Late Prime Minister David Thompson (l) disgraced former Chairman of CLICO Holdings B’dos Ltd rumoured to be local partners in Cost-U-Less
We do not charge membership fees and believe we can offer low prices to Barbados shoppers, just as we have in our most recent store opening in the Cayman Islands, which was also a partnership with local business people
It has been almost five years from the time of the announcement Cost U Less Maybe Coming To Barbados that it launched in Barbados. However, based on consumer feedback the wait has been in vain. It has been two months since launch and Barbadians continue to wait for the low prices promised. Before the coming of Cost-U-Less the Trinidadians, who now have a vice grip on our food retail and distribution channels, had promised Barbadian consumers the same, that is, we would benefit from economies of scale created by a larger T&T market.
Barbados now finds itself in a situation where we have a new entrant to an already competitive retail food sector. And it has not demonstrated any appreciable price differentiation in its offering. Sad to say the inevitable must follow. We created 200 jobs with the coming of Cost-U-Less but SuperCentre and DacostaMannings, owned by the Trinidadians, continue to send home employees.
The presentation maybe of interest if we consider the importance of the NIS Scheme’s contribution to supplementing retirement income. BU continues to be optimistic that full transparency will engulf the management of the fund to ensure that one day coming soon the audited financials of the NIS Scheme will be made public to encourage the rigour of public scrutiny. It must be part of the checks and balances to encourage resilience and integrity to our most important fund.
A key factor in expanding our international and local business base in these challenge times, is to have attorneys in Barbados that are responsive to the legal needs of our society and nation. Unfortunately there is a “below the radar” systemic problem with many attorneys in Barbados (not all), as it relates to responsiveness and general customer service.
I am not an attorney but as a business man I am very curious about what attorneys are being taught in Law School when it comes to responsiveness and customer service, clearly not enough.
As a Bajan executive working for an international firm who has pitched “Barbados” as an ideal country to expand our company, it is simply embarrassing when a firm like mine cannot get a “return call/email” from any attorney in Barbados; we contacted many over a period of weeks. Our contact efforts have been simply to setup a meeting nothing more.
The following email was received from a customer who shared an interesting experience while shopping at the leading supermarket in Barbados.
Team investigation of pricing in the big stores, today I bought 4 items and 2 were wrong… or at least missleading!!
I visited your store this morning in Warrens for a few small groceries and on the receipt comments were requested from this experience.
Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your fruit and vegetable department, you have the freshest and most inviting selection on the island, today I was drawn to the Idaho potatoes $10.99 for 5 lb bag so I grabbed one…. Upon reaching the till I then noticed I had a 10 lb bag that looked identical to the 5 lb for $24.39!!! Very naughty trick!! Next I grab some coke $10.50 as advertised, then tonic $11.29 even though advertised as $10.50.
So in conclusion I’m a very angry customer are times not tough enough?
Extracted from the Facebook Page of Rosemary Parkinson. This blog was forwarded to Miles Howe, a Canadian journalist at the Halifax Media Group doing some good work to keep EMERA ‘honest’.
New Managing Director, Mark King
Many of you might remember the tirade I did on BARBADOS *NOT REALLY ANYMORE* LIGHT & POWER a few months ago. And how far dat little diatribe went. From Facebook to Barbados Underground to Brass Tacks et al. Remember you sent your CEO to me? Remember I posted what I would still consider to be answers that only Dale Carnegie would have had the balls to write about in his now so very famous book “How to win friends and influence (really meaning fool) people”? Well…after all dat episode our billl went back down to high but hello I understand the cost of living an’ all de ress of it and it still did not make me happy but it was manageable. NOW THIS MONTH WE BACK UP TO WHERE I BELLOWED AND I GINE BELLOW EVEN LOUDER NOW ‘CAUSE NOW I KNOW YOU RIPPING OFF CERTAIN PEOPLE WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!!
This last month’s bill is so raas high I gine have myself a heart attack together with my landlady nexx door….we done both sick already with chess cold. And her mother done spend a week almost in horspital so she was saving electricals at home. But dis’ month’s bill 20th November to 21st. December gone from the usual $600/700 a month now back up to $1200!!!!
LIME’s biggest problem is that they simply do not have the bandwidth available to share among it’s current subscriber base. When they first introduced ADSL their customers actually got what they were paying for. Now, the network is so congested that everyone has to fight for a piece, and this problem is especially bad in heavily populated areas where one or two fibre links have to serve a single exchange from which thousands of phone lines are served.
To their defense however, they have been constantly upgrading and installing mini exchanges all over the island to circumvent this problem, but it’s not enough. And what’s more is that they’ve increased contention ratio which only compounds the problem. I’m speaking subject to correction here but the last I heard is that it’s set at 50:1, which means that if you’re paying for 8Mb/s, then you have to share that between 8Mb/s of bandwidth with 49 other users… I don’t know about you, but that’s unacceptable considering the rates that they’re charging when we see what they’re offering in other islands like Grenada. If they charge the same rates here that do in Grenada, then an 8Mb/s connection would be $120.66 BDS Incl VAT! A 2Mb/s connection would be $59.90 BDS incl VAT!
Haven’t you ever noticed that the internet is slower during the day (business hours) than it is at night? I can’t wait for Digicel to start offering their WiMax service for residential use…
BU’s position regarding Barbados’ heavy reliance on fossil fuel generation has been articulated several times. The fact that successive governments have demonstrated a high level of ignorance by not prioritizing an alternative energy policy belies our boast of being a highly educated nation. If it is one thing we have become good at in recent years is finding reasons not to get up from our tailbones and find solutions to problems. We have become intoxicated by the good life; however such is defined.
One issue which has been raised since this DLP government assumed office is the price mechanism used to determine energy prices. Barbadians have been informed by the government that the policy of the previous BLP government of subsidizing the energy price was unsustainable and that the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) had become technically insolvent as a result. We have had to take the word of our policymakers because empirical information has never been made public as far as BU is aware.
The wall of silence which has surrounded the issue of how government price energy is compounded by the not insignificant electricity bills which consumers have been receiving from the Barbados Light & Power (BLP) in recent months. The public outcry has forced the reclusive Sir Neville Nicholls, head of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to defend a recent decision by the FTC to give BLP a 10% return on its rate base. The revelation that BL&P generated 45 million dollars in profit has not helped to placate Barbadians labouring under the prevailing hard economic times.
The question which has piqued the curiosity of many Barbadians is why has the energy price in Barbados been rising when crude oil price on the world market has been decreasing?
I will try to be as brief as possible. I need your assistance.
Back in 2009, you graciously took the time to complete my survey (Resident Perceptions of Tourism Impacts in Barbados). Now, I am asking for your help once again. I have setup a new survey to look at the sentiments of consumers in Barbados (in terms of the economy, income, consumption, etcetera). It is similar to the US Consumer Confidence Index, The Survey of Consumers (by Univ of Michigan), as well as others around the World.
I’m not 100% sure if there is one specifically for Barbados, and even if there was, it doesn’t hurt to have more data to study, analyze and cross-reference. Accordingly, I have created such a survey, 30 questions in total, which should take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to complete. When the survey period expires, I will post a summary of the results (as I did with my 2009 survey) and the methodology for all to see (I will send a notification to the blogs when ready).
I believe that the information coming out of studies like this may be useful for decision makers in the public and private sectors because it offers up a glimpse of what/how Barbadians feel when it comes to certain topics that are important to our economy at the micro and macro level.
Please therefore take the time to fill it out (I’ve set the expiry date for June 18, with a max. of 1500 responses), the link is right here:
The issue of high food prices continues to be furiously debated in Barbados. To be expected much of the debate is tainted with partisan political rhetoric. The government ran a political platform during the last general election based on a promise, one of many, to Barbadians to reduce food prices. The reality is Barbados was in the lag period of a looming global recession but it did not deter many Barbadians from believing a magic wand was all that would have been required to right the problem.
Several factors in recent months have had the effect of negatively impacting food prices on the world market. Barbados imports almost all of its food and therefore this makes the business of food security a top priority. BU agrees food prices are controlled by external forces but there is a level of efficiency which must be managed internally to ensure Barbadian consumers benefit from the best price.
Earlier we discussed on another blog Breaking The Stranglehold On High Prices Will Call For A Holistic Strategy. What came out in the discussion, to the surprise of some, was the reason the ministry of commerce discontinued publishing the prices of staple products sold by leading retailers in Barbados. BU has confirmed from a reliable source the ministry has no budget to support the initiative of publishing food prices. It seems paradoxical that a government who has as its number one priory reducing the cost of living cannot not exercise budget ‘cleverness’ by allocating a relatively small sum to support the effort of officers in the ministry of commerce, harsh economic times notwithstanding. Again BU is reliably informed that the ministry of commerce has about 10 officers who are mobilized from time to time to check prices on shelves across Barbados. Unfortunately the output of their activities will remain secreted on the desks of bureaucrats in the various government departments.
Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs
Rookie Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has delivered his first budget and admittedly it was at a difficult time. BU does not have the expertise to apply the required analysis to determine if it was a’ ‘good’ budget or not. Seems oxymoronic for people to be labeling an austere budget as good anyway.
Since delivering the budget Sinckler has had to to clarify or reverse a few of the financial measures which he announced. It is not unprecedented that a Minister of Finance would have to ‘tweak’ his budget but one senses that the impact of this budget has not been adequately assessed or anticipated.
As an example the following note was received from a BU family member.
If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population – Henry Kissinger
Who amongst us have not noticed that the cost price of our food at the supermarket checkout till has escalated in the last year? Let’s go back 5 years – or maybe even 10 years! Has there been a systematic pattern of food hikes going back as far as you can remember – notwithstanding the ongoing genetic manipulation of our food? Has your dollar also been buying less and less? Do you have to stretch those “pennies” in the hope of satisfying those hungry mouths which seem intent on eating you out of house and land?
Well, according to our governments’ spin, the latest economic argument for the state of things currently is the dreaded (I) word –“inflation”. First, we were told that we had to fear “deflationary” pressures on the economy and so the rumourmongers quickly tilted the scales with a nouveau concept called “stagflation” to keep up the sinister façade of rule by fear.
So today, the chimes in every quarter are over the issue of “food security” and who ultimately controls this last precious human resource. As the world’s population meanders towards 7 billion souls with a mere 0.005% controlling in total the accumulative wealth and resources of the 90 odd % – watchdog organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about the leverage of certain multinationals and their control over food and its prices.
Sir Neville Nicholls - Chairman of the FTC and SEC
(6) The Commission (FTC) may on its own initiative or on the request of any person carry out any investigation that it considers necessary or desirable in connection with matters falling within the provisions of this Act, the Utilities Regulation Act, and any laws relating to consumer protection and fair competition which the Commission has jurisdiction to administer – Fair Trading Commission Act
When the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) was established in 2001 so much was promised by the previous government of the leadership it was expected to exert on how Utilities were regulated in Barbados. For many years before that it had been the public’s perception that Utilities operated to the beat of their own drums. Since the establishment of the FTC in 2001 nothing has changed to reshape that perception. The Utility which has attracted the greatest ire from Barbadians has been LIME formerly Cable and Wireless. Perhaps what has stung Barbadians the most is the fact jobs have been relocated to St. Lucia and other low cost based islands. This is after decades of Barbados being the cash-cow for Cables & Wireless in the hemisphere. Even if Barbadians were persuaded to finally accept LIME’s, formerly Cable & Wireless restructure, the promise of enhanced customer service as a result of the changes has been elusive.
Barbados Today carried a funny piece last week which poked some fun at the online customer support which kept advising users to visit LIME’s Windsor Lodge Office to seek resolution.
There is a situation which is brewing at Kensington Oval involving craft vendors. Today, an ICC lawyer before he could get a tan made all the craft vendors dismantle their stalls on the grounds that they were not permitted to sell craft items. This is after the Craft Vendors paid a contract fee to ICC some months ago, in order to secure a space to sell their craft and the money was taken, knowing that these people were going to sell craft. The vendors were allocated space by Kensington Oval but this morning as soon as they set up, the ICC lawyer came and ordered them to remove their craft and leave.
Apparently, the craft vendors were given the same contract as the food vendors. This is what happened at CWC 2007 as well, except that a separate negotiation went on for the craft; even though the contracts were the same. All that happened is that the criteria for the craft were inserted into the vendors contract… but all this happened long before the matches started.
This time around, ICC (through their legal representative) waited until the first day to tell the vendors they can’t sell craft. Douglas Trotman, Attorney-at-law, has taken up the case for the vendors. Up to late this evening, the vendors were still awaiting word of negotiations between their lawyer, ICC and Kensington.
The recent appointment of former Senator Arni Walters as Executive Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has raised more than a few eye-brows. Given his extensive experience working in the labour market, one would have assumed his skills would have been needed in the position he was just removed. After all, the economy is expected to contract over the near term in a global economy which continues to behave sluggish. The other side to the argument some say, the government sees the organizational restructuring and transformation needed at a BWA in shambles as priority number one.
The poor state of the financial and management structure at the BWA which has reached a crisis state in recent months is an embarrassment to the country to say the least. It seems idiotic that during the boom years this most important state enterprise would have been neglected to the point which led it to being insolvent under the current administration. Perhaps Barbadians should have taken note when the BWA was excluded from the oversight of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) when it was established under the former government. The argument given for the exclusion by some at the time was that the government wanted to shield the less well off in the society from water rates driven by purely economic considerations. Given the financial state at the BWA it is conceivable that an FTC imposed rate may have been more burdensome.
The decision by the government at the time to enter into an agreement with Ionics Freshwater Ltd in hindsight was part of an ad hoc water management strategy at best. The Ionics water desalination plant is designed to provide fresh, potable drinking water to one-sixth of the island’s 264,000 people. The 30,000 cubic meter per day (7.9 million gallons per day) plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology. We learned recently from Minister Lowe who has responsibility for the BWA that the government is contracted to pay Ionics Freshwater Ltd 10 million dollars annually. Minister Lowe expressed the view the price is too high. We all look forward to when the agreement expires originally set for 15 years.