A Case of Massaging News

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica - photo credit Dominica News

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica – photo credit: Dominica News

On 27 April 2013 Barbados Underground (BU) posted the blog Who Are the Local Partners in Cost-U-Less?. Although the Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has denied the word making the rounds that he is a local shareholder, BU defends our right to ask questions of Skerrit or anyone in the interest of providing clarification.

In the interest of providing further clarification it should be noted that the Companies Act Cap 308 places sole responsibility of managing the company in the hands of the Directors. What this means is that unless a shareholder choses to be a Director the public is left to speculate who are the shareholders. The Act is drafted to protect the Shareholder who  – if not a Director – has no say in the conduct of the company.

BU reiterates our position taken in the original blog, in the interest of transparency the other names mentioned (Hartley Henry, the Estate of David Thompson and Leroy Parris) should state publicly whether they have an interest in Cost U Less (CUL).  The government has approved significant concessions to CUL and given the names mentioned the public has a right to know. It should be noted that Pricesmart has since denied receiving similar concessions. Also at the time of launch it was widely reported that David Staples represented local shareholder interest. Perhaps in the interest of protecting its goodwill CUL should make a public statement stating who are the local shareholders.

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Who Are the Local Partners in Cost-U-Less?

Former Prime Minister David Thompson (l) Former Chairman CLICO Holdings B'dos Ltd rumoured to be local partners in Cost-U-Less

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

NorthWest Company trading as Cost-U-Less July 2008

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.

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Notes From a Native Son: Politicians Must Come Clean about Their Programmes for Change

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

In our democracy, politicians have the simple task of collectively being rainmakers, they simply bring talent together and, from that collection of outstanding individual instrumentalists, create a harmonic sound. Times of crisis call for innovative thinking, experimenting with new ideas, adopting what we in Britain call the Dunkirk spirit.

It is at historic points in the development of capitalism such as this that we see the best of what we have to offer, when the creators of new and imaginative ideas come to the fore, when those who have the future of Barbados at heart rise up.

With the sudden announcement of the general election, which gave off a smell of panic, we as a nation have had to sit and watch the humiliating nonsense of our leading politicians and the two rival parties, launching in to a campaign without manifestos, the roadmaps to their policies, for the first week or so. They were travelling up and down the country, talking themselves silly, without a detailed, or even outline, of the policies they hoped to introduce if the people of Barbados returned them to power. In other words, we have had a government which, after five years in power, could not come to voters with the simple message that they should be returned to finish off what they had started. Maybe, there were five wasted years and they could not ask people to vote for a non-existent unfinished programme.

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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the one that got away

YouTube video posted by social commentator Agyeman Kofi

Leading up to the last general election (2007/2008) a key platform message for the then David Thompson led Opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was to PROMISE Barbadians transparency legislation. Another general election is upon us – five years later – and although the government has hurried the Anti-corruption Bill through parliament, it is yet to be operationalized. Many argue that the more important piece of transparency legislation is the FOIA,  giving ordinary Barbadians access to information. The FOIA languishes in draft.

“Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.”

― Bruce Coville

Noel Lynch Attacks the Late David Thompson

Some believe Barbados Labour Party candidate for St. Michael South Noel ‘Barney’ Lynch crossed the line at a political meeting held at Heroes Square 18/01/2013.

When the Law and Politics Create Tension

Stuart and Arthur lead the pack

Stuart and Arthur lead the pack according to CADRES

There is the law and then there is the politics.

The Prime Minister is not breaking any law by not issuing the general election date. The question which the Prime Minister should have considered however is whether  by betraying convention he has contributed to the deterioration of political stability. Barbados is a country which is highly regarded across the world about how it manages the electoral process.

Based on a recent CADRES poll the Prime Minister’s leadership approval rating has increased. If a political party is in the business of winning elections, the Prime Minister may feel vindicated that his strategy of using the full ‘legal period’ to call the general election is working. According to the poll Prime Minister Stuart’s leadership approval rating has jumped from 9.9% to 23%. Despite the jump however he [Stuart] continues to trail Owen Arthur whose approval rating has moved from 29.8% to  39%.

BU’s view is that at a time of unprecedented economic challenge the country should not have to be side tracked by the politics of whether an election should be called or not. Prime Minister Stuart obviously does not subscribe to the tradition of a government calling an election on a date which gives political advantage. Surely after the death of Prime Minister David Thompson and the conflict which played out with the Gang of 5 within the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), it was politically advantageous for Stuart to seek his mandate at that time. And he had the advantage of recalling that Arthur made a similar slip and paid the political price.

The law is on Stuart’s side but…

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The Violet Beckles Affair, Separating Fact From Fiction Part V

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The Violet Beckles Affair, Separating Fact From Fiction Part IV

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The links to the images in the Slide Show are provided below. To the lawyers,  we are not in a court of law.

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The Violet Beckles Affair, Separating Fact From Fiction Part III

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In the news recently Barbadians learned about a Court battle over the sale of The Farm Plantation. In 2005 a Court approved the sale of the plantation to Timothy Walsh of Nature’s Produce for $1.5 million. And in a recent court order the 135 acre property was approved to be sold to building magnate Bjorn Bjerkhamn for $1.35 million.

The treasure which has caused wars to be fought continues. On BU “Plantation Deeds” continues his online war to expose a matter which he believes is not being given enough airplay by the establishment. Here are some more documents which includes The Farm plantation and the Urban Development Commission (UDC).

Yes we know, BU is not a court of law BUT an online medium which allows the ordinary to give vent to concerns.

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Here are the links to the images in the Slide Show: Continue reading

DLP's Privatisation Dilemma

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

I have come to the conclusion that many local politicians seem to have an aversion to telling the truth, even when the truth would not hurt them; their default position is to lie. Nothing has borne that out more than the privatisation debate that is presently gripping the country.

Opposition Leader, Owen Arthur, articulated a policy on privatisation that almost mirrors previously stated DLP policy. Unfortunately, that policy inflamed the passions of a section of the community, particularly the trade union movement, to the extent that the president of NUPW called a press conference to reiterate his union’s opposition. Sadly, the DLP chose to shift gears and disavow their longstanding policy, claiming that it would lead to job losses. Interestingly enough, only Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, had the courage to admit publicly that both parties are at one on the privatisation issue.

It is that either Owen Arthur is extremely clever or the DEMS are exceedingly dumb. He set up the DLP by outlining their well established policy, on privatisation, as his; and they, with the exception of Sinckler, were silly enough to repudiate everything that they stood for.

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Will David Estwick FINALLY Emerge?

David Estwick – Minister of Agriculture

Last week the Nation newspaper ran the results of a poll which promotes that Barbadians prefer Sinckler and Mottley to be named as deputies. BU is against opinion journalism. Conduct a poll which addresses the need to amend to party constitutions. How about how Barbadians feel about campaign financing reform legislation.  The list is long about worthwhile issues which could have been polled. However we appreciate such topics will not ‘sell’ newspapers.

We all know that it is the person who commands the confidence and support of the parliamentary majority in parliament that count NOT the public. Currently the Barbados Labour Party has named Dale Marshall as deputy and what? It is in name only if one were to judge by job assignments. Mottley appears to be acting out the role as deputy. But who will get the nod as Prime Minister on the morning after? Does anyone believe Arthur will appoint the George Walton Chambers man as deputy prime minister were he to win the next general election? Who knows, Mottley may emerge, AGAIN! Another BU belief is that leaders emerge. There seem to be an unholy haste to elevate Sinckler et al to the top post.

Getting back to the Nation/Cadres poll last week. How is it possible for the public to prefer Ronald Jones over someone like David Estwick? Jones has been at the centre of the Alexandra School dispute and has been fingered as the person who by sitting on the King Report exacerbated the matter. His tenure as President of the Barbados Football Association should does not recommend him as a leader of any merit. The analysis is not to promote Estwick over Jones but to examine the folly of the opinion poll in this instance.

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WANTED: Fourth Estate Not Beholden To Any 'Party'

Submitted by Hamilton Hill

Albert Brandford (l) Kaymar Jordan (c) Sanka Price (r)

It is 5:00pm on the evening of the tenth day of this the month of October, the day chosen by the extended arm of the Barbados Labour Party known as the Nation Publishing Co. to make what so far has to be its most brazen attempt to hoodwink the Fruendel Stuart administration. Barbados is two short hours away from an act of political prostitution of its fourth estate, headed by a group that over the past few years has perfected the art of creative deception. Only this group could manage to disguise a political meeting so well that it could be sold as a town-hall forum.This political meeting is being held for the sole purpose of trying to force the government’s hand in calling the elections, even though all of the experts {and let me be  first to admit that I believed them} said that a longer wait was to the detriment of the government. The stench of this exercise reaches to the high heavens.

The Nation’s editor Kaymar Jordan who will be the chair person of this political meeting was heard on brass tacks today lamenting the fact that the prime minister had refused to be a speaker at this event. With all due respect I say to the lady that gone are the days when children were made to go pick the whip to inflict lashes to their very own asses. Freundel Stuart nor any member of the DLP for that matter, has any business being in attendance at this seminar of shameless deceit hosted by a bunch of part time journalists/full time party hacks who are driven to satisfy the morbid cravings of Owen S Arthur. Should he ever develop a cancer this bunch should know even before his doctor, for their heads are so far up his ass how could they miss it? One might wonder from whence comes this malcontentedness?

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We Promise…

Do we need a Political Ombudsman?

Election manifesto is a statement by a political party,explaining what it will do if they win the elections.Through election manifesto the voters come to know about the policies of the political party they are going to vote for.They can easily think that which party will prove the best for them,they can decide that with whose policies they want to go.therefore an election manifesto is very important – WIKI

Political parties the world over will make promises to an expectant electorate. Based on the ‘complexion’ of the political climate these promises are as outlandish as they come and bear no relationship to the reality of getting the promises implemented if the party is elected.

To be fair to political parties there is nothing wrong with using a manifesto to ‘promise’ what it will do if elected. What must be challenged is the need to establish a ‘check’ for John Citizenry to exact accountability. Why shouldn’t the electorate feel comfortable knowing that the UWI, Cave Hill, Fourth Estate and other entities in civil society have the credibility to challenge, clarify and demystify promises made by political parties on the campaign trail? Why should John Citizenry not have recourse in the law to recall ministers and members of parliament who they are perceived to have under-achieved?

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Notes From a Native Son: Why a Massive Development Plan could Have Made a Major Difference to Development in Barbados (Pt 1)

Hal Austin

For the last five years governments of Barbados have been trapped like a rabbit in oncoming headlights as to what to do about the cascading economic crisis that has descended on the island and the simmering social breakdown that no one wants to talk about. Many prefer to close their eyes and pretend that global problems beyond local control are the reasons, so all they have to do is sit back and wait and things will magically change.

However, no where has there been a substantive strategic plan, no strategy to rebalance public sector spending, no plan for growth, apart from the rhetoric, and nothing at all to deal with the threat to social order. Nowhere in the many speeches and rebuttals of his critics has finance minister Chris Sinckler talked about the much-needed fiscal discipline, reducing public sector borrowing or spending. He has mentioned growth, but it is all smoke and mirrors, rhetoric without any follow through action.

Here I want to outline some simple policy actions or announcements the DLP government should have taken within the first 100 days of coming to power, and, to my mind, the mistakes it has made. The nearest the government has come to publishing an expressed policy was its “Barbados Short and Medium Term Action Plan” of December 2008. Lots have happened in the last four years, and, apart from the occasional reference to it, that document has not been updated.

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