Submitted by M.R.Thompson
Chris Sinckler – MoF
The Barbadian Economy and Finances are suffering from a self inflicted malady and urgently in need of a CURE. The prescription is a foul concoction and unpalatable which will no doubt result in severe blame the other guy, political suicide, I told you so, reduced quality of life and other as undiagnosed complaints.
Immediately Devalue Barbados dollar to a ratio of 3:1 of the US$. Re-evaluate after 5 years.
Immediately Reduce the level of civil service employment to 10% of the population, ie: 29,000. This level (29,000) includes direct civil servants, All agency employees, All board employees, All Central Bank employees, All Police Employees, All Teachers, All Defence Force, Transport Board, etc., everyone that is directly or indirectly paid from the public purse.
Immediately implement programs to streamline the collection of taxes aimed at efficiencies and recoveries.
Sell off or disband all non performing (money losers) entities not related to Health Care, BWA and NIS Pensions. Sell Off all government held property that cannot be substantiated for retention, provided a reasonable rate of return can be obtained, ie NO FIRE SALES.
NIS to have an immediate financial audit to determine what is the state of the portfolio. NIS held government debt be reduced immediately to no more than 25% of the portfolio. NIS be allowed to hold off shore assets in the portfolio. NIS employee levels to be evaluated.
Central Bank Governor be immediately FIRED and function filled with a non Caribbean Capable Financial Currency Board.
An extreme policy adjustment be made to see that ALL Barbadian Laws are fully enforced and complied with.
Integrity Legislation be immediately implemented with severe penalties for non compliance.
An agricultural/import policy be implemented with the goal to becoming self sufficient in food production within 5 years.
IMF be invited in to oversee All Government Operations.
It’s a BITTER PILL but the alternative MAYBE the DEATH of a NATION.
Denis Kellman M.P., Minister of Housing
In its June 5 issue the Nation newspaper published an article with the title ‘Symmonds pokes at NHC’ which has largely gone unnoticed by the public. BU congratulates the newspaper for sharing the story, it serves to confirm the extent to which our system of government is broken.
The article highlights an interesting exchange in parliament between Opposition member of parliament (MP) Kerri Symmonds and MPs on the government side. During the exchange we learned about a cease and desist instruction which was issued by the Permanent Secretary of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to the Minister of Housing not to bring any more persons to the NHC to seek employment. Based on the newspaper report the order was ignored by Minister of Housing Denis Kellman.
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.
These shameless people engaged an undisclosed and secret number of thousands of people in the Public Service of Barbados (all during a recession) and since 2008 (as part of their ‘oppressive’ fatted calf doctrine) and based on what Barbadians are saying – also found every conceivable way to funnel state-funds to dems, through their flawed, “political entitlement programme” and now that their fiscal recklessness has caused a stench – they are telling the country some crap that Barbados’ economic woes can be tied to some global crisis. But it gets worse!
Within days of Cabinet Minister, Dr. Estwick telling the country that the DLP’s economic policies are flawed and the country is on the wrong path, the Chairman of the same Cabinet (which did not willingly allow Dr. Estwick to prove his thesis, through a power-point presentation, as requested) announced to the world – that Barbados’ economic woes can be tied to some global financial crisis that ended years ago.
Now! Something is not making sense, here! How can there be two conflicting views from the same Cabinet on Barbados economic circumstances and reality?
Now that we are having the debate over the mismanagement of the Barbados economy and the failure of monetary and fiscal policy, it is important that we turn our attention to the question of the wider macro-economic winds facing us in 2014. First, however, it is necessary to note that although the big battalions of the International Monetary Fund are waiting to invade with their rejuvenated Washington Consensus prescriptions, those in charge of monetary and fiscal policy are still locked in a policy-making vegetative state unable to even think for themselves. Here is Dr DeLisle Worrell, governor of the central bank, in a so-called sponsored statement (was this paid for by the central bank?) stating: “Barbados’s recent economic performance has been commendable given the unprecedented recession in the markets for our tourism and treaded services.” This is a blatant untruth; which ‘markets’ is he talking about? Is he talking about the UK, eurozone, in particular Germany, Canada, the US? If so, Dr Worrell is either not keeping up with global macro-economic data or he is attempting to mislead financial economists, deliberately or otherwise. If so, it is bound to fail because all fund houses have more economic data than he and his colleagues imagine.
All the major developed economies are now showing growth; the eurozone may be a bit more fragile, but the IMF is not so impressed that it is about to revise upwards the fund’s growth forecasts for this year. He goes on “…Barbados brings a number of competitive strengths to the international market. The country’s social and political institutions are stable, the labour force skilled and educated, the physical infrastructure good, and there are strong institutions for information-sharing, discussion and democratic decision-making.” Again this is waffle. There is an enormous skills deficit that is weighing down the economy; people are ‘educated’ in the sense that they are not illiterate in real terms, however they are uneducated to function in a highly technological and sophisticated world. Our claims to being 98 per cent literate are bogus and, as a nation, we should stop advertising what we do not have in stock. He goes on to claim: “The financial regulatory systems are of a high standard, judged by the norms of the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision and other international regulatory bodies.”
How could the DLP be allowed to get away with such a vulgar and horrible crime against Barbadians and the region? Where is the social justice and accountability? Has Barbados become a banana republic and a place where the innocent pays and are punished for the atrocities of the wicked? Because of the DLP, the whole world now thinks regional leaders and Governments are incompetent at economic leadership and management!
Barbadians have to be candid about what has happened and why this country now finds itself in this sorry mess and perilous state, where thousands of relatives; friends and neighbours (fellow Barbadians) are being oppressed and subjected to an unknown period of human suffering and a life of poverty, with no light or hope – in the DLP’s tunnel. There has to be a point beyond which, failure to accept sound, well-reasoned advice, from experienced professionals, including those who have “successful-actual on-the-job experience” – constitutes criminal negligence.
Very few would deny that this-failed-DLP-Government’s expenditure fiasco is caused primarily by its “flawed fatted calf doctrine and political entitlement programme,” which the country is now finding-out – has resulted in the reckless over-employment in the public sector, by stealth, over the past six years.
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
Whatever was behind any honest intention of the Hotels and Resorts Limited (HRL) aka GEMS debacle, it is difficult to imagine a worse outcome so far. Government’s decision despite the current austerity situation to guarantee yet another loan to this failed entity frankly defies belief and clearly will not have a happy ending.
This latest loan is for BDS$5.55 million at an interest rate of 7.75 per cent, arrangement fee of $350,000 and monthly repayments of $55,000. Included is a $300,000 overdraft facility which attracts an administration charge of $5,000 each month. HRL now operate a single hotel, Blue Horizon with just 67 rooms. Another 50 additional rooms acquired at the time of purchase (1997) remain derelict all these years later. Savannah and Time Out at the Gap are leased and operated by private sector interests. Three other properties originally in the GEMS portfolio were sold and it still remains unclear what price they realised and exactly where those funds went.
Despite repeated pledges of transparency and accountability apart from a tiny private shareholding, the sole owner of HRL (the Barbadian taxpayer) is left almost completely in the dark. Statutory corporations appear not to have any obligation to publish their annual audited accounts, unlike publicly traded companies.