Dr. David Estwick
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) led by Freundel Stuart won the 2013 general election by a 16:14 margin, collecting 51.2% compared to 48.3% of the eligible vote. However, the statistic which stands out for BU is the 4,539 votes that separated the two parties in the first past the pole system of democracy we practice in Barbados, that is, 74,027 for DLP and 78,566 for the DLP. Another statistic civic minded Barbadians should take note of is that voter turnout continues to languish in the low 60 percent except for the general elections held in the period 1966 to 1986.
Although the system of democracy we practice in Barbados is described as “a universally recognized ideal” because it purports to protect the individual rights of individuals and ‘encourages the distribution of political power’, it is not perfect. It should be obvious to many our democratic system needs a revamp, we need to improve the quality of individual attracted to public service but more important, we need to have a system which holds politicians and public officials accountable to the electorate.
For the last 10 years, or so it seems, there has been too much twitter and not enough doing to build a better Barbados. Since 2007 which coincides with the global meltdown, the country has had to endure incessant complaining from a demanding public dissatisfied with an uncommunicative government. A government that appears not to accept the responsibility of being representative of ALL Barbadians.
Submitted by Pachamama
Do we have confidence in the 11+ model to equip our nation to be globally competitive?
In this article we will argue that the school system, at all levels, has outlived its usefulness and therefore can serve no desirable purpose in ‘development’. We will suggest that computers have made ‘knowing’ obsolete, that the brain of children respond negatively to the threats of punishment and examinations. That the 10,000 years it has taken us to reach knowledge obsolescence represents a much accelerated development when compared to the process of achieving bipedalism. This evolutionary state makes that which currently passes for education useless and therefore more and more unhelpful in any possible future. That the current system ignores the importance of spiritualism (not religion), basic healthy and other personal survivalist stratagems and is overly dependent on monetary considerations. That we need to design a future ‘of learning’ by tapping into the innate desires as driven by big, real world questions, a self-organized learning environment which maybe achievable through a broadband collaborative.
The current post-slavery educational system was basically established to run an empire – the British empire. Its objective was to create the very people we have today. A people who can manipulate numbers, keep records; people who after learning by rote are incapable of thinking outside those confines; who are mentally confined to a narrow way of thinking; people who are enemies to basic forms of creativity; national copiers who look elsewhere all the time for solutions to problems; people who wait for others to employ them; people who are willing to make millionaires out of any minority instead of self empowerment; people who lack the confidence to do for themselves, employ themselves, or build a national identity separate from their colonial past; national beggars who see their salvation with others, especially their former slave masters. People with a deep fear of expressing alternative ideas or committing them to words. People who live in the perpetual fear of shadows. This sounds like the quintessential Bajan to us.
Three items in the news this week have resonated in the BU household. The revelation that a road in Christ Church has been suspended for eight months because the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has been unable to procure a 6 inch pipe to complete their part of the work. The second, several Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) trucks have broken down and garbage collection has been severely affected. The sight of piles of garbage complete with booing flies, cat size rats and a pig pen stench has become part of the landscape in many districts. And the last item, the statement made by former minister Haynesley Benn that the government should manipulate the St. Peter constituency to create a partisan advantage.
The 40 million dollar BWA headquarters under construction perched on St. Barnabas Hill is an impressive structure. It is difficult to visualize or justify the investment in the building if juxtaposed to the level of bad service Barbadians have been subjected to for many years by the BWA. The construction of the building has been saddled with controversy from the start with alleged malfeasance. BU is confident though under Minister David Estwick everything has gone by the book so far. It is the greatest irony the BWA takes almost one year to procure a 6 inch main while construction of its multimillion headquarters nears completion.
As the country mobilizes against Ebola by holding frequent press conferences, media releases, identifying quarantine bays and generally dusting of protocols – 90 Nigerian students have been a casualty of the exercise – an inefficient garbage collection is a mounting concern.
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
Perhaps, not surprisingly, there is a lot of donor sponsorship fatigue out there and who could blame any sensible corporate entity for not at least ensuring that any ‘investment’ has a reasonable chance of being cost-effective. We are now taking the re-DISCOVER restaurant initiative that we have been promoting with the help of the Barbados Tourism Authority and its successor to the next level, by introducing REWARD vouchers. The concept is that we may be able to entice corporate Barbados to pre-purchase vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating restaurants. Each voucher includes dinner for two, a bottle of wine, VAT and service.
A number of our villa, condominium and apartment rental agencies both locally and overseas have expressed great interest in the idea, to a point that some have even placed it on their websites and Facebook pages. They also plan to use the vouchers as incentives to stimulate early bookings and payment of forward deposits. Initially, 1,000 high quality full colour vouchers and inserts will be printed which will equate to an additional 2,000 dining patrons and revenue generation of $198,000. Each of the five sponsors has been asked to contribute $250 towards the productions costs. The reality is that without this support, the idea simply would not become viable. Our responsibility is now to help ensure that each company can recoup their ‘investment’ over the next few months.
“…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.