MPs pay hike maybe in the works

No bigworks project gets done without the approval of the prime minister.

A few days ago Dr. Ronnie Yearwood fresh from being reelected President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) posted a provocative tweet. To be expected his tweet generated the usual 7-day public discussion.

It is useful Yearwood decided to play his hand on what is regarded as a contentious matter. It is obvious he has been advised to develop a more aggressive perspective on the issues to improve resonance with a politically ‘tone deaf’ public. A different approach by the DLP to entice support from an apathetic and cynical public is required from a DLP struggling for relevance, Yearwood must employ superior leadership qualities to repurpose a political party clinging to the tattered coattail of Errol Barrow as well as surviving in a space where the political oxygen is being controlled by Prime Minister Mottley.

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The Grenville Phillips Column – Get Back to Work

As a consulting Engineer, I always provide my clients with my best professional advice, which they have options of accepting or rejecting.  Unless it is an imminent safety concern, I try not to get emotionally involved in any advice that I give.

There are real consequences to providing sub-standard engineering advice.  For example, it can be fatal to the persons occupying the engineered structures.  Also, Engineers are personally liable for any quantifiable damage that results from people following their advice, whether they are paying Clients or the non-paying public.  It is principally for these reasons why most professionals tend to limit their advice to their paying clients.

We were told that we had to enter a time of severe austerity, and we were invited to make sacrifices for the good of the nation.  However, to my knowledge, no one received an invitation.  The Government sent home public workers without notification, defaulted on loans to foreign creditors without negotiation, and confiscated money owed to pensioners and investors while passing a law to make the confiscation legal.

We are being told by the media to give the BLP administration a chance, since desperate times call for desperate measures.  However, no one is: calling for early elections or organising a march – all of which occurred under the last DLP administration.  Everyone seems to be trying to play their part and adjust their lives to the demanded sacrifices.  But something seems wrong, and we should be free to express our feelings without persecution.

We were led to believe that the Government had to confiscate part of our pensions and retirement savings, and send home public workers, because the Government had no money.  If that is true, then what are they using to pay the 5% increase in salaries that they gave themselves and public workers?  What are they using to pay the salaries of their advisors and supporters who sit on ineffective Boards and in the Senate?  Bitcoins?  No.  They are being paid real money, our money – sacrificially taken.

During this period of severe austerity, serving on a board should be a volunteer position.  The same for the Senate.  Past politicians receiving their lucrative life-time pensions should not be paid for their advice, when there are so many senior public workers who can provide the same or better advice.  How can a person spend 30 years in the public service and still be deemed not good enough to offer competent advice?

I have been offering my best advice freely to the public for the past 2 decades, under both political administrations.  I have sat on advisory committees and it was all volunteer, both as a member, vice chairman and chairman.  There was never any expectation of being paid, not even a stipend, but we gave our best advice.  I still sit on a technical committee in the current administration, and there is no expectation of being paid.  When did we start selectively paying advisors?

Let me clarify that if someone is not working, then I have no concerns about such persons receiving a stipend.  But it is unconscionable for salaried persons, or past-politicians receiving their lucrative pensions, to be paid our confiscated pensions and retirement savings in exchange for their advice, while they demand that others share in the sacrifice.  Why don’t they also share during these desperate times?

If salaried senators, board-members and advisors were unpaid, then would they still serve?  If the answer is yes, then stop paying them the money taken from our pensions, and the salaries saved from laying-off public workers, immediately.  They should be ashamed to receive that money.  If they are not willing to volunteer to serve as part of their shared sacrifice, then dismiss them and find others with far more integrity.

We were told that almost all Members of Parliament had to work full-time because there was simply too much work to be done, and all hands needed to be on-deck.  We are not naive.  We understand that most of the BLP politicians are new and inexperienced, and expect a full-time salary.  Therefore, by all means, let them work and pay them the normal salary.

However, since they are demanding a full day’s pay after passing laws to take part of my pension and retirement savings to pay themselves and their friends, then at least give me a full day’s work.

Why are MP’s, who are being paid a full-time salary to work for us, doing work for their private clients on our time?  Why are they not ‘on-deck’?  Now, if there side-work was not harming us, then they could do whatever they wished with our time.  However, it is our pensions and our retirement savings that they have confiscated, so they better get back to work and start performing.

If their excuse is that our work does not demand all of their time during normal working hours, then give me back my money.  If they want to keep it, then they should at least pretend to be working and stop reminding us that our confiscated money is being wasted.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

BLP and DLP Members of Parliament Visit CHINA

Edmund Hinkson, member of parliament for St. James North

Edmund Hinkson, Member of Parliament for St. James North

A reminder that BU’s tageline is ‘bringing news and opinions to the people’.

It is unfortunate after many years of investing billions to education Barbadians there is a lazy desire to be news takers i.e. accept (no) news and (no) views from the traditional media without question.  The traditional media is greatly influenced by interest groups -the advertiser and politician immediately come to mind. The niceties the establishment players of the media have to engage to not offend interest groups is well documented on BU pages and elsewhere.

It is no secret the geopolitical interest of China based on its investment policy now includes the tiny islands of the Caribbean. We can debate why Beijing sees value in funding tiny islands like Barbados. What cannot be refuted is he who pays the piper plays the tune. A look across the landscape of Barbados sees a growing Chinese group the result of the many projects funded by the Chinese government.

BU understands three DLP members of parliament recently returned to the island after being invited to China as members of a wider group. Earlier in the year three BLP members also benefited from a similar invitation. Some have dismissed the visit by six of our members of parliament as a non event – and perhaps it is,  it does not change the fact that is is news. Given the aggressive position the Chinese government has taken in our region why should the traditional media not feel obligated to report and critique matters that arise from a Sino-Caribbean relationship? Why must the traditional media retreat to being (no) news takers?

Michael Lashley, Minister of Transport

Michael Lashley, Minister of Transport

Now that the six members of parliament have returned from China will the fruits of the visit ever be shared with BARBADIANS? In is interesting to note there is a discussion ongoing in the USA about the maverick approach to the press corp by President-elect Trump. The US media has been critical of Trump not providing ready access to his activities to ensure there is 24/7 reporting  to inform the public he serves.

Barbadians deserve the benefit of full disclosure if six members of the political class were invited to be part of a delegation to China.  Both government and the government in waiting should feel vested in the business of transparency -something that is very unfamiliar to the Chinese government.