Rise of the Professional Politician

Westminster system

Westminster system

In a popular democracy, citizens, collectively, are the ultimate principal; elected representatives are their agents. These agents are also principals who, through the legislature, delegate authority to a host of departments and agencies that make up the sprawling executive branch of government – Fraser Institute

It has become obvious to many several built in checks and balances of the Westminster system of government Barbados has adopted from its colonial past are failing.  It is a system of governance which requires exhaustive participation by citizens to work effectively. Nearly 40% of eligible voters  did not vote in the last general election, an obvious symptom of a democracy in decay if we sample just one indicator.

Auditor General reports (2004 to 2013) of successive governments record a consistent performance of fiscal indiscipline. A flouting of the financial rules. An easy translation of the Auditor General’s comments can be described as  a system of graft and corruption. A scary observation is that the private sector is the entity which sells goods and services to government therefore citizens who should be holding ‘government’ accountable are complicit. In the case of Barbados we may not compare with Nigeria and other more openly corrupt countries but there is a view the covert nature of how we do business places us in the ballpark.

Continue reading

Oxnard Housing Model Needs Clarification

Submitted by Due Diligence
Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs

LEADER of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Maxine McClean, has lauded the model to be used in the construction of houses in the Oxnards, St. James area as part of Government’s Housing Every Last Person programmeBarbadosAdvocate

The Senator appears not to understand how a home builder finances the construction of homes, and how a home buyer finances/pays for his/her purchase of the home. At the end of the day, once that person gets their mortgage approved, that person does not have access to any funds under the mortgage commitment ”to start to make their payments”.  The mortgage lender makes one advance – when the home is completed.

Assuming it has a good credit rating and title to the property, sign off on the agreement and accessing a mortgage (commitment by the home buyer) would allow the home builder/contractor to negotiate financing with its bank to for the cash flow needed to build the home; but the home buyer does not provide working capital into the project, he/she pays for his/her home when it is completed.

My understanding is that it normally works like this…

Continue reading

BU Video of the Week – The KEYS to Sustainable Economic Development and Successful Entrepreneurship

Sandals, Almond, Butch, Bernie…Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier 

I have been following the various views expressed, vested or otherwise, over the last few weeks comparing the merits of proceeding with the stated non-binding Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Sandals group of companies and Government or allowing the current operator of Almond Beach Village to take over the entire property. What appears dismally lacking is any comprehensive analysis detailing the potential financial benefits of both options for the short, medium and long term. With Sandals now closed, at least until December, the majority of fiscal activity will be generated by construction, where virtually all materials used are imported and require foreign exchange to pay for them.

Even with just 160 rooms out of a total of 396 currently open, Almond St. Peter will continue to earn somewhere around BDS$2 million per month at 85 per cent occupancy. With all rooms fully functional that amount would increase to approximately BDS$6 million. Meaningful employment would not only be retained but substantially grown year round increasing NIS and tax contributions to Government. And on the subject of tax, the current Almond ‘managers’ still pay VAT and from what I understand largely source the majority of consumables locally.

Then there is the critical airlift support question. Nearly 16,000 seats this year have been lost with the closure of Sandals. Almond is helping to fill around 300 of these per week, based on current room availability which could climb to nearly 800 weekly, if the entire hotel was open, based on an average 7 night stay. When, as planned, Almond then closes again on April 2015, it will be years before a new Beaches adds any additional or replacement airlift. Whether during the interim this leads to even more reduction in air services, either in frequency or curtailment of routes, only time will tell.

Meanwhile another 240 rooms remain empty, abandoned and unproductive at the derelict Sam Lords Castle, as the CLICO debacle slumbers on and on. The current administration has been less than candid over what amounts of NIS, land and other taxes are still outstanding by the owners of this property. As a preferred creditor in this case, it is also puzzling that over $100 million can be found to buy Almond, but not a lesser amount to acquire and restore, what is in many respects, an equally attractive location with tremendous land potential for expansion.

The site lends itself to building a new conference centre, providing over two hundred truly 4 star suites and the possibility of enticing a world brand to manage it. There is probably no better location than Long Bay to attract substantial numbers of incentive or motivational groups either.  Despite the open hostility frequently directed at hoteliers on Barbados the general public perhaps tend to forget that Government is in fact already the largest single owner of accommodation room stock on the island.

Very few of us in the private sector consider this desirable or even sustainable, but until our political directorate levels the playing field, as has been repeatedly promised for months, this is very unlikely to change in the near future.

It Can’t Happen In Barbados, No Sir, I Tell You That Can’t Happen Here

Submitted by John Farmer
Dr. Anthony 'Gabby' Carter popularized Jack - at cyan happen here in this country

Dr. Anthony ‘Gabby’ Carter popularized Jack – ‘‘dat cyan happen here in this country”

How many times have I heard those words spoken? Then the person who I have been speaking with goes on to qualify his/her statement. “Here in Barbados, we have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. We have the third oldest parliamentary system in the Commonwealth with a democratic governmental system almost four hundred years old. Also Barbados has a good education system plus a good Justice system. It is impossible for that to happen here!” Have you not heard these words spoken before?

I heard these same words uttered by Venezuelans just 15 years ago. At that time their democratic form of government was the longest surviving democracy in South America, a mere forty years of existence, but still the longest lasting democracy at that time in South America. Their primary and secondary education was good and they had many excellent Universities, with Simon Bolivar University rated one of the four top universities in the whole of South America. All education was free and on a scale of meritocracy the top students were selected by the top Universities, but they could apply to any university of their choice.

Continue reading

GTUC Forewarns Citizens of Goverment Pending Hysteria

Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress Press Statement – April 13, 2014
Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, Guyana is awash with money laundering, drug-related crimes and other forms of financial improprieties.

Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana…“Guyana is awash with money laundering, drug-related crimes and other forms of financial improprieties

GTUC forewarns this nation to expect the government and its allies recommencing the hysteria in a few days regarding passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill. Guyana is scheduled to be evaluated by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary Meeting in Miami during 25-29th May. This deadline was given by CFATF in November 2013. The blame for not passing the bill to date must be laid at the feet of the government and those who condemned the effort to arrive at a negotiated settlement between the Executive and Legislature. GTUC condemns the government autocratic behaviour and denial of the rights of citizens in all forms. Given the government track record passage of the Bill without conditions is an abrogation of the opposition responsibility to the society.

Constitutional prescriptions are not considerations for any Member of Parliament (MP), Executive or citizen to determine whether or when they will be upheld. The president, ministers and every MP have sworn to uphold this instrument in its entirety.  The establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC); respect for workers, local government autonomy and management of the Consolidated Fund are prescribed in the Constitution and must be put in place.

Continue reading

An Invisible Auditor General

Auditor General, Leigh Trotman

Auditor General, Leigh Trotman

However, a second driver for the interest in the performance and capacity of PACs has been the global interest in governance and oversight and in the role of parliament in curbing corruption - (Stapenhurst et al., 2006).

What is certain about this time every year when the Auditor General releases his report is to expect the same trite remarks to be made by all and sundry led by the politicians. The traditional media takes the opportunity to relieve itself of the responsibility to report on the findings for a few days by sensationalizing an aspect of public sector malfeasance which is bound to manifest itself in the report.  Then business continues as usual until next time around.

Disappointing has been the failure of THIS government to enact transparency legislation. It promised the legislation soon after it was elected in 2008! More disappointing is the change THIS  government championed the repeal to the Public Accounts Committee Act which makes it almost impossible for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to operate with teeth. The feeble excuse given by government that public officers must be protected is lame. Can anyone imagine the National Housing Corporation borrowing from the National Insurance Scheme to pay salaries BUT hiring employees in the lead up to the last general election? Please explain why leader of the Opposition in her capacity as Chair of the PAC was not doing taxpayers business by placing Permanent Secretary Ronald Bascombe under pressure for his role in the affair.

Continue reading