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.

Parliamentary Melt Down

30 Apr

Barbados Parliament

We have had discussions in this forum about the conduct of the proceedings in Parliament in Barbados. Recently we had the gun incident, where the Speaker has apparently ruled that there should be no new gun policy in Parliament. One should note that this was even in circumstances where both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that there should be a gun policy for Parliament. Then there was the most recent incident where the Speaker asked the marshall in the Lower House to remove two members of the Opposition. After that we had a presentation by Dale Marshall concerning the gun incident. This was delivered amongst heckling and laughter. Is Barbados suffering a Parliamentary melt down?

Barbadians have had their say on these various incidents. Most of the discussions that has been heard publicly is et along partisan lines. We continue to warn members of the Lower House however that they really need to set a better example for the youth of this country and the people of this country as a whole. Parliamentarians have the capacity to set the tone for a nation. Part of the problem is that they can not hear themselves and really can not hear how badly they come across. Many of them seem not to be confident that the content of their speeches and their presence in Parliament carry any weight and seek to supplement this by behaviour which could only be described in the kindest way as lacking in decorum. We can only hope that these individuals that are meant to be representing a wide cross-section of Barbadians would accept the responsibility that the privilege of being a Member of Parliament actually carries.

The UK Election Debate – hear about immigration

21 Apr

All three parties agreed that there was need for political reform. The one aspect that they seemed to agree on was the right of the people to recall MPs that are corrupt. In addition Labour emphasised the reform of the House of Lords where there would be an elected House and there would be no more hereditary peers. The Conservatives seemed to be more concerned with cutting MP’s salaries as well as the number of MPs. The Lib Dems seemed to be particularly concerned with party funding and cutting the cost of politics. These are all issues that are real to the Barbados electorate as well.

Are Barbadians being treated equally under the law?

21 Apr

Dorothy Height a female voice in the USA Civil Rights movement died at the age of 98. She fought for racial and gender equality

There have been two recent gun related incidents in Barbados that have raised a great deal of debate in Barbados. The debate has not subsided as yet. The first concerned two members of Parliament (Dale Marshall and David Estwick), one of which, David Estwick has been accused of assault. This particular issue got side tracked by a belief that the Speaker had jurisdiction over criminal offences in Barbados as long as they occurred within the precincts of Parliament. Commonsense would suggest that this is untrue even if one were unschooled in the law. The second incident had to do with the death of a youngster. Everyone sympathises with the loss of a child in whatever circumstances. Many Barbadians do not know what happened in the house of the Bjerkhamns that day but a child is dead and this could throw up a situation of mere accident, manslaughter or even murder. We do not know and it is certainly not the point of this piece to speculate on the circumstances.

The issue that concerns a number of Barbadians is process. In the first situation the Police should have been present at the time of the incident in Parliament. They should have been there because it is the practice that they should be there to protect all those visiting and working in the Parliament. The alleged offence was never investigated in order to determine whether or not charges should be filed. In the Bjerkhamn episode the Police delayed in filing any charges and then the public was informed that the suspect (forgive us if that term is not appropriate) had left the island by private jet. Well some argue that he was not charged so he could leave. Many a young male in Barbados have expressed the view that they would never have been allowed to go to their child’s funeral.

What is it that the ordinary Barbadian is concerned about? Individuals can relate incidents where simply because they were present at an incident they were charged and held over night. Even though one would not recommend this approach as the norm, the approach taken to these two incidents must suggest that there is some inequality of treatment. These are not only legal matters they are societal matters. A cursory glance at our newspapers would suggest that it is only working class Barbadians and tourists that are ever involved in the drug trade whether as consumers or retailers.

Are Barbadians being treated equally under the law? These are questions similar to those that were raised in the USA Civil Rights movement. Yet in 2010 Barbadians wonder if there is still anything to fight for, whether there is still some noble cause. Well there is!! While there has always been a suspicion that there is inequality of treatment, these two incidents seem to confirm what had been suspected for a long time. The leadership in the country needs to provide us with some explanation. It would be unwise to allow these feelings of inequality to fester in the breasts of our people for too long.

Manning removes MPs

19 Apr

Some people are asking what Patrick Manning has against Penny Beckles, the incumbent from Arima. He offered her a diplomatic posting in order to withdraw from the race in the upcoming election. She refused and the PNM is not running her. But this is not the first time that Manning had asked this particular candidate to stand down. Also this is not the first time that Manning has removed incumbents. He did this in the run up to the last election and arguably he was successful. Can he do it again?

Apparently one of Ms. Beckles’ sins is that she made positive comments about Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s elevation to Leader of the Opposition. The two are women, colleagues as lawyers and are contemporaries. How could Ms. Beckles’ have said anything else.

These are the issues that parties try to sort out in time for elections without too much fall out. In Barbados it would be difficult for anyone to try to remove an incumbent, unless there is pretty much a consensus that the individual has lost the support of the members of the Constituency.

In Barbados it will be interesting to see how the alleged gun incident involving Dale Marshall and David Estwick plays out. Is it possible that Dr. Estwick might be asked not to run in the next election?

New Party in TT Elections

18 Apr

Election Day is Monday, May 24, 2010, in Trinidad and Tobago. Nomination Day is Monday, May 3. (See Barbados Today, Saturday, April 17, 2010).

It has become clearer that the United National Congress (UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP) are finalizing an election accord of theirs in time for this general election.

We have also got word that Mr. Yasin Abu Bakr and the Jamaat Al-Muslimeen group of Trinidad and Tobago are forming a party to contest this election.

Well, so, let the campaign begin.