amid other paramount concerns, must or should have known of such women campaign schools at some point during their ten years in office and utilized such training opportunities to mobilize a cadre of more representative candidates.

One example, the WCS curriculum at the YLS, includes staple topics such as:

  • Fundraising
  • Budgeting
  • Messaging
  • Paid Media
  • Press Operations
  • Grass roots organizing
  • Voter targeting
  • Ethics
  • Polling and research
  • Get out the vote
  • Speeches and interviews
  • Digital campaigns

Participants have come from far and wide including Panama, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Australia and the UK.

The course purports to be intensive and involves 12 hour work day each day and the basic cost is a mere US $1,800. Arguably, a minor investment, where materials, tactics, strategies and information can be adapted, and participants encouraged to share if not teach other would be candidates in different constituencies. Other courses, including those at graduate level, point to the professionalization of politics rather than the usual jokes and tragicomedy.

Finally, while the BLP has proposed referenda on transition to a Republic etc, the DLP should not shy away from big issues, e.g whether there should be a referendum as to Barbados establishing a system of proportional representation (PR) instead of the old “first past the post” system which, among other causes, brought the DLP into the political wilderness. (Obviously, with a 30-0/ 29-1 majority there is no incentive for the current Administration to entertain PR; but all other parties and interested individuals might see it differently).

Phartford Files: St. George By-Election: Acid Test or Tonic Water?

Submitted by Ironside

There is going to be a by-election in St. George North and some parties have already announced their candidates. I will not waste time speculating about the reasons – real or imagined- why the sitting MP Glyne Clarke has resigned from parliament and is taking up a diplomatic post in Canada. That is for the gossip posse.

What is important is that this by-election has come at a time when the country is at the lowest ever in its economic performance and arguably at its lowest moral ebb. Politically, the country is experiencing a rise in de facto totalitarianism, a trend being reflected around the world and led by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).  

Coming just over two years after the main election in 2018, the electioneering engines should not require too much of a warm up, especially in this weather! The core question is: will it be an acid test for the government or merely some quinine for covid-19?

I will leave the bulk of the statistical political punditry to the other bloggers who may more be skilled at the enterprise of analyzing historical voting patterns and the like.  Interested readers can now make use of the site Caribbean Elections Website to fuel their punditry and speculations.

What I want to do, as succinctly as possible, is to state a few imperatives/hypotheses about the by-election.

THE RULING PARTY CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE THIS BY-ELECTION.  If it does it will confirm how we “feel”, namely, that the populace is no longer enamoured with the BLP and its leader what with the serial malfeasances it has committed over the last two years. If it wins, the pundits will put it down to hard core support in the constituency.

Your guess is as good as mine, though, as to whether the BLP is committing political suicide by running BWU union boss, Toni Moore.  I know the BU historians will tell us about the union leaders who have run for political office over the years so I am looking forward to that rehash and the punditry that will follow.  My rough estimate is that about 70% – 75% of Nationnews Facebook comments cast Ms. Moore’s selection negatively. One commentator bluntly hoped she would lose.  But I concede that that is a small and perhaps irrelevant sample.  

THE PDP CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO FIELD A CANDIDATE IN THIS BY-ELECTION.  I have been following their Facebook communications and all other things considered, they have been doing a fairly decent job of dissecting the issues even for a small, neophyte opposition. So, not to field a candidate in the by-election would send a message that they are still not quite ready.

THE DLP CAN BE EXPECTED TO FIELD A CANDIDATE. After all, it has been predicting by-elections in two constituencies (Indar Weir’s and Trevor Prescod’s) for more than a year!  Let’s see what they come up with! Again I leave my fellow bloggers to speculate…if they have time!

THE UPP MUST SHOW THAT IT HAS NOT LOST HOPE. It has fielded a candidate and we shall see how that plays out.  All things considered, it gave a fairly good account of itself in 2018 election. What I “worry” about is their pedestrian and non-charismatic leadership.

GRENVILLE PHILLIPS [A.K.A SOLUTIONS BARBADOS] HAS ENTERED THE FRAY.  Best of luck and more power to the Treasury!

Moving on smartly! What about issues to be raised in this by-election?

There are many hot, topical issues to inspire debate and conspire about: Covid-19, union betrayal, same sex unions, homosexual marriages, tourism, crime, BEST, neglect of the constituency, the push for republic status for Barbados and the “Thrown” Speech in general. The more enlightened and skilful party (parties) will throw in the Chinese influence in Barbados and the Caribbean.  Just remember I did say “enlightened”!

All in all, I am looking forward to political theatre at its BEST!

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur is Dead

On behalf of the blogmaster and BU household our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the family and friends of the late former prime minister Owen Seymour Arthur.

Former Prime Minister of Barbados, The Right Honourable Owen Arthur, passed away earlier today at 12.26 a.m.
Starting today, Monday, July 27, due to the passing of the former Prime Minister, there will be a period of national mourning for three days. In addition, all flags will be flown at half mast.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, will be the coordinating Minister for the funeral arrangements.
The Government of Barbados extends sincerest condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters, Leah and Sabrina and his extended family.
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Barbados Labour Party Grabs All the Money

Local and international newsfeeds have understandably been choked with Covid-19 news in recent weeks. It is not surprising that an important debate which took place during the 65th Sitting of the House of Assembly 2018-2023 Estimates has gone largely unnoticed by the general public.

Those of us who follow the politics of the country took note of the debate late on Friday night seen from 2hrs 00min on the video.

Leader of the Opposition Joe Atherley was unusually critical of the government for allocating a $150,000 subvention  designed to assist political parties in parliament to itself (Barbados Labour Party).  It seems to the blogmaster Prime Minister Mia Mottley followed through on a promised made at the last BLP Annual Conference that the PDP – political party led by Bishop Atherley – would not benefit from the subvention.

The blogmaster understands but disagrees with the technical argument offered by Minister Ryan Straughn to defend government’s decision. Given the unprecedented result of the 2018 general election that resulted in the BLP winning all 30 seats in parliament, Prime Minister Mottley possessed the discretion to change the criteria how the subvention could have been allocated.

A government interested in supporting a quality democracy given the current state should have had no difficulty amending the criteria for qualification of the subvention. A precedent when it amended the Constitution of Barbados!

The blogmaster agrees with the leader of the Opposition that the intent of the subvention must have been to give fledgling political parties in opposition assistance in the interest of safeguarding a fragile democracy. We operate in an imperfect system therefore the government should not allow myopic parochial considerations to influence an important decision.

Very disappointing.

There are no substantive regulations on political party financing in Barbados. However, under the Parliament (Administration) Act 1989 (CAP. 10), parliament provides an annual subvention of BD$ 300,000 (US$ 148515), which is shared among the political parties that have a parliamentary presence. In addition, each constituency is entitled to an office and a stipend of BD $750 (US$ 370) as well as the provision of a constituency assistant accorded to each MP under Section 10 of the Parliamentary (Administration) Act.

From Grassroots to the Airwaves



Minister Marsha Caddle Unpacks the Estimates

Minister Marsha Caddle who is minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment “unpacked” the Estimates delivered recently. She made an interesting observation in her preamble about MPs talking to themselves in the Estimates debate and the public glibly unaware.