The US presidential election is less that 80 days away. The blogmaster has always been intrigued how Americans select political candidates through a system of primaries and caucuses. Compared to the process in Barbados where the Executive Council of the the two main political parties are known to have vetoed candidates nominated by constituency councils, it begs a question…
In recent years concerns have been expressed whether the current system operated by the two main political parties serve to produce the best governments. The idea a handful of political partisans can sit in a school on a Sunday evening to select a candidate based on questionable criteria is not ideal. The recent example of former Minister Denis Lowe in the Christ East Constituency and not so recent of the Barbados Labour Party widely publicized case of Maria Agard are classic examples.
The concern is that these political parties – some suggest cabals – make decisions that have far reaching consequences for the country. Has the time come to democratize the process in a real way is the rhetorical question. Should a more broad based approach to candidate selection be adopted. The present system has given rise to a political class comfortable with an arrangement of party recycling at acceptable intervals. If we do not find a way for the political system to ‘regenerate’ there will be the inevitable result. The poorakey debate in our parliament, refusal by the DLP and BLP to enact transparency legislation and the lack of political will to fix Auditor General’s concerns over the years are three performance measures a discerning Barbadian can use to evaluate the performance of the political directorate in the post Independence period.
We have a political system that convinces a prime minister during a pandemic to practice Machiavellian politics.
We have a political system that permitted a member of parliament to switch to the ‘opposition side’ in the twinkling of an eye. A lack of system integrity some say for a candidate who days earlier ran on a government ticket.
In the 2018 general election the BLP gained 72.83% of the vote, DLP 22.10%, Solutions 2.72%. Has the first past the post system outlived its relevance with alternatives to be considered, proportional representation; preferential voting?
A man made system is not perfect therefore the system of government we practice is not perfect.
In an imperfect system the citizenry – the collective – must be sufficiently educated to be aware of the importance of our responsibilities. The buck stops with us.
A country gets the government it deserves.
We must be the disrupting force.
The political class is a mirror image.
The question: How do we inculcate traits and behaviours in the citizenry required to be the disruptive force- the last check and balance- to ensure our government commits to an approach of continuous renewal?
Search BU Archives for ‘Auditor General Report‘ and page after page of results will be the result. Again in 2020 the blogmaster will do his bounden duty and post the 2019 Auditor General Report.
A scan of the 110 page report immediately caused the blogmaster to yawn. The yawn was not intended to be disrespectful of the Auditor General’s report, his is an office that appears to be diligent in carrying out its assignments. The yawn was triggered by the sense of a same old same old feeling, here we go again. We have an office of the Crown continually exposing blatant flouting of government’s financial rules and government after government do nothing to right the wrongs. Whether Barbados Labour Party (BLP) or Democratic Labour Party (DLP) it continues.
Fact: Parliament and its several Working Committees do not function as intended in the governance system we practice. What are the people to do except to rebel at some stage? Our dysfunctional governance system brings into play what is unfolding in several USA cities. At some point Barbadians will be moved to do the same when we reach the tipping point. At this point the blogmaster opened his eyes from having a dream that promised so much.
As a small independent country, there are a few maxims that should guide our behaviour. Never blast a hole in our boat, because it can sink, and we will all suffer. Never contaminate the food on our boat, because we will all get sick. Never sabotage any part of our boat, because it will hinder our progress.
The only justifiable reason for damaging the boat, is for enslaved people to protest their condition. However, we are no longer slaves. Our slave fore-parents purchased this land for us with their blood.
We elect persons to navigate our boat for up to 5 years. We may severely criticise their performance. However, there is no good reason for any Barbadian today to damage our boat. This should be common sense. However, there are a few Barbadians who think that they have a licence to harm our boat.
Participating in corruption, bribery, and drug-gang alliances, is to blast a hole in our boat. Infiltrating and then politicising professional, industry, news media, and union organisations is to contaminate our water supply. Discouraging responsible foreign investment, is to sabotage our boat.
Opposition politics in Barbados is about convincing people how bad things are, so that they will vote against the party in government. To do this, each party relies on their political operatives. These operatives know of only one method of maintaining discontent, that is to harm our boat.
Political operatives have adopted this slave legacy of sabotage, as part of their opposition to the party in Government. They have a real incentive. They are normally well-rewarded by their political party. Therefore, they focus on getting their party elected by any means, regardless of the cost to us.
Since either the BLP or DLP is opposing the party in Government, opposition political operatives are always trying to harm Barbados. However, this continuous harming of Barbados must stop – for all our sakes. Since the DLP is currently out of Government, it is up to them to stop this cycle.
The DLP’s political operatives will naturally feel that they are being unfaired. They saw that the BLP’s worst political operatives, who did major damage to the boat when they were in opposition, were richly rewarded. They think that now is the time for them to earn their reward.
Despite how badly the BLP’s political operatives behaved when the BLP was in opposition, someone needs to decide to be the adult. Otherwise, this toxic tit-for-tat political environment that both parties have cultivated, will never end.
If we want to preserve this country for our children, we must find a way of competing politically that does not include damaging our boat. Perhaps all political parties can consider the following initiatives.
Each party should explain how they plan to stop their candidates from accepting bribes. The public can then decide whether their methods are effective.
Professional organisations can analyse and compare each party’s social development and economic growth plans.
Industry organisations can assess and compare each party’s barriers to investment.
The media can provide fair, honest, and non-partisan political coverage.
The unions can stop promoting and protecting one party, and frustrating and not-cooperating with the other.
After 50 years of independence, we should be mature enough to try a better path. However, it is unlikely that political operatives will behave properly, because the rewards are just too enticing. Since they harm our boat on behalf of their party, only their party can order them to stop.
It is foreseen that if both parties do not restrain their political operatives, then Barbados will become ungovernable. However, simply ordering their political operatives to cease and desist will not be enough. The DLP’s political operatives will justifiably claim that they alone are asked to bear the burden.
To ensure full participation by all political operatives, they must all be convinced that they will never again be rewarded for harming Barbados. For this to happen, then BLP must terminate the reward-appointments of their worst political operatives – otherwise, we are all sunk.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com
It is also about the right to dissent in a civilized manner. Genuine political opposition is a necessary attribute of democracy, tolerance, and trust in the ability of citizens to resolve differences by peaceful means. The existence of an opposition, without which politics ceases and administration takes over, is indispensable to the functioning of parliamentary political systems. If these systems are perceived as not working well – as being “seriously overloaded,” to quote a distinguished Canadian Opposition Leader, the Hon. Robert Stanfield – it may be the rights of political oppositions which are immediately and most visibly at stake, but ultimately the threat is to democratic rights and freedoms generally. The following paper is an attempt to come to grips with the challenging nature of the opposition’s role in Parliament, specifically in the Canadian context – THE OPPOSITION IN A PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
Senator Caswell Franklyn has been scathing in his criticism of a few decisions made by the newly installed Mia Mottley government. He has expressed in the usual caustic manner his disagreement with the appointments of David Comissiong and Charles Jong as Ambassador of CARICOM and Director of Communications respectively. Caswell’s issue with the appointments is why should taxpayers have to fund the two positions. And isn’t the Government Information Service (GIS) equipped to deliver the same support.
Another story caught the eye of the blogmaster this week – a widely promoted DLP lunchtime lecture by former minister Donville Inniss was abruptly cancelled by Freundel Stuart. Although the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was rejected at the polls on the 24 May 2018, the executive of the party with Freudel Stuart as leader remains firmly in position until August when the AGM is scheduled to elect officers of the party.
The two news events reminded the blogmaster to confirm the role of an Opposition in the parliamentary democracy we strive to practice in Barbados. The following summarizes the importance of an Opposition which is to “check and prod, but ultimately to replace the government party“.
In the early life of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government many social commentators will be inclined to be less strident during the traditional “honeymoon period”. That said, it should not include the Leader of the Opposition Bishop Joseph Atherley whom the Constitution of Barbados supports in the role. In the first six weeks of the Mottley government we have had several ‘questionable’ decisions taken that merit fuller explanation. It does not mean the decisions are illegal, it has more to do with the citizenry being eternally vigilant which is the price to be paid to keep a fragile democracy alive.
A few questions have been asked about the process that led to the appointment of Atherley by the Governor General Sandra Mason. Many suspect the 30-0 result at the last poll created a lacuna and the result has given rise to a contrived opposition presence in the House of Assembly. To date Senator Caswell Franklyn in the Upper House has been more vocal in the role as ‘opposition’ compared to the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House. It is early days but some say first impressions count!
What does all of this have to do with the cancellation of Donville Inniss’ lunch time lecture?
The DLP received the most votes in the last general election from the also-rans. In the minds of many Barbadians it is the de facto opposition voice. In the first past the post system 33, 985 votes were cast for the DLP which created a 30-0 result that will forever haunt the party. What has piqued the interest of the blogmaster is the lack of urgency by the DLP party to embrace the role of opposition from outside the House of Assembly. A feeble attempt was made by Inniss, Estwick, De Peiza and Lashley to offer critique of the BLP’s mini budget. We understand the party needs to organize itself by having the obligatory retreats and election of officers but is there an opportunity being missed by the party to re-establish itself quickly? The nothingness coming from the party post 2018 General Election is not unlike the period when late David Thompson fell sick in the role as prime minister and Stuart again was guilty of doing nothing.
How long will the DLP continue be Missing In Action? Will another rise up to fill the vacuum?
The blogmaster was in a conversation recently with a Barbadian who explained why he refused to vote in the recent general election held on 24 May 2018. The vanquished Democratic Labour Party (DLP) does not need reminding that the defeat was the worst inflicted on a political party at the poll in local history. So massive was the defeat the new leadership of the DLP has not yet emerged from the shellacking. The blogmaster’s view is that they should agree to a caretaker leader – someone with accepted management skills and a modicum of political IQ – to assist with transitioning the beleaguered party to an even keel.
Many are of the view- idealistically so in the opinion of the blogmaster- that it is the civic duty of all citizens to vote to determine who should govern a country. Then there is the opposite view that it is the constitutional right of John Citizen to disengage from the voting process as a recourse to an individual’s right to protest. Whatever the contending views it is certain that no political system (man made) is perfect. Therefore the actors in the system must continually evaluate and adjust to maintain contact with the point of equilibrium.
Resonating from the conversation was the vehemence in the criticism the disgruntled citizen directed at the duopoly, read Barbados and Democratic Labour party. His view was that BOTH main political parties which have held the reins of power post Independence are responsible for the current social and economic morass Barbados has become mired. Both are responsible for allowing Barbados to be sucked into a vortex fuelled by popular culture. In the process the required leadership to ensure Barbados tracks a plot to sustain a way of live that is affordable and culturally relevant has been compromised.
It is important for ALL Barbadians to appreciate there is a high level of disengagement and disaffection being demonstrated by the Barbados electorate. The euphoria of an election result, combined with a business as usual mentality lends itself to a mirage which clouds the fault lines of the governance model we seem unable to upgrade. Until we attack these structural issues it is the sad view of the blogmaster that Barbadians will continue to struggle mapping a sustainable way of life for its people.
“Today, no leader can afford to be indifferent to the challenge of engaging employees in the work of creating the future. Engagement may have been irrelevant in the industrial economy and optional in the knowledge economy, but [in today’s creative economy] it’s pretty much the whole game now.” – Professor Gary Hamel of the London Business School.
Every day since May 25th and the swearing in of Barbados’ eighth prime minister, ‘engagement’ has been palpably visible in Barbados. Engagement with citizens and stakeholders, individuals and groups, and with regional and international entities has been forthcoming. Furthermore, the feature of engagement also implies that the characteristics of a national leader matters. Professor Hamel, in connecting leadership and engagement, identified five paramount issues that are essential: values, innovation, adaptability, passion, ideology. Space does not allow for a full discussion on these dynamics, but enough will be said to indicate that even against simple explanations, the importance of these itemized basics to leaders’ engagement can be meaningfully understood.
In speaking of values, attention is drawn to the necessity to equip oneself with integrity and sound ethical practices, given the waning of public morality and reasonableness in the public sphere. Innovation connotes the individual responsibility to be objectively critical while being creative in determining alternatives and solutions. Adaptability is a necessary ingredient given that the world in which we live is dynamic and change is practically constant. Hence, there must be a strong sense of nimbleness, maneuverability, and a reluctance to be paralyzed by inertia.
The concept of passion is to ensure that our existence is inspired, and that our activities are motivated and honed to success by finding ‘new ways to rouse the human spirit’. The ideology that drives our efforts must be sufficiently compelling as to cherish our attained freedoms and the right of self-determination. Overall, national and civic leaders must never abandon the concert of principles that encourage trust, thus leading to the type of enhanced cooperation and providing for security, prosperity, well-being, and opportunity.
Today, the story that is unravelling in Barbados is inspiring. The one-month old Government is adaptive to the foremost interest of the masses and the leadership is deliberately informative and engaging. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has wittingly wrapped herself around the fundamentals of expressing a clear vision, implanting values, being creative, pliant, and inspired to achieve unprecedented successes at the individual and national levels.
Indeed, with the quest for good and effective governance, PM Mottley is focused both on people and on the policy process. The policy process may be defined as the administrative, organizational, and political activities and attitudes that shape the transformation of policy inputs into outputs and impacts. Thus, Barbadians are observing daily, the kind of public administration and policy processes that augur well for national development due to the deliberate method of engagement.
Public administration is described to be ‘the management of the whole set of government activities dealing with the implementation of laws and regulations, making and implementation of policies and decisions, and the provision of public services’. These things are crucial for Barbados. Thus, the practice of respectable public administration coincides with Prime Minister Mottley’s robust efforts to engage the national constituents for the good governance of Barbados. Miss Mottley demonstrates alongside her team, the active personification of a caring government that is responsive to the needs and expectations of the population.
Moreover, this new Barbados Government is showing deep commitment to reverse the vexing trends and mismanagement practices that festered under the previous administration. Transparency and accountability are clear signposts that the Mottley-led administration has chosen for meeting the day-to-day challenges which confront Barbados. Arguably blessed with the acumen of a communicative style, PM Mottley has been forthright in bringing the most crucial matters to the public’s attention. One example is the true state of the Barbados economy, and her government’s intent to restructure the national debt while repositioning itself for economic growth under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program.
Additionally, PM Mottley understands the right for the people to have authentic information. Miss Mottley has already reformulated the Government Information System (GIS) whereby, there is the provision of adequate information relating to the governance of Barbados, and knowledge on the projects being undertaken by the various Ministries. The promise of greater citizen participation is encouraged with a system soliciting feedback and encouraging persons to submit their ideas to a listening Government. Dialogue as seen with the ‘Social Partners’ has drastically improved in mere weeks much to the satisfaction of representatives comprising government, business, and trade unions.
Notwithstanding, PM Mottley is also aware of the risks and perils that rest in the vacuum of ignorance and the shadows of speculation. Official reports such as those previously delivered by the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee, combined with unofficial statements reveal that in past years, Barbados’ institutions and the civil service increasingly suffered from system failure involving the following:
Inadequate attention to achieving government policy and delivering pre-determined goals and targets;
Inability to cope with the changing environment;
Needless and time-consuming procedures (over bureaucratization and duplication);
Poorly trained and/or demoralized staff;
Increasing incidence of corrupt and/or fraudulent practices;
And, inadequate and/or inappropriate skills among managers and staff.
Miss Mottley and her executive are today standing on the right side of law and ethics. Although raising several concerns about the misfeasance done in corridors of stealth, conjecture, shady communications and eleventh hour contractual arrangements, preceding May 24th, 2008, Miss Mottley recognises that it is ‘our responsibility’ to engage with the public and take the appropriate action in the name of resolute public administration and good governance.
To that end, the assertive prime minister instructed her Ministers and civil servants that all official governmental business must be conducted via the secure technological platform for which the Government has invested. This means that all Government business should be conducted via official emails only. Miss Mottley added that neither she nor her Ministers would be holding meetings to conduct the business of Government without public officers being present.
According to the confident leader, “the notion that persons can meet politically in an office to discuss the business of Barbados without public officers cannot happen because we put ourselves at risk of two things.” PM Mottley cited ‘allegations of corruption’ and the matter of who will ‘follow up’ from the proceedings of any held meetings. In her explanations, the popularly elected leader suggested that “if you are in meetings all day and you don’t have a public officer with you, who is going to follow up?” She elucidated on this point by highlighting that “the role of the public officer is to execute the policy and the decisions pertaining to policy that have been made.”
Therefore, it is a matter of practical purpose and safeguard that the presence of public officers become more pertinent in the scheme of transparency and accountability. PM Mottley’s engagement for purposeful public administration ought to be commended by the population. Nevertheless, it is important that we all remember the words of Hannah Arendt: “Political questions are far too serious to be left to the politicians.”
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: email@example.com).
The Mahogany Coconut Group (MCG), joins with all Barbadians in wishing the newly elected Barbados Labour Party government, all the best as it takes over from the badly beaten Democratic Labour Party, whose ten years stay at the wicket, is best described as anemic and unsuccessful. The former prime minister, Mr. Freundel Stuart displayed not only poor leadership skills but bad manners by scarcely having any meaningful dialogue with the public. He chose mainly to address constituency branches of his party.
The public therefore gave Stuart and his miserable group the severe beating it deserved by giving the then opposition Barbados Labour Party under the leadership of Ms. Mia Mottley, all thirty parliamentary seats. The Democratic Labour Party will have to find a way to make itself once again relevant to the political process.
We also congratulate, Ms. Mia Mottley on becoming the first female prime minister of Barbados. We know Ms. Mottley as a seasoned politician. She has gone through the hottest fires and has emerged as one made of the finest steel; we will now await her performance as a leader
The MCG having closely followed the election of May 24th, 2018, must sadly conclude, that both parties have determined that the real cure of the country’s economic ailments are to be found in the IMF’s medicine chest. Hence as expected the country will be heading straight to the International Monetary Fund, for some very bitter medicine. Fifty years after Independence, and with literally thousands of University of the West Indies (UWI) graduates occupying our Caribbean landscape, we still cannot get our economies functioning at any progressive level.
Barbados, to all intents and purposes, is a one sector economy, depending almost exclusively on the tourism industry to keep its growth in any proper shape. Over the last ten years the government of the Democratic Labour Party failed to devise any sustainable economic policy.
Ms. Mottley has been given a warm welcome by all the major players, including the Social Partnership, which includes trade unions, business organizations and other interest groups. While we wish the new Barbados government all the best, we fear that once the IMF gets its predatory claws into the affairs of the country, escape may prove difficult, if not impossible.
Ms. Mottley has already delivered a mini-budget, which was nothing more than an instrument to raise taxes and deliver some promises made by her party during the elections. These included reinstating payment for university education and an increase to old age pensioners.
However, citizens are waiting to see what kind of restructuring program the country will enter under the IMF. Any underperformance of the tourism industry will be disastrous to the island’s economy. The great irony of Ms. Mottley’s mini budget, is the fact that it attempts to extract money from the very tourists, who it is inviting to assist with the country’s current predicament.
We can only hope that she does not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Submitted by DAVID COMISSIONG, President, Clement Payne Movement
As the new Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration and its inspirational leader — Prime Minister Mia Mottley — commence our country’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the role and duty of every patriotic citizen is to stand in solidarity with our Government and to present a strong seamlessly united Government / Private Sector / Trade Union / Civil Society front to the IMF.
Our new government has made it clear that its approach to the IMF will be centred around the fundamental “Barbadian principle” that our country’s development MUST be based on nurturing and fostering the educational talents and accomplishments of our people , and on maintaining a sound, efficient and civilized system of social services and amenities for the benefit of tourists, would-be foreign investors, and the Barbadian citizenry alike.
Prime Minister Mottley has made it clear that Barbados will be approaching the IMF NOT as a helpless supplicant, but as a respected member of that international financial institution — a member that has over the years consistently demonstrated that its basic national developmental model is sound and sensible.
We Barbadians therefore need to uniformly assure the IMF that, having freed ourselves of an uncharacteristically dysfunctional Barbadian governmental administration, we are now more than capable of restoring local and foreign investor confidence in our economy, and in undertaking firm and measured reforms to update and strengthen our economic model, and to upgrade the productivity of our population.
Thus, what Barbados needs from the IMF at this time is some temporary financial relief to ease the burden of our international debt obligations and to shore up our stock of foreign reserves, while we (Government and people together) forge ahead with urgency and a new sense of mission to carry out the necessary national repairs and reforms.
The last thing that we need at this time — on the eve of the visit of the IMF team — is the divisive and potentially demoralizing public mouthings of the Delisle Worrells of Barbados!
Dr Delisle Worrell — the man who fought tooth and nail to save HIS job: the former Central Bank Governor who facilitated the DLP government’s economically destructive printing of money for several years — has come out of the proverbial woodwork to publicly oppose the fundamentals of our new Government’s approach to the IMF and to suggest that our Government should immediately fire 1,500 public sector workers and virtually eliminate all financial support for our statutory corporations.
(Clearly, Dr Worrell’s job was of supreme value and importance to him, but he seemingly cannot appreciate why the jobs of thousands of other Barbadian citizens who work in the public service and in the statutory corporations are of value and importance to THEM and their families !)
With all due respect to my Barbadian elder, I would like to inform Dr Worrell that he and the dysfunctional DLP Government that he served have already done enough damage to our country, and that he should just shut up and allow Ms Mottley and her team to engage with the IMF against a background of unified national support.
On behalf of the officers and members of the Clement Payne Movement I hereby call upon all Barbadian citizens and all of the civil society and private sector organizations of our country to stand united in solidarity with our Government as it embarks upon these important and sensitive negotiations with the IMF.
Let us —by our words and deeds — bring home to the officials of the IMF that Barbados is indeed a special country — a sturdy little nation that possesses such invaluable resources as a compact and well organized society, a literate and well educated population, an impressive communications infrastructure, a cohesive and distinctive national culture, a relatively large stock of domestic savings, a strategic geographical location, an admirable political stability and maturity, a population steeped in the instincts and practices of democracy, and an appreciable number of national economic resources imbued with the potential for future development.
There is nothing that is wrong with Barbados that we — the Barbadian people — cannot put right !
The decision of the new BLP government to seek the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the implementation of its comprehensive economic reform programme has provoked reactions from all sides.
Those who support the decision have argued that the country had no alternative, given its poor credit rating and high level of indebtedness. Prime Minister Mia Mottley put this at over 170% of GDP and stated that, measured against GDP, Barbados is the third most indebted country in the world, placing it after only Japan and Greece. The supporters of the move further argue that with an effective negotiating team and negotiating strategy, there is no reason why Barbados might not benefit from engaging with the IMF. Finally, they argue that the IMF of today is no longer the big bad wolf of previous years.
Those, who oppose the decision, point to the country’s previous engagement with the IMF, in the early 1990s, when job losses and cuts in public sector wages led to protests and the downfall of the Sandiford DLP government. They also point to the experience of Jamaica which has been entangled with the IMF for the last 40 years and is still considered to be in need of IMF support.
The key aspect of the current situation, as it is presented to the people of Barbados, is the government’s fiscal deficit. While the government collects BD$2.7 billion in taxes, it spends BD$4.4 billion, of which some BD$1.5 billion is used to service the existing debt of BD$15 billion. In order to cope with this situation, the previous government are accused of running down the foreign currency reserves. According to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, on 31 May, these stood at BD$440 million, or the equivalent of seven weeks’ worth of import cover. This is the main problem that the government’s comprehensive economic reform programme with IMF support is intended to address.
However, it is clear that there are numerous ways to solve a problem of a government’s budget deficit and the choice of option will indicate the political preferences of those making the choice. For example, the people of Barbados remain in the dark about the origin of this BD$15 billion of public debt. For each individual loan within the portfolio of debt, Bajans need to know, who borrowed it, how much was borrowed, what the interest rate was, what it was used for, how much has been repaid and how much is still outstanding. Bajans need to demand that the government make this information public so that we can judge for ourselves our responsibility for the repayments. Obviously, if money has been borrowed and used for purposes other than those stated in the terms of the original loan, then we are looking at the issue of odious debt for which Bajans should not be held responsible. Furthermore, if money has been borrowed and used to enrich politicians and private interests, then those who benefited from the loans are the ones who should take the responsibility for the repayments.
Another important point to bear in mind is that looking at the government’s finances alone does not give us a clear and all round picture of the state of the economy, since government revenue accounts for only some 30% of Barbados’s GDP. We also need to know what is happening to the other 70% of the country’s GDP in order to be able to make informed decisions going forward. Recently reported statements from Mr Eddy Abed, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), that there is some BD$8 billion sitting in the banking system in Barbados also needs to be factored into any solution. Bajans may well ask how it is that in ‘dire economic times’ the ‘private sector’ aka the local elite have the equivalent of 80% of the country’s GDP sitting in the banking system. If this is the case with the local elite, what is the situation with the foreign elites? We need information on all of this to be in a position to make informed judgments about how best to address the budget deficit.
With regard to the IMF, a careful reading of its Article IV report which was recently released by the government indicates that it is focusing its attention on attacking those streams of government spending which benefit ordinary people, such as public sector pensions. Bajans need to be aware that other options exist. A budget deficit can be reduced by increasing government revenue as well as by cutting government expenditure. For example, the government could increase its revenue by charging corporation tax on companies’ income rather than on their declared profits. It could also place a temporary moratorium on all tax concessions which are currently in operation. The important thing is that various options exist and the ones that are chosen reflect a political choice about whose lives and interests are important. The question is should decisions favour the working people of Barbados or those of the local and foreign elites.
In the new situation, it is essential that ordinary Bajans demand that their views and interests be fundamental in shaping any agreement with the IMF. This means being given access to information which allows us to make informed choices and demanding that any agreement reached with the IMF be put to a binding referendum in which the people of Barbados have the opportunity to make a decision on this crucial issue for the well-being of the country.
A few people only would have accurately predicted the outcome of last Thursday’s general election that resulted in the former Opposition Barbados Labour Party romping to victory by capturing all thirty of the parliamentary seats at stake.
Among those who we may number as not having foreseen such an eventuality would have been the framers of our 1966 Constitution. Indeed, if we were to judge from the text they produced, it might be argued that, to the contrary, they contemplated that there would always be an opposition in parliament and a possible leader thereof, although that individual might not always be willing to serve in that role.
This is my assessment from a reading of the various sections of the Constitution pertinent to the issue. First, there is section 74 (1) that appears to presume the continuous existence of an Opposition in Parliament –
There shall be a Leader of the Opposition, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General by instrument under the Public Seal.
Second, section 74 (2) provides for the mode of his or her appointment, once more apparently making an identical assumption-
Whenever the Governor-General has occasion to appoint a Leader of the Opposition he shall appoint the member of the House of Assembly who, in his judgment, is best able to command the support of a majority of those members who do not support the Government, or if there is no such person, the member of that House who, in his judgment, commands the support of the largest single group of such members who are prepared to support one leader: [Emphasis added]
At least two of my learned friends, Justice Christopher Blackman in last Sunday’s issue of the Sunday Sun, and Ms Lynette Eastmond in Tuesday’s Barbados Advocate, have expressed the view that the issue is satisfactorily resolved by the provision in section 75. According to this-
During any period in which there is a vacancy in the office of Leader of the Opposition by reason of the fact that no person is both qualified in accordance with this Constitution for, and willing to accept, appointment to that office, the Governor-General shall-
(a) act in his discretion in the exercise of any function in respect of which it is provided in this Constitution that the Governor-General shall act in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition; and
(b) act on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in the exercise of any function in respect of which it is provided in this Constitution that the Governor-General shall act on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition…
It seems clear from a preliminary reading of this turgidly drafted section that while it is premised on the absence or non-existence of a Leader of the Opposition, that premise is not the broad one contended for by some in the present scenario, but rather is cribbed, cabined and confined by that absence or non-existence being for the express reason stated and that reason only, namely, by reason of the fact that no person is both qualified in accordance with this Constitution for, and willing to accept, appointment to that office… [Emphasis mine]
We should note that the section does not present the two elements as alternatives, in which case the draftsman would have used “or”, but rather as cumulative (“and”), thereby intending that both elements should be satisfied. Nor does it seem to import clearly that the second element (willingness to accept) is relevant only where the first element of qualification is satisfied.
It is readily conceded that the section is regrettably drafted and it is to be negatively contrasted with the much more lucid (though to different effect) provision to be found in section 83 (6) of the Trinidad & Tobago Republican Constitution of 1976-
Where the office of Leader of the Opposition is vacant, whether because there is no member of the House of Representatives so qualified for appointment or because no one qualified for appointment is willing to be appointed, or because the Leader of the Opposition has resigned his office or for any other reason, any provision in this Constitution requiring consultation with the Leader of the Opposition shall, in so far as it requires such consultation, be of no effect. [Emphasis mine]
It would appear that both of my learned friends and others have read the Barbadian provision as being identical to this one, when in fact it is not; since the T&T section requires only one of the stipulated prerequisites to be satisfied.
In the absence of a clear provision to cater to the current circumstances, the Honourable Prime Minister, Ms Mia Mottley, seemingly in agreement with the argument advanced here, has graciously indicated her preference for a constitutional amendment that would permit the party, other than that which comprises the governing administration, that captured the most votes in the election to nominate two members of the Senate, as the official Opposition would be able to in ordinary circumstances.
This amendment too will require careful drafting as it purports too alter, even if only slightly, the entitlement to Senate representation from one of the number of those first past the post to a semblance of proportional representation. I imagine, however, that she is contemplating a sunset clause to fit the current scenario. It is now up to the Democratic Labour Party to determine whether it will be aware of Greeks bearing gifts or whether it will look this gift horse intently in the mouth.
It is not an open and shut matter and will bring into sharp focus the regard of the political effectiveness of the Senate in our system of governance.
There has been much discussion over the past 5 days about the 30 – 0 victory of the Barbados Labour Party over the for Democratic Labour Party government and other newer political parties at the General Elections which were held on May 24, 2018. It was a historic and resounding victory for the Barbados Labour Party as they not only received the mandate to govern unopposed but the first female Prime Minister of Barbados, Ms. Mia Amor Mottley was elected.
With the decimation of the main opposition, most persons resorted to the Constitution for guidance. The founding fathers clearly did not anticipate that such a situation would occur. Hence, the Constitution does not provide any guidance on this issue. It only states that the democratic process to produce a government would consist of the winning party which obtains most seats and an Opposition which won the remaining seats and that both would constitute the government. No exceptions are mentioned. There being no opposition, only members of Parliament of the current Administration can sit in the lower House of Parliament.
Some may be of the view that this 30-0 win is a constraint on the democratic system as there are no longer any checks and balances on the system or transparency and that the Constitution should be amended to make provision for some semblance of an opposition as the new government will do as it pleases without oversight. Most importantly there is a worry about the preservation of democracy if the island is a 2-party system.
The Constitution does not advocate the use of Senators in lieu of there being no Opposition elected as part of government. The Prime Minister was therefore very gracious to seek to amend the Constitution to allow Members from the Democratic Labour Party which polled the second highest percentage of votes to be appointed to the Senate. Another alternative that could have been pursued was to simply increase the pool of independent senators. Whether one likes it or not, this may end up being the case because for the majority of the population the credibility of the Democratic Labour ceases to exist and the majority of the people may not even want them to walk up the steps of Parliament again.
One can be of a different view that a unique opportunity has presented itself making the 30-0 victory a blessing in disguise. With over 50 years of self-governance behind us and going as far as we can with a 2-party system, the time as come to go to the next level in democracy. That is to empower the people to fully participate in the governance of Barbados.
It was indeed heartening when for the first time in history of electoral politics in Barbados that a draft Manifesto was presented to the people by the Barbados Labor Party for their thoughts, discussion, comment and input. One wonders why this never occurred before. Perhaps at the beginning of our independence when the majority were only educated to 7th standard they needed the government alone to decide their needs and what was best for the country. However, after 50 years of independence and the majority having obtained secondary education and a thousands of university graduates, one wonders why a Manifesto coming from the people was not on the table until this election.
It would be a waste given the heightened political discussions that emanated throughout the island since the dissolution of Parliament on March 6th, 2018 for most people to revert to lives void of politician participation. Without an Opposition, the responsibility also falls on the electorate to maintain the democracy. It is for the good of the country as we seek to rebuild Barbados not only economically and socially but politically as well.
A 30-0 majority further provides the opportunity for greater input of Barbadians in the process of governance; whether it be in oversight, checks and balances, in decision making and by referendum and constituency councils. Members were selected for the constituency councils under the previous Administration, but they have failed to perform.
To this end the Government Information Service can be used as a tool to provide a body of knowledge to educate all citizens and residents, preparing them for active participation by providing the training for the empowerment of the people. The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and the Internet can be used as the medium to ensure that this becomes a reality.
One hopes that this 30-0 historic victory will signal the end of an era when the people only participated politically by casting ballots every five years and heralds the commencement of revolutionary changes as part of the rebuilding process making Barbados a participatory democracy. One can argue that with active continuous participation that not only will the people have a greater interest in their governance, participate more in the polls and reduce the numbers who do not vote but more importantly that we all can truly sing the part of the national anthem which states that we are “strict guardians of our heritage, firm craftsmen of our fate.”
Five days to go to the 2018 General Election in Barbados and the speculation is rife who will win and the margin of the victory. The platform discussion has not ignited hope in the blogmaster that there will be significant change to how a new government will improve the lot of the people. What is certain is that the state of the economy will possibly get worse before it improves, IF it improves.
What factors will influence how the blogmaster cast his X on Thursday?
How have the key economic indicators moved since 2013?
amount of fossil imports
greater sector integration
What about the crime situation since 2013?
Has the infrastructure improved since 2013?
state of the highways and byways
public buildings (health and safety)
Small island developing states because of the size must have an efficient waste management and policies attuned to a maintaining a pristine environment. Have we seen advancement in this space since 2013?
adequate number of garbage trucks
frequent garbage collection
effective public education about waste disposal
management of sewage
Have we observed change in the Governance model since 2013?
effectiveness of the working committees of parliament
adherence to financial rules
delivering justice to all citizens
holding public officials accountable
Last but as important is whether the confidence of a people is higher (or lower) compared to 2013.
How can we create a more relevant regional and international outreach to sustain quality of life for citizens?
There are many other issues the blogmaster could have listed to point to the fact- if one is honest- that there has been a deterioration in the Barbados space since 2013. We can debate if the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the 3rd parties are ready to led the country if elected. Clearly based on performance the DLP has fallen short by the simple measure if the questions posed are answered honestly.
The electorate will have to decide if despite a poor performance by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) whether it merits a third term when compared to the alternatives. Does the electorate have the capacity to logically weight the issues to inform the vote?
In a sea of red, glitz and glamour to rival Cohoblopot at its peak popularity, Reggae on the Hill or any of the popular entertainment events, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) launched its 2018 Manifesto in the heart of the southern belt of the island. – see link to BLP Manifesto website. The manifesto launch followed a similarly styled event to introduce BLP candidates at Weymouth pasture on the outskirts of the city last weekend.
In the coming days the blogmaster and BU family will discuss the promises listed in the BLP manifesto, however, of interest to the blogmaster is the reference made to the IMF by Mia Mottley. In a guarded statement, she indicated that after assessing the state of the economy should the BLP win the government, going to the IMF may be an option. The other political parties as part of the cut and thrust of political debate and tactics will predictably respond to the position taken by the BLP. The blogmaster is of the view the perspective shared by the leader of the BLP regarding the IMF could be a defining moment in the campaign, not dissimilar to when Owen Arthur in a similar position dared to introduce the privatization issue during the 2013 general election.
It will be interesting to observe how the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in particular responds. On January 2018 the International Monetary Fund issued a press release which outlined the Executive Board’s Assessment based on its annual Article IV consultation. It is standard procedure for the government to approve the release of the full report for public viewing in the interest of being transparent. Four months later, the public is non the wiser about the details contained in the full report. It is unlikely the report will be released two weeks from a general election gien the current state of the economy. Especially following the unflattering review of the performance of the economy in the first quarter by Governor of the Central Bank Cleviston Haynes. The DLP strategists have a decision to make. If they attack Mottley’s position which leaves the door open to go to the IMF, it forces the DLP to answer questions about withholding the full report from the public.
Minister of Sports and Culture Stephen Lashley explained on his Facebook page a couple weeks ago that it is not unusual for a government to delay approving the full report to accommodate final corrections and clarifications. Four months after the IMF released the Article IV summary statement, it is a reasonable conclusion to make that the contents of the full IMF report is as unflattering as Governor Haynes’ review of the first quarter performance of the economy. To use the economic jargon, clearly the government of Barbados needs to create some ‘space’ with significant foreign loan payments to meet in the next 12 months. To continue to borrow at high rates on the open market because of our junk credit rating is unsustainable. Equally, the selling of national assets to shore up the foreign reserves is also unsustainable, AND, idiotic.
This space is to allow the BU community to share views about the two kickoff political meetings that were staged on the weekend.
The blogmaster was impressed by the entertainment content delivered by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on Saturday night. The parade of the experience and political intelligence the BLP leadership can access as demonstrated by the Henry Fordes, Cheltenhams, Millers, Tulls et al. Most interesting were the promises to increase non-contributory pensions and access to start up financing for the youth segment. The blogmaster looks forward to hear how this will be supported by the budget.
The blogmaster was equally impressed by the entertainment delivered by the DLP through the antics of Blackett, Lashley and a couple others. The objective was to attack Mia Mottley in her role as leader under the theme that she feels entitled. Prime Minister Stuart clearly attempted to show that there is a philosophical difference between the two major parties by anchoring his address in what he considers to be Mottley’s sense of entitlement because of her blodline. The other noteworthy presentation was from Minister David Estwick who was scathing in his attack of Mia for showing her ignorance about the issues affecting the south coast sewage problem. He summed it up by asking her when she digs up the affected area on the South Coast where will the live sewage passing in the lines be deposited?
“Can you please make public these two articles in the interest of all Barbadians” – Mark Jones
The Barbados Bar Association has been recently getting itself involved in a number of matters that have caused us to question whether it has now become an official arm of the BLP!
It is significant that the past president Wilfred Abrahams whose election to office as a junior lawyer was orchestrated by former BLP Attorney General and Chief Justice David Simmons and and the present president, another junior lawyer Lissel Weekes are colleagues in the same law chambers and the Association under their leadership has shown a recent eagerness to mount challenges to legislation passed in our Parliament. The matter of the registration of non Barbadians by the Electoral Department has come up before the law courts for determination and the matter has ended up before the Court of Appeal where the decision has been reserved; in the language of the law the matter is SUB JUDICE.
But to the amazement of many Abrahams along with his political allies from the Bar convened a press conference at no less a place than the headquarters of the Association in Perry Gap to discuss the matter contrary to all the conventions of the legal profession. It was significant that in a story appearing in one of the newspapers where he and his colleagues were photographed at their conference he was quick to point out that the event was not political; one wonders if a question leading to that response was posed by the press.
However, it must be a cause for concern that the Bar Association’s facilities could be used by a politician to mount an exercise that is against the very practice which the Bar should be promoting, refraining from entering into public discussion in matters which are before the law courts. The general membership of the Bar should therefore be calling on its president and executive to give an account of this willful break from a tradition that has been respected by members of the legal profession all these years. In addition the executive must be called upon to respond to the concern of many among the profession, namely that Abrahams with the concurrence of his associate has been dragging the Association into the realm of party politics in this country.
It is also noticeable, that like the BLP, the Bar Association has not lifted its voice in concern of the problems that have been plaguing its members in their day to day experiencing in that work building because of its faulty structure and general lack of facilities that go to make the practice of law comfortable in any court.
The Bar Association has certainly lost is way and its membership should be duly concerned.
A notable feature of the Supreme Court building fiasco is the conspicuous absence of ANY comment from the opposition BLP or its leader on the matter.
This is significant because the BLP never lets slip an opportunity to expose the alleged ineptitude of the DLP Government in maintaining its buildings and other projects even though they were conceived and built before they took office.
One glaring example is the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant which had the BLP wallowing in the sewage in order to criticise the Government for its lack of adequate maintenance.
Of course recent disclosures have led to the conclusion that sabotage has been one of the main reasons for the the problems of the plant after all kinds of foreign objects that cannot be flushed by any known toilet or sink or drain were used to sabotage the system.
The items range from sheets and pillow cases, to beach towels and concrete both in the poured form and concrete the block form.
All of these items are still being being plucked from the system.
Barbadians should therefore be made aware why there has been such a marked silence about the matter at the Supreme Court of Barbados.
The facts are as follows.
It was planned and built under the tenure of Mia Mottley as the Attorney General ( even though she does not own a LEC ) and her cousin David Simmons Attorney General and later Chief Justice of Barbados.
And you would not believe it that the project manager was one Arnold McIntyre the Godfather of David Simmons’ son to whom the whopping salary of Bds $ 40,000.00 per month was paid to manage a project that has all the faults we have been hearing complaints being made about.
If this is not nepotism and downright CORRUPTION at the highest level we don’t know what is.
Simmons has been having a very loud voice in public affairs recently!! maybe he can speak out on the involvement of his cousin Mia Mottley and friend McIntyre in the disaster at White Park Road for which the burdened tax payers now have the responsibility to put right.
Let him speak up on this matter ! let the opposition also speak up.