The George Brathwaite Column – Dust Off the DLP, Change is Coming

George Brathwaite (PhD)

In another week or so, the pain and punishment being meted out to Barbadians will increase with the 2017 Budget measures taking full effect. The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has failed to convince Barbadians that today or tomorrow will be any better than the plight Barbadians endured for nearly a decade after that party’s coming to office. Since 2008, Barbadians passively and repeatedly made many sacrifices for the sake of nation. However, Finance Minister’s many economic stumbles, and Prime Minister Stuart’s hands-off approach, and the general lull in communications between the governing and the governed, have raised several questions across Barbados. The over-taxed population is wondering if those sacrifices were worth the dutiful efforts of the public and private sectors? What about the concerns of thousands of consumers who have seen inflation and the cost of living force them to raid their piggy-banks of every cent?

Clearly, things are far from the optimum in Barbados. The economy is in shambles and the society is crumbling having paid a price too high for the levels of incompetence witnessed from the DLP under Mr Stuart’s uninspiring leadership. Observers of national politics have long sensed and expressed their views that the DLP Ministers have a serious bout of ill-discipline that is showing up in arrogance and unsympathetic discourse with the public. The DLP’s main tunes have lambasted, insulted, and dismissed many from the walks of the private sector, trade unions, marginalised groups, householders, and the youth. Any suggestion from the periphery or outside of the DLP attracts disdain from a Cabinet whose underperformances have pushed Barbados backwards by at least 15 years.

Every day, Barbadians are realising that key spokespersons of the DLP lack the emotional intelligence and intestinal fortitude to bring about change from within. Perhaps, and partly hidden from view, there is a brewing rivalry within the DLP for that party’s leadership and hence the sense the leader is a ‘go-as-you-please’ champion. Certainly, Prime Minister Stuart’s slumber has not been made uncomfortable by those persons who have publicly called for an approach exposing his dis-connectedness to the people of Barbados. Ministers Inniss, Sinckler, Stephen Lashley, and Estwick have all at one time or another, recognised that the Prime Minister’s silence and non-interventionist styles are incompatible with what is needed in Barbados. Unfortunately, not one of the Cabinet or DLP parliamentarians is willing to go further and rouse Stuart from his deep forlorn and pitiful posturing. Nor has any one made the crucial step to depart from the ways of malaise and, speak out against the ills that are economically bankrupt and socially disempowering the nation.

If anything, Barbadians are witnessing a final burst of desperation from the DLP’s General Secretary and co-chair of the propaganda machinery. The FACTS (i.e. Freundel and Chris Telling Stories) have been unleashed on the public with unapologetic and fanciful claims. Political spectacle and ridiculous accusations have targeted the main media and all opposing entities. Many Barbadians have already been repudiated by the DLP’s rhetoric, including some staunch Barrow’ites. Clumsily and without any care to what is said, DLP spokespersons cut and chop down which is a figurative form of shooting people and cracking heads. When it is not Jeptor Ince calling the private sector parasites, Barbadians have had to endure the acrimony of Blackett blistering a young man’s parents for doing the right thing by allowing the Queen’s College student a voice in the civics of his nation. Also, the childless woman in Barbados has been put under the woeful hatchet of the representative of St. John. Numerous Barbadians would certainly prefer to get insights on her predecessor’s dealings regarding CLICO and sums of money amounting to $3.3 million.

An electorate will, over time, gravitate to the individuals and particularly a leader that the people can trust to get the necessary job done. With a leadership preference standing at 52 %, and with an increased approval rate, Mia Mottley’s demonstration to date speaks for itself. Comparatively, the weighty burdens placed on Barbadians by an uncompromising Minister of Finance and allowed by a pedantic Prime Minister while supported by churlish DLP parliamentarians, have rendered the DLP government unbearable. In real terms, and this assertion extends beyond the recently published results of Nation/CADRES poll.

Barbadians have literally made up their minds that a future DLP government is at best untenable and will not happen after the general elections coming later this year or early next year. Unfortunately, the drudgery of seeing off these final overs of Stuart and company, will mean that Barbadians must go well beyond the latest polls to register their disgust and etch with indelible ink that the DLP is not fit to govern – morally or otherwise. If Barbados is to rise from its present mire and degradation, the ouster of the DLP via free and fair elections must be manifestly delivered. The exit of the DLP will start the rekindling of hope. Of course, one may relate to Herbert Marcuse’s statement that “free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” However, it is the conscious expression of liberty, the hope for better tomorrows, and eventually how we seek to determine our social, economic, and political empowerment that will matter most going forward.

Indeed, it is more vital today than ever before, for the Barbados electorate to regain confidence in our governance systems, and equally so in the capacity of the politicians we elect to office. Any elected politician must pledge to work committedly to return civility, safety, and a sound economy to our shores. This should be a demand by the electorate to all political candidates and parties seeking to contest the next general elections. It simply cannot be business as usual.

Moreover, Barbadians must be given timely and necessary information to make informed and confident decisions. Forums, inclusive of e-platforms and social media, must be set up at multiple levels for much enhanced people participation in the decision-making which ultimately affects their lives and livelihoods. Representation must mean much more than an elevated status for our elected officials. Edmund Burke once stated that representation: “ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his/her constituents.” Barbadians must continue to preserve people power, and the political class must remain grounded or be constrained by this fact.

The eventual winning party and its leadership must decisively create a viable and humane future that is economically sustainable and socially uplifting. The Barbados of tomorrow must be made viable for all citizens and residents regardless of political persuasion, age, gender, race, status, or lifestyles. Change needs to be demonstrated and this demands that the Leader of the Opposition, as the most popular individual leader in local political circles, must be an effective communicator and must continue to provide hope for the many Barbadians that have long given up.

No doubt an enterprising Mia Mottley of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), and her formidable-looking team, will face considerable scrutiny and criticism on the way forward for Barbados. Yet, they must demonstrate their readiness, focus, and competence with a measure of credibility that is seen in their promises and performances in and outside of Parliament. There must be empathy for the most ardent of DLP supporters, while ensuring compassion for all citizens and residents whose suffering for almost 10 years has been unprecedented and unmerited. Barbadians are strongly calling for democratic leadership that is defined by effective representation, and one that is strongly given to trust, accountability, and transparency in the governance of this Barbados nation-state. Surely, Barbadians can now prepare to dust off the DLP, change is coming!

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email:

Budget Confusion

A feature of the Stuart led government and the Thompson before, it has had an issue with effectively implementing policy measures promoted in several budgets since taking office. Many of the government’s missteps have been harshly critiqued by BU and other media sources. One does not need to be reminded about the cellphone tax, solid waste tax and .07 or .007 embarrassment, Four Seasons, CLICO, Hyatt and others.

It must concern Barbadians that what many promoted as one of the most important ‘budgets’ in our history has resulted in the minister of finance agreeing to revisit key measures announced less than a month ago. One would have assumed given the seriousness of the economic state of Barbados the minister of finance should have exhaustively collaborated with stakeholders in civil society before sharing with the public. All advice delivered freely to the government has been to beef-up how it communicates with the public for the obvious reasons.

The decision to revisit how the the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) is to be implemented as well as the foreign exchange tax exposes an unfathomable level of incompetence and indiscipline in how the affairs of state is being managed. There is hardly a need for BU to be prolix by detailing the the lack of leadership in a time of crisis. Needless to say the script of the DLP surrogates will have to be defended after they have vigorously defended the recent budget, a measure of our political measurement and or the downside of adversarial politics.

There is another observation that bears a mention.

The idiotic attack by Parliamentary Jepter Ince on the private sector of Barbados. Even if he is on the right track in his observation, to loudly proclaim his position in the public space was too trumplike at a time when conciliatory and measured tones are prerequisites to inspiring a nation suffering from ‘fatigue’. Ince’s position forces the query the role of the social partnership in addressing the concerns raised by Ince. Just like there is a need for a strong economy to support a healthy society so too a harmonious relationship is required between the private and public sectors for the country to be well functioning. As is the norm minister Donville Inniss was quick to disassociate himself from the garrulous approach of Ince although he is guilty of it from time to time. In fact an aggressive tone has been a feature of this government.

BU continues to be flummoxed by the antics of this government.

In deus nos fides !


The Adrian Loveridge Column – Puzzled by the 2017 Budget

Adrian Loveridge

Since the recent budget was announced I have tried and tried to understand its contents and objectives, sadly so far without success.

Most of us, I am sure can understand the need to limit foreign exchange use and demand, but frankly we actually produce so little here, it is almost futile to think you can substantially influence consumer demand for imported items.

Two items stand out after hearing a car dealer state that the budget measures will add an average of $20,000 per new vehicle. I graphically recall Debbie Simpson saying years ago that Government collects more in taxes and duties from a car sale, than they do as a seller in profit.

It’s pretty obvious then that many normal working people will perhaps delay taking delivery of a new vehicle for another year or two, so it surely defeats the collection of additional taxes?

Yet our current ‘political leader’ seemingly is not tied to the same fiscal restraints as most of us are and can replace what can only be considered a luxury ride, as an when he feels like it.

Secondly, another sector will be inescapably disadvantaged, the local printing industry. I am not aware that Barbados produces any quantity of paper or board, so of course it will have to be imported. What they do is then enhance the value by overprinting and this will now to subject to both VAT at 17.5 per cent plus the increased and ridiculously (if not insultingly) named National Social Responsibility Levy of 10 per cent.

The net inevitable result is that companies will flock overseas for their printing requirements, where the costs are substantially cheaper putting potentially hundreds of jobs on the line.

With an almost overwhelming consensus among private sector business leaders predicting that prices generally will increase by 12 to 15 per cent,

it will further dampen spending and any hope of national economic recovery. Furthermore it will push those already on the breadline further into poverty. We used to see a former Prime Minister in one of our larger supermarkets regularly, but I wonder when our current Minister of Finance last pushed a trolley through the aisles to try and buy an average family shopping requirement for a week with only $200 to $300 to spend.

Purely from a tourism perspective, the inexorable associated inflationary effect, further devaluing our currency internally will curb demand for staycations and eating out in our many restaurants, even for the so called ‘better-off’.

While our commercial banks are awash with money, earning little or miniscule amounts of interest for their customers, but at the same time, Government is paying third world double digit interest rates on bonds to prop-up the monthly salary payments for public sector workers.

The 2 per cent levy on foreign currency requirements can be seen as no more than devaluation and many out there have already figured out ways to effectively bypass this additional tax.

Meanwhile, a handful of the chosen few have avoided paying taxes whatsoever with extraordinary unilateral concessions for at least 25 years and then reduced for a further 15 years.

Compound this by the fact most of their revenue does not even come to this island and they largely escape any duties and currency limitations, extra costs or restrictions at all.

One can only conclude that the world is not fair, at least not on our 166 square mile for the vast majority of the population.

The George Brathwaite Column – Sinckler’s Swan Song: Sting or Solution?

George C. Brathwaite (PhD)

In the 2016 budgetary proposals, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs stated that “we must push ourselves harder to be more efficient and proficient in accommodating investors, both domestic and foreign, in getting business done in this country.” Minister Christopher Sinckler was in effect, admitting that there was an urgent need “to drive investment, create economic opportunities, grow jobs, increase foreign exchange earnings,” and expand Barbados’ economy. Surely, within the next 24 hours, Barbadians would hear yet another budgetary statement from the economic spearhead of the beleaguered Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

Minister Sinckler’s budgetary proposals will undoubtedly be overloaded with virtue and religious quotes, but have lasting social and economic impact on families and businesses long after the next general election results are known. Sinckler must be pragmatic and demonstrate responsibility in the national interest instead of buckling to party paramountcy. Hitherto, such maturity has escaped both his mouth and macroeconomic management of the Barbados economy.

In late 2014, the Finance Minister told Barbadians that “the disciplined and strategic interventions of the Government have begun to bear fruit in several parts of our economy.” Almost three years later, except for tourism numbers rather than spend and financial intake, one would hardly be so bold to suggest that the fruits are visible. Still, households and business are facing grave uncertainty, the plight of high taxation is burdensome, the declining incidence of proper services provision is rubbishing the quality of life, and the threat of further austerity measures lurk across the public service.

For the past nine years, local and foreign investments declined and job creation in Barbados has been practically non-existent with wage growth lagging amidst joblessness and inflation. Christopher Sinckler, in his swan song, will surely attempt to plead a case for the DLP. However, Barbadians are worrying whether the country would be further sunk by Sinckler’s scrappy economics of austerity, and become socially pilloried by the politics of subterfuge.

Will the macroeconomic policies and budgetary proposals be imprisoned by Prime Minister Stuart’s dragging out every decision that he must make with the next general elections in our foresights? Moreover, to what extent will there be any solutions to the vexing issues that are compounded by structural deficiencies and the failed systemic policies and indiscipline of the DLP? President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Warren Smith, said a few days ago that the bank’s officials were “anxious for the fiscal reforms and stabilisation of the fiscal and debt situation” to be fixed before bailing Barbados.

The economic concoctions put together by the DLP – first under prime ministers David Thompson and now Freundel Stuart – have proven to increase the national debt (i.e. local and foreign) rather than grow the national income. Tragically for the national economy between 2008 and 2016, Barbados recorded real growth rates at 0.4%; -4.0%; 0.3%; 0.8%; 0.3%; -0.1%; 0.2%; 0.9%; and 1. 7 % respectively. Miserably, gross government debt in the same corresponding years reflected 52.6%; 63.2%; 71.9%; 78.0%; 83.9%; 96.4%; 100.1%; 104.9%; and 107.9% as a percentage of GDP. Comparatively, these ratios are mind-boggling; while they may reflect recessionary pressures in the early stages, clearly since 2011, fiscal indiscipline combined with high debt levels and insular incompetence within Cabinet guaranteed difficult times for Barbadians. The Article IV Consultation Report of August 2016, assessed that Barbados’ authorities “needed to put the high and growing public debt on a sustainable path, while minimizing the negative impact on growth and preserving social cohesion.”

Daily, Barbadians feel the weightiness of economic inertia alongside the badly torn social fabric of society. Barbados is experiencing unprecedented gun violence; and there are mounting concerns over youth violence, specifically school boys and girls. Recently, Shone Gibbs, President of Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Association reacted to a horrible incident lamenting that: “What we are seeing is not normal, what we are seeing is untenable and it must be arrested in the interest of our country.” Yet, one must ask the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education, what programs are they ushering in that would effectively reduce violence in our schools and arrest the prevalent deviance? The teachers and their unions have been complaining about growing violence among schoolchildren, but without resolve.

Moreover, several hush-hush decisions continue to plague the DLP, and the shenanigans create speculation and allegations of collusion and corruption. One would have thought that after the Cahill debacle, the Freundel Stuart-led Cabinet would have figured out that a large part of gaining national support for major projects such as the Hyatt, means committing to sound processes of accountability and transparency. Cabinet fails to understand that although some contractors, developers, and erstwhile businesses have mega financial resources, it is not perceivable to the public that one or two fairer entities continue to grab the lion-share of everything viable, while others scrounge to eke out a daily living. Pandering nefariously to special interests is antithetical to national development. Whether by covert facilitation or overt favouritism, Stuart, Sinckler, Lowe, Lashley, Estwick, and others cannot realistically abandon distributive and social justice in Barbados. Spurious actions of the Government or talk of trickle-down effects by those glued to classical liberalism will not bring about the widespread empowerment and prosperity for Barbadian people and businesses.

Sinckler previously suggested that Government was targeting a fiscal deficit of around 3 % of GDP by the end of 2014/15 and an acceleration of growth thereafter, to 4 % by 2020. This is 2017 and few among independent observers foresee any likelihood that Barbados would crest 2 % growth this year. The Acting Governor of the Central Bank has advised that given the decline in international reserves over the past three years, there is ‘need for further fiscal consolidation’. However, Minister Sinckler, as he has done before, must not rely solely on ‘extraordinary transactions’ such as those undertaken in 2011 and 2012 to bump up foreign reserves. At that time, sale of the Barbados Light and Power Company to Emera and the divestment of the Government’s shares in the Barbados National Bank boosted the declining levels of foreign exchange. Since then, Barbados has been negatively impacted by diminishing foreign reserves.

Minister Sinckler’s optimism for the economy has floated viscerally with more promises of divestments. For example, Sinckler anticipated that the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to SOL Barbados Limited would have long been completed; he expected the proceeds would trigger a 1 % of GDP in revenue inflows. The sale has not been completed nor have other major investment projects like the Hyatt got off the ground. The accompanying secrecy built uncertainty among the people, particularly with a shrinking middleclass scrunching to make a dollar.

The Minister of Finance must come down from his high horse and forget the nauseating narcissism. Sinckler must ensure that this 2017 budget focuses on the collective good of the nation, and he must resist the DLP’s thirst for a third term. He needs to put Barbados first while exercising fiscal discipline. Certainly, Barbadians are praying that Minister Sinckler in his swan song, brings solutions and not another suffocating sting of increased taxation and job losses. The Finance Minister needs to itemise and give details ensuring the following:

  1. Immediate adjustment is done to reduce the fiscal deficit and the debt-to-GDP ratio to more acceptable levels
  2. Once again, attract local and foreign investments of the magnitude that can be means for growing the foreign reserves
  3. Continue to diversify our tourism product while paying attention to the markets, and the spend instead of only aggregate numbers
  4. Make job creation, skills training, and retooling for the labour market priorities
  5. Challenge both the public and private sectors through various economic incentives so that there can be manifested commitment to productivity, efficiency, competitiveness and excellence in the delivery of services such as healthcare, sanitation, public transport, and education.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: )

The George Brathwaite Column – Sick of the DLP’s Wrong Medicine

George Brathwaite (PhD)

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Christopher Sinckler will soon give what many Barbadians hope to be his very last budget presentation. The jury is out whether Sinckler with his broad shoulders and knack for political drama, ought to carry the blame for the numerous shortcomings of the struggling Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the Cabinet he leads, are just as liable for a plethora of injurious and bad policy prescriptions dispensed to Barbadians. Of course, this is coupled with the persistent fiscal indiscipline that has pushed Barbados’ debt through the ceiling. The resultant economic woes have hastened the societal disarray that is being occasioned by family breakdown, tense industrial relations, gun crimes and violence. These serious issues characterize the DLP’s troubling tenure in government.

Speculatively, the Barbados economy became endangered with a covert rush to please pockets of an in-crowd while marginalizing thousands least able to bear the burden of high taxation. The costs of the DLP’s monumental mistakes, such as those called housing solutions or belt-tightening measures, increased suffering across the society. Social welfare scale-back, without any hint of economic empowerment or distributive justice, netted a collapsing middleclass. The poor appeared to grow in numbers while their distress is ignored by the Cabinet. The thing is, economic empowerment should ensure that people have the appropriate skills, capabilities and resources and access to secure and sustainable incomes and livelihoods inclusive of access to assets and resources. Having increasing numbers of Barbadians finding themselves out of work and unable to care for their families is both economically and socially disempowering. Already, those willing to open doors for those left to fend for themselves are often side-lined by the DLP’s insecurities and failures to act. Overall, numerous Barbadians are numbed by the sting of DLP austerity and appear squashed by Cabinet’s reluctance to be creative in maintaining what was an envied social welfare system.

Perhaps more reprehensible, is that Barbadians from all walks of life continue to be castigated and maligned for speaking out against the malaise of the DLP’s gut-wrenching tenure. Barbadians prefer not to be taken-for-granted or labelled enemies of the state if their rights and expectations are not being safeguarded and fulfilled respectively. Thousands of Barbadian citizens are made to feel like second-class citizens in their own country under a party that once deemed itself as the embodiment of ‘Dear Loving People’. While there may be no quick fixes to the many problems threatening the livelihoods of Barbadians, clearly, Nero fiddles while Rome burns.

Most Barbadians, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity have experienced growing dissatisfaction with the DLP’s misdiagnoses followed by the overabundance of promises and excuses. Last year at the beginning of the 2016 budget presentation, Finance Minister Sinckler stated that it was the DLP’s mandate “simply to set an agenda and institute policies that see after the collective good” of the Barbados nation, and to pursue those initiatives that are in the “overall best interest of the country.” Instead, the public policy arena has become bastardized with a few special interests exploiting their closeness to the DLP hierarchy. Nepotism and favoritism crowds out the national interest and ruins the collective good of the nation. The DLP has refused to be strict guardians of our heritage.

The downside is that business and civil society are trampled by the Government’s feeble attempts “to shake off the bondages of low growth, high debt, unmanageable budget deficits, and a built-in feeling of general uncertainty about the economic future,” as described by the Minister of Finance. Yet, for the upcoming budget by a man whose standing evokes distrust, fear, loss of hope, and uncertainty, Barbadians are hesitantly grasping at a last lap reprieve. Across the nation, parents and children, the childless men and women, the disabled, the homeless, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, the youth and pensioners, church goers and atheists, and the media are all wishing that apart from the political parading and the usual gaffes, that Minister Sinckler would at least bring some economic and moral ease to those feeling the pain of almost 10 years of institutional and structural discrimination.

Institutional discrimination connotes the sense that there is a process by which people are systematically marginalized by established laws, customs or practices. Individuals and families have been excluded from the mainstream of national development, and the marginalization comes in many different guises. One need not look further than the treatment meted out to small contractors and young entrepreneurs, single parents and caretakers wanting to do the best to protect and provide for their families. Livelihoods have been pushed backwards by unimaginative socioeconomic programs and the lack of timely decision-making by the current government.

Individual intolerance is evident in the society, but Cabinet Ministers continue to stalk the gullible through divisive utterances and actions. Bullying in schools coupled with attacks on teachers and their property are ongoing problems. Victimization in the workplace is unprecedented and DLP surrogates have allegedly targeted trade union leaders. Daily, Barbadians face an increasing pauperization of many men and women, the naming and stigmatization of minority and marginal individuals and groups, and the growth of unprecedented social exclusion in the post-independence era. But no admonition or redirection comes from Prime Minister Stuart.

Social progress is now a lament rather than a reality. Barbadians have been told that programs such as Sociology, Social Work, and Psychology are drains on the public purse, while wastage and inefficiency strangle vocational and academic ambitions. Surely, while getting more students enrolled in science and technology is welcomed, it is obvious that the Humanities and Social Sciences still have important functions within the society. Hence, will Minister Sinckler facilitate positive changes and enhancements in our education system, or will he take quick retreat and leave those things including the $200 million owed to the University of the West Indies (UWI) for the next Minister of Finance to ameliorate and pay?

Surely, the challenges facing Barbados are not strictly economic, but are manifestly anti-social. Remember, it was last year Sinckler admitted that Barbados’ “social development system is increasingly being compromised as the cost of sustaining it becomes more challenging.” The trials negatively impacting on the nation are concomitant with the floundering leadership being exercised at the executive level of Government. In terms of representation, there has been sparse purposeful legislation coming to Parliament that would empower the nation’s people. Very few social programs have been introduced that can repair the many cracks and breaks becoming exposed in Barbados’ fractured society. Compounding these problems is the fact that job creation is not taking place at a similar rate as the glittery promises which fall from deceptive lips. DLP Cabinet Ministers are desperately banking on a couple major projects; but the public is not entrusted with adequate information nor are impact assessments worthy of the nation’s attention.

Finally, there is a wide disparity between what the DLP coughs up and the medicine that can heal this Barbados nation. Prime Minister Stuart has allowed – through his vain silence – many heartless insults and tones of divisiveness from his Ministers and team. He refuses to scold them for their uncomplimentary inferences that belittle and ridicule ordinary citizens. There is little doubt that Barbados’ Prime Minister has slept through the many social ills and the volumes of frustration now featuring across Barbados and directly under his nose. Yet, Stuart and the DLP will plead for another term. However, Barbadians are growing terminally sick of the DLP’s wrong medicine.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: )

The Adrian Loveridge Column – What Will be in the Black Box?

Adrian Loveridge

As this could well be one of the last Tourism MATTERS’ column before the imminent budget, even if it’s my humble and probably futile attempt to influence Government policy, I would join with those who are far better informed and make a passionate plea that no additional or higher taxes are imposed on the tourism sector.

In fact I remain convinced that a lowering of the VAT (value added tax) to 7.5 per cent across all tourism offerings, would not only attract more visitors but encourage larger numbers of locals to frequent our restaurants and hotels, which in itself will help increase overall spending and importantly higher foreign exchange earnings across the entire sector.

Without a single exception this has worked across every other destination that has adopted and implemented the concept. From all early indications reduced hotel occupancy for the first three months of this year, we are in serious danger of becoming a perceived or in actuality an over-priced holiday destination. In three decades frankly I cannot recall the subject of value-for-money being raised so often in the public domain by potential and repeat visitors through various social media outlets.

Of course any concerted effort to reinforce that we can truly offer an affordable product for our targeted markets does not rest with Government alone. While we have collectively built an enviable reputation for our gastronomic offerings, regionally and some would argue across the world, many of those cherished customers simply cannot understand how a $6 piece of fish becomes a $60 main course in many of our restaurants. And our competition has become relentless.

Take Groupon which has an incredible following and usage in most of our source markets as a simple example. Many tourism businesses have learnt how to use it effectively, to stimulate early booking tables at restaurants and fill lower accommodation occupancy periods in hotels and villas. There is nothing rocket science or complicated about its usage, just a basic understanding about controlling your revenue.

As an example, if each of the current 25 re-DISCOVER partners accept a booking under the terms offered serving just 10 diners per night, six nights a week and 50 weeks of the year, it generates an additional BDS$300,000 in turnover annually. The ‘doubting Thomases’ will of course argue that this revenue would not constitute its most profitable overall contribution and they would be right. But, they would then have missed the point.

That extra $6,000 per week created by a joint promotion does not cost the individual partner restaurant a single cent in marketing costs, but could well pay the land taxes, rent, insurance, water, electricity and other fixed operational costs, therefore increasing the percentage of profit on other business attracted.

Participation in joint initiatives like re-DISCOVER also strengthen the length and breath of the tools our national marketing agency has to work within our main visitor originating sources, especially when at least two of these (United Kingdom and Canada) are currently experiencing significant currency challenges when compared to US$ pegged destinations.