Feel free to comment on the image. In case you do not recognize the gentleman on the left, he is former Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Commenters are invited to caption this.
Feel free to comment on the image. In case you do not recognize the gentleman on the left, he is former Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Commenters are invited to caption this.
Dear Underground, attached you will find a letter outlining concessions given to a developer in September 2016 with regard to Westmoreland Hills Development.This development received exemption from VAT and Import Duties in respect of the supplies imported or purchased out of a bonded warehouse.Exemption from the payment of National Social Responsibility Levy with the presentation of a certificate from the project manager.Exemption from the payment of Import Duties, Excise Tax, NSRL and VAT on the vehicles and construction equipment (see attachment).Exemption from the payment of VAT on the provision of services directly related to the project.Exemption from the payment of corporation tax on income accruing to the company for a period of five years with effect from 29 June 2016.Exemption from the payment of Property Transfer Tax and Stamp Duty in respect of the initial sale of villas/townhouses being constructed to purchasers.Exemption from the payment of Withholding Tax for a period of five years effective 29 June 2016 in respect of dividends paid by the company to its non-resident shareholders; and fees paid to non-residents who are contracted to provide management services or technical skills.Exemption from the payment of VAT and import duties for non-resident employees on their personal and household effects and motor vehicles.Now could someone from the Ministry of Finance say if any of the sales revenue on this project is coming to Barbados and why would all of these concessions be given?
Some of our Members of Parliament recently claimed that they will not rest until someone is locked up, and they seemed to have found a target. It seems that they, media reporters and talk show moderators have all received the same memo – target Chris Sinckler. Before his reputation is irreparably damaged, let us look at the target of his legacy
After trying various iterations of a medium-term economic growth strategy, like any other entrepreneur, he seems to have happened upon his achievement, which in his case was the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL). Immediately, the same actors in the business community, established media, professional associations and unions joined with the BLP and prejudged it as unworkable.
The tax was predicted to: make products unaffordable, destroy businesses, cause mass layoffs, and lead to mass poverty. The public was encouraged to despise the tax-master, by claiming that it was unconscionable and uncaring for Chris to demand additional taxes from Barbadians, who were already so highly overtaxed that it was literally impossible for them to bear any more.
Once it was implemented, none of the predictions came true. The NSRL was perhaps the most fair tax that any Government of Barbados has ever introduced since our independence. By comparison, VAT is by far the least fair. The NSRL forced businesses to be efficient and productive in order to be competitive. VAT created unfair competition by reducing business cash-flows, and forcing efficient businesses to significantly increase the price of their products above that of their smaller competitors.
Many businesses were able to absorb the NSRL through greater efficiencies. Others simply obeyed orders and marched for: inefficiency, unproductivity, uncompetitiveness, unfairness, corrupting no-bid contracts, and getting their party in government.
Strangely, the increase in taxes under BERT are not to be seen as unconscionable and burdensome for a heavily overtaxed population. Instead, they are to be seen as responsible, for which we are expected to happily pay and gratefully thank the tax-mistress.
I was recently invited to BrassTacks (a rarity since the General Election) where Ryan Straughn explained that it was impossible for one Minister to do all of the ministerial work required in the Ministry of Finance. Minister Straughn made this comment to justify having 3 Ministers in the Ministry of Finance, plus 5 BERT consultants all working full-time every day. These 8 persons are so exhausted that they have had to outsource much of their critical work to a UK based specialist consulting firm, one White Oak.
On BrassTacks, Minister Straughn stated that “the public has to judge based on performance”. Well, let us do just that. Chris appeared to mismanage the national economy in the same manner as the other Ministers of Finance have done over the past 40 years, by implementing the same 5 programs. Namely: send home party detractors, hire party supporters, award corrupting no-bid contracts, mismanage public services, and increase the national debt.
The current Ministers of Finance, and their legion of consultants, are implementing the same 5 programs, but with one critically important difference. All past Ministers of Finance were restrained in how far they could go with each of the 5 programs, by adhering to the unbroken promise to always pay our debts to international creditors. For the first time since our Independence, we broke that promise and chose to default, and the same partisan actors could not even bring themselves to be impartially critical. But back to Chris.
If it is truly impossible for one person to do all of the ministerial work in the Ministry of Finance, then how was Chris able to do the work of 3 Ministers plus a legion of consultants, invent the most responsible tax Barbados has ever had, pay our international creditors, and sill be among the living?
A perennial political platform issue in Barbados has been the levelling of corruption accusations at the other by the BLP and DLP. While it makes for good theatre – the reality is that when the campaign dust settles nobody is ever held accountable. It is business as usual. The arrest by US authorities of former minister Donville Inniss on money laundering charges does not qualify.
A hotly debated issue in Barbados has been the $450 million Credit Suisse loan signed off by the former minister of finance Chris Sinckler. A contentious clause in the terms and conditions of the loan states that the interest rate will increase when there is a downgrade by international rating agencies. With the several downgrades Barbados has attracted in recent years millions of dollars has been paid by Barbados from dwindling foreign reserves to Credit Suisse. There was no appetite (is no appetite) to lend Barbados money by international lenders because of our junk status rating now selected default.
The inability to hold public officials accountable continues to be a challenge for Barbados. Read Auditor General reports since 2006 which hint at malfeasance. This blogmaster refuses to accept that local officials are so puritanical in behaviour they leave no room for malfeasance to occur.
A relates story carried in the international media reports that Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested in London while the US seeks their extradition on charges that they bribed Mozambican officials before supplying loans to state owned companies there. Should sensible Barbadians assume that the circumstances surrounding the former government’s decision to get a loan from Credit Suisse in December 2013 – at a high interest rate instead of opting for the IMF which lends at about 1 percent – is being investigated?
Read the report at the following BBC link – Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested over ‘$2bn fraud scheme’
Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested over ‘$2bn fraud scheme’
Three former Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested over their alleged role in a $2bn (£1.5bn) fraud scheme connected to firms in Mozambique, according to US authorities.
The men have been released on bail in London while the US seeks their extradition.
The scheme allegedly involved loans to state-owned companies in Mozambique.
Two others, including the country’s former finance minister, have also been arrested.
The former employees of the Swiss investment bank were arrested in London on Thursday.
The three – Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh, and Detelina Subeva – were charged with conspiring to violate US anti-bribery law, money laundering and securities fraud in an indictment issued by a US District Court in New York.
Prosecutors say that through a series of financial transactions between approximately 2013 and 2016, they created fraudulent maritime projects and used state-owned companies in Mozambique as fronts to raise $2bn.
Some of the investors defrauded included US nationals, the indictment says.
It added that they “intentionally diverted portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200m in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others”.
The state-owned companies missed more than $700m in loan payments after defaulting in 2016 and 2017, the indictment adds.
In a statement, Credit Suisse made clear that no action had been taken against the bank itself.
“The indictment alleges that the former employees worked to defeat the bank’s internal controls, acted out of a motive of personal profit, and sought to hide these activities from the bank,” it said.
The US has agreed extradition treaties with more than 100 countries. These treaties can require “the surrender of persons who have committed crimes in foreign countries”.
The two main political parties held national political meetings on the penultimate weekend BEFORE the May 24 General Election. After wading through much of the rhetoric and palaver three questions peaked the inquiring mind of the blogmaster. Hopefully they will be answered in the public interest BEFORE the general election.
Go to 3:00hr point on the YouTube video to listen to Mia prosecute the Hilton matter.
See pre-action protocol letter sent to Sinckler from lawyer Leslie Haynes on behalf of Benedict Peters.
The Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley at a press conference this week asked Minister Chris Sinckler to answer eight questions. The questions are pertinent sane observers will agree given the perilous state of the economy based on reports delivered last week by Governor Cleviston Haynes and this week from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Again pertinent because the draft Estimates 2018-2019 will be debated in Parliament next week.
There is the saying how can 20 million Frenchmen be wrong?
Clearly the protracted poor state of the economy remains a priority concern because of the many issues that will catalyze as a result. We have already started to witness a different kind of crime in Barbados, a type of crime Bajans use to say -dah cant happen hey!
Next week will Bajans have the opportunity to listen or watch serious debating of the issues affecting Barbados or will it be the same vacuous mouthings from our elected. There is a general election to be won afterall!
In response to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s criticism about the length of time the Far Trading Commission (FTC) has taken to deliver its final decision on the application for SOl to acquire BNTCL, Chairman of the FTC Jeff Cumberbatch shared the following press statement [16 November 2017]. The final decision on the matter is to be made on November 23, 2017. It is interesting to note that the FTC held in-camera sessions as recent as 23 October 2017 pursuant to 26 (2) of the Fair Trading Act, AND, Minister Sinckler launched his criticism on the 10 November 2017.
The Barbados government is desperate to bolster its foreign exchange reserves which based on recent reports has fallen to an uncomfortable low of 9 weeks cover. It is a pity the country finds itself in a place where profitable state assets have to be dumped to support consumption spending by the country.
In the original game of monopoly, players roll two six-sided dice to move around the game-board buying and trading properties, developing them with houses and hotels. Players also collect rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy. Lots of money is available but the stakes are high and players can end up in jail, which they cannot move from until they have met some specified condition.
While Bajans suck salt, under 9 years of harsh economic conditions, the current DLP Administration has committed numerous acts for personal benefit that are not aligned with the plight that majority of persons now find themselves in. The ruling Administration appear to be playing a corrupt version of the famous authentic board game. We have Ministers buying expensive properties, giving away land to their friends for housing developments and hotels while collecting superfluous taxes from the people of Barbados. They have also been borrowing extensively on the international market at exorbitant interest rates; an act that can potentially drive the country to bankruptcy if unable to meet their repayment obligations and into to the arms of the International Monetary Fund.
When many persons lost their jobs , in response the government raised [reinstated] the salaries of the Ministers. This can only be described as a slap in the face especially after hearing the Prime Minister justify raising the salaries.
While many cannot afford cars, cannot afford to repair their cars due to damages caused by pot hole in the roads, or can even get reliable service from the government operated Transport Board, Ministers are now driving luxury vehicles that cost in excess of $ BDS 150,000.00. These vehicles are not even within the means of their income.
With death of the middle-class on the horizon due to the fact that hundreds of persons have lost the homes which was their only investment for decades and the rise in homelessness and vagrancy, Ministers of Government are building mansions as though they are living in Victorian England where the peerage built massive mansions as though they planned to live forever. The government has not even bothered to look into the mortgage crisis, not even said a word or acknowledgement that the archaic CAP 236 is need of change. It has in is possession about 15,000 empty houses that were built and never occupied that are in some state of decay. With such a housing stock no one on the island should be homeless. The Ministers of Government have been busy rolling the dice and playing monopoly to notice.
There is an old saying that “yah can hide and buy land but yah cahn hide and wuk um.” The latest possession revealed is a house that sits at 91 Rolling Hills St. George. It is owned by none other than the Minister of Finance. The lot on 17, 551 sq. ft. was put up for sale at US$ 177, 900.00. Unconfirmed reports now value the house and land at US$ 2,500,000.00. From the exterior, it is a charming house pleasing to the eye.
However, according to SI 2016, signed by Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance on April 15th 2016, The annual salary of a Government Minister is BDS$152,382.00, with an entertainment allowance of BDS$ 24, 170.28 and travelling allowance 0f BDS$23, 773.93. There is no housing allowance. The combination of 9 years of salary plus benefits amounted to BDS $1,802,935.89. So where did he obtain the money to purchase this land and build this mansion plus the luxury vehicles that he owns? Where does he keep his stash of monopoly money?
At writing it has not been ascertained that any bank or financial institution has financed the mortgage for this property. However, if indeed one of them has, it is hoped that they undertook the due diligence regarding the source of the funds and that they can show a paper trail.
It appears that the DLP Administration have become monopoly professionals. From “go” they have been spending freely as though they each owned an unlimited supply of money, beyond what the public purse pays them. They are also living the life styles of the rich and famous. No one knows for sure where their taxes go. Ultimately, one expects that the inevitable will occur and a throw of the dice lands them all in jail and that no amount of money is allowed to be paid to get those corrupt politicians out. Adding another insult to injury today, the Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who lives like a king in olden days, off the fat of the land, had the gall to blame the commoners who are “sucking salt,”‘ for living lavish life styles that have depleted the foreign reserves. When will this game end?
Two events occurred this month that should concern ALL Barbadians.
The following extract is taken from a press release by Dr Justin Robinson published on September 29, 2017 in his capacity as Chairman of the National Insurance Scheme.
…Today, with the economy projected to grow by around 1.75% and the deficit expected to be 4.0% or less, we have yet another downgrade. How does this make any sense?… Barbados Underground blog
The following extract is taken from the local press attributed to Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance on October 3, 2017.
…he [MoF] told reporters that growth was more likely to be in the range of 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent in 2017…Barbados Underground blog
The following extract is taken from a press report on the October 6, 2017.
…I believe the figure so far is just short of $50 million, which, if you were to multiply it by the four quarters, would give you just around $200 million [for the year],” Sinckler told Parliament, adding that the final intake would be even higher after the Barbados Revenue Authority counts the additional Value Added Tax (VAT) earned on the NSRL…CBC website.
The following extract is taken from a press report on October 9, 2017.
…Last Tuesday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler reported to the House of Assembly that the NSRL, increased from two per cent to ten per cent on July 1, had contributed “just short of $50 million” to Government’s coffers in a quarter and was projected to inject $200 million over a year.
However, in the wake of that revelation, Stuart is reported to have said he did not have all the financial data from that quarter and would speak to the takings when he had received such information…Nation newspaper
The three actors involved – Freundel Stuart, Chris Sinckler and Justin Robinson – occupy three of the most important positions in the country as prime minister, minister of Finance and Chairman of the National Insurance Scheme. The thought that they would not be reading from the same page is a worry to BU. Note the timeline shows the statements to be four days apart. So far we have not picked up any explanation why three key players in government are communicating different messages.
What the hell is going on?
Chris, the allegation against you is that you got accounts in the UK. Now, for all intents, purposes, verifications and understandings, we want to know what work or business you do in the UK that you have accounts there. Not that it is any of our business, but we still want to know. We also want to know this as well. If you are not operating, I mean working in the UK, or running a business, how are you able to cart money out of Barbados into a UK account or accounts. You got some special arrangement with a bank or banks in Barbados permitting this or is there some consortium establish to take care of these things without a trace?
The other rumour is that your account(s) in the UK are under investigation. Chris, if your hands are clean and your business is legit, what reasons do the UK authorities have to investigate you and your accounts? We understand that the white man that went missing turned up dead, dead, dead, and police in investigating his demise has come up with a series of cheques in your name re the purchasing of one Range Rover. Chris, a Range Rover, ain’t cheap; you really was planning to bring that in Barbados or leave it up there in the UK. So when you visit you can drive around in style? Also, was this white man your contact for these vehicles and a legitimate business person that you a finance minister felt it prudent to do business with him? I am not even going to bother about the part where you told the now dead white man about making sure the cheques do not trace back to you because there is no way in the world that you could be that foolish.
However, what is of interest is the fact that some of these expensive UK luxury vehicles went missing in the UK, now in Barbados, according to the allegation. Chris, this is only a rumour that I repeating but if there is any truth to them, your involvement makes you an accessory to a crime. And, the fact that the white man ended up dead, Lord have mercy, makes you also a prime suspect. Was MICHAEL LASHELY INVOLVED?
Chris, what got me dumbfounded, though, is that you put cheques in your name and expect that they are not going to leave a trail. Well, Well, Well, all I can say is that this tells me that you had a lot of confidence in your business arrangement with this now end up dead white man. But, look, to be honest, none of this cannot be true, you are minister of finance, an honest, upright son of Barbadian soil. Many Barbadians think that you tell a lot of lies. It is not like you did not say that the reason you must raise bus fares some few years ago is because young girls were being ferried out of Barbados into prostitution rings. Oops sorry has no baring on this matter. Please strike from the record.
Chris, even if you tell lies them is only Barbadians lies; so, them there lies only count in the context of things bajan. Chris, I am asking you to be called to account because in the interest of you and the Democratic Labour Party, we know that you have already damaged your credibility and DEM ain’t got none at all. Come clean and dispel this nonsense.
We call you to account.
A feature of the Stuart led government and the Thompson before, it has had an issue with effectively implementing policy measures promoted in several budgets since taking office. Many of the government’s missteps have been harshly critiqued by BU and other media sources. One does not need to be reminded about the cellphone tax, solid waste tax and .07 or .007 embarrassment, Four Seasons, CLICO, Hyatt and others.
It must concern Barbadians that what many promoted as one of the most important ‘budgets’ in our history has resulted in the minister of finance agreeing to revisit key measures announced less than a month ago. One would have assumed given the seriousness of the economic state of Barbados the minister of finance should have exhaustively collaborated with stakeholders in civil society before sharing with the public. All advice delivered freely to the government has been to beef-up how it communicates with the public for the obvious reasons.
The decision to revisit how the the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) is to be implemented as well as the foreign exchange tax exposes an unfathomable level of incompetence and indiscipline in how the affairs of state is being managed. There is hardly a need for BU to be prolix by detailing the the lack of leadership in a time of crisis. Needless to say the script of the DLP surrogates will have to be defended after they have vigorously defended the recent budget, a measure of our political measurement and or the downside of adversarial politics.
There is another observation that bears a mention.
The idiotic attack by Parliamentary Jepter Ince on the private sector of Barbados. Even if he is on the right track in his observation, to loudly proclaim his position in the public space was too trumplike at a time when conciliatory and measured tones are prerequisites to inspiring a nation suffering from ‘fatigue’. Ince’s position forces the query the role of the social partnership in addressing the concerns raised by Ince. Just like there is a need for a strong economy to support a healthy society so too a harmonious relationship is required between the private and public sectors for the country to be well functioning. As is the norm minister Donville Inniss was quick to disassociate himself from the garrulous approach of Ince although he is guilty of it from time to time. In fact an aggressive tone has been a feature of this government.
BU continues to be flummoxed by the antics of this government.
In deus nos fides !
“Taxation without comprehension is as inimical to democracy as taxation without representation.” — Lawrence A. Zelenak (USA Professor of Tax Law).
Barbadians have been feeling the bludgeoning of austerity over the past few years. The further lambasting of the Barbadian people by the dreadful Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party (DLP) did not end with last week’s harsh Financial and Budgetary Statement. Hurtfully, Barbadians must brace for the worst which comes after July 1st when the roll-out of burdensome tax measures are to be implemented. The increased taxation, through a fiscal blow by Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler, will push the already high cost of living through the roof. Sadly, the measures put to Barbadians by Sinckler and supported almost in entirety by DLP parliamentarians are inimical to democracy, to the welfare of Bajans, and to Barbados’ national development.
Clearly, by announcing that from July 1st the rate for the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) will move from 2% to 10 % is sure to exploit and rake in at least $218 million over nine months. Additionally, the introduction of a broad-based foreign exchange commission on all sales of foreign currency at a rate of 2% via all wire transfers, credit card transactions, and over the counter sale of foreign currencies will furtively compound matters for consumers. Local businesses and households must also provision for an increased excise tax on gasoline and diesel, on top of a five fold increase in the NSRL while still attracting a 17.5 % Value Added Tax (VAT). Barbadians know all too well the cumbersome impact of cumulative energy costs on the local labour and prices market, particularly after having endured years of uncertainty and volatility. In total, more than 540 million dollars are expected to be voraciously extracted from tottering taxpayers over the next nine months.
Effectively, Stuart’s harsh policy measures and Sinckler’s punitive tax impositions will cause greater consternation across households and, the private sector will likely have to cut job losses or bend to more underemployment. President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed warned that the potential for job losses has increased with Sinckler’s taxation journey despite the ‘restraint and maturity exhibited by the private sector’ in the last decade. Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley correctly describes Sinckler’s heartless grab for greater taxation as the “most vicious tax take” ever to be inflicted on Barbados since 1941.
Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA) President Jason Sambrano lamented that “people will spend less, there will be less economic activity for businesses” and issues of competitiveness will become more pronounced than currently exist. Removed from Sinckler’s thought is that local and foreign firms together with households will paralyzingly suffer a compounded rise in doing business. Domestic consumers will face at least a 10 % and more likely a 15 % rise in inflation while writhing in an onerous cost of living. The predicament for the nation is that Sinckler’s thoughtlessness will indisputably challenge the quality of life and standard of living in Barbados, while keeping at bay the international business sector and the accompanying investments. If things were already painfully hard, they will become practically unbearable for the nation.
It should serve the Finance Minister and members of the governing elite to realize that a tax policy should ‘acquire a high legitimacy and broad acceptance’ among our citizens because such legitimacy ‘requires a general feeling’ that the implemented tax policy serves the people, ‘relative to their contribution’. There must be the admission that Sinckler and his policy choices are unconscionable. The DLP continues to be extremely hostile and repugnant to the very people that its parliamentarians are supposed to represent. Untold burdens will realistically strangle Barbadian men, women, and children.
Most citizens and residents of Barbados are already reeling at the horrible decisions being made at a time when there ought to be a stimulation of economic growth. For instance, numerous persons sadly teared up last week after listening to a female caller to VOB’s popular call-in programme – Brass Tacks. Barbadians heard the wailing cries of a woman keen to get on with providing for herself and family, but she was up against the crass tax increases announced by a miscalculating and possibly uncaring Finance Minister. Barbadians having heard the hurting woman’s wails for fairness and have taken to social media showing an empathy that eludes Sinckler. These individuals firmly believe that the over-taxation by the DLP administration has left them feeling outside of the loop and not being serviced in juxtaposition to their contributions and sacrifices.
To date, Barbadians have experienced rapid pauperisation and seen many dreams flushed. Without preaching any ‘doomsday scenarios’, Minister Sinckler often appears dismissive of his critics, indifferent to advice, and pompous even in circumstances where the results of his macroeconomic determinations produce increased pain and suffering for the masses. Equally foreboding is the invidious silence and callousness of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. There has been widespread disenchantment with the many incredulous promises made by Stuart and his despicable Cabinet. Having allowed several opportunities to slip through his grasp, Stuart is perceived to find solace, mainly in the classics, history and mythology but forgetting that Barbadians must daily face the real world. To the extent that Prime Minister Stuart can ignore the calls for him to exude empathy or intervene in the obvious decline of things social and political, is clearly indicative of a man seethed in his dour oblivion to the pioneers that charted the socioeconomic development of Barbados.
The Prime Minister has belatedly commented that the July 1st implementation date for the brutal taxation was ‘deliberate’ because he and his useless Cabinet “wanted to hear what people thought might be some of the challenges they were likely to face.” With all due respect, Stuart’s seeming contortion is as pathetic and reprehensible as the spineless acceptance of two outspoken Ministers critical of the very budget and taxation torture. Moreover, Prime Minister Stuart crudely mocks Barbadians by saying that there is still “time to listen and to make any minor adjustments that need to be made to facilitate those persons who will be affected by the 2 % commission.” Pray tell Barbadians, was Mr Stuart sleeping throughout Cabinet and during the debates?
Regrettably, there is no hope or outlook for real progress under this cadre of DLP parliamentarians and Cabinet. Despite the tremendous sacrifices made by the Barbadian people for almost a decade of setbacks and shabby governance, the nation is still suffocating under the deluge of Sinckler’s mess and Prime Minister Stuart’s lethargic leadership. The fact that Minister Sinckler asserted that ‘this is a time for strong, determined and unflinching leadership’ does two things. Firstly, by implication, Sinckler admittedly condemns Freundel Stuart for not being the type of leader capable of resuscitating the nation and political economy at this juncture. Secondly, Sinckler’s repeated statements on leadership, point toward the recent and many failures (i.e. over the last nine years), recognizing that the status quo inclusive of his tragic prescriptions must be uprooted. Surely, Sinckler – like numerous Barbadians – is calling for a new mandate so that once again Barbados obtains a legitimate government that is expressly derived from the power of the people.
Barbados is stuck in the economic doldrums, and for the next few months with Sinckler’s carelessness and Stuart’s indifference. The Cabinet is blind towards the plight and suffering heaping down on Barbadians. Looming at Barbados’ doorstep are ominous forebodings inclusive of additional downgrades, devaluation, and disintegration of the society. Already, the people – the human capital – are perilously close to totally breaking under the tremendous pressures of mounting debt and heavy taxation. As Milton Friedman argues, “higher taxes never reduce the deficit; governments spend whatever they take in and then whatever they can get away with.” It is time for Barbadians to stop this DLP government. Everything is logical and right with the national call for immediate general elections.
Given the manifested ineptitude of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) over the past decade, Barbadians are hoping for change with the next general elections in sight. Barbadians are ready to overcome the DLP’s wreckage of economy and society. They have become excited about the prospects of different leadership and political agency. New political entities without showing their faces, coupled with a unified opposition in Parliament, are sounding their voices if not totally revealing policy alternatives.
But why be critical or dent aspirations of the Freundel Stuart-led administration seeking a third term? The answer is straightforward. The current DLP administration has failed to meet most expectations of the Barbadian people – both young and old for nearly 10 years. On hindsight, this ill-directed route taken by the DLP was erroneously self-labelled – ‘Pathways to Progress’. Barbadians witnessed a daily and unending trek towards macroeconomic degradation and societal disorder, despite DLP supporters remaining staunch in support. Moreover, the DLP has been at pains to suggest that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) operated in ‘times of plenty’ with no profound transformations occurring under Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
The DLP claims that the inherited social institutions were unable to improve the welfare of the Barbados nation. Unfortunately, the DLP’s rejection of everything touched by Arthur, hastened the eventual failures of the DLP’s two terms in office. The sullied approach of overly separating economic practicalities from societal order became the DLP’s way of telling Barbadians that Arthur’s BLP was so focussed on economy, that a clear majority of the nation’s people and society were neglected. The distortions, untruths, and DLP propaganda have been since exposed.
Driving the first term of the DLP’s return to power since the dark days of exile in the early 1990s, the DLP chose a mantra that ‘Barbados is not only an economy; it is a society’. This easy turn of phrase managed to set a lingual framework of optimism and empowering expectations throughout the nation. Initially, Barbadians were captured by the DLP’s messaging that suggested the David Thompson Cabinet was interested in building a sound Barbadian society and transforming the lives of many persons left on the margins. However, persons more knowledgeable than the DLP’s escape artists realised that the DLP was somewhat bereft in terms of economic thought. To suggest that the DLP was capable of moving Barbados beyond the bifurcated and disjointed gaze of messieurs Thompson, Stuart, Sinckler and elders in the background, was politically enthralling but realistically empty.
The fact is, the DLP since 2008 refused to accept from the outset that ‘‘progress’’ implies the combination of social progress alongside the pursuit of economic growth. With a burdensome 2008 budget that has since been followed with fiscal indiscipline, there are challenges coping with more taxation and austerity. The DLP has not been successful creating incentives and prosperity, nor is the course set to direct the economy to meet and maximise on those benefits for meeting human needs, improving efficiency, creating jobs, and building wealth among the Barbadian people. Several experts outside the scope of the DLP warned of the potential dangers associated with oddly separating economy and society beyond analytical practicality.
From Thompson to Sinckler, and from Thompson to Stuart, Barbados was presented with good-sounding empty vessels as if societal concerns could be addressed without the apt supporting economic inputs of fiscal and monetary policies. One ought not to lay all the blame on Stuart after the passing of David Thompson. It is true that in 2009, Thompson constantly was lamenting that the DLP inherited a ‘bad hand’, with the same chorus being sung by his Ministers. This weak posturing by the DLP continues to date, and is clearly self-defeating. The DLP’s protruding leadership ineptness – discounting those constraints produced by recession – made it impossible to safeguard a society without the necessary supports that flow from a viable economy.
Clearly, Thompson’s first budget began a taxation binge. Afterwards, with Christopher Sinckler as the current pilot, taxation has practically become a runaway and non-stop train. Sinckler’s economic/financial shortcomings are part of the mix now ruining Barbados, and if there is any doubt, Minister Dr David Estwick has admitted that Barbados’ “debt metrics have deteriorated significantly since 2010,” and this timeline coincides with Sinckler’s elevation to be the Minister of Finance. Still today, many persons may prefer to overlook a predictive statement made by David Thompson in August 2009. Thompson, perhaps for the first time, conceded that: “We are navigating an uncharted path. No one knows what lies beyond the bend. In fact, we have not yet even seen the bend.” Arguably, Thompson was aware of the lack of acumen to draw on exclusively from within the DLP.
Since then, back-peddling has become synonymous with the DLP regarding the Barbados economy, and have been cause for Barbadians’ frustration and demand for change. Months ago, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stereotypically mentioned that a ‘corner’ was within reach; Barbadians have not yet seen the bend mentioned by Thompson or the IMF. Barbadians are still waiting given that 2 % economic growth during the height of the 2016/17 tourism season, is nothing to inspire confidence in the economy. Furthermore, the printing of money continues while several advisors are indicating that depleted foreign reserves are a constant threat. Certainly, the DLP’s ‘Continuing on the Pathways to Progress’ of 2013 is conclusively disastrous. The DLP, with every limp attempt, has missed opportunities to effectively transform the Barbados nation ‘to meet the needs of the people’.
By 2014 for instance, working Barbadians were faced with ‘surprising’ job cuts and being kicked to the unemployment curb by the DLP. At the same time, young Barbadians were facing shrinking opportunities for equal access to tertiary education while having to fork out thousands of dollars to meet their tuition costs at the University of the West Indies. Other public services like sanitation, health, water, and transportation all suffered immensely. Indeed, by 2015 and despite all the ‘corrective measures’ introduced by the two Ministers of Finance since 2008, Christopher Sinckler was stating that “there is now a serious structural decline in our revenue base which we can no longer afford to ignore.” The evidence tells that Stuart/Sinckler’s repeated answer to problems impacting on Barbados, and carried on from Thompson, promoted political theatrics and imposed greater forms of taxation and hardships on the backs of Barbadians.
Under Stuart’s stewardship, near total silence has become the norm, and his supposed decency is upended by instinctive procrastination. The characteristics further demonstrate a stubborn inclination to be indecisive with important affairs. Wait and see approaches, cluttered by historical retrieval of the archaic and mundane, have been the main features of PM Stuart’s serendipitous stewardship. These factors also reveal the DLP’s paralysis in government. The DLP continues wading from one crisis to another without any clear signs of success with the constant borrowing to support government’s ineffective programmes. The verdict is that the collective expectations of Barbadians have not drawn satisfactory attention from Stuart’s uninspiring Cabinet, despite the current and penultimate desperation to spread DLP FACTS. The DLP’s verbiage is no more than half-hearted fictional pieces. Whether one focusses on the economy or the society, the pretty talk of shaping a budding society has lost its potency with all the mishaps and omissions to act by Freundel Stuart’s DLP and his struggling Cabinet.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: email@example.com)
Perhaps Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Industry Donville Inniss could explain to us Barbadians how the process of having Mr Mark Maloney construct a hotel at Bay Street, St Michael would boost Barbados’ reserves of foreign exchange.
It would seem to me that Mr Maloney would be likely to use up and further deplete Barbados’ reserves of foreign exchange during the process of constructing his hotel, since most of the construction material that he would be using would be imported into Barbados and would therefore have to be purchased with our scarce foreign exchange.
Any possible foreign exchange earnings from such a project would clearly be several years down the road, if and when the hotel gets up and going and is able to attract additional foreign tourists to our Island.
Furthermore, it is factually incorrect to suggest that I, David Comissiong, have had Maloney’s project put on hold by way of a High Court injunction. Rather, what I have done is to ask a Judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados to subject the grant of permission to Maloney’s company to a process of JUDICIAL REVIEW.
The facts are as follows:-
In July 2016 Mr. Mark Maloney made a public statement asserting that he would be commencing the construction of a 15 storey Hyatt hotel in September 2016 .
I then responded to Maloney’s statement by writing to BOTH the Chief Town Planner and the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning (Mr Freundel Stuart) expressing consternation at Maloney’s statement, and asserting that the Law of the land demanded that Maloney’s application be subjected to a physical and social “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA).
Needless to say, I received no response from either the Chief Town Planner or the Minister — not even a letter of acknowledgement of receipt of my letter !
Furthermore, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart — the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning — ultimately went ahead and simply granted Maloney’s company permission to construct their 15 storey hotel without having the benefit of the findings of an Environmental Impact Assessment to guide and inform him in the making of his decision.
It is against this background that I decided that it had become necessary to have a Judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados examine the manner in which Mr Stuart had dealt with the application of Maloney’s company, and determine whether Stuart’s decision was lawfully made. This legal procedure is known as JUDICIAL REVIEW and it is provided for by the Administrative Justice Act, Chapter 109 B of the Laws of Barbados.
It needs to be noted that under the Laws of Barbados there is a category of construction projects that require the carrying out of an Environmental Impact Assessment “BEFORE” any permission can be granted for them to go ahead. And this is so because these projects possess the potential to do serious damage to the precious physical and social environment of our country.
It is therefore in the best interest of our country to have a Judge of the Supreme Court examine Mr Maloney’s project and its implications for the physical , social, cultural and heritage environment of Barbados, and determine whether the manner in which the Application for the project was processed by the Minister was in compliance with the standards and procedures required by the Laws of Barbados. This is what the Application for Judicial Review that I filed in the Court on the 22nd March 2017 is all about.
I also subsequently filed an Interlocutory Application requesting that the Court grant an INTERIM ORDER suspending the Grant of Permission to Maloney’s company until the Court can hear and make a decision on the JUDICIAL REVIEW application. This request for an INTERIM ORDER is in keeping with Section 72 of the Town and Country Planning Act of Barbados. However, this Interlocutory Application has not yet been dealt with by the Supreme Court of Barbados.
Furthermore, Mr Stuart, the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning, has indicated that he is opposing the request for an INTERIM ORDER suspending the grant of permission to Maloney’s company while the Court carries out the process of JUDICIAL REVIEW.
Thus, as of today’s date, the grant of permission to Maloney’s company still remains in effect, and, to the best of my knowledge, Maloney is continuing to do work on the Bay Street site.
Ultimately, a Supreme Court judge will review this entire matter and will determine whether the permission that was granted to Maloney’s company was lawfully or unlawfully granted. If it is determined that the permission was not lawfully granted, one would then expect the Court to quash the decision and the permission.
In response to an an exchange between David of BU and Hal Austin on the NIS Dumps 21 Million Dollars in Apes Hill Development blog, respected Barbadian actuary Walter Blackman responded with a comment deserving of deep thought and rich discussion by Barbadians everywhere – Barbados Underground
Hal Austin March 31, 2017 at 11:53 AM #
I know it is fashionable to blame individuals, but should we not be blaming the minister, who is ultimately accountable; the chairman of the NIS, Justin Robinson, and members of the investment committee; and the person(s) who carried out the due diligence? In any case, this is not an investment, but a loan. Is the NIS authorised to make commercial loans to private businesses without the approval of parliament?
David March 31, 2017 at 3:29 PM #
Know this is a busy time for you but an opinion on this matter given your expertise would be valued.
I don’t believe that the governance structure of the NIS has undergone any radical change in its 50-year existence, so I will state these pointers from memory, as a means of steering the discussion in the right direction:
The NIS Board is a corporate entity with a corporate seal. It can transact business in its own right. The National Insurance FUND was established under the control and management of the NIS Board. However, when it comes to the fund, there are two instances where the practical power of the Board either intermingles with, or is superseded by ministerial power.
One, the Board with the approval of the Minister responsible for Social Security, may write off sums of money from the fund as losses.
Two, any monies belonging to the fund may be invested by the Board in whatever manner, and in whatever securities, that the Minister responsible for Finance may direct.
The Minister responsible for Social Security, and the Minister responsible for Finance are two political positions which, by nature, tend to put political considerations first. For example, in the realm of extreme probability, whilst a directed NIS investment decision can end up in hundreds of millions of dollars forever being lost, it may provide invaluable political benefits. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars can be written off as losses to the fund, in instances where borrowers have the capacity to repay. Such decisions might prove to be injurious to the fund, but may be calculated to provide excellent political payoffs.
The governance structure does not subject these extreme positions to any “prudent man” rule at the transactional level, so any “blaming” would have to manifest itself in political terms at election time. Of course, this depends on how vigilant or sensitive the electorate is to the management of NIS funds.
In the 2013 general election, our current Minister responsible for Finance, the Hon. Chris Sinckler, would have been subjected to a great amount of “blame” for the millions of NIS funds which were considered to be wasted on ill-fated projects. The electorate held him to be “blameless” and returned him to parliament. It is highly likely that the electorate will return him to parliament when the next general election comes around.
Our current Minister responsible for Social Security, the Hon. Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, is seeking to avenge the political defeat she suffered in 2013. With respect to the NIS fund and any associated problems, her political opponents will be expected to highlight instances, if any, where she injudiciously approved the writing off of monies, owed to the NIS fund, as losses. If they cannot do this, then she must be viewed by the electorate as totally and completely blameless when it comes to any mismanagement of NIS funds.
I tried to keep this comment short and simple whilst simultaneously tackling Hal’s questions. I have also deliberately left some dots to be connected by the more thoughtful and discerning BU readers and bloggers.