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Barbadian Taxpayers foot Corruption Bill

17 May

This news first emerged earlier this month, but it must be repeated. The hope is that we stop paying attention, that these matters become so “everyday” so “run of the mill” that we start to believe that things can not change. We are referring to the Auditor General’s report that highlights the depth to which corruption has reached in Barbados. The focus on corruption has traditionally been on the political leaders in the country.

The Auditor General of Barbados Mr. Leigh Trotman has turned the glare of his spotlight on some staffers of the Electrical Engineering Department who in his view claimed “exorbitant” over time rates when compared with the usual overtime rates in Government. In his 2009 report he indicated that some staffers claimed as much as $1, 800 and others $2,500 per night during the last election, bringing the total claim to some $48, 500.

Mr. Trotman said that he also wanted a thorough investigation into how several imported vehicles were able to leave the Port without paying the duties necessary. The duties amount to some half a million dollars.

Somehow Barbadians do not seem to get it that the taxpayers foot the bill for this corruption and if the Government coffers run low because of this leakage it will ultimately result in higher taxes.

The list keeps getting longer and longer of the Government agencies where it has become quite the norm for individuals to pay officials something extra for doing their job or where they allow Barbadians to escape paying the taxes that are due under the law.


Tory-LibDem LoveFest

15 May

The question on everyone’s lips must be “how long will the love fest last?”. Well the Liberal Democrats have glued themselves to the hip of the Conservatives and so far everything is fine. David Cameron is the new British Prime Minister and Nick Clegg his Deputy. The two make a very vibrant looking team and must make the British feel that they can take on the world. They have already agreed to a 5% cut in salaries.

Political reform is one of the items on the Lib-Dem agenda on which the Conservatives were prepared to make a compromise. The UK may not need very much convincing about changing to proportional representation. There certainly will not be an outcry if there is reform in the House of Lords. Well these are the easy bits, its going to be a long hard slog to get that crippling deficit down to manageable proportions.

The following sets out the proposed political reform:

May 11, 2010

The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

The parties will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. Both parties will whip their Parliamentary Parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.
The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

The parties will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of programmed business and including government business within its scope by the third year of the Parliament.

The parties agree to reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration.
We have agreed to establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.

The parties agree to the implementation of the Calman Commission proposals and the offer of a referendum on further Welsh devolution.

The parties will tackle lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We also agree to pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics.

The parties will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a full review of local government finance.

Another Look at Agriculture

13 May

No Action Talk Only is all we hearing. So many issues to write on but my limitation is space and frequency. This week I will seek to provide some ideas which I feel can be embraced by the Ministry of Agriculture. Decision makers and politicians must get off their high horses of arrogance and embrace ideas from all and sundry. Barbados with its high food import bill will not survive for more than eight weeks without food imports should their be a global freight problem The below suggestion are being made in the best interest of the country for the two reasons. Potential for earning foreign currency and to ensure our food security. How many of you have heard of the Barbados Acerola Cherry and having the highest Vitamin C content. Is not that a discerning quality? Do you know that Gooseberries are very high in vitamin C and has great potential in the creation of a unique jam or juice. What about creating this as a limited edition product? What about the famous Pomengranate. Why not research our variety for its concentration of antioxidant properties? Did I hear that Aloe Vera and the Barbadian variety is one of the highest grades. Let’s plant some on our rab land specially for Palmolive or Victoria Secrets? I would love to see some cans of canned creole Flying Fish exported. Mr Benn what about pitted dunks under the Barbados Brand.

I am not a martyr, I am not a rebel, I am not a maverick I am but the boy from the village who wore patches,whose heart remains with the villagers. So cuss me as much as you can but very few of you have done more than I for our beloved country.
Lets think Green. Be responsible in your waste disposale. You can make a difference.


Any lessons in the UK Elections

7 May

The Fortunes of the Third Party in the Race
Well the expectation that Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg might have done better in this election did not materialise. In fact they ended up losing seats. There was one woman who said that she usually votes Liberal but did not want to see Labour return to office. There might have also been some Liberal sympathisers who voted Labour. Certainly the fact that the Conservatives did not win by a land slide must say something about a lack of confidence in David Cameron. Labour therefore did better than expected. It certainly does not look as though the people wanted to get rid of Labour entirely.

The Hung Parliament
The United Kingdom therefore ended up with no party having a clear majority. This is one of the outcomes of a three party race. Many argue that it is not a bad outcome and that there are countries that do quite well in such circumstances.

Election Reform
One of the clear issues which the Liberal Democrats have placed on the table is election reform and this might be the right time to exercise some leverage in this area. One of the interesting questions is whether election reform would signal a move to proportional representation and not a “first past the post” system. This would be interesting for all the former British colonies that have adopted the latter system and every now and again flirt with the idea of proportional representation.

Irregularities at the Polls
One of the attributes of people is that they should try to learn from the mistakes of others. As we know the elections in the UK were conducted on May 6, 2010, and one of the outcomes was that thousands of people were turned away without being able to cast their vote. There were a number of issues that came out of this, firstly that they did not anticipate the number of people who would turn out to vote. Even when they realised that they would be under pressure to get through the voting process they did not put on enough staff. Then there was some confusion about the interpretation of the rules as to what amounted to closing the polls.

Usually in societies when things go well for a period of time people become careless. We note the issues that arose in Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda. Let us hope that they do not arise in Trinidad & Tobago or in Barbados.

Eyes fixed on elections, not on fixing Barbados

9 Apr

PM David Thompson

Yet another economic quarter ( January to March 2010) has passed, and there is NO sign whatsoever that this wretched wayward DLP Government has been providing the dynamic intellectual, political and organizational leadership necessary to help get the country out of this gigantic mess that primarily itself and the last BLP Government put the country in.

In fact, nothing significant at all is happening at this time, except that the so-called economy is further and further collapsing – with more and more workers being laid off, with more and more businesses, if NOT being closed down, being terribly downsized, with many more businesses reporting greatly reduced profits, and hardly any new major investments being made through out the country.

We have said it before and we say it again that this country would have been in a far better position in 1992/3, at this time (2 years into this depression – about 20 years ago) than it is at this time.

What this implies is that there are aspects of this present crisis that are far far worse than in the 1991/3 period of crisis, or that are being grossly mismanaged by this present DLP Government.

For instance, let us look at the fiscal deficit of the government. The 2009 Central Bank Economic Report on the performance of the so-called Barbados economy for the year 2009 shows that in the midst of this crisis the fiscal deficit increased by a sizable 2% to 8% from 6% in 2008, mainly through wild and reckless government expenditure increases.

However, in the midst of the 1991/3 political economic crisis the government’s fiscal deficit of BDS $ 254 million in 1990/1, instead of going up further had to be brought down – and was brought down to BDS $ 54 million in 1991/2, through a series of decisive but draconian measures instituted by the then government with the help of the IMF( Statistics taken from the 2007 Statistical Digest of Central Bank of Barbados).

That PARTICULAR phased reduction of the fiscal deficit was, yes, a mighty part of the 1991/3 structural adjustment and stabilization programs that the then DLP government had – along with the IMF and the World Bank/IADB – instituted. Indeed, these austerity programs – call them that – were themselves responsible for much of the great pain, suffering and misery that were visited upon the broad masses and middle classes in the country, but were also responsible for the significant restructuring and repositioning undertaken then in the government sector and by extension in the so-called Barbados economy, and which in the final analysis helped to lay the foundation for much of the material financial growth that was later seen during the first BLP term of office.

Hence, too, the management of the political economic crisis then was far better then than at this time. The Social Partnership, the Congress of Trade Union and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) being born at such a crucial time in the historical development of Barbados!!!

But, at the moment when there is an absolute need for the implementation of national and subnational restructuring and stabilization programs sufficient to help restructure and reorder the fiscal and operational affairs of the government (and by extension the material productive and distributive affairs of the country), we in the PDC see none coming forth from this joke DLP Government.

Neither are there any programs that are developmental and people centered and at the same time instrumental in helping to create and or develop excess material and financial capacity in the country. At this time we need to make sure that we use the country’s capacity in an expansionary way such as would ensure that the way is NOT ONLY paved for a strong recovery in BUT ALSO for the sustained long term growth and development in the material and financial affairs of this country. SO, NONE WHATSOEVER EITHER!! NONE!!

But, to think of it, this wretched wayward DLP government has failed and will continue to fail in putting such programs in place sufficient to restructure and reorder the fiscal and operational affairs of the government and by extension the wider so-called economy. They do not have the political will nor the intellectual capacity to do so on their own.

In the USA there has been a great amount of restructuring and stabilization – albeit with a great deal of incoherence uncertainty – in their economy. There has also been great amounts of economic financial information coming out of there via the internet, international news organizations, that suggests that the recession has ended for them, and that there is a recovery in their economy, albeit fragile because of certain fundamental negativing factors relative to how the political economic financial system of the West functions.

But what does this mean to this DLP Government and Hartley Henry, prone as they are to comparing the Obama Administration to the David Thompson Administration? What have they really learned about the credit crisis, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the recession, and the recovery from there in the USA?

For, the way how they have been attending to matters of the so-called Barbados economy shows that they have NOT been learning much from those situations in the USA . Moreover, they have NOT understood the necessity or the importance of a country’s material and financial affairs undergoing well thought out properly implemented restructuring rehabilitation programs in order to move forward.

Well, Mr. Thompson, like Mr. Sandiford would have then in 1992/3, has had his eyes fixed firmly on the election clock – meanwhile, the proper development of many of this country’s affairs takes a back seat.

Well, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and the BLP paid the price, politically electorally, for not only not leading the way, but also for failing to properly restructure and reorganize the material and financial affairs of the country. It is time the broad mass of voters of this country do the honourable thing – send both the DLP and the BLP packing from out of the parliament of this country.

For sure something needs to be done in this country to ensure that some other well meaning political entity procures the sustained development of this country.

So, Down with the Damned DLP and the Blasted BLP!!


Who is looking after the policyholders?

18 Mar

I have never agreed wholesale with any decisions governments make. However, I must say that other Caribbean Countries look to Barbados for leadership. Thus with this Clico/BAICO issue Ralph Gonzales is using our model and trying to save the policyholders funds. I am a policyholder and also a former employee of Clico and have encouraged many persons to invest their funds in the FPA which is different to the EFPA. For 13 years the powers that be allowed Clico to sell this EFPA which is a deposit taking plan despite much protestation from other Financial Institutions. The proverbial excrement hit the fan under the DLP. This is a balanced view and not a political view.

Many of my former hardworking work colleagues who still work with Clico and have mortgages may now lose their properties. Any government worth its salt must seek to preserve jobs foremost. I think the Prime Minister acted correctly in trying to save the company. The ripple effect will be devastating for the Barbados economy if a buyer cannot be found. To me this clearly shows me what is wrong with opposition politics in Barbados. The DLP and BLP are both guilty of opposing for opposing sake which to me is nefarious and smacks of deceit. But who I am to have a view on anything, I am just a boy from the village who once cut canes for a living and washed dishes in a restaurant!


What the IMF prescribed

28 Feb

Marcello Estevao Leader of the IMF Mission to Barbados

Barbados has been in consultation with the IMF and the IMF issued a press release with its recommendation for the Barbados economy:

With the public debt now standing at 100% of GDP Marcello Estevao Chief of the Mission to Barbados said:

Against this backdrop, fiscal consolidation seems to be the appropriate strategy. Reducing government spending, increasing tax collection efficiency, and broadening the tax base would support the exchange rate regime and improve the government’s balance sheet. Moreover, credible and sustainable measures can actually raise medium-term growth, as better debt dynamics and lower pressure on external reserves would raise the private sector’s willingness to invest in Barbados. Thus, the authorities’ intention to push forward a medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy is very welcome.

The question that these prescriptions raise is what this will mean in actual terms for Barbadians. It certainly looks as though there will be an increase in taxes. Increasing tax efficiency is a laudable goal but Barbados already has a fairly efficient tax collection mechanism already. It is uncertain how much this would yield, especially in a situation where businesses are already suffering from severe cash flow problems and might simply not have the money.

We wait to see how this will unfold further.