Last week it was reported the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) suffered a cybersecurity incident. Another way to explain it – information was stolen from QEH’s database by unknown parties. So far the official and sanitized explanation is – “the QEH was taking all necessary precautions to protect the integrity of our systems ans patient privacy“. On December 14. 2022 the QEH issued a report indicating changes to its operations because of the cybersecurity incident – Temporary Changes At QEH Due To Internet Outage.
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.
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.
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:
Stand idly by as the fire breathing dragon approaches and watch Rome burn. Or,
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 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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Barbados Agrees On Terms With External Creditor Committee For Restructuring Of U.S. Dollar-Denominated Commercial Debt
The Government of Barbados (the “Government”) and the Barbados
External Creditor Committee (the “Committee”) jointly announced today
that they have reached an agreement in principle to exchange certain of
the Government’s U.S. dollar-denominated debt for new bonds to be
issued by Barbados. This includes Barbados’ 7.8% Fixed Rate Bonds due
2019, 7.25% Notes due 2021, 7.00% Notes due 2022, 6.625% Notes due
2035, and Floating Rate Loan with final maturity in 2019 (together, the
The agreement in principle follows extensive discussions between the
Committee and the Government. These discussions have included a
number of meetings between senior governmental officials and
representatives from the four core members of the Committee, which
includes Eaton Vance Management, Greylock Capital Management, LLC,
Teachers Advisors, LLC, and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry
Limited. Two of the meetings were attended by Prime Minister and
Minister of Finance, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley.
In reaching an agreement with the Government, the Committee
considered information made public by the Government regarding the
country’s current financial and economic situation. The Committee also
considered the International Monetary Fund’s program and first review of
The agreement in principle includes a reduction of 26.3% in the aggregate
sum of the original principal amount of the debt obligations and past due
and accrued interest as of 1 October 2019.
In addition, the new bonds will have the following key terms:
• A final maturity of 1 October 2029;
• Five year grace period on repayments of original principal;
• A debt management provision through October 2024;
• Equal semi-annual principal amortisations commencing in April
2025 through the remaining term of the bonds;
• A fixed annual coupon of 6.500%;
• A “natural disaster clause” that, subject to certain conditions and
input from holders of the new bonds, will enable the Government
to capitalise interest and defer principal maturities due on the new
bonds for two years in the event that Barbados is adversely affected
by an earthquake, tropical cyclone or rainfall event under its
Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated
Portfolio Company insurance coverage; and
• A clause providing for the reinstatement of forgiven principal and
past due and accrued interest upon the occurrence of a payment
event of default prior to the successful completion of the ongoing
International Monetary Fund program.
The amount of past due and accrued interest as of 1 October 2019 that is not to be cancelled will be treated as follows:
• US$7.5 million to be paid in cash at closing to holders participating
in the exchange (subject to the deduction of the Committee’s
unreimbursed costs and expenses below);
• US$32.5 million paid in the form of PDI bonds with a fixed annual
coupon of 6.500%, with an amortization of US$30.0 million in
October 2020, and a final maturity of February 2021; and
• Balance to be capitalised into the new bonds that will mature in
The Committee’s unreimbursed costs and expenses incurred in
connection with the negotiation and implementation of the restructuring
transaction (US$3 million) will be deducted from the cash payment made
by the Government at closing in relation to past due and accrued interest,
so that these costs and expenses are borne equally and fairly among all
It is anticipated that the new bonds due 2029 will be issued with an aggregate face value in excess of US$500 million. These bonds have been
structured with eligibility for J.P. Morgan Emerging Market Bond Index
(EMBI) inclusion in mind.
The Government expects to launch a parallel exchange offer for certain
U.S. dollar-denominated instruments issued under Barbados law in the
coming weeks, effectively completing the comprehensive restructuring of
the country’s high debt burden, which included the successful closing of
the B$11.9 billion (equivalent to US$5.95 billion) domestic debt
exchange offer in November 2018.
The agreement in principle reached by the parties, and the support of the
members of the Committee for the proposed restructuring, is conditional
on the parties reaching agreement on mutually satisfactory documentation
setting out the detailed terms of the transaction and the new bonds. The
Government and the Committee have agreed to commence work
immediately on, and to work in good faith with their respective advisers
to reach agreement on, mutually acceptable documentation and the
implementation of the proposed transaction. The Government and
Committee members have also agreed to maintain an ongoing dialogue
on economic and financial developments in Barbados following the
conclusion of the proposed transaction which may include a provision of
the new bonds to facilitate bondholder organization and good faith
interaction with Barbados.
The Committee organized in early June 2018 and currently represents
more than half of the Government’s Eligible Debt.
The Government plans to launch the invitations to holders in the coming
weeks to participate in the restructuring.
This communication is not an offer or a solicitation of offers to exchange any securities. The invitations are being made solely by the relevant invitation memoranda that will be distributed in due course. The distribution of materials relating to the invitations, and the transactions contemplated by the invitations, may be restricted by law in certain jurisdictions. If materials relating to the invitations come into your possession, you are required by the Government of Barbados to inform yourself of and to observe all of these restrictions. The materials relating to the invitations do not constitute, and may not be used in connection with, an offer or solicitation in any place where such exchange offers or solicitations are not permitted by law. The new bonds have not been and will not be registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), or the securities laws of any other jurisdiction. The new bonds will be offered in the United States only to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act and to persons outside the United States in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
lack of a legislative environment to safeguard the integrity of the market
SMEs say Barbados need mobile/online payment solutions, not a digital currency
Bitt Inc does not have a robust IT/governance platform to certify with best in class FIs to be a disruptor
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.
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
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.