walter

Walter Blackman Tells It Like It Is

Erskine Griffith

Erskine Griffith

In response to a BU commenter (Artaxerxes), former popular Talk Show host Walter Blackman delivered a stinging response – required reading for all Barbadians

“Some students may be fortunate enough to gain scholarships and pursue […]qualifications in areas that will benefit the development of Barbados.

But after graduating they are confronted with the reality that they are no employment opportunities available to them here.”

Artaxerxes,
You have commingled two concepts here, so let us separate the two strands.

Strand 1: Many students gain scholarships and pursue qualifications in many areas that would undoubtedly benefit the development of Barbados. That is a fact.

I hate to lean on personal experience here, but it is the quickest method I can use to get over the point.

I was awarded a fellowship by the OAS to study a masters in actuarial science because the OAS, the World Bank, and the IMF believed that a Barbadian should be trained at that level to provide expertise to the NIS of Barbados as the system matured.
I was working in the budget department of the Ministry of Finance, and Mr. Michael Parris was my boss at the time. Although, I had only studied maths up to ‘O’ level at Combermere, I attacked my post-graduate studies with a sense of confidence and determination. So much so, that I was the only student at the University of Nebraska to receive an A in Social Security the year I studied it.

We had no actuaries and no exam centre in Barbados at the time, so thinking ahead, I approached the Society of Actuaries and enquired if I could take the actuarial professional exams on my return to Barbados. If I managed to pass a professional exam before leaving the USA, the Society promised to establish a test centre in Barbados. I passed my exam, and by doing so, succeeded in getting Bridgetown established as a test centre so that other Barbadians coming after me would enjoy the privilege of taking their actuarial professional exams at home.

Strand 2: After graduation, these students are confronted with the reality that there are no employment opportunities available TO THEM here.

The Tom Adams administration was midway in its second term of office when I returned to Barbados, and the first thing I noticed was the extent to which the working environment in the Ministry of Finance had changed. Mr. Parris had moved on to become company secretary of the Arawak Cement Plant. Mr. Erskine Griffith was now saddled with the opportunity of charting my professional career. I was not a member of any political party.
To make a long story short, Mr. Griffith placed me in an acting position (reviewing letters written by Barbadians seeking a waiver of duties and taxes) which rewarded me with an acting allowance of $30 per month. All of my attempts to secure employment in government in areas related to my chosen profession (NIS, Insurance Corporation of Barbados, Supervisor of Insurance Office) were systematically blocked and thwarted. Eventually, Mr. Griffith had me transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Clearly, Mr. Griffith, as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, had his own handpicked list of “experts” to assist the Government of Barbados with its handling of financial matters. Personally, over the course of about 30 years, Mr. Griffith rose to giddying heights (Director of Finance and Planning, Head of the Civil Service, a diplomatic posting in Brussels, BLP senator, and Minister of Agriculture in the Owen Arthur administration). Is it possible that that ministerial posting contributed to Owen Arthur’s downfall?

Now take a few seconds and contrast the rise of Mr. Griffith with the fortunes of the government’s financial sector. Start by mentally recalling the annual Auditor-General’s reports that point to a pervasive, repetitive and sickening breach of government’s financial regulations, dwell for a moment on the scandalous and corrosive CLICO robbery and the complicit behavior of the various actors involved, then think seriously about the millions of taxpayers’ dollars that ought to have ended up in the Treasury, but didn’t. Think also about the millions of dollars that should have never left the Treasury, but did. Ponder on the low probability of you getting an NIS pension, because in actual fact, the politicians and senior civil servants have ensured that no actuary has been aligned to the NIS long enough to raise the hue and cry over the rape and wastage of mandatory contributions paid by Barbadian workers.

Barbados has not reached this blighted predicament by accident. We are here because thousands had to suffer so that a few individuals, who really “ain’t worth what Paddy shot it”, could establish a system to suit their selfish and short-sighted purposes. Some employment opportunities exist in Barbados, but they are deliberately blocked off until the “right” person can be handpicked.

Artaxerxes, I was only 28 years old when I came up against this iniquitous system in Barbados for the first time. Although quite young, I rationalized that it was not me alone that was being victimized. There had to be thousands more suffering the same fate. This rationalization enabled me to keep my sanity, if nothing else. Sometimes, I detect a slight hint of disgust blended with frustration in your writing, and that deep aching pain of long ago comes rushing back to haunt and mock me. Maybe, its about time that all of us Barbadians who have been “unfaired” by this system start thinking about doing something about it.

A country being run in this way can never prosper. My instincts tell me that a backlash is certainly coming.

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161 Comments on “Walter Blackman Tells It Like It Is”

  1. Caswell Franklyn September 7, 2015 at 3:02 PM #

    Walter

    I have seen the Prime Minister out and about among members of the public and he was only accompanied by one security officer. On the other hand, when he went to a retreat with his Cabinet, he was reported to have had six security officers. That would suggest to me that he does not fear the public but it is a different kettle of fish when he has to be around the Eager 11 and others.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Artaxerxes September 7, 2015 at 3:27 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn September 7, 2015 at 3:02 PM #

    “I have seen the Prime Minister out and about among members of the public and he was only accompanied by one security officer. On the other hand, when he went to a retreat with his Cabinet, he was reported to have had six security officers. That would suggest to me that he does not fear the public but it is a different kettle of fish when he has to be around the Eager 11 and others.”

    Perhaps Fruendel is the real COWARD here.

    Like

  3. Bush Tea September 7, 2015 at 4:24 PM #

    LOL @Caswell
    Boss, you does talk a real roll sometimes yuh! 🙂

    But do you realize how little Froon thinks of his colleagues? Imagine there are 11 Eager beavers – some armed (but not dangerous) – and yet Froon ONLY needed 6 policemen to establish superiority?

    Clearly to his mind…one policeman is worth two of his ministers…

    Like

  4. MoneyBrain September 7, 2015 at 4:43 PM #

    Froon knows that those fellas dangerous to themselves and Cabinet members as dem just as INCOMPETENT with a Glock, S&W or Colt, as they are in conducting their duties!

    Like

  5. David September 7, 2015 at 5:24 PM #

    Froon knows these guys are hungry and will anything to secure their pensions followed by the sweetness and thrill of power. Also many of them lack the intelligence to live comfortably if parted from a manager’s salary.

    Like

  6. Gabriel September 7, 2015 at 6:52 PM #

    I don’t think Froon was so much afraid of the Eager 11 as he was of the presence of all the Permanent Secretaries present.Froon does not feel comfortable.Like everything else he knows the PS’s are hopping mad at his policies which hit them and their families hard.

    Like

  7. balance September 7, 2015 at 6:59 PM #

    “Case in point Cuba, that threw off the yoke of a corrupt dictator and his regime. Cuban suffered; and are still suffering the effects of the embargo imposed over fifty years ago, by the United States”

    Absolute rubbish. Go do your research.

    Like

  8. Walter Blackman September 7, 2015 at 8:42 PM #

    balance September 7, 2015 at 6:59 PM #
    “Case in point Cuba, that threw off the yoke of a corrupt dictator and his regime. Cuban suffered; and are still suffering the effects of the embargo imposed over fifty years ago, by the United States”

    Absolute rubbish. Go do your research.

    balance,
    I think Alvin is making the point that Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista (an American puppet) in 1959 and the U.S. government made him and the Cuban people pay a price (i.e. “suffering the effects of the embargo imposed over fifty years ago’) for his actions.

    Like

  9. balance September 8, 2015 at 6:06 AM #

    “balance,
    I think Alvin is making the point that Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista (an American puppet) in 1959 and the U.S. government made him and the Cuban people pay a price (i.e. “suffering the effects of the embargo imposed over fifty years ago’) for his actions.”

    Walter there is some evidence of America’s complicity in the overthrow of General Batista. Remember General Batista was black. The Boat GRANMA used in the invasion was supplied by an American businessman according to the records of the revolutionary museum in Havana. Remember the Americans were willing to recognize the regime after the revolution but somewhere along the way the deal went sour for public consumption. . I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we discover that Mr Castro was on the payroll of the CIA having been allowed to ride roughshod over a nation of over 11 million people for over fifty years without sanction except for empty rhetoric from both sides to fool us all. As far as I am aware the USA has never stopped trading with Cuba totally. I will check my records and return to this fiasco later; but one more thing Cuba has gone all over the world liberating nations from oppression and racism and remains one of the most racist nations in the world and oppressed too. Why not liberate Guantanamo too?

    Like

  10. balance September 8, 2015 at 8:11 AM #

    Batista like the majority of the despots which headed Latin American regimes in those days and supported by the Americans for geo-political interests was ruthless and corrupt and like most Caribbean politicians judging from the comments on BU on the take. He was of mixed race and was hastily abandoned by the Americans as with Ferdinand Marcos of the Philipines when the writing was on the wall hopefully to preserve the status quo. Things eventually went sour on all fronts. Castro was willing to play ball. Che Guevara sincere revolutionary that he was did not approve and had a falling out with Castro which led to his downfall and eventual banishment. The Americans misread the wicket and forced Castro into Moscow’s hands albeit reluctantly. It has always puzzled me why Mr Castro was never executed during the times he was captured even when General Batista was in power and why America invaded everywhere else except Cuba which is right on its doorstep.

    Like

  11. Dompey September 10, 2015 at 11:12 AM #

    Balance

    “General Batista was black”

    I am not quite sure about that and the documentary on the Cuba revolution does not support the fact that Batista was black as all. And even if he was black the documentary shows him a man of Spanish heritage, but he could quite possibly be some part black, but I don’t see it at all.

    Like

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