“…with expectations great…”
As wars and rumours of wars continue to beset the globe, terrorists aggressively expressing themselves hither thither and yon, amidst the fury, an idyllic little island 21 miles long and 14 miles wide – economic challenges notwithstanding – vies for the title of ‘one of the happiest places on earth.
It is the weekend and the main concern of the majority of inhabitants is to enjoy the annual Crop Over activities, pick a lime, collect a sea bath, prepare for attendance at Church, lounge on the patio to enjoy a cool northeasterly away from the beam of a hot sun. Oftentimes the island people take for granted our island paradise amidst the mainly political rancour that is more bark then bite.
Do we have problems to solve, hell yes. Should we continue to work together, Barbadians one and all, to overcome challenges that are omnipresent although called on to battle above our weight class sometimes? We must!
What can be deduced from world events is that there is no relationship between man’s intelligence and the ability to resolve and avoid conflict. It is easy to go with the flow, to align with what is popular, AND, forget Barbados must always be defined by Barbadians. If we relinquish our right to define Barbados then what is the point to be called Barbadian?
Posted in Opinion
Submitted by Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke
82 year old organizer Bobby Clarke leading the first march
We are marching because our country is in crisis, and we – the citizens of Barbados – intend to do something about it! We are only too aware that the official political and two party governance system has become dysfunctional. The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have lost their credibility! The Opposition is mired in disunity and confusion! Hardly anyone believes the Governor of the Central bank any more! And the leaders of the two major trade unions have become ineffective political playthings!
What we have in Barbados today is a broken system. And there is no way that a broken and dysfunctional Government can lead our country out of crisis! And yet we know that within the mass of the Barbadian population – within our broad, largely non- partisan Civil Society – there exists the talent and leadership ability to rescue our country.
We are therefore marching and demanding that the “political class” put aside their narrow partisan blinkers, and engage with the people and the community based Civil Society organisations of Barbados to establish a broad based Patriotic National Unity Administration as an immediate emergency measure to deal with the crisis that our nation faces, and to initiate a process of long over-due Constitutional Reform.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler imposes another tax on Barbadians
The government of Barbados has delivered on a promise to implement the municipal solid waste tax on an already overtaxed Barbadian. The tax is introduced in the Municipal Solid Waste Tax Bill, 2014 as, “There shall be charged, levied and collected on the site value of improved lands”.
There has been a lot of discussion about the tax but BU is confident Barbadians -for the good of country – will dig into savings and ask the bankers to increase limits on credit cards.
Barbadians are aware the government is cash strapped and is currently on a quest to find creative ways (used loosely) to generate revenue by levying taxes hither thither and yon. Some argue successive governments have not done enough to efficiently collect taxes owed to the crown. Several blogs have been posted to BU identifying Courts Barbados, a leading furniture and appliance store in Barbados who owes BD$25 million in VAT. The article $200 owed has appeared in the traditional press further highlighting government’s leaky collection management system. Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in his defence recently established the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) whose remit is to efficiency address tax collection. Government agencies are not known in Barbados for being efficient but the BRA has the opportunity to be a trail blazer.
Barbadians will bombard the call-in shows, post to social media but will PAY the solid waste tax, do not look for any civil disobedience to match the Poll Tax Riots. The tax is a burden to many at this time and was made so by poor implementation. BU understands the tax invoices were mailed on June 15, 2014 and according to the Act were due on June 30, 2014. After a public outcry the authorities announced the date extended to July, 2014. It is inconceivable our policymakers could not have anticipated the window to pay was too narrow and proactively extend the payment date to pre-empt wasteful public discussion.
Robert Clarke, Attorney-at-Law led a march recently and many hope it is the start of more to come.
Re: Request for permission to march from Independence Square through Bridgetown and back to Independence Square on Saturday, July 5, 2014
I hereby request permission to march from Independence Square on Saturday, July 5, 2014 from 10 am to 1 pm.
a) Organised by: Robert L.M. ‘Bobby’ Clarke
b) Purpose of march: To demonstrate the people’s concern in relation to the hardships they are experiencing
Lack of information on the hardships that people are going through and the apparent non-concern as shown by the Democratic Labour Party Government and the BLP
Read Full application
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
This last week has been what can only be described as an adventure in learning or how to maximise the results of a microscopic marketing budget while transforming a concept into a revenue generating tool. Hopefully it will play at least a small role in maintaining viability and employment in our tourism sector. The very first lesson learnt is that you cannot expect to achieve this by yourself, but need ‘likeminded’ people who are willing to donate their time and often incredible skills to take the initiative to a higher level.
Another prerequisite is having a cluster of interested players who can see beyond normal existing boundaries or to coin a rather over used term ‘think outside the box’. It is then also absolutely critical that the initiative is supported at a national level rather than ruling out ideas that may appear to be emanating from personalities or messengers who may not garner universal approval.
Using the social media, I have frankly been amazed at the reach it is possible to achieve, at no or very low cost. By targeting specific areas and special interest groups, a higher take-up level is clearly attainable. The Barbados Tourism Authority have given their full support by compiling superbly written full page features in both local newspapers and have already, or are about to issue media releases throughout all major markets. Ideally these will be used by travel publications and trade press to spread the word to a massive potential audience.
.. a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society …
We do not accept that our judiciary is tardy or indecisive. Rather, a distinction must be made between the judiciary and the administrative aspects of the justice system – Nation newspaper (June 14, 2014)
It is taboo for the local media to be hostile at the judiciary. BU has been one of the few voices highlighting glaring inefficiencies in our legal system – see Tales from the Courts. Barbados is a society that is respected by those on the outside because our attention to maintaining law and order, AND, a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society.
Minister Donville Inniss’ public acknowledgement last week that our delinquent judiciary is affecting international investment in Barbados has come as no surprise to BU. Successive governments have allowed politics – like every other thing – to affect decision making in the judiciary. Now we have corroboration from the Minister of Commerce and International Business of situations where business is not coming to Barbados because of concerns about the judiciary. Lest we forget, attracting foreign direct investment is important to Barbados to pay our large import bill AND allows us to maintain our touted high standard of living. Our per capita income is the envy of many.
Unfortunately our leading local newspaper in its editorial quoted above felt to make the distinction between the Court Registry and the Judiciary. This is one of the reasons why Barbados continues to decline on the social and economic indicators index – the failure of the fourth estate to come to the public with clean hands. The Nation editorial conveys the notion that Chief Justice Marston Gibson and Judges have no say in the scheduling of cases and the time it takes to deliver judgements. Of course the delays is compounded by the files at the Court Registry which mysteriously go missing. Meddling by the CJ and Judges has the knock on effect of prolonging justice to those who are remanded for unacceptably long periods. How often have we posted the maxim, justice delayed is justice denied?
Is Barbados suffering from a leadership vacuum?
The level of student on student violence in the United States has reached a level which should concern the world Barbados included. We are bombarded 24/7 by streaming into our homes via TV, Internet, radio and other forms. Most if not all Barbadians have family and friends who reside in the US, we visit for recreation, business and education. The influence of the US culture is pervasive and strong parenting and leadership is required to influence our children and wider society from being consumed from this marauding culture fashion by values which conflict with the Barbadians and West Indian way.
All of us hope and pray the level of student violence which is currently being visited on the USA will never infiltrate our traditional ‘docile’ culture, BUT, the signs are evident the gestation period fed by two decades of US led globalization is about to deliver. The Alexander School Commission of Inquiry shifted the veil covering the inner workings of our school system, BUT, sadly it has not resonated with the wider population by galvanizing a movement of concerned parents (citizens). The Inquiry exposed an inept and inefficient ministry of education; the body responsible for educating and nurturing the next generation. Similar to the USA and other countries we have become fixated with paper trophies at the expense of educating our children to be the best citizens. Again, let us hope in Barbados we have not reached the point where the teacher of the year in New York was retrenched because of budget cuts, or have we.
We know the problems after six years of the government promoting the political slogan it is intent on building out a society and not just an economy. Have we witnessed any difference to judge for incremental societal improvement compared to the pre 2008 period? Have we as an educated populace placed importance on holding the government accountable to the slogan? Do we even care?
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.
Minister of the Environment, Denis Lowe,
Six years later Barbadians continue to wait for the implementation of transparency legislation. It was a campaign promise of the incumbent government made in 2008 but in 2014 remains outstanding. BU views it as another unbroken promise which makes a mockery of the social contract we refer to as the Manifesto. How can Prime Minister Stuart, Minister of Finance Sinckler, Minster Inniss and the off again on again Minister of Agriculture Estwick seriously expect sensible Barbadians to trust government’s policies, when there is incontrovertible evidence key members of the Cabinet of Barbados lied to the electorate about the urgency to rollout transparency legislation.
There is the popular saying credited to Albert Einstein, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results defines insanity. Over one decade of Auditor General reports which consistently detail unacceptable levels of graft and weak governance in the public sector therefore the need for government to urgently respond, yet implementation in 2014 remains a low priority. Bear in mind the public sector has to interact with the private sector to do business and are implicated in the sham. Also we recall the attempt to rollout similar legislation thirty years ago failed, the difference, it was a Barbados Labour Party government leading the charge then, or so it appeared. How are Barbadians expected to trust the policies of any government if there is clear evidence they have disregarded implementing policies to avoid scrutiny.
Both governments have been accused of squandering public funds and there is evidence to support the claim. In times of plenty inefficient allocation of resources will go unnoticed however in a guava season greater fiscal discipline must be the obvious approach. In fact commonsense suggests that fiscal discipline must be the preferred approach in good and bad economic times. What do successful people and organizations have in common?