Open Letter to Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn

Submitted by Kemar J.D Stuart, Economist and Director Business Development , Finance and Investment Stuart & Perkins Caribbean

Dear Mr Straughn ,

This letter is an issuance of grave concern with the government of Barbados & the IDB Loan seeking to borrow $200 M and the heightened perception of corruption and unethical practices within government.

Taken from the executive summary of transparency international “This year’s corruption perception index paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. The pandemic is not just a health crises or economic crises but a corruption crises with countless lives loss due to government corruption undermining a fair and equitable response to issues of the day”

A letter to the editor of the Nation newspaper featured on December 7th 2022, submitted by myself Kemar Stuart raised alarm to some sections of a letter to the acting IDB President signed by yourself as minister in the ministry of finance.

Component 4 of the letter to the acting IDB President said that the loan is for economic and fiscal strengthening for post pandemic .The blatant red flag in component 4 of your letter is the use of reason for borrowing this loan which are recommendations from a progress report of the measures prioritized by the jobs and investment council. Investigations into the missing report revealed that at no point in time did this jobs and investment council report or publish their findings and recommendations to the public via consultation / town hall or press conference, written media or else.

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Walter Blackman’s Last Post Before the General Election About CLICO, Corruption by Politicians and the Bullseye on Ryan Straughn’s Back

The following is a response to the blogmaster’s observation posted on the  April 26, 2018 11:30 PM directed at Walter Blackman: – “What will be interesting in the days and few weeks ahead is how the various political parties craft their messages to the public”.

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

     –The Rolling Stones

David,

In my humble opinion, pragmatic though ye maybe, you are thinking “old school”.

I find it more interesting to wait and see how the various political parties craft their response to the messages that have been sent by the public.

Please forgive me for being prolix, but I will offer three low-hanging examples to give you an example of how I am thinking.

Firstly, from the standpoint of governance, Mara Thompson continued to be a natural face of the CLICO debacle. CLICO policyholders were given a deadline to confirm all of the information related to their policies which were to be transferred to the new insurance company established by the government. If I remember correctly, the very next day after that deadline, Mara Thompson announced to Gercine Carter of the Nation that her life in parliament was now coming to an end. Politically, she had “false-started” and obviously was advised to claw back the announcement.

The government of Barbados officially transferred the assets and liabilities of CLICO to a politically contrived new insurance company. If my memory serves me correctly, immediately after that event, Mara Thompson announced her retirement from politics and handpicked George Pilgrim as her “successor”. She had decided to “take the money” and not run. The deal had been sealed. No need for any clawback this time. As a former Office Manager of Thompson & Associates, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mara Thompson now saw how easy it was for the political class to callously transform the wicked actions of evildoers into a financial burden of billions of dollars, and then to deftly place that burden upon the back of docile Barbadian taxpayers.

The CLICO scandal is extremely nasty business. It represents a large crimson stain on the white table cloth of our national psyche. Not too long ago, I submitted a poem to BU entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Hopefully, discerning BU readers can now see the similarity in the roles being played by the oysters in that poem, and by CLICO policyholders in real life.

The public’s message that has been sent to the political class is that we want the wrongdoers in the CLICO scandal to be punished, and that we want our regulatory system to be tightened and strengthened so that politicians, civil servants, and the whole range of a company’s management team cannot band together and collude to raid and destroy a corporation again.

It should be easy to see, which party crafts a response to this public demand.

Secondly, the Land Registry and the Town & Country Planning Dept. have a database of all politicians and civil servants who own and have developed property in Barbados. Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has a database of the income which these people have claimed to receive over the past decades.

I am sure that Balaam’s most prized possession, his female ass, is intelligent enough to line up the public salaries of civil servants and politicians with the properties they own and have developed. If an ass can do it, why can’t we? All sensible Barbadians are now calling for those civil servants and politicians who have misappropriated public funds, or who have laundered money, to be identified and punished as criminals.

Have you heard any major political party promising to take these elementary steps to deal with the corrosive influence of corrupt public officials in Barbados? Why not?

Thirdly, Tom Adams, arguably the most brilliant (despite his recklessness) Finance Minister that Barbados has produced to date, possessed enough confidence and political maturity to seek out and attract the talented Owen Arthur, who eventually became PM of Barbados.

On the other hand, the “Cammie Tudor installed PM” Erskine Sandiford, lacking training and expertise in the areas of economics and finance, had to get rid of Dr.Richie Haynes from his cabinet because the electorate had already begun to show some confidence in the Doc’s ability. In a similar vein, David Thompson, all style and no substance when it came to matters of economics and finance, had to get rid of Clyde Mascoll.

Having joined forces with others to rob CLICO policyholders, despite being Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Finance, David Thompson then had to push Dr. David Estwick, his former shadow Minister of Finance, to the perceived outer peripheral ring of his cabinet. Through his last-minute pronouncements, it became crystal clear that all of David Thompson’s preoccupations, in life and death, had now morphed into one concentrated goal: to make sure that details of the CLICO grand robbery never reached the eyes and ears of the Barbadian public. He and his co-conspirators, not to mention the Financial Standards Commission (FSC), failed miserably in that regard. God does not like ugly. All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.

Ryan Straughn, not recognizing that he has a bull’s eye on his political back because of his training in economics, attempted to give Barbadians a comprehensive and analytical view of the various options open to us a country when it came to making a decision on the Transport Board. Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis. With an eye towards destroying Ryan’s stature in the political arena as an economist, before he even got a chance to build it, political agents and his own colleagues immediately jumped into the press and advised members of the electorate not to pay any attention to the mouthings of Ryan Straughn. “This is a subject our party has decided to hide from the public. Ryan is a political rookie, an educated fool, a naïve ‘wet-behind-the –ears’ candidate who has now broken the rules of engagement with the public which the BLP has secretly established”, they effectively declared.

Given the fact that, in the absence of “divine” intervention, the Barbadian economy is about to crash (with thousands upon thousands of resulting fatalities), the Barbadian electorate wanted every serious-minded political party to invite decent, honest-minded Barbadians with backgrounds, training, and expertise in the areas of business and finance, to run for public office. These criteria effectively disqualify 99.9% of lawyers.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Barbadians have lost their trust and confidence in lawyers, and are now clamouring to see corrupt practices eradicated from public life, the major political parties still persist in foisting lawyers upon the electorate?

We shall wait and see what excuses the major political parties are able to come up with for disregarding this public demand.

I haven’t even mentioned FATCA and the opportunity that that imposed legislation creates for us to produce a list of politicians and civil servants with hefty unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts. Such a list should be read out in parliament.

Have you heard this message being preached by our political parties?

I can go on and on……

Hopefully, we shall reconnect after the General Elections are over.

The George Brathwaite Column – DLP’s Bus Conked-out

George Brathwaite (Ph.D)

Last Wednesday night, a discerning audience got to hear from one of the sober minds emanating from within the bosom of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Ryan Straughn delivered an insightful, comprehensive, and forward-looking presentation that hailed the intellect, vision, and leadership of arguably Barbados’ best prime minister – JMGM ‘Tom’ Adams. Straughn’s presentation was timely, and it reached across the exacerbated political divide which is already hampering real progress in the island. Straughn delved into the glory days of governance in Barbados, to indicate that there are realistic pathways for returning economic growth to the island.

The Christ Church East Central BLP candidate, whose economic background, perhaps does not say sufficient about him as a rational intellect and progressive thinker, certainly got the message across that it cannot be business as usual in Barbados. Verbally, graphically, and at times with a wit demonstrating his connectedness to Barbadian culture, the maturing Ryan Straughn painted a picture of the sad state that Barbados finds itself due to bad measures and unsustainable practices undertaken by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Indeed, Straughn used the vision and sagacity of Tom Adams to reveal the ineffective policies and damaging practices courted by Prime Minister Stuart and his inept Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler.

In the audience, there was rivetted interest set against the canvas that was erected by Straughn’s insight. His brush was appropriately textured and wetted with the colour and substance for anyone willing to rescue the floundering Barbados economy. Whether one prefers to hide from the facts that Barbados has seriously struggled under the DLP since 2008, or if one chooses to reflect on the fact that Straughn’s frankness also put possible solutions to the problems, were significant. The shallowness of the DLP’s posturing became a takeaway because the erstwhile economist exposed the DLP’s lack of creativity and competence when it comes to the management and growth of the Barbados economy.

Certainly, a decade ago Barbadians had more money in their pockets. The promise of prosperity for all Barbadians was ever-present; and numerous jobs were created while foreign investments and revenues from international business grew bountifully. Additionally, debt was kept under control. Not today! Barbadians cannot leave the terminal because the driver is asleep, and the co-pilot does not know how to navigate the people’s business.

Regrettably, the Stuart-led DLP has virtually smashed most things that would be important for rebuilding the economy and returning significant growth to the Barbados economy. The constant and systematic downgrades have come with such regularity that the recent CCC rating – with a negative outlook – may bypass the scrutiny of Barbadians suffering from their other setbacks. The very socio-economic stepping stones that would normally be used to trigger hope and encourage positive responses such as in tertiary education, have been dislodged by a myopic and sell-out DLP Cabinet.

Painfully though funny, the current Finance Minister still has difficulty understanding basic economic formulae of supply, demand, and price. Minister Sinckler does not understand the basis of taxation policy in a small developing economy, and displays an incomprehension of savings, investment, and spending. How can Barbados attract investors, or gain credit worthiness in the international system when at home, Barbadians do not have confidence in the Finance Minister to do a reasonable job?

Moreover, how does a prime minister fail to talk with the public and refuse to shuffle his Cabinet when all tried outcomes have been disastrous for Barbadians? Surely, the DLP has run its course and its bus is going nowhere forward, and backward is not the population’s destination. Barbados is ready to make a definitive statement on the DLP’s failures and broken promises.

On the matter of busses and transportation, it was shocking that the General Secretary of the beleaguered DLP would resort to another unimpressive piece of spin. Distorting Ryan Straughn’s well-received Tom Adams Memorial Lecture, Pilgrim went down the road with a superficial statement. George Pilgrim stated that Straughn “sought to link” the number of cars on the road to a “reduced need for access to public transportation.” Pilgrim wanted to impart maximum political damage by desperately wishing that Barbadians would forget the chaotic mess happening under the DLP since 2013, and refocus on the emotive advertisement with the ‘old lady’ on the bus.

Pilgrim contended that “the logic” of Straughn’s reference to the need to transform the poor service which Barbadians currently receive from the Transport Board was an affront to the nation. Unashamedly, and appearing more distressed than usual, Pilgrim mockingly lamented Straughn’s capacity to deliver a comprehensive package to enhance services for Barbadians. Arguably, Pilgrim may have been the only person in Barbados interpreting Straughn to mean that since “more Barbadians now own cars, it is legitimate to privatize public transportation and put hundreds of hard working public sector workers on the breadline.” This is the debased thinking that characterises today’s DLP.

Indeed, over a year ago, it was reported that Ryan Straughn agreed with Finance Minister Sinckler that while “not rushing ahead to just go picking this and picking that and privatize this and privatize that … we are going to [take] a judicious approach.” Is the DLP’s misleading statement suggesting that its spokespersons are willing to avoid a relevant conversation with the public on the worsening ills of public transport? Why did Pilgrim not see it fit to say how the DLP administration will address matters of efficiency? Straughn offered an alternative to fix efficiency issues; and he reinforced the need for the appropriate regulatory framework.

It is known by the employers and employees that the Transport Board has become a broken system. Under the DLP, public transport creates perilous job insecurity for thousands of Barbadians having to commute daily. Getting to work for the little pay is a horror! Perhaps, employers are more empathetic than the Prime Minister and the substantive Minister. Hundreds more could have lost their jobs due to repeated lateness and absence, given the poor bus service. Every day, numerous persons are stranded in the terminals or at stops along the potholed-road network. Never is there certainty of a bus although hours of waiting. Can the Stuart-led Cabinet and surrogates speaking on behalf of the DLP be so willing to whip the tails of Bajans into submission?

Ryan Straughn knows that privatisation, restructuring, or any permutation of operational adjustment ought to reflect practicality and the national interest. On public transportation service, it is deep failure and crisis that make the Transport Board “an area that is obviously ripe for some revisiting.” However, Straughn has cautioned that Barbados “can’t afford to lag much longer.” The Minister’s constant promises remain fruitless. Barbadians know that crocodile tears will not work going into the next elections. Workers and students cannot continue to rely on a worsening transport system. Who is being fooled when the DLP’s bus has conked-out before the passengers managed to get on board?

Ryan Straughn is not about top-down politics and beefed up econometrics. Rather, Straughn is about participatory democracy. Barbadians must have a say regarding those issues affecting them at personal and community levels. Straughn has consistently asserted that a review of how the state’s resources are spent must be part of the solution. Furthermore, he has indicated that attempts to correct matters of inefficiency must unfold from “a national consultation before any action is taken.” Ryan Straughn, thank you for a clear and futuristic articulation of the undisputed facts. The thoughtlessness and laziness of the Cabinet shows that the DLP’s bus is conked-out. The DLP’s obsession with propaganda blocks pathways to progress.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com)

ONE WAY…MIA’S WAY

Submitted by Douglas

Economist Ryan Straughn

Economist Ryan Straughn

Ms. Mottley does not have to be me, he added. But she has to make herself likeable, she has to be respected because people want to know that their leaders are full of integrity … and she has to consider the use of power;

[…]
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Economist Ryan Straughn Sees the Need for More Barbadians to Understand How the Macroeconomy Works

Economist Ryan Straughn

Economist Ryan Straughn

Arising from the blog  The Slide of the Barbados Economy: Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Numbers which utilized several graphs created by Economist Ryan Straughn, BU reached out to him via Facebook to get feedback on the several comments posted. Although he is not a fan of BU, to his credit, he offered the following perspective which provides food for thought.

I just spent the last 20 minutes wading through the post you sent. From what I gather from the contributions there seems to be a notion that either the data is corrupt or worse that I am corrupt. I can appreciate that a significant number of persons in Barbados genuinely don’t understand how the macroeconomy works in total and particularly how the public finances are affected or how it affects the system.

I must confess that I seldom read your blog because in my view it’s not a place for person truly seeking information and better understanding. I’m just a messenger but the message is in those charts for those who wishes to pay attention.

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The Slide of the Barbados Economy: Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Numbers

BU family member Inkwell has submitted the following graphs/information originally presented by economist Ryan Straughn in the local media in an article titled – Who Will Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?

Public Finances of the Grantley Adams administration from 1955 to 1962. Note that in every year, current revenue  exceeded current expenditure.

Public Finances of the Grantley Adams administration from 1955 to 1962. Note that in every year, current revenue exceeded current expenditure.

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Who Will Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?

Ryan Straugn, Economist

Ryan Straugn, Economist

The following article by Economist Ryan Straughn has been making the rounds in Barbados and is the source of robust debate because it highlights the perilous state of the Barbados economy. This week the hierarchy of the Caribbean Development Bank also noted concerns about the weight of debt which many Caribbean islands are presently burdened. We did not reach the current state in the last five years. Our consumption behaviour which is fed by two fickle economic drivers, tourism and foreign direct investment, will do it every time.

Dispelling Political Myths with Economic Facts
I wish to state at the outset as emphatically as I possibly could, that in a very, very, very small open economy (like Barbados) and in a very, very, very small open society (like Barbados) it is imperative that government’s current revenue always exceed its current expenditure in order to protect the social democracy to which we’ve become accustomed.

I sat down to write this article last week and got sidetracked with more pressing matters and so decided to finish it on reading Tony Best’s column in the Sunday Sun of February 3, 2013. The article shared the concerns of Charlie Skeete another Barbadian economist which are indeed very similar to mine. Elections have been called in Barbados for February 21, 2013 and the campaign has truly begun in earnest. As an economist, I eagerly wait to hear specifics from both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party on how they are going to deal with the small matter of the public finances.

Read full article @Barbados Economic Society Blog

Notes From a Native Son – The Case for a Post Office Bank

Hal Austin

Ryan Straughn, Economist and BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central delivered the Eight Tom Adams Memorial Lecture this week. Interesting was the central point to his address reported in the Barbados Today extract and mooted in the Hal Austin article posted to BU in 2012.

Barbados Underground

Introduction:

As we enter the New Year, Barbados continues to be in the grip of a serious economic crisis, which, whatever the macroeconomic hurdles, is manifested in the effective withdrawal of the financing of job-creating small and medium enterprises by the major banks.

It is manifestly clear that the foreign-owned banks based in Barbados, either as branches or subsidiaries, are not lending would-be young business people any money. Reasons may vary, but the outcomes are always the same, the rejection of loan applications.

It is even clearer, judging from the long queues that form from opening to closing hours in most of these banks, that the customer service propositions are disgraceful. Ordinary people are forced to endure this inferior service because there is no real alternative. The banks have become complacent. Access to finance is a massive problem in Barbados and government, the wider public sector and the non-banking sector are unable to fill this gap.

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