The Separation of Powers

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice

The robust discussions we have had about the weight to be given to the UK referendum by the British government has taken a more complex view in light of the recent court ruling. This Barbados Advocate editorial attacks the legal implications with vigour – Barbados Underground

For those among us who consider, rather quaintly, that the voice of the people as expressed in referenda and other statements of public opinion is sacrosanct in a democracy; a view that appears to have been shared in some respects by the current UK government, the recent decision of an English court, comprising a distinguished Bench consisting of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Master of the Rolls and an Appeal Court Justice, would seem to suggest that this is a misperception and that in the Constitution of the UK ,at least, Parliament is supreme.

In fact, however, the decision in R v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union does not go quite that far. It is a given that on June 23 of this year, in response to a referendum as to whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of or leave the European Union [EU], the electorate answered that The United Kingdom should leave the EU.

Armed with this decision, the Crown, as reflected in the government of the day, and that in the sense of the Cabinet, considered itself competent to use its incidental prerogative powers of treaty making and, impliedly, “treaty-unmaking”, to leave the EU in accordance with the popular answer to the referendum.

Whether it was competent to do so raised in the minds of their Lordships a justiciable or triable issue of law rather than, as they emphasized, the political issues of the merits or demerits of a withdrawal buy the UK , the content of government policy in this regard, or what use might be made of the Crown’s prerogative powers. These issues, for them, were fit to be resolved through the political process.

In spite of the electoral sanction, however, there was one catch to the condign exercise of its prerogative powers by the Crown. The 1973 accession to the EU, then the European Communities, had been effected by the ratification of the relevant Treaty by the government, the enactment by the UK parliament of the European Communities Act 1972 to give effect to Community law in the national legal systems of the UK and then ratification by the UK and other Member States of the Treaties. Parliament through this legislation gave effect in each jurisdiction of the UK to the binding rights and obligations under the Treaties. In consequence, according to the Court, any purported withdrawal from the EU would have the effect of nullifying some of those rights under EU law that had been incorporated into domestic law.

However, the repeal of any legislative provision, as would be the substantive consequence in such an event, is exclusively a matter for Parliament in the UK and, as their Lordships stated, the most fundamental rule of the UK Constitution is that Parliament is sovereign and can make and unmake any law it chooses. The Crown, subordinate in this regard, cannot by the exercise of its prerogative powers override legislation enacted by parliament.

The prerogative of the government to accede to treaties is of no effect in English domestic law unless and until Parliament legislates to give substance to the rights and obligations created by the specific treaty. Equally, the unmaking of a treaty can have no effect on existing rights and duties created by Parliamentary enactment.

This thesis might offer some hint as to the nature of any future appeal by the Crown. The Court was persuaded that the withdrawal by the Crown would unconstitutionally erode rights previously enacted by Parliament. Might it not be posited too that the Crown’s prerogative power is not to be constrained by Parliament, which operates in a distinct sphere, so that its exercise by the Crown should have no effect whatsoever on individual rights and duties already accrued under existing legislation?

An intriguing constitutional issue.

Sugar Cane Production: A Race Against the Clock

UK Guardian

Photo: UK Guardian

At 32min.35sec of the Dr. David Estwick presentation of the Democratic Labour party (DLP) 2013 Manifesto Launch he laid out government’s strategic plan for restructuring  the sugar cane industry for generating valueaddeds by accepting financing from the Japanese.  That is diversification: using sugar cane to generate power (25,000 megawatts) by reducing the fuel bill by 150 million dollars among other recommendations. The cane industry restructuring project (CIRP) is estimated to cost 230 million dollars.

This project which Dr. Estwick unfolded during the political campaign in February 2013 has taken on critical importance given the planned expiry of European Union sugar quotas in 2015.  The resultant action is that it “would lead to a reduction in the price in the European market.  This in turn would make the EU market less attractive to the ACP and other higher cost exporters.” The bottomline is that countries in the Caribbean (including Barbados) would lose its preferential status in the EU market.

If the APD debate is any thing to go by it is unlikely Barbados and other Caribbean islands will be able to influence the 2015 deadline. Our only hope is if the quotas are removed by the EU it will create a problem for sugar cane refiners in the EU as well.  Barbados will be banking on the European Commission extending to deadline to 2017-20 given this consideration.

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Notes From a Native Son: What Lessons Barbados Can Learn from the Cyprus Debacle

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

As the dark clouds gather over Cyprus, the mini-state which accounts for 0.2 per cent of the eurozone, but which looks as if it is going to unleash the greatest financial bombshell to hit the euro-member states in its history. Cyprus is a classic example of a small island economy trying to punch above its weight (many of us may remember Iceland and even Ireland, part of a small island, as other examples) and which eventually stepped on a financial banana skin.

Basically, ignoring for the time being the German bullying of Southern European states, allowing a single product or service to dominate an economy is highly risky which is more so if those  responsible for monetary policy do not put aside something in the good times for the inevitable rainy days. In the case of Cyprus, the central bank authorities and politicians clearly thought that being an offshore financial centre was enough to build its citizens prosperity. However, offshore banking is not a development model, but rather a quick and easy way of making money with eyes half opened.

For good examples of this, just take a close look at Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and a number of American states. Given this, it was clear, even to Cypriot banking officials, that the 20000 wealthy Russians who chose to settle in the small, troubled Mediterranean island and bring with them Euros20bn, were not there for the weather. Neither are the Lebanese, Israelis, and numerous Northern European expatriates.

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Small Open Economies Sailing On The Global Seas

…When America broke the dollar’s peg with gold in 1971, it ushered in a decline that continued until Paul Volcker re-established confidence in the currency in the early 1980s. As Joseph Schumpeter, the great Austrian economist, once wrote: “The monetary system of a people reflects everything that the nation wants, does, suffers, is.”…’

The Economist

There was a time when the world would not be as concerned about the gyrations taking place in many many of Europe’s once thriving economies. The interconnectivity of the world’s financial markets – driven by globalization –  has created a world economy. What happens in any of the economies of G7 or G20 for that matter has global implications. The saying, the more things change the more they remain the same holds. In the global economy a few continue to control the resources at the expense of the majority.

The EU is the common market which the Caribbean has held up as the model for integration. Isn’t it noteworthy that despite an EU parliament and a mature governance infrastructure EU governments are divided about how to manage the problems? Reminiscent of the actions of Jamaica and Trinidad which led to the disintegration of the West Indian Federation, France and Germany described as the two leading economies in Europe are expected to to accept a larger role in any bailout of the PIGS. True to man’s design to protect self first there has been push back from Merkel and Sarkozy to the idea of a wholesale bailout plan..

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The Plight Of Greece And What it Portends For The World

Submitted by the People Democratic Congress (PDC)


The very dire financial economic debt situation facing Greece at this stage is one that warrants significant study by many people in Barbados and beyond. Greece, which has been described on, as the cradle of Western civilization, the birthplace of Western democracy,  the founder  of  classical Western political philosophy, the originator of European art and literature and mythology, and the Olympic games, among other things, has since 2009 been experiencing muchly severe economic and financial crises of prodigious proportions enough to shake the historical foundations of that society.
So, as it verily stands now, this vastly under populated Hellenic country – much of which lies scattered in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas, has been forced to undertake a draconian hell-like IMF/EU bail out, since May 2010.

Such a gargantuan political financial catastrophe will surely make it seems that much of the social development that Greece has recently achieved and that has led many others to describe it  as a developed country, one with a consistently high quality of life rankings ( 22nd on the United Nations Human  Development Index),  and with a  high income economy, would be in the process of being reversed most disgracefully by such turn of events.

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Multiculturalism: Maelstrom And A Collision Of Cultures Or A Possible Cohesion Of Separate Ethnic Identities

Submitted by Yardbroom


German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel the German Chancellor recently said: ” Multiculturalism has “failed utterly” in Germany, she further elaborated. . . ” we kidded ourselves for a while that they – immigrants – wouldn’t stay, but that’s not the reality”.  If Angela Merkel’s views are in tune with her electorate’s, it demonstrates that it was never Germany’s intention for immigrants to take up permanent residence in their country.

A case is often made of the economic benefits immigrants bring to their host country; but economic integration of immigrants does not nullify the separate requirement, inherent in some immigrant’s religion, which appears if only on the surface, to them not fully participating in activities or practices, which have made the host country economically successful.

In Europe attitudes have hardened in recent years towards immigrants, this has been caused by the perception, that some of the Muslim faith, have not as vociferously as thought prudent distanced themselves from terrorist sympathies.  It is so obvious that “all Muslims” are not sympathetic to terrorists that it is not worth saying.  However, in the early years of terrorist activity in Europe “some” Muslims sought to justify such activity by the West’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and their failure to solve the Palestinian problem, by putting economic pressure on Israel.

It is difficult for the inhabitants of countries like the UK, to understand how groups of young Muslims, born in the UK, could openly state that their sons/daughters serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan deserve to be killed.  This is challenging for UK residents to accept, particularly when the young Muslims live in the same town and may even be their neighbours.

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Oh The Irony Of It All, First It Was The United Kingdom Followed By Germany – Who Will Be Next To Introduce APD?

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is a member of a Caribbean delegation on a mission to the United Kingdom to convey regional concerns to the UK government about the implementation of the Airport Passenger Duty Tax (APD). The tax is estimated to significantly add to travel costs of UK’s outbound air traffic to the Caribbean. The importance of the British tourist market to Barbados is well documented. Minister of Tourism John Maginley of Antigua is also in the delegation, in a BBC interview he hinted the objective of his delegation is to give the British government first hand feedback on how the APD will impact tourism in the Caribbean. Although not hopeful they will be able to influence the British government to reverse/amend its decision in the near term, they are hopeful that the Caribbean will be included in future discussions when the opportunity presents itself to review the decision.

Most surprising has been the announcement by Germany to introduce a similar tax albeit with a lower rate regime.   Germany has and continues to be one of the strongest economies in Europe and the world currently ranked as the fifth largest. Despite the current global economic conditions Germany has been one of the few economies to have performed well. The question being asked therefore  – why would Germany implement such a measure at at this time? The tax will obviously add to the economic woes of neighbouring EU countries and beyond.

It seems if we are to understand the German financial analysts, the conservative mindset of the German government makes them oppose to deficit financing. The decision to impose taxes at this time is driven by a good economy. The moral of the story told by the German, manage the deficit when the economy is good because one doesn’t know when it will turn bad.

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Decriminalizing Drugs Brings Its Challenges In A Common Market Arrangement – Just Ask The Dutch

Alice Smeets for The New York Times Many of the customers for legal drugs in Maastricht, the Netherlands, are young people, and most of them are foreigners - NYT

Two popular reasons are usually given to support decriminalizing the possession of the ‘softer drugs’ like marijuana and cannabis in Barbados. Many cite studies which support marijuana use because it is a vegetable matter, it is naturally received by the body and it has medicinal influence. In many countries the use of marijuana is prescribed for specific ailments. Did anyone watch Willie Nelson on Larry King recently? The guy admitted he has been puffing the weed daily for years.

The other reason is the extent to which people charged with possession of the softer drugs help to create congestion in the Court System and therefore negatively influence how justice is dispensed. It is no secret there is a criminal underworld which supports the drug trade and to abolish serious penalties of possession of the softer drugs would go a long way towards its dismantlement.

A BU family member recently read about the negative effect the 13 Coffee Shops (Marijuana/hashish can be purchased legally) in the Netherlands are having on that country. The Dutch cities where the Coffee Shops are located attract high traffic from the ‘drug tourists’ who become the target for criminal activity. Bear in mind freedom to travel cross-border under the EU arrangement makes it difficulty to ban travel. The matter is currently being tested in the European Court of Justice. A unique solution designed to protect Dutch youth has now been abused because of the open borders brought about by the EU arrangement. To quote the article ‘allowing one country’s security concerns to override the European Union’s guarantee of a unified and unfettered market for goods and services.’

The predicament the Dutch currently finds itself and specifically the 13 cities where the Coffee Shops are located represent learning for Barbados. To those who are proponents of decriminalizing soft drugs in a CSME arrangement – what of it? If Barbados were to go that route wouldn’t the drug tourists flood Barbados in the same way they do the Netherlands from the EU border countries?

The point the BU family member wants to share is to highlight how the Dutch experiment has gone bad. What can we learn from it? The article from the New York Times is copy and pasted below for easy access.

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Developing Countries Continue To Be Buffeted In The Global Economic Storm

Those following the current global financial crisis, particularly events unravelling in Europe (EU) would have taken note of the call by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week to ban ‘short selling; and ‘naked credit-default swaps’ on sovereign bonds.

Credit-default swaps are derivatives that pay the buyer face value if a borrower — a country or a company — defaults. In exchange, the swap seller gets the underlying securities or the cash equivalent. Traders in naked credit-default swaps buy insurance on bonds they don’t own. Naked short selling involves selling a security without ever being in possession of it.

On the back of this news the market was further disheartened by the news release that owning Europe’s Corporate Bonds has become more risky. On the domestic front the negative economic landscape in Europe is a foreboding prospect given its importance as a tourist market to the Caribbean. The latest Caribbean Tourism Report 2010 mentions a 6.5% and 1% growth in the USA and Canada markets but a 4.3% decline when describing tourist arrivals originating in Europe.

Is it reasonable for world citizens to have expected that many of the causal factors which precipitated the economic crisis in 2008; when the world witnessed  the demise of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch two of the largest Wall Street investment banks should have been plugged by now? The biggest irony exposed by the financial mess is that we live in a world which now places value-added on the need for interconnectivity, this has facilitated the contagion effect. Simply defined, we live in a world where high salaried suits sitting in offices high above the ground can make decisions which can negatively impact our future and that of our children in seconds. They engage in speculative behaviours by accessing ‘synthetic investments’ which commonsense dictates should have been banned or severely curtailed soon after the collapse on Wall Street in 2008.

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CARICOM Stuck In Low Gear

The financial crisis has led to fears of a meltdown in the eurozone, and to social unrest, particularly in Greece. Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images

A perusal of the several articles which end up in the BU inbox always make for interesting reading. One of the benefits of blogging is the opportunity to be exposed to many issues which come from many sources at a never ending pace. A recent article which appeared in the UK Guardian titled In a financial crisis, what counts is what works supports the point (credit to:Looking Glass).  The following extract from the article has resonated with us all week:

Belief in Europe was just as messianic – and just as bonkers – as belief in the market. The idea was that you could take a dozen or more countries of wildly differing economic performance, with entirely disparate cultures, and bolt them harmoniously together. What’s more, you could do this without a common language to facilitate labour mobility or a common budget to transfer resources from rich countries to poor countries.

During the bubble years these fundamental design flaws were kept hidden, but they have been exposed by the crisis. Low interest rates allowed countries on the periphery to grow strongly for a while, covering up their steady loss of competitiveness against the country at Europe’s core, Germany. The financial crash resulted in a deep recession, soaring budget deficits and fears in the financial markets of debt default.

The only factor mentioned by the author of the article if the same observation were to be made about CARICOM/CSME is to accept we have a common language when compared to the EU.

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How Can It Help Barbados If Its Interests And Prosperity Are DEGRADED To Benefit Other CARICOM Countries?

Submitted by Yardbroom

The Great MigrationI am not against CARICOM if it is possible to achieve its main purpose which I understand to be: …”promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to promote foreign policy”… I find it difficult to accept that with regard to illegal immigration, any benefits of integration are equitably shared.  There are no benefits in this area – certainly not for Barbados – but the burden is being shouldered by little Barbados, and for its efforts to cope with a difficult situation it is being vilified by a cohort, some not Barbadian but who reside in Barbados.

Many of personal choice have made Barbados their home, now they seek to criticise all things Barbadian…we are indeed a tolerant people.  I sometimes wonder if they hate the fact that they have had – regardless of the circumstances – to come to this little rock to reside in peace and relative tranquility, surely that is not the fault of Barbadians.

A vibrant few who earn a living by the pen and other media forms; buoyed up by kindred academics seem reluctant to proffer any advice to Prime Minister Barat Jagdeo of Guyana despite being natives of that country.  They are always “mute” in their diligent examination of Guyanese politics, but wax loquacious on Barbados talk programmes and the pen is always at hand to criticise our Government.

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Minister Sinckler Admits "We are being tricked…."

Submitted by Bush tea

NON-TARIFF BARRIERS (NTBs) imposed by some developed countries are a concern for Caribbean governments and, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business Christopher Sinckler warns, they can derail regional efforts to export. Sinckler said agriculture, the region’s “most protected sector” would be the hardest hit by NTBs which he claimed had “reduced the benefits of trade liberalisation”.

The minister told members of the Caribbean Farmers’ Network meeting at Savannah Hotel, “Developed countries such as the United States and the European Union often boast of having very low tariffs relative to developing countries. What they are silent on is the level of non-tariff barriers relative to developing countries.

“Standards generally differ as to the level or incidence of non-tariff barriers. They all, however, seem to point to the fact that NTBs are more prevalent in developed than in developing countries,” he noted.

Sinckler said that while Caribbean governments support establishing international standards for goods and measures aimed at genuinely protecting human, animal and plant health and safety, they would never support measures “which are deceptively designed to exclude the few agricultural products we can competitively export”. (GC)

Source: Nation Newspaper


Chris Sinkler, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Chris Sinkler, Minister of Foreign Affairs

It is really interesting how quickly our new ministers learn the language of international politics (.. from the old civil servants no doubt..)…. Did you note the term ‘NON TARIFF BARRIERS’ (NTB)? …. Sounds so harmless…

Let me define that term for the BU family.

The developed world has led a global drive to remove all national barriers to international trade. Their plan was based on the premise that their superior technologies and economies of scale would easily allow their industries to overwhelm those of the developing world who would then be reduced to mere markets. This is the real focus of Globalization. Continue reading

CARIFORUM EU (EPA) Deal Could Be Problematic For CARICOM

Submitted by Dr. Don Marshall

Next the challenge thrown out to me by BU to shed some light on the CARIFORUM/EU (EPA) Deal. I was said to play a key role in the negotiations. This is a mistaken view. I played no role at all in the CARIFORUM/EU negotiations. In fact, on April 21 2008, through a region-wide news link-up with OXFAM, I raised concerns over what I thought to be a problematic deal. That instantly meant that I joined the company of a much-maligned group of commentators for daring to say “I disagree with the signing of the CARIFORUM/EU deal.”

At the OXFAM forum, I emphasised, among other things, that the Doha Development Round proposals were being undermined by the provisions under a full EPA.

For example, in the trade in agricultural goods:

Least developed countries and some developing countries benefited from exemptions, flexibilities in the formula for cutting tariffs, and special safeguard mechanisms in the Doha Round.

But under a Full EPA:

All ACP countries are to eliminate and bind applied tariffs on 80-97 % of trade with Europe. No sector is exempted and no special safeguard mechanism is in place for agriculture.

Trade In Services under a Full EPA:

While we are being told that Barbados and other Caribbean countries stand to benefit from trade in services, little is mentioned about the commitments in the Deal that go substantially beyond the prevailing Generalised Agreement on Trade In Services (GATS) established under the WTO. Continue reading

Barriers To Implementing Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME)


Posted by BU Commenter Analyst

I would now like to talk a bit about CSME.. although it is not the central theme here….
The issue is really whether CSME will work for Barbados when fully implemented. Right now it is partially implemented with certain categories like graduates, musicians artists etc. Artisans and unskilled persons still have to get work permits. The aim of CSME is to ensure that all facets of the agreement are in place by 2015.


The main reality of CSME is that there is free movement of capital and people between the members of Caricom. The strong business people in the region want the free capital movement for investment. they also want the expanded markets with special benefits re duties and other trade controls (e.g. C.E.S).Therefore CSME means effectively one economy with a strong central control, but with individual countries having some control in local decision making. It may not mean one currency like in the eight OECS countries, but like the UK and the EU, there may be different currencies as we have now.

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