Independence Time – A Time to Reflect on the Role of Prime Minister

The recent Cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Mia Mottley has caused tongues of political pundits to wag. The Cabinet changes came a few months into a second term after an early general election called in January 2021.

Prime Minister Mottley under our system of government practiced has the authority to appoint and disappoint regarding the composition of Cabinet and there must be good reasons in her mind for the changes. She has loudly signalled to the public her confidence in beleaguered Minister of Education Kay McConney and to a lesser extent Minister of Tourism Senator Lisa Cummins who was transferred to Energy and Business Development, International Business and Trade. Of interest is the fact Cummins has not had to face the electorate. We have also seen the elevation of Corey Layne to Minister of State in the Attorney General’s office for responsibility for crime prevention.

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Super Storms Coming

Submitted by Kammie Holder
Over 2 million without electricity or phone service, 500,000 in Florida homeless, many may be forced to swim or drown, 20,000,000 written in words is twenty million which represents, the amount homeless in Pakistan after severe flooding. The aforementioned are but a few of the narratives coming from weather reports. Highest wind speed recorded of Hurricane Ian, was some 241 kilometers per hour just short of a category 5 hurricane.
Some will say in the most believable way, that god is Bajan, and Barbados, due to is location have nothing to worry about. I have news for those who believe, that to ignore what has a slim chance of occurring, prevents the eventuality. Super storms, and category 4 hurricanes, and above will become the norm as the earth heats up. Thus, is not if but when for Barbados.
For many years the major oil companies denied their flaring polluted or contributed to global warming. Only this week, a leaked document to the BBC, showed less than honest reporting from these oil giants. It’s my biased opinion, the industrialized world and multinationals mostly practicing capitalist,  could care less about the impact of global warming on Small Island Developing States.
Therefore,those who are building, must build homes that can at least withstand a Cat3 hurricane. It makes more sense to take a little longer and build a stronger house, rather than the nonsense I am seeing promoted, with walls made from concrete wood. Financial institutions will have to be flexible in their lending policies and terms, if they genuinely understand that good Corporate Social Responsibility, will not take from their supernormal profits but may actually enhance their bottom line.
Expect, reinsurers and insurance companies, to be more selective  in the type of property risk they will be willing to underwrite in the near future. Let me say, concrete board in the long run will cost you more, than a properly built wall structure with adequate shear walls and a concrete roof. A concrete roof, is much cheaper than a permaclad roof. Do not take my word for it, do your own calculations of materials and labor cost per sq ft.
My concern, is that too many botchers are masquerading as tradesmen and taking advantage of persons. When a house is poorly built, the cost goes up in terms of maintenance and remedial work. In addition, it’s a charge on the treasury when a government, as part of their sovereign social responsibility have to step in, when your poorly constructed structure is destroyed by a freak gust.
My humble request to the authorities. You can do several things, to mitigate chaos after a disaster, and reduce the risk exposure to the housing stock. Enforce a building code, and require all tradesmen men to be certified as well as registered by a set period in the future. Please, do not tell me any stupidity about the poor black man got to eat, for it’s the same poor black man giving another poor black man shoddy work. The cost of ignorance or indifference, is never shown as a financial charge to taxpayers, truth be told we all collectively pay.
What I also find comical, is that we continue to expand the QEH A&E in a flood prone area, next to one of the major water courses in Barbados called the Careenage. Did I also read somewhere, another hospital going up somewhere near Bayview?  If not to add insult to common sense, Town Planning still stuck in 2022 with an archaic law limiting the highest point of a residential home to 28 feet in the pan cake island Barbados. The popular dictum which has infected the brains of many in Barbados, is to never question the experts, just accept whatever is told to you and follow blindly. When the 1 in 100 year flood comes, we can all just throw our hands in the air, and beg the first world for assistance.
Perhaps we can learn something from Bermuda, and their mandatory roof specifications. Most of Barbados housing stock will not survive a cat2 hurricane. We need to focus on resilience and not on fancy looking wastefully designed roofs. For if we thought the Covid-19 pandemic set us back, we better pray god is indeed a Bajan for our luck will soon run out.  Those who want to follow the science blindly can do so at their own peril, not me.

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?

A Government Dedicated to Making Announcements

Submitted by Paula Sealy

The Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) has launched its new website bearing several new features, including a page designated to provide updates on the National Population and Housing Census, scheduled to begin August 1, 2021.
https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/blog/census-updates-among-features-of-new-bss-website

Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, says her ministry will be constructing a new school to accommodate the staff and students of the St. Mark’s Primary School.
https://www.barbadosadvocate.com/news/new-school-coming

A national census is used to gather information which will guide the provision of services such as housing, health, education etc, and the resources which will be necessary.

How does education manage to determine there is a need for primary schools in any particular parish or parishes?

What other decisions is the current government making based on figures from the 2010 national census?

What purpose is the 2021 national census to serve when government is committed to its plans to continue to be driven by 11-year-old data?

We know there is a problem with implementation in the public service. Public officers take the blame. But they are not the policymakers who push through decisions and policies before a national census is completed. It is this type of policy-making which yields fewer benefits due to poor decision-making.

Why not wait until the info is collected in the census? What is the hurry? Is it all about making announcements? Are the decision and policy less important?

Senator Caswell Franklyn Speaks – Hail Caesar Mia Mottley, Dictator of Barbados

For months I have contemplated but resisted writing about the rule of law, or lack thereof, in Barbados under two consecutive states of emergency. All that changed after I read a WhatsApp message sent to me from an unknown person. It simply said:

“If you allow the government to break the law in an emergency, they will create emergencies to break the law.”

In order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Barbados decided that it would institute a state of emergency. Rather than use the existing provisions, Government sidestepped the Constitution and the 1939 Emergency Powers Act and amended the Emergency Management Act to provide for a public health emergency. They claimed that the existing Laws of Barbados did not provide for such. Notwithstanding Government’s claim, I contend that there are ample laws to institute any such emergency.

Section 25.(1) of the Constitution permits the Governor-General to declare that a state of emergency exists. Section 25.(2) goes on to state, in part:

A proclamation made by the Governor-General shall not be effective for the purposes of subsection (1) unless it is declared therein that the Governor-General is satisfied-

(a) that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the imminence of a state of war between Barbados and another State or as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease or other calamity, whether similar to the foregoing or not…

The power in the Constitution to declare a state of emergency as a result of the “outbreak of infectious disease” immediately gives the lie to Government’s claim that there were no provisions to cater to a public health emergency.

Under a state of public emergency government can, and in this case, restrict citizens from enjoying their constitutional right. The mechanism for doing so in the current emergency is a series of directives issued by the Prime Minister. I make bold to say that the Prime Minister cannot use this mechanism to curtail constitutional rights and freedoms since the enabling legislation did not amend or alter the Constitution of Barbados in anyway. To my mind, since the Emergency Management (Amendment) Act, 2020 did not amend or alter the Constitution; any directives issued by the Prime Minister that curtailed our constitutional rights would be illegal and of no effect.

The obvious question would therefore be: How can government declare a state of emergency to protect the country from the ravages of this Corvid-19 pandemic? The simple answer would be that government should have invoked the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act, 1939-3. I readily admit that many of the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act would offend the Constitution, if they were passed today. Be that as it may, the Constitution itself at section 26 saved laws that would be unconstitutional if there were passed prior to November 30, 1966.

Section 26 of the Constitution also allows the government to re-enact an existing law without alteration or if altered those alterations would not render the law inconsistent with the human rights provisions of the Constitution, that is sections 12 to 23. The amendments made to the Emergency Management Act in 2020 have not faithfully re-enacted the relevant provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. For example, all those orders/directives made under the Emergency Powers Act must, in accordance with section 3.(4) shall be laid before Parliament. It states:

Any orders so made shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after they are made and shall not continue in force after the expiration of 7 days from the time when there are so laid unless a resolution is passed by both Houses providing for the continuation.

Section 33.(5) of the Emergency Management Act, which required the Government to lay emergency orders before Parliament, was repealed by the 2020 amendments. It is therefore obvious to me that this Government wanted no oversight when it implemented the public health emergency.

Section 48.(1) of the Constitution provides that Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Barbados. It is therefore my view that even if enabling legislation allows the Prime Minister or anyone else to make rules, they must be approved by Parliament. In this present state of emergency the Prime Minister is making laws for the peace, order and good government of Barbados without any reference to Parliament.

I am now wondering if persons, who were penalised by the courts for infringing these directives, have any remedy against the state. It would appear that our Prime Minister has now become the absolute dictator of Barbados, which is not too far removed from being a despot. Could the late Prime Minister Arthur have been predicting the future? Just wondering!

Republic of Barbados

Submitted by William Parker

Successive governments including the incumbent have teased Barbadians about transitioning to a republic. Now that we have witnessed the decommissioning of Nelson statue the question being asked is- are we there yet?

David, blogmaster

Getting the House in Order

Last week, Prime Minister Mottley reshuffled Cabinet, against a backdrop of a calamitous convergence of events in 2020, not as a reflection of past performance, but of future need.

Only the dishonest can deny that two years in, Barbados has seen stunning progress from an Administration which promised so much and has thus far appropriately delivered, in three key ways.

Firstly, government set about repairing the previous disastrous decade. Economically, the inclusion of three ministers in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the high-profile advisors has borne immeasurable fruit in the remarkable turnaround from the precipice of economic collapse to a 6% surplus. William Duguid and Peter Phillips oversaw a significant road repair programme, as well as the purchase of new buses, and Trevor Prescod similarly saw the purchase of garbage trucks, all of which had been long neglected. None can forget the phenomenal speed with which Wilfred Abrahams’ Water Resources Ministry removed sewage from the streets of the South Coast.

Secondly, government responded to present challenges. Edmund Hinkson and subsequently Dale Marshall have overseen a steady and significant decline in most major crime, such as rape, robbery and burglary, though murder remains regrettably stubborn. Under Minister Caddle and Prof. Persuad, there has been an infusion of investment and Dr Greenidge masterminded the balanced, fair and cogent BOSS to respond to our nation’s most pressing challenge. Under John King, government committed $1 million for creatives and sportspersons for digital projects during the challenging COVID period. Abrahams has aggressively sought a resolution to the northern water woes, on which significant work has been done. Neil Rowe supported his minister, Cynthia Forde, who both oversaw increased funding for Welfare over the last two years, and who both played a crucial role in the human response to the social and economic calamity wrought by COVID.

Finally, government has been consistently visionary in charting the future. Abrahams was tasked with implementing Government’s policy to achieve either fossil free or carbon neutrality by 2030, significantly helped by Duguid and Phillips’ purchase of electric buses.  Kerrie Symmonds has not only made substantial steps toward rejigging tourism even before the pandemic, but he has also continuously expressed a commitment to the small players in the industry from the taxi operators to the smaller hotels. Dwight Sutherland leaves Small Business with his signature legacy being the implementation of the Trust Loan programme, by which nearly 3,000 small businesses have been given a much-needed boost on the path to wealth creation for ordinary Barbadians, and thus in a real sense, Sutherland, more than any other minister, has overseen a tangible programme to make “black lives matter” in the economic sphere.

Clearly then, much has been done. However, government is not about reminiscing about past success, and Ms Mottley has demonstrated that she is not going to do that. Rather, she has taken the new set of facts which we face, and has made necessary adjustments to position the country to be best able to stave off the effects of the pandemic, as well as build back stronger, as any sensible household or company would.

Therefore, she has wisely introduced Sen. Lisa Cummins to the all-important tourism ministry at this critical time. Sen Cummins has not only been the most successful chairman of the Port, but also accumulated impressive experience in diplomacy, international trade policy, industry building and development policy, all of which are crucial skills for the person at the helm of tourism at this time. Ian Gooding-Edghill also brings with him significant experience after two stints chairing the Transport Board.

Barbadians, all of us, must now join with the PM and also commit to making our own personal adjustments as we go forward. These adjustments can include continued adherence to the COVID protocols, increased economic ingenuity in the potentially rough period ahead, commitment to the maintenance of social order by rejecting the influence of organized crime, so that we do not destroy the precious gains made, increasing your on-the-job economic productivity, caring for our environment and personally committing to reduced carbon footprints, as well as eating well and other measures to maintain health so that we do not become state burdens by continuing the worrying rise of NCDs. Those are but a few of the individual commitments which can be made, so that like the Prime Minister, we can better position ourselves and our country for the future.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley Changes Cabinet

The Government has determined that it is necessary that we take fresh guard. The Parliament of Barbados will be prorogued on the 8th of August, 2020, with us resuming in a new session on the 15th of September with a new Throne Speech and with a new direction as to where we must go in order to meet these extraordinarily different circumstances from the original Throne Speech of two years ago – Prime Minister Mottley

Two years into assuming the government of Barbados Prime Minister Mottley tweaked her Cabinet by making changes to her team. The standout changes – Lisa Cummins  and Ian Gooding-Edghill take over at Tourism and Transport respectively. Removed from the Cabinet are George Payne, Trevor Prescod, Lucille Moe, Neil Rowe and Edmund Hinkson.

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Here is the new Cabinet:

    • Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley – Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment
    • Dale Marshall – Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, with responsibility for the Police
    • Santia Bradshaw – Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training
    • Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
    • Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic – Minister of Health and Wellness
    • Dr. William Duguid – Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance
    • Ronald Toppin –  Minister of Industry and International Business
    • Kerrie Symmonds – Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship
    • Cynthia Forde – Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs
    • Senator Lisa Cummins – Minister of Tourism and International Transport
    • Ian Gooding-Edghill – Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources
    • Adrian Forde – Minister of the Environment and National Beautification
    • Wilfred Abrahams – Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs
    • Ryan Straughn – Minister in the Ministry of Finance
    • Marsha Caddle – Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment
    • Sandra Husbands – Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade
    • Colin Jordan – Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations
    • Charles Griffith – Minister in the Ministry of Water Resources
    • Dwight Sutherland – Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment
    • Kirk Humphrey – Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy
    • Indar Weir – Minister of Agriculture and Food Security
    • Peter Phillips – Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
    • John King – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture and Rural Development Commission and eventually the National Development Commission
    • Senator Dr. Romel Springer – Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training
    • Senator Kay McConney – Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology

 

Related Link:

GIS Release – Prime Minister Makes Changes To Cabinet

Barbados: Shifting from Vision to Action

I am curious. Is there going to be any diversification of this economy? Seems to be the same tune all the time.

Dr. Robert Lucas

For all the years Barbados Underground has been in existence the recognition that there is an uncomfortable dependence on tourism has been discussed. Every election cycle aspiring politicians follow the script by promising all things pie in the sky. However no fundamental change has taken place since the Tom Adams era – he died in 1985, thirty four years ago.

Last week the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) celebrated international business week October 20 – 26, 2019. Out of the several discussions held mention was made of the Estonia and Rwanda experience.

In just over 20 years Rwanda has transformed how it does business after being a strife torn country  with the genocide (Tutsis and Hutus). A simple explanation is that they worked successfully to change the mindset of the people.

Estonia has also been held up as a beacon of success post the breakup of the Soviet bloc. The world has witnessed the leadership of that country transition Estonia to a foreign system of government.  It is considered the model digital society.

Why have these two countries been able to translate a vision to action?

There has to be a realistic vision that will resonate with the local population.

Then it is left to the leadership stupid!

Barbados Government and External Creditors Announce Agreement

The BU intelligentsia has been following the external debt restructure talks with a keen interest. A press release issued late last week confirmed that a deal was reached by the Government of Barbados and the Barbados External Creditor Committee. A good news story.

Unfortunately the press release does not list the finer details of the agreement. We hope the final agreement is completed without event so that the country can settle down to the enormous task ahead.

Here is the press release.


A Heather Cole Column – De Barbados Wall

It remind I of the days in Jericho
When we trodding down Jericho walls
These are the days when we’ll trod through Babylon
Gonna trod until Babylon falls

Bob Marley

Walls are not new, from time immemorial they have been used by people to keep out invaders as a defense mechanism. The Bible records that there was a wall around the Jericho- the earliest known urban fortification- to keep out invaders. By the time the Israelites invaded Canaan the walls had been changed from mud to stone. We all know the biblical story of the Israelites marching around the walls of the City of Jericho, with the Ark of the Covenant before them once a day for 6 days and on the 7th day going around the city 7 times with the priests blowing the horns and the people shouting until the walls fell.

Throughout history nations have been building walls to keep out invaders. The Chinese built the Great Wall of China to prevent the Huns and Mongols from invading their country. The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to keep the barbarians out. Therefore Donald Trump’s intent to build a wall to keep the people of South America out of North America is nothing new.

Walls however have not only been built to keep people from getting in. There has only been one exception to this rule until now. This exception was the Berlin Wall.  Although they had become 2 different countries, there was no physical separation for work or shopping and East Germans were in West Germany daily. However, it was due to the virtual collapse of the East German economy in 1960 that started a mass exit of persons to West Germany. The separation was sudden, people awoke one morning in August 1961 to find themselves living behind barb wire. It happened all in one night and the barb wire was later changed to brick walls.

In Barbados there is a wall of bricks that extends from the West Coast to the South Coast. The situation that presently exists in Barbados with hotels, restaurants and private homes all on the shores of Barbados restricting access of the Barbadian public did not happen overnight, but the analogy is somewhat similar. The island is not a communist country by any measure, neither does it share a border with another country and there is no mass exodus of persons; but it is here that the differences end and the similarities begin. The country is in the midst of economic collapse and we have been suddenly confronted by the fact that access to the beach is being threatened with closure by walls built to keep the people in.

It is as though the hotels and the proliferation of gated communities on the South and West Coast have become a fortified border wall with their security gates, fences and hedges and security guards right down to the shoreline.

We have found ourselves in the same position as the people of East Berlin when they realized that the barb wire had been rolled out to fence them it and that a wall was going to have a profound effect on their lives. Chaos ensued forcing thousands to swarm train stations to get a train to flee East Germany. However, 30 years later the Berlin wall did fall, proving that walls built to keep people in will not last.

This is the juncture where we are at in Barbados, we have been shocked to find out that 2 of the last openings in our wall will be closed and are now in crisis mode. It is as though over the last 30 or so years we allowed the romanticism that we have with the sea disappear behind the horizon. We only have ourselves to blame as we stood by and let tourism destroy our lives and ruin our environment. By no stretch of the imagination can this be called development. It now looks like the deliberate marginalization of the people who call this island home. Alas we cannot go back but we cannot let tourism destroy what we have left on Barbados.

No one is opposed to the development of Barbados. However, we have failed to understand why hotels must be built on our coast, encroaching the last treasure we commonly own. We have lived long enough to witness the demise of the fisherfolk of Barbados and seen them replaced with maids and gardeners. We now have beaches where we are made to feel like intruders and not owners. The law says that they are not private beaches but that is no longer our reality. No matter how much the people have complained nothing has really changed for the better. We must take whatever action is required to prevent these remaining windows to the sea from being closed.

Won’t it be sad that our future generations will only know a few overcrowded beaches, will never be able to enjoy the serenity of the beach, only be able to pass by hotels and never know what lies behind them? If it continues like this there will come a time when the simple pleasures like roasting breadfruit and fish on the beach or enjoying a game of beach cricket are lost. Are we going to sit back and let the site of the sea that calms us all slip away from living memory and only to be remembered on postcards of the sea? We owe it to future generations to preserve this semblance of their culture so that they will not have to pay to see the Barbados that the tourist experience.

It is indeed ironic that on the 82nd Anniversary of the Riots of 1937 that we are at another watershed; still fighting but this time is seems like a fight to keep this land as ours. We have no more to give up as we would have nothing left. I am hoping that government will reverse these plans of building more hotels on our beaches but its lack of response on this entire issue of beach access is deafening. It is as though the people have not raised their voices. The voice and will of the people are more important than the greed of a few developers. The sum of our votes is more than theirs and all of us cannot be wrong. If no action is taken, the people may have no choice but to invoke the Israelite libation. Let wisdom prevail.

An Invisible Mottley Cabinet

Austerity is defined as a set of economic policies a government implements to control public sector debt. Austerity measures are the response of a government whose public debt is so large that the risk of default, or the inability to service the required payments on its debt obligations, becomes a real possibility. Default risk can spiral out of control quickly; as an individual, company or country slips further into debt, lenders will charge a higher rate of return for future loans, making it more difficult for the borrower to raise capital.

Source: Investopedia

 

One of the outcomes from an austerity program is criticism from those impacted. This blogmaster addressed the climate at play in the local environment in which BERT is being aggressively implemented by the government – The Rhetoric of Austerity.

Until there is improvement in the economy which took a precipitous dive under the last DLP administration, it is the right of the people and other stakeholders in civil society to express concerns. As always, government’s mandate is to implement policies to breath and sustain life in the economy and supporting sectors.

So far the Barbados austerity program has been following the script. The blogmaster has added our dissenting voice to those criticizing the prime minister for allowing her father to be conferred a knighthood. Against the background of the imbroglio of waiver of tax penalties to Elliot Mottley. And of recent the significant hike in the bus fare, a measure that will impact the most vulnerable in the society. Government’s remit will never change, the vulnerable MUST be protected – Pay the $3.50 or Alternatively Drink the Poison.

Another enduring criticism of the Mia Mottley led administration since the unprecedented mandate from the people on May 24, 2018 has been the size of her Cabinet. It is easily the largest in the world per capita in the world. Mottley’s response at the time of the announcement was – “Given the dire state of our economy and the tremendous work that would be involved in rescuing and rebuilding this country, the salaries of a few extra ministers is relatively insignificant given that there will be tremendous savings from the containment of wastage and the curtailment of corruption in my Cabinet”.

An effective Opposition should file Mottley’s promise and use it to measure government’s performance of the country in the coming months.  In  summary, if the Prime Minister holds the view that many hands make light work, during a time of austerity the optics of decisions and the uninspiring and demotivating influence they may be having must be evaluated AND reassessed if the situation demands it. Does the political reward of employing an unprecedented number of ministers, supported by a bevy of consultants worth the risk of voter disaffection?

The point about the size of the Cabinet is important, it will continue to generate criticism for another reason. The Prime Minister to her credit has demonstrated a high work rate since assuming the office. This cannot be refuted by a simple measure if compared to  a slothful predecessor. She is leading the CSME project, meeting with IMF, World bank and other global players and the list is long. What is disturbing is that Prime Minister Mottley has had to insert her presence into many ministries to lead the narrative or resolve ‘disputes’. Why should she have a large Cabinet if she is always exerting the influence of being in primus inter pares mode?

One example that should give the Prime Minster pause is the meeting called recently with stakeholders in the transport sector. A meeting to deal with the public backlash to the $3.50 bus far hike. Another meeting she had to intervene.

Prime Minister Mottley continues to enjoy good public support informed by the fact John Citizen is aware tough measures have to be taken. And a discombobulated Opposition. Mottley will have to tread clearly to ensure her policies do not create so much opposition that it railroads what she is attempting to do. Perhaps a midterm reshuffle is in the offing.

A word to the Prime Minister should be enough.

 

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More Information Needed About Government’s Partnership with Bitt Inc

Since the announcement by Prime Minister Mia Mottley announcing the launch of a pilot project with FinTech company Bitt Inc,  there has been a growing concern among the savvy segment of the population about the project.

There is the Heraclitus cliché that ‘the only thing that is constant is change‘. Commonsense therefore informs a view that technology will continue to be used by humankind to interact with the ecosystem for as long as we exist. The challenge however for Barbados is effectively managing the timing of the adoption of new technologies to optimally support efforts to maintain a quality of life for Barbadians.

The blogmaster holds no brief for government’s arrangement with Bitt Inc. Often times provocative positions taken by the blogmaster to canvas and ferret information on topical issues – especially those where there is heavy fog – is misunderstood. It is a hazard of what we do and have no issues with it.

Subject matter experts in the IT field endorse the disruptive impact the use of technology driven solutions will continue to have on the the central bank controlled fiat system.  A system that is tired and has been manipulated to the point of minus-utility in the opinion of the blogmaster.

What are a few key concerns about the project?

  1. lack of a legislative environment to safeguard the integrity of the market
  2. security issues
  3. SMEs say Barbados need mobile/online payment solutions, not a digital currency
  4. Bitt Inc does not have a robust IT/governance platform to certify with best in class FIs to be a disruptor
  5. Barbados is an immature cybersecurity space operating without a ‘sanctioned’ roadmap’

Several commenters continue to conflate the issues while responding to the Bitt Inc Barbados government pilot partnership.  The pilot arrangement which promotes a digital currency should not be confused with other concerns about cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and Blockchain technology for example. Clearly there is a need for public education. There is also a responsibility for individuals to educate themselves about the important issues.

In the public interest Barbados Underground reblogs the following LinkedIn article by Niel Harper, a Barbados Consultant qualified in the area of Internet Security and whose expertise is sought after internationally.

 

Why Bitcoin Will Not Solve the Caribbean’s Financial Inclusion Woes

The article was shared by Niel Harper, Managing Director, Octave Consulting | Program Lead, Internet Society | VP, TEN Habitat | WEF Young Global Leader What is Bitcoin? Is it electronic money? There’s a deluge of hype around Bitcoin and blockchain technologies right now, and policymakers and regulators in the Caribbean are doing their best to wrap their heads around

Read more

 

Bajan Pride Harmed | Inflating the Bajan Psyche

William Skinner asked the blogmaster to clarify the following comment posted to Donville Inniss blog on the 2018/08/06 at 8:26 pm  currently choking local news feeds.

Another BLACK mark on the Barbados brand. How much more can we take? Interesting this old charge got laid on Inniss at this time. A conspiracy theory in the making.

On reflection the reply was too concise to effectively convey what was troubling the ‘mind’ of the blogmaster.

For many years Barbados enjoyed an enviable reputation in the region and dare we suggest the world? It was frequently referred to as a model island operating above its weight class. People visited from far to observe our electoral system and prominent Barbadians were invited to participate in election observer missions across the globe. A clear demonstration of the respect for how we managed the electoral process in the recent past.

The most frequent feedback shared by foreigners about Barbados centred on the sense of order to the way affairs of the country was managed. The quality of the infrastructure – road network, telecommunications, health services, educational system, political landscape, stability of the financial system, quality of justice, low level of crime and quality of justice dispensed etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Much of which was reflected in Barbados’ high position on the Human Development Index , Transparency International and other respected international indices.

The 2007-2008 global economic recession exposed vulnerabilities and for several reasons discussed in this space and elsewhere the country  has not been able to correct the ‘wobble’. As fate shared, the recession collided with the election of a young prime minister who died early in the term. The tragic occurrence of David Thompson’s death catapulted his deputy Freundel Stuart to office. The jury is about to return the verdict on Stuart’s legacy, however, it is accurate to state that under his stewardship Barbados was locked in a perpetual state of abeyance.

As a people we have had to suffer frequent downgrades by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s eventually attracting junk status under the former government. The final nail was delivered three months ago when the newly elected Mottley government deliberately defaulted on foreign loan payments and the inevitable SD rating resulted.

Another dent to the psyche of Barbadians etch forever in the blogmaster’s mind is the spillage of sewage that occurred on the South Coast. Some argue that it is a poorly design plant that brought us to this point. Even if this view is accepted there is evidence that the plant was poorly maintained and misuse by consumers largely ignored- even today-  which has contributed to the current state. The lethargy shown by the last government to quickly address the problem on the South Coast given the catastrophic ramifications continues to be a source of discomfort for the blogmaster. What manner of people would have approved millions to build government buildings, travel first class and be accommodated in 4 and 5 star hotels, buy luxury vehicles, BUT, ignore the warning that the South Coast Sewage plant was under stress nearly two years before it escalated to the public attention?

We can engage in the useless political exercise of blaming Bees and Dees, the challenge confronting BARBADIANS is rehabilitating the Barbados brand which has been done irreparable harm. The job at hand- should we chose to accept- how do we inflate the Bajan psyche to create people confidence by encouraging many hands to make light of the work to be done.

 

 

 

A Heather Cole Column – Forward Ever, Backward Never!

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope and it was the winter of despair we had everything before us, we had nothing before us we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

All these things seem to encapsulate Barbados now.  Having a change of government does not mean that the problems facing the island will instantaneously disappear.  The era of Fruendel Stuart did indeed shock us who were adults prior to 2009 and what occurred was not the Barbados that we had grown to know.  Our winter of despair is upon us as the IMF has not only knocked at our door, but it has entered where we dwell setting conditions under which we must live.   It is still a season of darkness as stifling taxation is still upon us.  It is the age of foolishness as our wanton youth have lost the discipline associated with growing up under strict parentage in Barbados.  For most, it was the worst of times as all they could see was that we were going the other way, backwards.

Yet now, we are in another season, a season of light in which we will aspire to create the best of times.  For having learned the hard way, this season is our age of wisdom in which we will make decisions, even complex decisions to correct the past.  This season is now our spring of hope to go forward and lay a new foundation for Barbados that entails all that we dreamed of and more.  We must build a new foundation for Barbados not only for economic prosperity but to redefine ourselves as a people.

What Dickens did not say is that in the worst of times, the vision for the best of times is formed.  We now have a golden opportunity to build a new Barbados.  It cannot always remain a dream to have one Barbados and not two; where governance is steady and pragmatic not chaotic; where laws are not discriminatory; where the place of our birth or where we live determine our place in society and where there is generational wealth for all not only the rich. We can dismantle the stranglehold of the old colonial vanguard with its discriminatory laws, its limitations for wealth creation for the poor and its stagnant education system.

After finding ourselves at the crossroads, twice in 88 years, it makes one wonder if we have not learned that economic success is the key to our well-being.  However, it was the politics of the post-independence era that failed us this time.  Does this mean that we can only adequately plan for 30 year spans or that each generation will have a fundamental crisis at hand?  One thing that we must realize is that even in our darkest hour, there is an opportunity, but we must have the capabilities to discern it.

On the 4 corners of our foundation must underlie values that our success depends upon, namely Integrity, Accountability, Leadership, Equality and Justice.  Political service must be viewed as a sacred trust that the people have in those who govern them, never expecting betrayal.  However, on the other side of that trust must be the highest levels discipline in our workforce both public and private and; now more so than ever to execute the rebuilding of Barbados.

We need a new model to create and redistribute wealth.  The present model with a few minority business men owning all the wealth is to the detriment of Barbados.  With their billions of dollars earned off the backs of the tax payers, none of them have offered to rescue the economy and prevent the country from undergoing the harsh conditionalities that will be brought by the IMF.  A national bank is required, so too the further growth or expansion of the credit unions, building of cooperatives in every industry and other means.  The working class must transform their vision from owning a piece of the rock to owning a business on the rock.  Government also has a role to play in the creation of an enabling environment that all may prosper.

There must be a business plan for Barbados which not only includes financial targets to manage our debt but targets for investment, investing in our workforce, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, transforming our public transportation system, creating a sustainable environment, transforming our educational system, renovating and expanding our healthcare system, transforming the delivery of social services, revolutionizing all aspects of housing, removing poverty from the landscape, ultimately the creation of a new constitution, empowerment of the people, the power of recall for politicians, a well-regulated court system, access to and affordability of technology and transforming our communities to redefine the people.  Finally, we must not forget to build the bridge that has been missing for over 300 years, the bridge to Africa to reconnect to our distant past.

We must all arise and build not only economically or politically but socially as well.  Society and the family structure is in turmoil.  We have persons who came to age in the last decade that know more about feting and with more time on their hands than is rational.  Some of them do not know the last time they saw the inside of a church, read a bible or even had guidance from a family member.  We have a big problem if these are to be the elders of the next generation.  We have seriously missed the opportunity to shape their minds and someone else has shaped it in lawlessness. One thing that I have learned from Hitler is that the youth must be a focal part of any political agenda.   I lament that in the country’s darkest hour that there are people feting away.  Is the revenue to be earned form Corp Over and its activities more meaningful than preventing societal decay?  Where is the church?

We must put a political, social and economic system in place that not only survives turmoil in the next 30 years but the next 100 years and beyond.  To achieve revolutionary changes in Barbados, the task for the present government is not to reshape the country in its present mold but to rebuild Barbados on a new foundation.  To achieve this, we need the best in every field metaphorically, the best surveyors, architects, builders and building materials.  We also need visionaries, leaders and legal minds to achieve this massive feat which is to produce not another gem but a metropolis in the Caribbean.