Show leadership Mr. Prime Minister!

Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley wants the Prime Minister to demonstrate leadership.

Tell Barbadians what your Government plans to do to contain the sewage crisis on the south coast.

That’s what Opposition Leader Mia Mottley wants Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to do.

Mottley’s call came today (January 10, 2018) after the second travel advisory was issued against Barbados because of the ongoing sewage crisis in two successive days.

The United States Embassy in Barbados issued a health alert to its citizens earlier today on the deteriorating situation occurring between Hastings and St Lawrence Gap. It said in a notice on its website:

“There is an overflow of raw sewage due to mechanical failure on the island’s South Coast that is affecting the water quality at certain beaches between the Hastings and St Lawrence Gap areas. Sewage has periodically bubbled up onto the streets, and there are reports that the overflow is reaching the beach areas”.

Effluent bubbling up from a manhole between the Hastings and St Lawrence Gap on the South Coast.

American citizens were advised to avoid water activities in the affected areas and to beware of sewage on the streets.

“If you come into contact with sewage, wash your hands, shoes, and any clothing that may have come into contact with the effluence. If you become seriously ill, seek medical attention,” the notice said.

The Government of Canada issued a travel advisory to their citizens travelling to Barbados the day before (January 9, 2018).

Terming it a safety and security advisory based on the overflow of raw sewage on the South Coast, the Canadians said in part: “The South Coast of Barbados, between Hastings and St Lawrence areas is experiencing an overflow of raw sewage due to a mechanical breakdown. Avoid the affected area and follow the instructions of local authorities”.

On top of this, the Ministry of Health disclosed yesterday (January 9, 2018) that it was investigating 35 suspected cases of gastroenteritis on the island’s south coast.

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kenneth George said that the majority of cases occurred over Christmas and Old Year’s with the last report being a single case on January 3.

In the face of this worsening situation, Mottley questioned what more must happen for the Prime Minister to manifest leadership by addressing the country on the matter.

Toilet tissue escaping from a manhole in the backyard of a home in Worthing.

The following is the full statement on the South Coast sewage crisis issued by Ms. Mottley:

“On behalf of the people of Barbados, I am calling on the Prime Minister to speak to his citizens and to let us know what his Government will do to contain the crisis on the south coast with the sewage. This is now the second advisory in two successive days.

“The first one from the Canadians, and now the second one from the United States of America, advising their citizens as to the public health risks associated with the problem. Barbadians have been saying the same thing now for the last two and a half years.

“What more must happen for there to be a manifestation of leadership from this Government and from this Prime Minister?

“This is not a time now for only technical persons, to be talking to us. This is a time for the Prime Minister to come to the country.

“Tomorrow is Cabinet, settle on a short-term, a medium-term and a long term action plan, let it be the subject of discussion with Barbadians after you announce it, and let us get on with the business of putting this awful and sordid incident behind us that stands to threaten our public health, the livelihoods of too many Barbadians, the reputation of our country and the stability of the tourism industry.

“I pray that they will use the opportunity of Cabinet tomorrow to settle this. Failing which, we, as an Opposition, will have to remind the Prime Minister on Tuesday, through a Matter of Definite Urgent Public Importance, that there is a definite matter of the sewage system affecting the health and well-being of us all, and that it merits his attention and discussion at the level of Parliament.

“We pray that they will act before this comes on Tuesday.”

 

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BLP 2018 election campaign has started

 

Two of the scores of posters erected on utility poles across The City presenting Jeffrey Bostic as the BLP candidate for that constituency.

It’s official!

The 2018 general election campaign of the Barbados Labour Party is off and running.

The party demonstrated their readiness yesterday (January 2, 2018) by painting the country red with the erection of posters of each candidate in all 30 constituencies overnight.

Each poster carries a picture of a relaxed looking candidate, the constituency in which they are competing, and the simple but effective message, “Ready to serve”.

BLP leader Mia Mottley then took to the airwaves and formally made the announcement. She said: “Today is the first working day of 2018, and effectively we are about eight weeks from the dissolution of Parliament, so the campaign has started. It may be the Prime Minister’s right to call the election date, and we respect that, but the campaign has started.

“Most Bajans – and we are taking the cue from ordinary Bajans – believe that that campaign requires them to understand what their choices are. We are therefore letting all of the constituencies and constituents know who is the respective candidate in their constituency through the tried old method of allowing people to see their faces on posters.

“So this campaign is on. We are ready,” she declared.

Mottley explained that the party chose to erect posters because it does not have access to CBC, which despite having a multi-million dollar debt has refused to take BLP advertising. Neither does the BLP have the deep pockets that the Democratic Labour Party Government has, even though an internal CBC memo last August showed the Dems owed that corporation $109,609.32.

“We have to rely on the tried old methods of posters in communities and the arteries across Barbados to let people know who their choices are. So this is all we are doing. We shall await a date for elections, but the campaign is very much on . . . There will be no Parliament in another eight weeks and three days,” she stressed.

The political leader said it was clear that Barbadians want the general election, and though Prime Minister Freundel Stuart indicated he planned to go down to the wire, the BLP had no intention of being complacent.

BLP candidate Kirk Humphrey will be opposing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for the St Michael South constituency.

“The country is ready [for the election]; the private sector has signaled that nothing will happen until there is a new mandate; the unions have said it, ordinary Barbadians are saying it. Indeed, the only people who are not ready are the Government who are yet to choose a full slate of candidates. But their lack of preparedness cannot be our cue – our cue has to be the readiness of the population and the readiness of ourselves,” stated the St Michael North East representative.

Mottley’s declaration comes after last Thursday’s (December 28, 2017) highly successful St Michael northern zone meeting in which she told the Prime Minister that regardless of when he chose to ring the election bell, the BLP was “red and ready”.

“The fundamental point is this: the campaign has started even if the election has not been called. The election is the right of the Prime Minister to choose a date and it does not matter to me now whether he calls it early January, February, March, April or May because we know it has to be called,” Mottley told the hundreds who turned out to the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School.

Stuart had said in Parliament on December 19 that he would not be ringing the general election bell anytime soon.

He made it clear at the time that his Government’s work was far from done, and went on to reject outright calls from the BLP for an election date to be fixed and for him to immediately announce the poll.

“I don’t need any law to tell me that there should be any fixed election date because my view is, if the people vote for you for five years, serve five years unless there is a no confidence motion that brings the Government down. You are given five years, serve your five years. Don’t throw back the time that the people gave you, in their face,” said the Prime Minister.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley as she addressed the St Michael northern zone meeting on December 28, 2017.

Mottley stated that the announcement proved Stuart had no interest in the well-being of the country, and his only concern was for the welfare of the DLP. So that even though the country’s declining foreign reserves, mounting national debt, deteriorating basic infrastructure and malfunctioning services – like the congested court system with long delays; bumpy, pot-holed roads; poor bus service; unsatisfactory garbage collection; dilapidated schools, and the inability to stop raw sewage from flowing on the streets along the South Coast for nearly two years – were all making life unbearable for average Barbadians, the Government’s greatest concern was ensuring its longevity.

“The notion that Freundel is going to the end has sent people quaking because Bajans cannot believe that there is that much more sufferation still ahead of them,” said Mottley.

“We have come here tonight to let you know that the campaign has started. It may be a short campaign, it may be a long campaign, but it has started. And it has started because we are listening to the people. And as far as the people are concerned, 2018 is their date with destiny,” Mottley told the BLP faithful.

 

 

 

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Profitable Hilton going at ‘fire sale’ price

St James Central MP, Kerrie Symmonds.

The Barbados Labour Party’s strident calls for transparency in the sale of the Barbados Hilton by the Freundel Stuart administration has proven prophetic. The deal which the Government seems eager to accept would see the hotel sold for nearly $100 million less than it is valued for, and would actually only earn about $33 million. But even that amount may not be the final figure as provision for severance for the hotel’s staff would have to come out of that money.

The details of the sale that have been shrouded in secret were revealed over the weekend (Monday, December 4, 2017) through a National Insurance Board paper which was penned out of concern that the scheme stands to lose the $10 million of hard-working Barbadians’ money it invested in the Needham’s Point, St Michael hotel project.

That paper noted that though a minority shareholder with equity investment of $10 million, their rights were not acknowledged and “like everyone else heard of the pending sale via the (May 30) Budget speech and the media. There was no official correspondence or discussion with the minority shareholders of the sale”.

The paper asserted that apart from this $10 million in common equity shares, the NIB is also a bondholder having purchased a $17.3 million ‘bullet bond’ which was arranged by Royal Fidelity. Here again, no correspondence was received on the repayment of these bonds.

“The sale of the Hilton Hotel, the main asset of Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd of which the NIB is a shareholder and has a total investment of $29 million for $160 million will put the NIB’s investment at significant risk of loss,” the paper, date November 28, stated.

It added that the sale price of the Barbados Hilton “was derived without a recent valuation”, noting that an $11.5 million refurbishment undertaken this year would have enhanced the value of the property above its book value of $252.8 million.

Given the proposed sale price of $160 million, minus long term and short term loans totaling $12.7 million, all that would be left from the sale is $32.9 million which should be distributed among shareholders. Therefore, if the employees were severed, as technically they should be, the company would not have enough to pay, so the NIS would have to foot that bill.

“The minority shareholders, loan providers and bondholders have not as at 23 November 2017 been informed that the asset was sold, hence no negotiations took place with the stakeholders giving permission to sell the property.

“The board is invited to seek clarification from the major shareholder in relation to the sale of Hilton Barbados Resort as the proposed sale will result in the board losing the majority of its investment in the company,” the paper stated, adding, “this is a performing asset and should not be sold at a ‘fire sale’ price”.

Chairman of the National Insurance Board Dr. Justin Robinson.

Chairman of the NIB, Dr. Justin Robinson has declined to speak on the matter but admitted that the board was having discussions on the paper.

As a significant minority shareholder, the NIB has a director on the Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd board which owns the hotel. The paper was prepared five days after the Needham’s board received correspondence from the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport outlining details of the sale to an entity called L + R for an immediate sale of US$80 million, plus “the payment of an earn-out of ten times the excess net operating income above US$7.5 million ($15 million) achieved by the hotel during the 12 months post completion of the transaction”.

Also, within five years of closing, L+R would seek to develop new residences or hotel rooms on 60,000 square feet on land adjacent to the hotel, subject to financial feasibility. If that is done, it would deliver a further US$12 million to Government.

However, the NIS document poured cold water on these proposals stating that the hotel only made $15 million twice since its re-opening and this would be difficult to achieve. Plus, there was no incentive to the buyer to achieve this target, and this was why the NIS investment could be in jeopardy.

Shadow minister of commerce, Kerrie Symmonds who has been repeatedly calling for transparency on the sale, said the whole matter has come down to “pawnshop peddling”.

He questioned why the Freundel Stuart administration would choose to sell a performing asset like the Hilton without getting a proper valuation first and would therefore be getting only about $33 million from the deal.

“If you wanted to raise US$15 million why would your first choice be to sell off part of the nation’s patrimony? You have negotiated a mortgage arrangement with agencies and assign them the profits, or a portion of the operating costs for the next 10 to 15 years, while still retaining control. So Government would only be parting with a portion of the profits, rather than the entire property,” he reasoned.

 

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Act to save Barbados, says Mia

Leader of the Opposition, Mia Amor Mottley QC, MP.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has warned Barbadians that they cannot simply wish the country’s problems away. Rather, they have to act to save the country.

Mottley made the comments in her annual Independence Day message in which she stressed that Independence was more than more than waving a flag and stirring up a national sentiment.

“It is about making Bajans confident of our future. It is about showing that we have it within ourselves to attain and expect excellence in all that we do,” she said.

The following is the full text of the Independence message from the Leader of the Opposition:

My Fellow Barbadians,

We have been at the crease for 50 years as a nation, which is but the blink of an eye in terms of nationhood. We acknowledge that our journey as a people started long before our Independence. But, as we embark on our second half-century it is time to take fresh guard so that our descendants who will celebrate our centenary in 2066 do so in a much better place than that which we find ourselves today.

Fifty years on from that rainy night in November 1966 the hopes and energy of a new nation have been replaced regrettably by doubt and a lack of confidence in the present generation that life can be better and more fulfilling. It therefore behooves us to draw on our innermost strength and on the experience and wisdom of generations past to make that link to the generation of today and tomorrow that we are a better people than our present circumstances suggest.

Many Barbadians are deeply anxious about the future. They know that all is not well. They are looking to their leaders to chart a clear path onwards. They know that we cannot simply wish our problems away.

The next decade will be critical in determining how and what future generations will celebrate on our centenary. It is never too late to be what you might have been, but we must act, and do so with the confidence that success can be ours once more with preparation, hard work and the lessons learnt from our past mistakes. It will take courage, compassion and communication, but as I said at a public engagement last week, “we can and we shall”.

Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You do not have to accept excuses, broken promises nor failure. Every Barbadian deserves more and better than that. What those of us who stand together under the banner of the Barbados Labour Party offer is fairness, equal opportunity, accountability and prosperity.

On every journey there is always more than one way to reach your destination. What I can tell you today is that your journey with us will be one of certainty, consultation and a common goal that brings everyone on board. We know what our destination is. We have plotted the route and we know what it will take to get there.

We cannot be stubbornly blind to our challenges. Neither can we be antagonistic to those who offer solutions that are not pleasing to us or indeed that do not accord with our views.

There will be none of the cul-de-sacs, one-way streets and endless roundabouts that have been inflicted on you over the last decade. For sure there will be some hills to climb and they will be some sharp corners to negotiate, but my team has the skill, the resourcefulness, the experience and the commitment and the caring to keep us on the road and moving towards our goal.

For us, Independence is really more than waving a flag and stirring up a national sentiment. It is about making Bajans confident of our future. It is about showing that we have it within ourselves to attain and expect excellence in all that we do. I have a deep and abiding faith, my friends, in the ability of every Barbadian to contribute to the success of our nation once given the opportunity to do so.

I therefore invite you, when the time comes, to join us as we embark on the next decade towards our first century as a nation. Together we can shape the future and improve on the present. In the words of our national anthem, so appropriately written:

“Upward and onward we shall go,

Inspired, exulting, free,

And greater will our nation grow

In strength and unity.”

I wish Barbadians everywhere a Happy Independence from the Barbados Labour Party family and on behalf of my own family. Let us celebrate secure in the knowledge that a better future awaits us and that we will be diligent in our duty to those of future generations, whom many of us will never meet, just as those who went before us have done for us.

This is our country and may God Bless it always.

Thank You!

 

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Fairness needed in awarding Govt contracts

One of the apartment blocks at The Grotto.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is of the view the Freundel Stuart-led administration is showing favouritism in the way in which it goes about awarding contracts to businesses in Barbados.

She was responding to a question from the audience at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) luncheon which she addressed on November 22, 2017.

Though not calling any names, Mottley highlighted one developer in particular, saying it was unreasonable for a contractor to receive over $1 billion in investments.

“One man cannot get a $24 million contract at Valerie, $28 million housing contract at Grotto; a $42 million molasses storage tank, 20-year contract in the Barbados Bridgetown Harbour . . . Coverley which is over 1,100 houses at which the Government is only receiving less than $2.50 a square foot on the land there; 2,300 lots at Bushy Park that have been committed to in an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], but mercifully the contract has not been signed [by] the National Housing Commission to give them the lots,” she said.

Mottley questioned whether government had forgotten its promise of 40 per cent procurement for small businesses which was made when they first came into office, adding it appeared as though they were set on a path to run small businesses into the ground with their policies. Continuing to hone in on the unnamed contractor, Mottley said the favouritism was abundantly clear.

“…the Hyatt Hotel, the land at the Port where the cement plant has gone and there is a Town Planning dispute. Bushy Park Racing Circuit itself, the plot to sign businesses on the highway and I can go on and on. One person cannot get more than a billion dollars in contracts at the very time that Barbados has a smaller economy at the end of the decade than it started with at the beginning.”

She said in light of the physical landscape of Barbados and the limited number of construction investments, a lone developer “cannot get all”, she stressed, adding there was a need for fair and transparent practices, as well as a need to give ordinary Barbadians a chance.

Moving onto commercial banks, Mottley accused the entities of not offering decent rates on savings accounts as well as not allowing ordinary Barbadians to access capital with low interest rates.

“What we cannot have is the choking off of opportunities in Barbados for ordinary people  . . .   especially those who will be on the front line of any adjustment. . . . Government needs to have a policy of affirmative action to show that those who bear the brunt of the adjustment must be on the frontline of contracts and supply of goods and services in this country,” said Mottley. (LOOP News/BLP News)

 

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Govt told to stop burdening Bajans with taxes

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and Paul Ashby (right), moderator of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) discussion. (Picture compliments LOP News)

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is urging the Government to stop testing taxation policies on Barbadians.

Mottley told those in attendance at the monthly luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) held at the Barbados Hilton on November 22, 2017, that she believes the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL)  should be repealed and this is what a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government intends to do if elected to office.

Mottley reasoned the NSRL is both burdensome and unclear in the ways in which it is collected and used. And it is making a tough economic situation worse.

“The reality is that Barbados has to restructure its tax system. Separate from that, a tax that no three people in this room can interpret properly for how it is to be applied cannot be a good tax,” she said.

Mottley added that any tax measures imposed on Barbadians must be “certain, transparent and fair”. She admonished Government to desist from using citizens as “guinea pigs” when implementing tax policies, which she noted are numerous and most times unproductive.

Demonstrating her point, the St Michael North East representative highlighted the cell phone tax, proposed in the 2015, the solid waste management tax and the tax on gaming machines as examples of such.

“It is time the people and the businesses of Barbados stop being the guinea pigs for people who have literally failed in every single respect. I challenge you to write down every single tax initiative announced by this government since 2008 . . . There is no consultation and what has happened is that we become the guinea pigs for those who are trying to play catch up,” Mottley added, as she urged Government to use tax policies to trigger economic growth. (LOOP News/Barbados TODAY)

 

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Mia vow’s ‘whatever is legal and moral’ to fix economy

BLP leader Mia Mottley responding to a question at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry lecture at the Barbados Hilton. (Picture compliments LOOP News)

A Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government would do anything that is “legal and moral” to drag the struggling economy from the brink, BLP leader Mia Mottley has vowed.

Mottley did not say if this included an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although the BLP has said in the past it would consider a homegrown programme based on an IMF model.

In fact, the international lending institution was not mentioned at all while she fielded questions at the monthly business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at Hilton Barbados Resort on November 22, 2017.

However, in response to a question about engaging multilateral organizations, the Opposition Leader made it clear the BLP would do whatever was necessary to get the job done.

“We will do whatever is legal and moral to fix this country,” Mottley said.

“You are asking me to specifically say whether it would be a multilateral cooperation to absorb all of our foreign debt in one place. I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work. But there will be engagements at an international level because Barbados cannot get out of this hole on its own.”

The IMF, which completed its two-week Article IV Consultation on November 22, 2017, has issued its preliminary report in which it said the chances that the Freundel Stuart administration will achieve its deficit target this year following Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s presentation of a $542 million austerity package back in May, were slim to none.

The Washington-based funding agency suggested that Government should aim instead for a 7.5 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) surplus by financial year 2020/2021 instead of the administration’s stated goal of a 4.4 per cent surplus in financial year 2018/2019, and said the fiscal measures announced by Sinckler, which included a whopping increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from two to ten per cent, an introduction of a new sales tax on foreign currency transactions, and a hike in the excise duty on fuel, would likely fall short of its overall target due to exemptions to the NSRL, lower-than-expected non-oil imports, shortfalls in some other revenues, and high transfers to Government corporations.

Equally disconcerting for the administration, the IMF also warned that the country’s international reserves, which stood well below the recommended 12 weeks benchmark at just 8.6 weeks of import cover, or $549.7 million at the end of September, were likely to dip even further by yearend as Government continues to service its debt, and private foreign inflows remain weak.

In this context, it reiterated its willingness to help Government, “including through continued policy dialogue and technical assistance”.

Speaking to the BCCI Mottley compared the economy to a burning building, which continued to blaze while people stood outside conversing about the fire without calling firefighters.

“We have been reduced by waiting with problems enduring so long . . . the house is on fire . . . half of the house is on fire . . . nobody has called for a fireman. But we have these conversations on the outside of the house that is on fire without realizing that the conversations themselves cause more fire to move at a quicker pace,” she said, while repeating that Barbados must be brought back from the economic brink at all costs.

In her wide-ranging presentation, the BLP leader promised to amend the National Insurance Fund investment guidelines, contending that there currently was too much concentration on Government.

She also made it clear that a BLP administration would scrap any “inopportune or improper” decision made in the “dying days” of the Freundel Stuart administration.

Some of these decisions, she said, revolve around appointments of a new Governor General, Central Bank Governor and Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the services commission.

“These are all posts that are either in the Constitution or serious posts that will affect the quality of life and the quality of decision-making in Barbados. Now if people only allow the Opposition to be the only voice on these matters, then the Government will fill them with impunity and you will be stuck with whomsoever they choose,” the BLP leader stressed.

“And remember, if they then reappoint with impunity in the dying days of a Government we are then stuck as a country with the consequences thereto . . . and if we are not, there is a price to be paid.

“I can only say to you  . . . we cannot seriously consider ourselves bound by any inopportune or improper decision made in the dying days of this administration that will extend its protection to people who ought not to be protected. I say no more,” Mottley warned.

The Opposition Leader, who was accompanied by her parliamentary colleagues, also promised that a BLP administration would make the Central Bank, the Auditor General and the Statistical Department independent where they would no longer have to go through a minister for their financial votes. (Barbados TODAY/BLP News)

 

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BLP ready to rescue Barbados’ economy

Economist Ryan Straughn, BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central.

The Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government is currently on a road to nowhere and the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessment of the island’s economic situation has confirmed this, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has said.

In fact, two BLP economists have cried shame on the DLP administration for its handling of the economy, saying they were concerned that things were getting worse instead of improving, despite burdensome tax measures, like the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).

BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central Ryan Straughn and the party’s candidate for the St Michael South Central Marsha Caddle spoke to reporters during a media conference on November 23, 2017 in response to the latest IMF Article IV Consultation which ended in the release of a preliminary assessment the day earlier.

Straughn, an economist and past President of the Barbados Economic Society, said he was concerned about the direction in which the country was headed, adding that most worrying was the fact that Barbados’ foreign reserves declined by about four weeks in the last quarter of last year.

“There is nothing within the trajectory of Barbados today that suggests that a similar performance will not occur this year,” said Straughn, while pointing to the mere 8.6 weeks of import cover at which the reserves stood at the end of September this year.

In its latest report, the IMF also warned that without divestment proceeds, the overall fiscal deficit would only decline to 4.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in financial year 2017/2018.

At the same time, while Government is seemingly intent on achieving a surplus of 4.4 per cent of GDP in financial year 2018/2019, the lending agency suggested that it should aims instead for a 7.5 per cent GDP surplus by financial year 2020/2021.

“This report is probably the most damning piece of evidence because last year the IMF said we had turned the corner . . . . But this report shows you which corner we actually turned last year, because all of the metrics compared to last year are worse. Therefore we now have to be very clear in our mind, these policies are leading us nowhere,” Straughn added.

Economist Marsha Caddle, BLP candidate for St Michael South Central.

The noted economist said he was worried that despite the introduction of a suite of measures designed specifically to generate growth by way of boosting the reserves, reducing the deficit and lowering the national debt, currently estimated at in excess of 100 per cent of GDP, the island simply was not achieving the desired results.

He said he was even more concerned about the current cost of living which was being made worse by the most recent tax measures, especially the controversial NSRL, which was increased from two to a whopping ten per cent on July 1.

Reiterating the views of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, Straughn said once elected, the BLP would repeal the burdensome NSRL.

“We must remove that which is hindering growth and therefore, that is what we intend to do. So long as we are able to do that, it means that cost of living immediately comes down and the cost of doing business also reduces,” Straughn said, adding that “over the course of 12 months or so then we would start to see revenues recover because of natural increase in economic activity”.

He also stressed that “there are other things other than taxation and spending that can generate growth,” while promising that the BLP would discuss other revenue generating measures “at a later date”.

The BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central however described the level of “burdensome taxation” over the past nine-and-a-half years as “scandalous”, adding that despite the sacrifices that Barbadians were making by paying more taxes, they were yet to see any measurable improvements in various services, including health care and road works.

“Yet the very targets they said were vital to achieving stability are all going in the wrong direction. So the simple question is this, how many plans does it take before Barbados realizes that the Government is incompetent? How many plans does it take before Barbados realizes that this is a road that is leading to nowhere?” he asked.

For her part, Caddle said the IMF statement suggested that “Barbados is even in further decline” and that the latest fiscal measures had “failed on every front”.

“It has failed to close the deficit as was anticipated [and] it has in fact taken the Barbados economy into a further recession. So this NSRL and the attendant suite of policies have in fact created what is a trinity of failure. It has failed to boost reserves, it has failed to address the deficit, it has failed to bring about real growth in the country.

“So the IMF press release joins the last ‘Doing Business Report’. In fact, it joins the last Central Bank assessment in showing that the Barbados economy continues to be in trouble, the management of it does not have much credibility and it is time for us as a country to be as concerned as all national, regional, and international institutions and experts have shown themselves to be,” Caddle said.

The two candidates charged that the DLP administration had lost all credibility, and the Mottley led BLP was ready to take the steering wheel.

“We are preparing to govern. We are not waiting until day one, so to speak, before we start looking at the issues. I think one of things that will distinguish us in the Barbados Labour Party from the Democratic Labour Party and anybody else for that matter, is that we are prepared to deal with this crisis tomorrow if and when the people make that determination,” Straughn said. (Barbados TODAY/BLP News)

 

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IMF not impressed with Govt’s handling of economy

Economist Judith Gold, head of the International Monetary Fund delegation to Barbados that conducted the annual Article IV consultation.

AN INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) team has left Barbados convinced that the Freundel Stuart administration is not doing enough to fix its fiscal problems.

Judith Gold, head of the IMF delegation that conducted the annual Article IV consultation between November 7 and November 21, is therefore urging Government to cut its spending further. Failing this, the island’s debt problems would continue, she warned.

The IMF is also offering its help to Government. It “stands ready to assist the Government of Barbados, including through continued policy dialogue and technical assistance”, Gold said.

During its visit to the island, the team from Washington met with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Acting Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, senior Government officials, and representatives of the private sector, labour organizations and academia.

In a statement released after departing the island, Gold said while continued strong growth in long-stay tourism supported Barbados’ economic growth, fiscal consolidation was contributing to a slowdown.

The economist said “substantial further fiscal effort is needed to decisively place the debt on a downward trajectory”.

“Given the urgency in addressing funding, balance of payment risks, the high debt and the limited policy options, the fiscal adjustment must continue, with a focus on accelerating [state-owned enterprises] reforms to facilitate a significant and durable reduction in transfers,” she added.

Gold said Government’s adjustment strategy should focus on addressing the high transfers, containing other current expenditures and maintaining a strong revenue effort. And the tax policy should be reviewed with a view to broadening the tax base and improving its progressivity, while efforts to strengthen tax administration must continue. Further, arrears to the private sector should be cleared, and remaining current should be a Government priority.

The IMF also wants Government to focus on structural reforms “to support growth and improve the business climate for domestic and foreign investment are also urgent”.

The IMF representative also suggested that Government’s “ambitious” May 30 Budget was likely to miss its targets due to National Social Responsibility Levy exemptions, lower than expected non-oil imports, shortfalls in some other revenues, and high transfers. (Daily Nation/BLP News)

The following is the full text of the IMF statement:

November 22, 2017

End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion and decision.

Continued strong growth in long-stay tourism has supported Barbados’ economic growth, but fiscal consolidation is contributing to a slowdown.

The adjustment strategy should focus on addressing the high transfers, containing other current expenditures and maintaining a strong revenue effort.

Urgent structural reforms are needed to support growth and improve the business climate for domestic and foreign investment.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Judith Gold, visited Barbados during November 7-21 to conduct the 2017 Article IV Consultation discussions. At the conclusion of the visit, Ms. Gold issued the following statement:

“Continued strong growth in long-stay tourism has supported Barbados’ economic growth, but the fiscal tightening is contributing to a slowdown. Following last year’s improved performance of 1.6 percent, real growth is projected to slow to 0.9 percent for the year, reflecting ongoing fiscal consolidation efforts. Long-stay tourist arrivals continue to expand at a healthy pace. Inflation is projected to rise by year end to 5.5 percent, from 3.6 percent at end-2016. While credit growth remains subdued, financial soundness indicators suggest a relatively healthy banking sector.

“Although the current account balance is improving, net international reserves (NIR) have fallen further. The current account deficit narrowed to 4.4 percent of GDP in 2016, and it is expected to narrow further in 2017, as non-oil imports fall in response to the May 2017 budget measures. However, NIR continue to decline as government debt service exceeds new funding, and private foreign inflows remain weak. At end-September, NIR stood at B$550 million.

“Fiscal performance in FY2016/17 improved but the deficit remains large. The fiscal deficit declined more than anticipated in FY2016/17 to 5.5 percent of GDP reflecting improvement in revenue performance, including one-off factors and lower current expenditure. Central government debt increased to 137.1 percent of GDP, up from 134.7 percent in FY2015/16 and 99.4 percent of GDP in FY2011/12. Excluding NIS holdings, central government debt was 101 percent of GDP in FY2016/17.

“With the growing financing challenges and falling reserves, the government introduced an ambitious budget on May 30, 2017 aimed at significantly reducing the fiscal deficit and shoring up international reserves. However, exemptions to the NSRL, lower-than-expected non-oil imports, shortfalls in some other revenues, and high transfers indicate that the government is likely to fall short of its target. Staff estimate that the deficit will decline to 4.1 percent in FY2017/18 without divestment proceeds. The larger than expected fiscal deficit is increasing funding challenges. While the central bank significantly reduced its funding of the government in the first half of FY2017/18, the commercial banks’ reserve requirements for holding government securities have been increased.

“Substantial further fiscal effort is needed to decisively place the debt on a downward trajectory. Given the urgency in addressing funding, balance of payment risks, the high debt, and the limited policy options, the fiscal adjustment must continue, with a focus on accelerating SOEs’ reforms to facilitate a significant and durable reduction in transfers. Staff recommend that the government seeks to increase the primary surplus from the 4.4 percent of GDP expected in FY2018/19 to 7.5 percent of GDP by FY2020/21, corresponding to an overall budget close to balance. The sizable fiscal adjustment would put the debt-to-GDP ratio on a clear downward path toward debt sustainability.

“The adjustment strategy should focus on addressing the high transfers, containing other current expenditures and maintaining a strong revenue effort. Reforms of state owned enterprises should include improved management, cost recovery, reduced services, mergers, closures, and privatization. Containing other current expenditures including the wage bill and government pensions is also critical. Tax policy should be reviewed with a view to broadening the tax base and improving its progressivity, while efforts to strengthen tax administration must continue. Further, arrears to the private sector should be cleared, and remaining current should be a government priority. A concentrated effort to improve implementation capacity, including by providing clear direction and clarifying expectations, is also needed. In this regard, staff commend the authorities’ intention to shortly enact a new Financial Management and Audit Act, which could help address some of the implementation gaps.

“Structural reforms to support growth and improve the business climate for domestic and foreign investment are also urgent. These reforms would aim to improve business processes, such as significantly reducing clearance times for immigration and customs, accelerating approval of building permits, and streamlining legal procedures. Staff welcomes progress in formulating the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Program (BSRP), which is being drafted in consultation with the Social Partnership, and encourages the authorities to continue to closely collaborate to develop a consensus on a strategy for reform.

“The IMF stands ready to assist the Government of Barbados, including through continued policy dialogue and technical assistance. The team would like to thank the authorities, technical staff, representatives of civil society, and the private sector, for their open discussions and constructive dialogue.”

The mission met with Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler, Acting Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss, the leader of the opposition Mia Mottley, senior government officials, and representatives of the private sector, labor organizations and academia. (IMF Communications Department)

 

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BLP nod to fund UWI the way to go

Dr George Belle, retired Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.

Former University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer Dr George Belle has endorsed the policy of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to support funding for the UWI.

And he described as “profound ignorance” criticisms by Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate Verla De Peiza of the quality of education at the regional institution.

De Peiza, who will challenge Dr William Duguid for the Christ Church West seat in the upcoming general election, charged at a recent DLP lecture that the tertiary institution had lost its prestige and had lowered its standards in a misguided attempt to fast track former principal Sir Hilary Beckles’ vision for a university graduate in every household.

However, Belle, the former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Cave Hill, tore into the DLP senator, contending during his delivery of this week’s BLP lunchtime lecture (November 22, 2017), that she “was speaking from a position of profound ignorance”.

Stating that “in every generation, there are people who try to push you up, while others try to slap you down”, Belle strongly rejected the notion that the campus was below the standards of its regional counterparts, and was adamant that the Cave Hill campus was a world-class institution that compared favourably with the campuses at St Augustine and Mona.

He pointed out that even with the university’s expansion, students could not get in.

The campus administration revealed in their monthly gazette that in 2016 the United States Department of Education recognized the UWI’s medical programme as comparable with medical education in the United States.

Drawing examples from the contributions that international universities have made to the towns or cities where they were located, Belle stressed the importance of a university to a country and economy.

“The Cave Hill Campus contributed significantly to creating an educated society, providing enlightenment, enhancing the idea and reality of sovereignty, and ensuring a level of innovation and intellectual engagement which benefited the country as a whole,” he said, adding that the costs at Cave Hill were previously the highest among the three campuses and that the expansion of the physical plant had allowed the university’s administration to take in larger numbers of qualified students.

Belle explained that with the expansion of the physical plant, this allowed the university’s administration to take in larger numbers of qualified students. By doing so, they had lowered the costs and reduced dependency on government funding from 90 to 50 per cent.

He said that to facilitate the expansion, the Vice Chancellor had removed the cap on the number of people entering the various disciplines in order to reach “critical mass” and once there, the caps would have been replaced. He stressed that the caps related to numbers of students entering the campus, but not to the qualifications for entry. He indicated that the policies of the current government had frustrated that effort and now the university’s plant was operating below capacity. This amounted to a “waste of the investment” and “downgrade of the cultural contribution of the university to the country.”

He explained that since the DLP Government’s debt to UWI of $200 million and their withdrawal of financial support for Barbadian students, the enrolment for the entire Cave Hill Campus had fallen to what used to be the enrolment for the faculty of Social Sciences on its own.

Belle said that Government’s funding of education and investment in the university, “achieved something for Barbados”, and emphasized that if the current policies continued, Barbadians would have little access to Cave Hill and it would become a university located in Barbados, but training others.  (BLP News/Barbados TODAY)

 

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Belle: External pressure will decide election date

Dr George Belle, retired Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.

“Freundel Stuart wants to be Prime Minister for as long as he possibly can and would be in no hurry to call an election.”

This view was advanced by Dr George Belle, former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the UWI, at the Barbados Labour Party’s weekly lunchtime Lecture on Wednesday (November 22, 2017).

Belle indicated that although it would be Stuart’s natural inclination “to hold on as long as he possibly can”, a number of factors would exert pressures that would impact Stuart’s decision. Some of those pressures would be internal and would come from Members of Parliament who would also be trying to protect their own political interests by wanting an election as early as possible. He said, although it would be Stuart’s “political personality” “to go down the line and push to the constitutional deadline”, the timing of elections would also be impacted by “external pressures”, such as the extent to which the National Social Responsibility Levy was biting.

As regards the St John constituency, Belle analysed some of the names currently being called to replace Mara Thompson. He argued that in so far as Chris Sinckler was unpopular nationally as “a terrible Minister of Finance”, he was a very effective politician who had won the election for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) moreso than Stuart had done. He was also more popular within the DLP than Sealy, who was favoured by Stuart himself and the elites within that organization. The retired political scientist opined that attorney Verla Depeiza “had some fight in her” and would be an investment in the future”. He felt there was also a case that Leroy McClean might be seen as a party loyal who should be rewarded.

Belle said that the current series of constituency meetings which the DLP was having was a way of avoiding mass meetings and “hiding from the people of Barbados while trying to rally their base and get them ready for elections”. He said “the DLP was trying to convince its base that it was winning when it was not”, and that some ministers were in fact calculating how they could win and secure their political futures when the party lost.

He indicated that as part of its strategy, he believed the DLP would appeal to emotion and anger and create an issue not grounded in fact, around which they would then try to coalesce public opinion. He cited the example of the way the issue of privatization was used in the last election and the political ad with the old lady on the bus fearing she would lose the right to ride free as a pensioner.

Belle explained that the two party system in Barbados was entrenched and none of the new parties could dislodge the DLP, “because a mass based party like the DLP could only be dislodged by another mass based party like the BLP”. He said that the BLP had to be prepared to listen to people, as that was one of the major failings of the present government. In order to win, he said, the BLP also had to try to form alliances and coalitions with the business sector, trade unions and other organisations. These did not have to be permanent nor did it mean their ideology was shared, but such alliances would be essential for the purpose of getting rid of the present regime.

The political commentator dismissed the idea that any of the new “third parties” had any chance at winning the next election, although he mused that “electorates have been behaving strangely of late”. He specifically pointed to the United Progressive Party (UPP) which he said was a group of “political failures” being “led by a repeated loser”, and that they could not reasonably believe that the electorate would accept them. He said the members of the UPP were “full of themselves and unable to recognize their own weaknesses”. He said it was his belief that the UPP was intended to be a spoiler for the BLP as it was really pro-Owen Arthur, and Lynette Eastmond was behaving more like Arthur’s lieutenant than a party leader in her own right.

Belle, who was a political advisor to former Arthur on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), expressed the view that having observed him in opposition, he had concluded that Arthur had been a good Prime Minister and leader, but was a poor politician. (BLP News)

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‘Stop misleading the public Stuart’

Shadow Attorney General Dale Marshall QC, MP.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart needs to stop misleading Barbadians and say clearly why his administration is refusing to proclaim the Prevention of Corruption Act – a measure they swore to enact if they were elected to government.

That was former Attorney General Dale Marshall’s biting response yesterday (Monday, November 20, 2017) to the Prime Minister’s challenge the night before for him to spill the beans on corruption in the Democratic Labour Party government.

Marshall had stated at a media conference on Saturday that “in Barbados today, corruption appears to be at an unprecedented level. Our Prime Minister should have been ashamed to say that we still have a law in Barbados dealing with corruption when he knew he was talking about a 1929 statute as if to suggest that the existing law is adequate to deal with today’s problems”.

That conference was held to inform the public that the Barbados Labour Party had drafted an Integrity Commission Bill and invite them to comment on it, as the party plans to lay it in Parliament at its first sitting, if they are successful at the polls.

However, speaking at a DLP meeting at Alexandra School, St Peter, Stuart challenged Marshall to take any information he had on corruption to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) so people could be brought before the courts.

Yesterday, Marshall hit back telling the Prime Minister he knew full well the DPP’s office could not investigate any allegations of corruption.

“For sure his statements sound good, but are absolute folly and I defy him to come out and say otherwise,” said Marshall.

“His challenge is absurd and was made for the purpose of doing nothing more than to distract people from the issue, and to turn attention away from questioning why the DLP has not proclaimed the Prevention of Corruption Act 2012,” the St Joseph parliamentary representative added.

Marshall also rebuffed the Prime Minister’s claims that the BLP were responsible for allegations relating to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and a million dollar property in St. George.

“That post has nothing whatsoever to do with the BLP. The circulation of such stories on social media is not and has never been a BLP strategy. The Prime Minister seems to forget that members of the BLP are also victims of such attacks and allegations. These anonymous posts which are intended to damage are in bad taste and a blight on public discourse,” Marshall stated.

The following is the full text of Dale Marshall’s statement:

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart continues to insult the intelligence of Barbadians by making statements that have no substance. I am referring specifically to the empty challenge that he issued to me last night, that I report any evidence of corruption to the Director of Public Prosecutions so that those involved can be brought before the courts.

No greater proof is needed that neither he nor any of his government takes this issue of corruption seriously, since Mr. Stuart well knows, or should know, how our legal system works. He well knows that that no person can report a criminal act to the DPP for his action, since the office of the DPP does not function in that way.

Under section 79 of the Constitution, the DPP’s function is to institute and undertake criminal proceedings, but his office does not have any capacity to investigate wrongdoing! This is why criminal offences are reported to the Royal Barbados Police Force.

In our system, the citizen presents information to the police force, which then investigates the matter, and then they forward the file to the DPP for his action. The Prime Minister well knows that the DPP has no role to play in relation to allegations of corruption, or any other crime for that matter, until the police have conducted investigations.

All that the DPP can do is to tell you to go to the police.

For sure his statements sound good, but are absolute folly and I defy him to come out and say otherwise. His challenge is absurd, and was made for the purpose of doing nothing more than to distract people from the issue, and to turn attention away from questioning why the DLP has not proclaimed the Prevention of Corruption Act 2012.

As a former Attorney general, he must know better, but that he could advise Barbadians to do a pointless thing, in the face of a serious charge, speaks volumes about him and his government. You might as well report it to the parish priest.

Mr. Stuart should also be ashamed, since he well knows that under the corruption statute passed in 1929 which is the law in Barbados, the fine if a person is convicted, is a paltry $2,400.00.

The Prime Minister should really get his own house in order before issuing a challenge to anybody. Prior to the 2008 general election, the DLP marched up and down Barbados levelling allegations of corruption against the BLP and promising forensic audits; why did they not report these matters to the DPP? Mr. Stuart was appointed first to be Attorney General and then Prime Minister, and all of these allegations evaporated.

The Prime Minister should immediately conduct his own inquiry into the circumstances and conditions under which his cabinet Ministers benefitted from vehicles registered to a company, which does business with statutory corporations controlled by those Ministries. Has he inquired into the cost of the vehicles? What are the terms of the contracts, if any? Are those terms on a commercial basis? Is interest being paid, and if so, is the interest set at a commercial rate?

What about conducting an inquiry into supplies that have been contracted for by statutory corporations and paid for in full, but years later the supplies have still not been received? What were the circumstances leading to that situation? Should the statutory corporation have reported that to the DPP?

He needs to tell the public why his government has not proclaimed the 2012 Prevention of Corruption Act.

Let me say finally, that the Barbados Labour Party distances itself from accusations being made on social media in relation to Mr. Sinckler being the owner of a particular house in St. George. That post has nothing whatsoever to do with the BLP. The circulation of such stories on social media is not and has never been a BLP strategy. The Prime Minister seems to forget that members of the BLP are also victims of such attacks and allegations. These anonymous posts which are intended to damage are in bad taste and a blight on public discourse. The BLP would never be a part of that.

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The BLP for no corruption, better governance

The following is the Barbados Labour Party’s draft Integrity Commission Bill. We invite you, the members of the public, to comment on this Bill as we intend – after taking into account your suggestions – to have this enacted  as a priority if we are granted the privilege of being elected in the forthcoming general elections. Please note that all  comments and queries will be held in the strictest confidence. If you need clarification of any point, please contact us at acleanbarbados@blp.org.bb and we will get back to you. Thank you.

INTEGRITY COMMISSION BILL

 ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

PRELIMINARY

SECTION

  1. Short title
  2. Interpretation

PART II

INTEGRITY COMMISSION

  1. Establishment of Integrity Commission
  2. Disqualification from membership
  3. Tenure of office
  4. Appointment of Chairman
  5. Vacancy in membership of Commission
  6. Proceedings and meetings
  7. Oath
  8. Interest in matters or proceedings before Commission by member
  9. Secretary to the Commission
  10. Publication in Official Gazette
  11. Function of Commission
  12. Consultation
  13. Agreement and exchange of information with law enforcement agencies
  14. Funds of Commission
  15. Officers and employees of Commission
  16. Investigative officers

PART III

PROCEDURE OF THE COMMISSION

  1. Procedure
  2. Commissioner’s powers to summon and examine witnesses
  3. False evidence, how punishable
  4. Duty of witnesses summoned
  5. Appearance of counsel
  6. Police officers detailed to attend Commission
  7. Issue of Summons
  8. Witness may be examined on oath
  9. Duty and privilege of persons

PART IV

INVESTIGATIONS

Powers of Investigative Officers

  1. Powers of arrest
  2. Power of Justice of the Peace to authorize entry and search of premises
  3. Production Orders
  4. Application of sections 136 and 137 of the Proceeds of Crime Act
  5. Complaints about conduct of an investigative officer
  6. Complaints panel appointed
  7. Disposition of complaint without investigation
  8. Investigation of complaints
  9. Review of complaints by panel
  10. Implementation of panel’s recommendations

Offence

  1. Obstruction of investigative officer
  2. Declaration of financial affairs
  3. Trust property
  4. Full disclosure
  5. Blind trusts
  6. Receipt and examination of declarations
  7. Commission or the Governor General may require further particulars
  8. Failure to file declaration or furnish particulars
  9. Commission may hold formal inquiry
  10. Duty as to secrecy
  11. Failure to file declaration
  12. Commission to make report
  13. Further information from members of Commission in respect of their declarations
  14. Offences and penalties

PART VI

REGISTER OF INTEREST

  1. Duty of member to file statement of registrable interests
  2. Contents of statement of registrable interests
  3. Register of interests
  4. Commission may require further particulars
  5. Offences by member of the House of Assembly
  6. Disqualification of member from holding public office
  7. Inquiry re breach by Minister or member of requirements of section 48(1)(e) or rules made under section 51(4) of Constitution
  8. Procedure at inquiry
  9. Issuance of determination of acquisition of prohibited interest in a Government contract

PART VII

GIFTS

  1. Report to Commission of gifts
  2. Report to Governor General of gifts
  3. Penalty for contravening section 61 or 62
  4. Prosecutions

PART VIII

ACTS OF CORRUPTION

  1. Provisions of this Part in addition to any other law
  2. Powers of appropriate disciplinary authority preserved
  3. Acts of Corruption
  4. Offence in respect of procuring tenders
  5. Transnational bribery
  6. Offences and penalties
  7. Property acquired bona fide
  8. Defence not available to person charged
  9. Defence available to person charged
  10. Presumption of corruption
  11. Possession of unaccounted property or pecuniary resource
  12. Proof of acquisition by lawful means
  13. Making of false allegation
  14. Complaint to the Commission
  15. Duty of public official to report act of corruption
  16. Inquiry by the Commission
  17. Action by Director of Public Prosecutions
  18. Where public allegation is made

PART IX

CONDUCT IN PUBLIC LIFE

Code of Conduct

  1. Inquiry or investigation into contravention of Code of Conduct by public officials
  2. Commission may request further information or hold formal inquiry
  3. Commission to report on its findings

Whistleblower Protection

  1. Protected disclosures
  2. Disclosure to employer or other responsible person
  3. Disclosure to legal adviser
  4. Disclosure to Minister or Governor General
  5. Disclosure to Commission
  6. Disclosure of exceptionally serious matter
  7. Disclosure in particular circumstances
  8. Previous disclosures of substantially the same information
  9. Protection vis a vis employer or person in authority
  10. Contractual limitations

PART X

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  1. Assistance by Commissioner of Police
  2. Confidentiality of information
  3. Amendment of Schedules
  4. Regulations
  5. Power of Commission to make rules

SCHEDULE 1:     Persons in Public Life

SCHEDULE 2:     Forms

SCHEDULE 3:     Oath of Secrecy

 INTEGRITY COMMISSION ACT 

AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INTEGRITY COMMISSION AND TO MAKE PROVISIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING THE INTEGRITY OF PERSONS IN PUBLIC LIFE.

Commencement

PART I

PRELIMINARY

Short title

  1. This Act may be cited as the Integrity Commission Act.

Interpretation

  1. In this Act—

“assets of a person” means all property including any right or interest in property and money held by the person in the Islands or elsewhere;

“benefit” includes any property, service or advantage whether direct or indirect;

“Chairman” means the chairman of the Commission appointed under section 6;

[“child”, in relation to a person, means the person’s child who has not attained the age of eighteen years and is not married and includes a step-child or an adopted child; and, in respect of a man, includes a child born of whom the man had been adjudged the father by a court of competent jurisdiction or whom the man had acknowledged to be his own child;]

“[Code of Conduct” means the Code of Conduct for Persons in Public Life published by the Commission under section 83 of this Act;]

“Commission” means the Integrity Commission established under

Section 3

“Constitution” means The Constitution of Barbados;

“document” includes, in addition to a document in writing—

  • a map, plan, graph, or drawing;
  • any photograph;
  • any disc, tape, sound track or other device in which sounds or other data not being visual images are embodied so as to be capable, with or without the aid of some other equipment of being reproduced therefrom;
  • any film, including microfilm, negative, tape or other device in which one or more usual images are embodied so as to be capable with or without the aid of some other equipment of being reproduced therefrom;

“Government company” means a company registered under the Companies Act being a company whose policies the Government or an agency of Government, whether by holding shares or by financial input, is in a position to influence;

“Government official of another State” means a public official of a state other than Barbados;

“income” includes—

  • money or money’s worth derived from whatever source or acquired in or out of the Islands whether directly or indirectly;
  • all receipts by way of salary, fees, wages, requisitions, profits, grants emoluments, rents interest, commissions, bonus, pensions, annuity or benefit;

“investigative officer” means a person designated as such under section 18(1);

“lawful earnings” includes but not limited to any property inherited by will or on intestacy;

“liabilities of a person” means all the obligations of the person to pay money or to provide goods or services in Barbados the Islands or elsewhere;

“member” means a member of the Commission appointed under section 3 and includes the Chairman;

“privileged material” means—

  • communications between a professional legal adviser and his client, or any person representing his client, made in connection with the giving of legal advice to the client;
  • communications between a professional legal adviser and his client, or any person representing his client, or between such an adviser or his client (or any such representative) and any other person made in connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the purposes of such proceedings; or
  • material enclosed with or referred to in such communications and made—
    • in connection with the giving of legal advice; or
    • in connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the purposes of such proceedings,

when the communications or material are in the possession of a person who is entitled to such possession and are not held with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose;

“property” includes money and all property, real or personal and things in action;

“public body” includes—

  • the House of Assembly and Cabinet;
  • Ministries or departments of Government;
  • a corporation established by an Act or a subsidiary company of that corporation;
  • a commission, statutory board, public authority or other body which receives any payment of monies under an Appropriation Act, within the meaning of the Financial Administration and Audit Act Cap. 5 of the Laws of Barbados

“public officer” has the meaning given to it under section 2  of the Public Service Act No. 41 of 2007.

“public official” means a person who is a member of a public body, or a public officer;

“Register of interests” means the Register established under Part VI of this Act;

“spouse”, in relation to a specified person in public life, means a person—

  • to whom the specified person in public life is married; or
  • who is living with the specified person in public life in the circumstances of husband and wife for a continuous period of one year during the period covered by the person’s declaration;

“specified person in public life” means a person who holds any office specified in Schedule 1;

“staff member” means an employee or officer of the Commission who is at or above the rank of Secretary to the Commission;

“statement of registrable interests” means a statement filed under section 52 of the interests described in section 53 held by or concerning a member of the House of Assembly;

“Tribunal” means a Tribunal established under section 7(4).

PART II

INTEGRITY COMMISSION

Establishment of Integrity Commission

  1. (1) There is hereby established an Integrity Commission for Barbados.
    • The Commission shall consist of—
      • a chartered or certified accountant of at least ten years standing appointed by the Governor General after consultation with any body which in his opinion represents chartered or certified accountants in Barbados;
      • a person who has held or [holds] the office of Judge in a Court of Record or Supreme Court in any part of the Commonwealth appointed by the Governor General, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
      • a person who has been admitted as an attorney under the Legal Profession Act and whose name has been entered on the Roll of Attorneys with at least ten years standing, appointed by the Governor General, after consultation with the Council of the Barbados Bar Association;
      • a member of the clergy, appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition;
      • a person appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister;
      • a person appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

Disqualification from membership

  1. A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a member of the Commission if that person—
  • is a member of Parliament;
  • has, at any time during the three years preceding the appointment, been a public officer;
  • has, at any time during the five years preceding the appointment, held office in a political party; or
  • would otherwise be disqualified in accordance with section 44 of the Constitution, to be a member of the House of Assembly.

Tenure of office

  1. All members of the Commission shall be appointed by instrument and shall, subject to the provisions of this Part, hold office for a period of three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment.

Appointment of Chairman

  1. (1) The Governor General acting in his discretion shall appoint one of the members to be Chairman of the Commission.
    • The Chairman shall preside at all meetings of the Commission at which he is present, and in the case of the absence of the Chairman from any meetings, the members present and forming a quorum shall elect one of their members to preside at the meeting.

Vacancy in membership of Commission

  1. (1) The office of a member of the Commission shall become vacant—
  • at the expiration of the term specified in the member’s instrument of appointment;
  • if he notifies the Governor General by writing under his hand of his intention to resign his office and the resignation shall take effect when the letter of resignation is received by the Governor General;
  • on the death or retirement of a member; or
  • on the absence of a member from three consecutive meetings of the Commission, unless that absence is approved by the Governor General.
  • A member may be removed from office by the Governor General for inability to discharge the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause, or for misbehaviour and shall not be removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
  • A member shall be removed from office by the Governor General if the question of his removal from office has been referred to a Tribunal appointed under subsection (4) and the Tribunal has recommended to the Governor General that the member ought to be removed for inability to discharge the functions of his office or for misbehaviour.
  • Where the Governor General, acting after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, considers that the question of removing a member ought to be investigated, the Governor General shall appoint a Tribunal which shall consist of three persons, of whom—
  • one is to be a judge of the Supreme Court and
  • one is to be a person who has been admitted as an attorney under the Legal Professions Act with at least ten years standing,

to enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the Governor General and recommend to him whether the member ought to be removed under this section.

  • The Tribunal appointed under subsection (4) shall give the member an opportunity to show cause why he should not be removed from office.
  • Where the question of removing a member has been referred to a Tribunal under this section, the Governor General, acting after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition may suspend the member from the exercise of the functions of his office.
  • A suspension may at any time be revoked by the Governor General and shall in any case cease to have effect if the Tribunal recommends to the Governor General that the member should not be removed.
  • Pursuant to this section, if any vacancy occurs in the membership of the Commission, that vacancy shall be filled by the appointment of another person from the categories of persons in section 3(2).

Proceedings and meetings

  1. (1) The Commission shall meet at times as may be expedient for the Commission to carry out its functions.
  • A quorum of the Commission shall be four.
  • The proceedings of the Commission shall not be affected by any vacancy amongst the members thereof or by any defect in the appointment of any member.
  • The Governor General may in writing request the Commission to meet at such times as he thinks fit.

Oath

  1. A member shall before assuming the functions of his office, make and subscribe the oath of office and the oath of secrecy in the form to be prescribed.

Interest in matter or proceedings before Commission by member

  1. (1) Where the Chairman or any other member is interested in any matter before the Commission or any person who is a party to any proceedings before the Commission, the chairman or other member so interested shall disclose the nature of his interest to the Commission and shall not participate in its sittings in relation to the said matter or person.
    • Where in the opinion of the Governor General or of the Commission, the chairman or any other member is interested in any matter before the Commission or any person who is party to any proceedings before the Commission, the Governor General or the Commission, as the case may be, shall direct the chairman or other member not to participate in the sittings of the Commission in relation to the said matter or person.

Secretary to the Commission

  1. (1) There shall be a Secretary to the Commission.
  • The duties of the Secretary shall be—
    • to attend the meetings of the Commission;
    • to record the proceedings of the Commission and keep the minutes of each meeting in proper form; and
    • generally, to perform duties connected with the work of the Commission as the Commission may require.

Publication in the Official Gazette

  1. The appointment, resignation, revocation of appointment or death of a member of the Commission shall be published in the Official Gazette.

Functions of Commission

  1. (1) The functions of the Commission shall be—
  • to receive and keep on record all declarations, statements of registrable interests and reports of gifts forwarded by persons in public life;
  • to examine declarations, statements of registrable interests and reports of gifts and to request from a specified person in public life any information or further information relevant to a declaration, statement of registrable interests or report of a gift made by him, which may assist the Commission in its examination;
  • to make inquiries and carry out investigations as it considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of a declaration, statement of registrable interests or report of a gift filed under this Act;
  • to receive, inquire into and investigate any complaint or report of—
    • an alleged act of corruption under Part X;
    • an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct;
    • the acquisition by a member of the House of Assembly of an interest in a contract with the Government that is contrary to the rules made under section 100(2); or
    • an alleged offence under any Act that assigns responsibility for the investigation of offences to the Commission;
  • to investigate any matter referred to in paragraph (d) on its own initiative, if the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for an investigation or inquiry;
  • to examine the practices and procedures of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices, except where there is a statutory duty on any person to perform that function;
  • to instruct, advise and assist the management of public bodies of any change in practices or procedures which may be necessary to reduce the occurrence of corrupt acts, except where there is a statutory duty on any person to perform that function; and
  • to perform functions and exercise powers as it is required by this Act, the Constitution or any other Act.
  • In the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act the Commission may not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
  • The Governor General may in writing request the Commission to investigate any matter falling within the functions of the Commission and the Commission may exercise its powers under this Act for the purposes of the investigation.

Consultation

  1. The Commission may consult with any person, institution or organisation in the exercise of its powers of investigation, or in the conduct of an inquiry, under this Act.

Agreements and exchange of information with law enforcement agencies

  1. (1) The Commission may enter into such written agreements, arrangements or memoranda of understanding with a law enforcement agency, including a foreign law enforcement agency, as the Commission considers necessary or desirable for the discharge or performance of its functions.
  • The Commission shall be treated as a law enforcement agency for the purposes of receiving disclosures of information which are relevant to its functions from any law enforcement agency, including a foreign law enforcement agency.
  • Subject to sections 47 and 97, the Commission may disclose to a law enforcement agency, including a foreign law enforcement agency, any information disclosed to the Commission.

Funds of Commission

  1. (1) The funds of the Commission shall consist of such funds out of the Consolidated Fund as may be voted by Parliament.
  • The Commission shall keep proper accounts of receipts, payments, assets, and liabilities and those accounts shall be audited annually by the Auditor General.
  • The Commission shall, before the commencement of each financial year, prepare and forward to the Prime Minister a report of its activities during the previous financial year, including a statement of its accounts audited in accordance with subsection (2).
  • A copy of the report together with the Auditor General’s Report shall be laid before the House of Assembly.

Officers and employees of Commission

  1. (1) The Commission may, acting within the funds and resources available to it—
  • employ such officers and employees as are required for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission;
  • retain the services of professional persons.
  • The remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment of the officers and employees of the Commission employed under subsection (1) and the professional persons retained under that subsection shall be such as may be determined or varied by the Commission from time to time.
  • For the purpose of the performance of the functions conferred on the Commission, it may, with the consent of the appropriate authority, utilise the services of any public officer or other employee of Government.
  • The Commission may, with the approval of the Minister responsible for Finance, make such provisions as it deems appropriate for the payment of pension, gratuity or other allowances in respect of the service of its officers and other employees on their retirement from employment with the Commission.
  • In subsection (3) “appropriate authority”, in relation to any public officer or other employee of the Government, means the person or authority vested by law with power to appoint such public officer or employee of the Government to the position he held in the Government at the time when his service is sought to be utilised by the Commission.

Investigative officers

  1. (1) The Commission may designate a person employed under section 17(1) as an investigative officer and may issue to such officer a warrant card, which shall be prima facie evidence of the officer’s designation.
  • An investigative officer has the function of carrying out investigations in relation to any matter, whether or not involving an alleged offence, in respect of which the Commission exercises functions under this Act or any other Act.
  • An investigative officer has the powers described in Part IV but, for the avoidance of doubt, shall not be a member of the Police Force and shall not be subject to—
    • direction or control by the Commissioner of Police; or
    • the Police Regulations, Standing Orders or any disciplinary code made under the Police Act.

PART III

PROCEDURE OF THE COMMISSION

Procedure

  1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission may regulate its own procedure and may make rules for this purpose.

Commission’s powers to summon and examine witnesses

  1. (1) The Commission acting under this Act shall have the powers of a Supreme Court judge to summon witnesses, and to call for the production of books, plans, and documents, and to examine witnesses and parties concerned on oath.
  • No member or staff member of the Commission shall be liable to any action or suit for any matter or thing done by him in good faith as a member of the Commission, or in the course of carrying out his duties or employment, as the case may be.
  • All summonses for the attendance of witnesses or other persons, or the production of documents, shall be in Form 3 as set out in Schedule 2 and shall be signed by the Chairman or any other member of the Commission, and oaths may be administered by the Secretary.

False evidence, how punishable

  1. Any witness who shall wilfully give false evidence in any inquiry concerning the subject matter of such inquiry, commits perjury, and is liable to be prosecuted and be punished accordingly.

Duty of witnesses summoned

  1. (1) All persons summoned to attend and give evidence, or to produce books, plans, or documents, at any sitting of the Commission, shall be bound to obey the summons served upon them as fully in all respects as witnesses are bound to obey subpoenas issued from the Supreme Court, and shall be entitled to the like expenses as if they had been summoned to attend the Supreme Court on a criminal trial, if the same shall be allowed by the Commission; but the Commission may disallow the whole or any part of such expenses in any case, if the Commission thinks fit and the procedure for the payment of such witnesses shall be the same as nearly as may be for the payment of witnesses in the Supreme Court, and they shall be paid at such time and in such manner as the Minister responsible for finance may direct.
    • Every person refusing or omitting, without sufficient cause, to attend at the time and place mentioned in the summons served on him, and every person attending, but leaving the Commission without the permission of the Commission, or refusing without sufficient cause to answer, or to answer fully and satisfactorily to the best of his knowledge and belief, all questions put to him or with the concurrence of the Commission, or refusing or omitting without sufficient cause to produce any books, plans or documents in his possession, or under his control, and mentioned or referred to in the summons served on him, and every person who shall at any sitting of the Commission willfully insult any member of the Commission, or secretary, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars or to a term of imprisonment of six months or both.
    • A person giving evidence before the Commission shall not be compellable to incriminate himself, and every such person shall, in respect of any evidence given by him before the Commission, be entitled to all privileges to which a witness giving evidence before the Court is entitled in respect of evidence given by him before such Court.

Appearance of counsel

  1. Any person whose conduct is the subject of inquiry under this Act or who is in any way implicated or concerned in the matter under inquiry, shall be entitled to be represented by an attorney or a friend at the inquiry, and any other person who may consider it desirable that he should be so represented may, by leave of the Commission, be represented in the manner aforesaid.

Police officers detailed to attend Commission

  1. The Commissioner of Police may, if so required by the Commission, detail police officers to attend to preserve order during the proceedings of the Commission, and to perform such other duties as usually pertain to their office when in attendance upon the Supreme Court, and to serve summonses on witnesses, and to perform such other duties as the Commission shall direct.

Issue of Summons

  1. (1) Any summons to attend to give evidence or to produce documents before the Commission shall be served on the person required to attend or to produce the document and shall be issued under the hand of the Secretary.
    • A summons shall be be served on the person mentioned therein either by delivery to that person of the summons or delivery in some other manner as may be ordered by the Commission, but so as to ensure that the summons is brought to the attention of that person.

A summons under this section may be served by a person authorised by the Commission.

  • Witness may be examined on oath
  1. The Commission may—
  • require that any facts, matters or things relating to the subject of inquiry be verified or otherwise ascertained by the oral examination of witnesses; and
  • cause witnesses to be examined on oath which the Chairman or the Secretary shall be authorized to administer. 

Duty and privilege of persons

  1. All persons summoned to attend and give evidence or to produce any paper, book, record or document before the Commission shall be—
  • bound to obey the summons served upon them;
  • entitled, in respect of that evidence to the disclosure of any communication or the production of that paper, book, record or document as before a court of law.

PART IV

INVESTIGATIONS

Powers of Investigative Officers 

Power of arrest

  1. (1) In carrying out his functions, an investigative officer has the powers   of a police officer to arrest any person whom he reasonably suspects has committed an offence punishable by imprisonment under this Act or under any other Act in respect of which the Commission exercises functions.
  • After making an arrest, the investigative officer shall deliver the person arrested to the custody of the police and such person shall, as soon as practicable, be brought before a Magistrate to be further dealt with according to law.

Power of Magistrate or Justice of the Peace to authorise entry and search of premises

  1. (1) If, on an application made by an investigative officer, a Magistrate or a Justice of the Peace is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing—
  • that an offence has been committed under this Act or another Act that assigns responsibility to investigate alleged offences to the Commission;
  • that there is material on premises specified in the application that is likely to be of substantial value (whether by itself or together with other material) to the investigation of the offence;
  • that the material referred to in paragraph (b)
    • is likely to be admissible in evidence at a trial for the offence referred to in paragraph (a); and
    • does not consist of or include privileged material; and
  • that any of the conditions specified in subsection (2) applies,

the Magistrate or Justice of the Peace may issue a warrant authorising an investigative officer to enter and search the premises.

  • The conditions mentioned in subsection (1)(d) are—
    • that it is not practicable to communicate with any person entitled to grant entry to the premises;
    • that it is practicable to communicate with a person entitled to grant entry to the premises but it is not practicable to communicate with any person entitled to grant access to the evidence;
    • that entry to the premises will not be granted unless a warrant is produced;
    • that the purpose of a search may be frustrated or seriously prejudiced unless a police officer arriving at the premises can secure immediate entry to them.
  • An investigative officer may seize and retain anything for which a search has been authorised under subsection (1).

Production Orders

  1. (1) An investigative officer may apply to a judge of the Supreme Court for a production order requiring a specified person—
  • to give the officer access to material specified in the application; or
  • to produce the material specified in the application for the officer to take away,

within seven days from the date on which the order is made or such other period as the judge determines would be appropriate in the circumstances.

  • The judge may make a production order described in subsection (1) if he is satisfied that—
  • there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the specified person has committed an offence under this Act or another Act that assigns responsibility for the investigation of offences to the Commission; and
  • there are reasonable grounds for believing that—
    • the specified person is in possession or control of the material specified in the application;
    • the material is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation for the purposes of which the order is sought, whether by itself or together with other material; and
    • it is in the public interest for the specified material to be produced or for access to be given to it, having regard to the benefit likely to accrue to the investigation if the material is obtained and the circumstances under which the specified person holds it.
    • In this section “specified person” means that the person specified in an application under subsection (1) as appearing to be in possession or control of material subject to the investigation
  • In this section “specified person” means that the person specified in an application under subsection (1) as appearing to be in possession or control of material subject to the investigation.

Application of sections 42 and 43 of the Proceeds of Crime Act

  1. Sections 42 and 43 of the Proceeds of Crime Act apply to a production order made under section 30 as if

the references in those sections to a police officer were references to an investigative officer.

Complaints about conduct of an investigative officer

  1. (1) A person having a complaint about the conduct of an investigative officer in the performance of his duties or functions may address a complaint in writing to the Commission, if that person—
  • has been personally affected by that conduct;
  • has witnessed that conduct;
  • has a substantial and direct interest in the complaint; or
  • has been authorised by a person referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) to make a complaint in that person’s name.
  • The Commission shall refer a complaint made under subsection (1) to a panel appointed under section.

Complaints panel appointed

  1. The Governor General may, by order, appoint an ad hoc panel to hear and adjudicate the complaint, consisting of the following persons—
    • a judge or magistrate or retired judge or magistrate, who shall be the chairman;
    • the Commissioner of Police, who shall hold office ex officio; and
    • a person, other than a member or former member of the Royal Barbados Police Force, to represent the public.

Disposal of complaint without investigation

  1. (1) The panel may direct that no investigation of the complaint be carried out if, in its opinion—
  • the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith; or
  • having regard to all the circumstances, an investigation or further investigation is not necessary or reasonably practicable.
    • If no direction is made under subsection (1), the panel and the Commission shall—
      • consider whether the complaint can be disposed of informally; and
      • attempt to dispose of the complaint informally, before any investigation is undertaken, with the consent of the complainant and the person whose conduct is the subject-matter of the complaint.
    • Where a complaint is disposed of informally, the panel shall prepare and send the following documents to the complainant, the investigative officer and the Commission—
      • an overview of the facts that gave rise to the complaint;
      • the name of the person who conducted the informal disposition;
      • a statement of the manner in which the complaint was disposed of;
      • evidence of agreement to the disposition of the complaint by the complainant and the person whose conduct was the subject-matter of the complaint.

Formal Investigation of complaint

  1. (1) Where a complaint is not disposed of informally, the Commission shall investigate the matter and send to the panel, the complainant and the person whose conduct is the subject-matter of the complaint, a complaint resolution report containing—
  • a summary of the complaint;
  • the results of the investigation
  • a summary of any action that has been or will be taken with respect to resolution of the complaint; and
  • a statement that the complainant may refer the complaint to the panel for review, within 60 days of the receipt of the complaint resolution report, if not satisfied with the disposition of the complaint by the Commission.
  • A complainant who is not satisfied with a direction under subsection 34(1) or with the disposal of the complaint by the Commission under subsection (1), may refer the complaint to the panel in writing within 15 days after the day on which the complainant receives the notice of rejection or the complaint resolution report.
  • The panel shall review every complaint referred to it under subsection

(2).

Review of complaints by panel

  1. (1) Where, after reviewing a complaint, the panel is satisfied with the disposal of the complaint by the Commission, the panel shall—
  • send a complaint review report to that effect to the Commission, setting out such findings and such recommendations with respect to the complaint as the panel sees fit;
  • send a report of the conclusion of the review to the complainant and the person whose conduct is the subject-matter of the complaint together with any finding or recommendation referred to in paragraph (a).
  • Where, after reviewing a complaint, the panel is not satisfied with the disposal of the complaint by the Commission or considers that further inquiry is warranted, it may take any or all of the following measures—
    • send a report to the Commission indicating the reasons for its dissatisfaction;
    • request the Commission to conduct a further investigation into the complaint;
    • make such inquiries as it deems necessary in the circumstances;
    • investigate the complaint further;
    • institute a hearing to inquire into the complaint.
  • The panel shall, on completion of any further investigation, inquiry or hearing that it has ordered under subsection (2) send—
    • to the Commission a complaint review report setting out—
      • such findings with respect to the complaint as the panel sees fit; and
      • such recommendations, including disciplinary measures to be taken in regard to the person whose conduct is the subject- matter of the complaint; and
    • to the complainant and the person whose conduct is the subject- matter of the complaint a report of the conclusion of the review, together with any finding or recommendation referred to in paragraph (a).

Implementation of panel’s recommendations

  1. The Commission shall give effect to any recommendations in a complaint review report sent to it under section

Offence 

Obstruction of investigative officer

  1. A person who resists or obstructs an investigative officer in the execution of his duty commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5000 or to imprisonment for six months, or to both.

PART V

DECLARATIONS

Declaration of financial affairs

  1. (1) Every person who is a specified person in public life, not being a member or staff member of the Commission, shall—
  • on or before [….. date to be inserted] and every two years thereafter, on or before the biennial anniversary of that date; and
  • where such person ceases to be a specified person in public life, within ninety days from the date on which the person ceases to be a specified person in public life,

file with the Commission a declaration containing the particulars referred to in subsection (5) and each of the members or staff members of the Commission shall file with the Governor General similar declarations on or before the dates on which such declarations are required by other persons in public life.

  • Without prejudice to subsection (1), every person shall within 90 days from the date on which he becomes a specified person in public life—
  • if he is not a member or staff member of the Commission, file with the Commission; or
  • if he is a member or staff member of the Commission, file with the Governor General,

a declaration containing the particulars referred to in subsection (3) with reference to the date on which he becomes a specified person in public life and any person required to file a declaration under this subsection in any year is not required to file another declaration under subsection (1) in the same year.

  • The Commission may, in exceptional circumstances, grant to any person required to file a declaration under subsection (1) or (2), other than a member or staff member of the Commission, an extension of the period for filing that declaration of up to six months, beginning on the day that the declaration is required to be filed.
  • The Governor General may, in exceptional circumstances, grant to any member or staff member of the Commission required to file a declaration under subsection (1) or (2) an extension of the period for filing that declaration of up to six months, beginning on the day that the declaration is required to be filed.
  • A declaration under subsection (1) shall as far as possible be in Form 1 as set out in Schedule 2 and shall give full, true and complete particulars of—
  • the person’s income, assets and liabilities;
  • assets of the spouse and the dependent children;
  • any gift received in the course of the performance of the person’s public function.
  • A declaration may be accompanied, if the specified person in public life so wishes, by a statement giving details of his income, assets and liabilities which shall be certified by an accountant.
  • If a specified person in public life dies, there shall be no obligation on the administrators of his estate to file the declaration which the specified person in public life would have been required to file, had he lived.

Trust property

  1. Where a specified person in public life holds any money or other property in trust for another person, not being his spouse or child or another person in public life, he shall so state in his declaration but shall not be required to disclose the terms of the trust.

Full disclosure

  1. (1) A specified person in public life is required to disclose in his declaration, under section 39, such details in respect of the income, assets and liabilities of himself and those of his spouse and his dependent children, as by the exercise of reasonable care, should be known to him.
    • For the purposes of a declaration under section 39, the income, assets and liabilities of a specified person in public life, his spouse and his dependent children shall include the income, assets and liabilities acquired, held or incurred by any other person as agent or on behalf of all or any of them.
    • Any direct or indirect benefit accruing to the income or assets of a declarant or his spouse or dependent children must be disclosed in a declaration under section

Blind trusts

  1. (1) A specified person in public life may place his assets or part thereof in a blind trust for the purpose of this Act and shall file a copy of the trust deed with the Commission.
  • If the Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that a specified person in public life is likely to contravene or has contravened the Act, the Commission may direct that person to place all or part of his assets in a blind trust on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate and to file a copy of the trust deed with the Commission.
  • Where the assets of a specified person in public life are placed in a blind trust, he need not in his declaration under section 39, give more particulars of those assets than the amount and description of the assets placed in that trust and the date of so doing.
  • Notwithstanding any other law relating to the duties of trustees, a trust company, managing the assets of a specified person in public life by way of a blind trust, shall reply fully to any inquiries of the Commission relating to the nature and management of the assets in the blind trust.
  • A blind trust is created when a specified person in public life enters into an agreement with a qualified trust company whereby—
    • all or any part of his assets or those of his spouse or dependent children are conveyed to the trust company for the management, administration and control thereof, in its absolute discretion without recourse or report to the person or persons beneficially entitled to those assets;
    • income derived from the management of the assets is to be distributed, in accordance with the agreement, to him, his spouse or his dependent children until he ceases to be a specified person in public life; and
    • after he ceases to be a specified person in public life, proper and full accounting is to be made to him, his spouse or dependent children as the circumstances of the management of the trust require.
  • A trust company is a qualified trust company where—
    • it is incorporated in or outside Barbados and is carrying on business in Barbados;
    • no more than five percent of the stated capital in the trust company or its affiliate is held or controlled by the specified person in public life entering into an agreement with it, or by any other person associated with him; and
    • the specified person in public life or his spouse or any of his dependent children does not hold any directorship or office in the trust company or its affiliate.
  • For the purposes of this section, a company is an affiliate of another company where it holds more than five percent of the nominal value of the issued shares in that other company or where that other company holds more than five per cent of the issued shares in the first mentioned company.
  • For the purposes of this section, a person is associated with another, where that other person is—
    • the spouse or dependent child of the person;
    • the partner of the person in a profession, trade, or commercial undertaking; or
    • a corporation and the first mentioned person or any person mentioned in paragraph (a) controls the corporation, its holding corporation or a corporation affiliated with either.

Receipt and examination of declarations

  1. The Commission [or the Governor General, as the case maybe], shall—
  • receive, examine and retain all declarations and documents filed with it or him under this Act; and
  • make such inquiries as it or he considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of the financial affairs, as stated in the declarations of persons who are required to file declarations under this Act.
  1. The Commission [or the Governor General, as the case may be], may in writing request a declarant to furnish such further particulars relating to his financial affairs as may be considered necessary for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) and the declarant shall comply with the request within the time specified therefor by the Commission [or Governor General, as the case may be].

Failure to file declaration or furnish particulars

  1. Where a person who is required to do so fails to file a declaration in accordance with this Act or to furnish particulars under section 13(1)(b), the Commission [or Governor General, as the case may be], shall publish the fact in the Official Gazette and a newspaper. 

Commission may hold formal inquiry

  1. (1) The Commission may in writing request a declarant to furnish such further information or documents and may conduct an inquiry to verify any declaration or other statement filed with it.
  • The Commission, upon examination of a declaration furnished pursuant to section 39 may require the specified person in public life to attend an enquiry of the Commission at a specified time to be heard on any matter relating to the declaration.
  • A specified person in public life who is required to attend the Commission may—
    • be accompanied and represented by an Attorney-at-law or such other person as the specified person in public life chooses; and
    • require the Commission to summon witnesses.
  • The Commission shall not make any adverse decision without giving the specified person in public life an opportunity to be heard.
  • Where upon examinations the Commission is satisfied that a declaration has been fully made and all questions satisfactorily answered, or that a declaration is incomplete but the declarant cannot reasonably obtain the information required to complete it, the Commission shall forward to the specified person in public life a certificate of compliance in Form 4 as set out in Schedule. 

Duty as to secrecy

  1. (1) Every member of the Commission and every person performing any function in the service or as an employee of the Commission shall treat all records, and information relating to declarations, as secret and confidential and shall not disclose or communicate the text of any record, or information or, declaration to any unauthorised person or to allow any unauthorized person to have access to any records, information or declarations.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $20,000 or to a term of imprisonment for three years or to both.

Failure to file declaration

  1. Where a specified person in public life fails to file a declaration as required under section 39, the Commission shall publish the fact in the Official Gazette and shall—
    • send a report to the appropriate Service Commission, Board or authority;
    • in any other case, send a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Commission to make report

  1. (1) Where the Commission examines a declaration and any related information or documents, or conducts an inquiry into any declaration, and is not satisfied with any aspect thereof, the Commission may report the matter to the appropriate Service Commission, Board, body or other authority and the Director of Public Prosecutions, setting out details and particulars as it thinks fit.
  • The Commission shall report any act of corruption to the appropriate Service Commission, board, body, or other authority and to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • The appropriate Service Commission, board, or other Authority may take such disciplinary action in relation to a report made pursuant to  subsection (1) as it thinks appropriate in any particular case.
    • Pursuant to subsection (3), where any criminal proceeding has been commenced against a specified person in public life, no disciplinary procedures shall be instituted pending the determination of criminal proceedings.
    • An inquiry shall not be commenced after two (2) years from the date on which the person ceased to be in public life.
    • The Director of Public Prosecutions—
      • may take action in relation to a report made pursuant to subsection (1) as he thinks appropriate in any particular case;
      • may authorize any person having an official duty under this Act to furnish information to any officer of the court, the police or any other person specified by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Further information from members and staff of Commission in respect of their declarations

  1. (1) Where in the opinion of the Commission, further information or documents are required from a member or staff member of the Commission in respect of his declaration, the Governor General shall, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, appoint a fit and proper person as a Tribunal to require the declarant to furnish such further information or documents and to conduct any inquiry, where found necessary, to verify the declaration, document or other statement filed with the Tribunal.
  • For the purpose of any inquiry under this section, a Tribunal may request in writing, that the declarant or any other person who the Tribunal reasonably believes has knowledge of the matters to be inquired into—
    • attend before the Tribunal at such place, on such date and at such time as may be specified by the Tribunal, to give it such information as it may require satisfying itself that it is in possession of all the material facts; or
    • furnish such information or documents as may be specified by the Tribunal, within the time specified therefore by the Tribunal, so as to assist it in verifying the declaration.
  • An inquiry under this section shall not be commenced after five years from the date on which the member or staff member of the Commission in respect of whose declaration the inquiry is being conducted ceased to be a specified person in public life.
  • In conducting an inquiry under this section, a Tribunal shall have and exercise all the powers in this section save that the proceedings shall be held in private.
  • Where after an inquiry under this section, a Tribunal finds that a declarant had in fact made full disclosure in his declaration, it shall forthwith publish a statement to that effect in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper.
  • Where after an inquiry under this section a Tribunal finds that the declaration which gave rise to the inquiry was in fact full and proper, the declarant shall be reimbursed from the Consolidated Fund for all expenses reasonably incurred by him in connection with the inquiry within three months of the Tribunal’s finding.

Offences and penalties

  1. Any person who—
  • (i) fails, without reasonable cause, to file with the Commission [or the Governor General, as the case may be], a declaration which he is required to be filed in accordance with the provisions of this Act; or

(ii) knowingly files with the Commission [or the Governor General as the case may be], a declaration that is not complete or is false in any material particular;

  • fails, without reasonable cause, to comply with a request made under section 13(1)(b) or 42(4) by the Commission, the Governor General or a Tribunal, within the time specified therefor by the Commission, the Governor General or the Tribunal, as the case may be, or gives incomplete or false information pursuant to the request;
  • fails, without reasonable cause, to attend an inquiry being conducted under section 46, or to furnish any information the Tribunal may request the declarant to furnish under that section or knowingly gives any false or incomplete information in such inquiry; or
  • fails, without reasonable cause, to comply with a direction of the Commission under section 42(2) within the time specified by the Commission, or gives incomplete or false information in the trust deed filed with the Commission,

commits an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $15,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year or to both, and where the offence involves the non-disclosure, by the declarant, of property, which should have been disclosed in the declaration, the magistrate convicting the person shall order the person to make full disclosure of the property within a given time and on failure to comply with the order of the magistrate within the given time, the said offence shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the person shall be liable to a further fine of $3,000 for each day on which the offence continues.

PART VI

REGISTER OF INTERESTS

Duty of member to file statement of registrable interests

  1. (1) Every member of Parliament shall file with the Commission, in addition to his declaration under section 39, a statement of registrable interests.
  • A member shall file his statement of registrable interests in Form 2, set out in Schedule 2—
    • within ninety days after the day on which he becomes a member, in respect of his interests on the day on which he became a member; and
    • within ninety days after the 31day of December in each year during any part of which he was a member of the House, in respect of his interests on the 31day of December in that year.
  • Notwithstanding subsection (2)(b), a member need not file a statement of registrable interests for a particular year if the member filed a statement in the six months preceding the 31day of December in that year.
  • If a member of Parliament dies, the administrator of his estate is not required to file the statement of registrable interests which the member would have been required to file, had he lived.

Contents of statement of registrable interests

  1. (1) A statement of registrable interests shall contain the following information relating to the member, his spouse and dependent children—
  • particulars of any directorships held in any company or other corporate body;
  • particulars of any contract made with the Government;
  • the name or description of any company, partnership or association in which the person is an investor;
  • a concise description of any trust to which the person is a beneficiary or trustee;
  • any beneficial interest held in land;
  • any fund to which the person contributes;
  • particulars of any political, trade or professional association to which the person belongs;
  • particulars relating to sources of income; and
  • any other substantial interest whether of a pecuniary nature or not, which the member considers may appear to raise a material conflict between his private interests and his public duty.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be taken to require disclosure of the actual amount or extent of any financial benefit, contribution or interests.

Register of interests

  1. (1) The Commission shall maintain a Register of Interests in the form required by the Regulations.
  • The Commission shall compile and cause to be entered in the Register of interests all information furnished by members of Parliament under this Part and shall, at the request of any member of the public, permit inspection of the Register.
  • A member shall notify the Commission of any changes which may occur in his interests, or those of his spouse or dependent children, within six months of the change occurring.

Commission may require further particulars

  1. Where upon examination of a statement of registrable interests, the Commission is of the opinion that it should enquire further into it so as to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure, the Commission may—
  • require the member of Parliament that made the statement to attend before it to answer such questions, and to furnish such documents or information as it may require; and
  • make such independent inquiries and investigations relating to the statement as the Commission thinks fit.

Offence by member of Parliament

  1. (1) A member of the Parliament  who—
  • fails, without reasonable cause, to file with the Commission a statement of registrable interests required to be filed under this Part;
  • knowingly files with the Commission a statement of registrable interests that is not complete or is false in any material particular;
  • fails, without reasonable cause, to comply with a request made under section 13(1)(b) by the Commission respecting the member’s statement of registrable interests within the time specified therefor by the Commission or gives incomplete or false information pursuant to the request; or
  • fails without reasonable cause to attend an inquiry being conducted under section 55 or to furnish any information that the Commission requests him to furnish, or knowingly gives any false or incomplete information at such inquiry,

commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $15,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year or to both.

  • Where an offence under subsection (1)(a) or (b) involves the non-disclosure of property which should have been disclosed by a member of Parliament in a statement of registrable interests, the magistrate convicting the member shall order him to make full disclosure of the property within a given time.
  • If a member of Parliament fails to comply with an order made under subsection (2), the offence referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the member shall be liable to a further fine of $3,000 for each day on which the offence continues.

Disqualification of member from holding public office

  1. A member of Parliament who is convicted of an offence under section 51 or 56 is liable, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, to be disqualified from holding any public office for such period as the court considers appropriate, not exceeding five years from the date of conviction for the offence.

Inquiry re breach by Minister or member of requirements of section 31(1)(e)

  1. (1) Where the Commission is of the opinion that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a Minister has failed to comply with the requirements for the registration of interests as described in section 52 or that a member of Parliament has acquired a prohibited interest in a contract with the Government contrary to provisions of this Part, the Commission may—
  • request the Minister or member in writing to furnish any further information or documents that it may require;
  • require the Minister or member to attend an inquiry of the Commission at a specified time to be heard on any matter relating to the alleged contravention.

(2) If a Minister or member fails, without reasonable cause, to attend an inquiry being conducted under this section or to furnish any information that the Commission requests him to furnish, or knowingly gives any false or incomplete information at such inquiry, he commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $15,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year or to both. 

Procedure at inquiry

  1. (1) A Minister or member who is required to attend an inquiry may be represented by an attorney or friend and require the Commission to summon witnesses.
  • The Commission shall not issue a determination against a Minister or against a member of Parliament without giving the Minister or member an opportunity to be heard.
  • The Commission shall prepare a written report of its findings and determinations pursuant to an inquiry held under section 58 and send a copy of the report to—
    • the Speaker of the House of Assembly; and
    • the Minister or member whose conduct was the subject of the inquiry. 

Issuance of determination of acquisition of prohibited interest in Government contract

  1. The Commission shall not issue a determination that a member of the House of Assembly has acquired a prohibited interest in a contract with the Government if—
  • the member has notified the Commission of the interest as required by this Act; and
  • the Commission is of the opinion that the interest—
    • is unlikely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct; or
    • is likely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct but that the member, his spouse or child, as the case may be, has divested himself of the interest or has placed it in a blind trust on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate.

PART VII

GIFTS

Report to Commission of gifts

  1. (1) Every specified person in public life, not being a member or staff member of the Commission, who receives a gift worth more than $1,000 shall make a report of that fact to the Commission in Form 2 as set out in Schedule 2 stating the name and address of the donor, the description and approximate value of such gift and whether, in the opinion of the donee, the gift is a personal or an official gift.
  • The Commission shall determine whether the gift is a personal gift or an official gift.
  • The decision of the Commission made in pursuance of subsection (2) shall be final.
  • The provisions of this section shall not apply to any personal gift received by a specified person in public life from a relative or friend except that a specified person in public life who is unsure whether a gift received from a relative or friend is an official gift or a personal gift may apply to the Commission seeking its opinion as to the proper classification of the gift.
  • A report or an application under subsection (1) and subsection (4) shall be made to the Commission by the specified person in public life within thirty days of the receipt of the gift.
  • Where the Commission finds after inquiry that the gift was given to the specified person in public life personally and―
    • was trivial; or
    • was not trivial, but was not intended to be a motive or reward for doing or forbearing to do anything in the course of the performance of his official functions or causing any other person from doing or forbearing to do anything,

the Commission shall allow the specified person in public life to retain the gift, and in other cases shall direct the specified person in public life in writing to deliver the gift to the Minister responsible for finance within such period, not exceeding thirty days, as may be specified by the Commission, and the specified person in public life shall comply with the direction within the time so specified.

  • The specified person in public life shall be entitled to notice of the proceedings of any inquiry under subsection (6) and shall be entitled to be represented in the inquiry, either in person or through an attorney-at-law.

Report to Commission of gifts

  1. Every specified person in public life who, being a member or staff member of the Commission who receives a gift worth more than $1,000, or whose spouse or child receives such a gift, shall make a report of that fact to the Governor General in Form 2 of Schedule 2, stating the name and address of the donor, the description and approximate value of the gift and whether, in the opinion of the donee, the gift is a personal or official gift.

Penalty for contravening section 61 or 62

  1. Any specified person in public life who—
  • knowingly makes a report to the Commission under section 61(1), [or to the Governor General] under section 62 which is incomplete or false in any material particular;
  • without reasonable excuse fails to comply with section 61(1), or to submit a report or application [to the Governor General] as required  under section 62; or
  • without reasonable excuse fails to comply with a direction given by the Commission under section 61(6), [or by the Governor General] under section 62,

shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine, which shall not be less than the value of the gift involved in the commission of the offence, or to a term of imprisonment of three months or both.

Prosecutions

  1. No prosecution for an offence under section 63 shall be instituted after five years from the date when the person in respect of whose declaration the alleged offence was committed ceased to be a specified person in public life.

PART VIII

ACTS OF CORRUPTION

Provisions of this Part in addition to any other law

  1. The provisions of this Part shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of the Criminal Law (Arrestable Offences) Act, the Theft Act or any other law or the Common Law

Powers of appropriate disciplinary authority preserved

  1. The provisions of this Part shall be without prejudice to the powers conferred upon the appropriate disciplinary authority by the Constitution or any other Law

Acts of corruption

  1. A person commits an act of corruption if he—
  • solicits or accepts, whether directly or indirectly, any article, money or other benefit or advantage for himself or another person for doing an act or for omitting to do an act in the performance of his functions as a public official;
  • in the performance of his duty as a public official, performs or omits to perform any of his duties in a public body for the purpose of obtaining any benefit for himself or any other person;
  • offers, promises or gives directly or indirectly to a pubic official any article, money, or other benefit, for doing or omitting to do any act in the performance of his duties as a public official;
  • knowingly or recklessly allows his private interest to conflict with his public duties or to improperly influence his conduct in the performance of his duties as a public official;
  • improperly uses for his benefit or that of a third party any classified or confidential information that he has obtained in his duties as a public official;
  • communicates to an unauthorised person any classified or confidential information obtained in the performance of his duties as a public official with a view to assisting that person to obtain a benefit;
  • improperly uses for his benefit or that of a third party, any property belonging to the Government or any Statutory body or government controlled company to which he has access as a result of or in the course of the performance of his functions;
  • improperly influences the appointment of, or the dismissal, suspension or other disciplinary action against, a public official;
  • hinders, delays or interferes with the performance of a duty of a public official with a view to obtaining a benefit for himself or another person;
  • during the performance of his official duties pursues a course of conduct with respect to another public officer which amounts to offensive sexual comments, gestures or physical contact or other conduct of that kind;
  • pursues a course of conduct by which he exploits his position or authority for his sexual gratification.

Offence in respect of procuring tenders

  1. (1) A public official who, in relation to a contract for performing any work, providing a service or supplying articles or material—
  • accepts, agrees or offers to accept whether directly or indirectly any benefit for himself or for another person for awarding a tender to a particular person;
  • gives, agrees or offers to give whether directly or indirectly any benefit to another person for the purpose of obtaining any benefit for himself or for another person as a reward for awarding a tender to a particular person; or
  • gives to a person confidential information in order to enable that person to tender or not to tender in a particular manner in order to obtain an unfair advantage in tendering, commits an offence.
  • A person who, in relation to a contract for performing any work, providing a service or supplying articles or material—
    • offers to a public official whether directly or indirectly any benefit for himself or for another person for awarding a tender to a particular person;
    • offers to a public official whether directly or indirectly any benefit for the purpose of obtaining any benefit for himself or for another person as a reward for awarding a tender to a particular person, commits an offence.

Transnational bribery

  1. (1) Any person who is a Citizen or permanent resident of Barbados or resides in Barbados and who intentionally offers, promises or grants directly or indirectly to a government official of another State any gift or money or other advantage in connection with any economic or commercial transaction, in order that such official act or refrain from acting in relation to the performance of his official duties, in order to obtain or retain business or other improper advantage in the conduct of international business, commits an offence.

 

  • Any public official who solicits, demands, accepts, or receives directly or indirectly, from any private or public corporation, including a transnational corporation or any individual from another State, any payment, gift or other advantage, as undue consideration for performing or refraining from the performance of that official’s duties in the conduct of international business, commits an offence.
  • For the purposes of subsection (1) Citizen and “Permanent Resident” have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Immigration Act.

Offences and penalties

  1. (1) A person who commits an act of corruption under section 67, 68 or 69 is liable—
  • on conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 or to a term of imprisonment of five years or to both;
  • [on summary conviction] to a fine of [$250,000] or to a term of imprisonment of two years or to both; and
  • to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of five years from the date of conviction for the offence.
  • In addition to the penalties under this section the Court may make—
    • a confiscation order;
    • an order directing payment to a public body the value of any property obtained by the convicted person in relation to the act of corruption for which he was convicted.
  • A person who possesses or is in control of any property knowing that the property or part of the property or proceeds from the property were obtained or derived directly or indirectly from the commission of an act of corruption, commits an offence and is liable—
    • on conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of five years or to both;
    • [on summary conviction] to a fine of [$250,000] or to a term of imprisonment of two years or both; and
    • to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of five years from the date of conviction for the offence.
  • A person who—
    • aids, assists, or is an accessory after the fact or participates in any manner in the commission of or conspires to commit an act of corruption; or
    • procures the commission of an act of corruption or who attempts, or counsels another, to commit an act of corruption commits an offence and is liable—
      • on conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 or to a term of imprisonment of five years or to both;
      • [on summary conviction] to a fine of [$250,000] or to a term of imprisonment of two years or to both; and
      • to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of five years from the date of conviction for the offence.

Property acquired bona fide

  1. Property acquired bona fide without notice that a corruption offence has been committed is not liable to forfeiture.

Defence not available to person charged

  1. Where in any proceedings for an offence under this Part it is proved that a public official accepted a gift or benefit believing or having grounds to believe or to suspect, that the gift or benefit was given as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do an act in the performance of his functions it shall be no defence that that public official—
  • did not actually have the power or right to so do or to so forbear from any act; or;
  • accepted the benefit with no intention of doing or forbearing to do any act.

Defence available to person charged

  1. It shall be a defence to a person charged with an act of corruption if he satisfies the Court, on a balance of probabilities, that he had no knowledge of the circumstances giving rise to the act of corruption.

Presumption of corruption

  1. Where in any proceedings for an offence it is proved that in seeking to obtain a contract from the Government, a government department or a public body, a person has received or given money, a gift or any other benefit, that gift or benefit shall be presumed to have been paid or given and received as an inducement or reward unless, on a balance of probabilities, the contrary is proved.

Possession of unaccounted property or pecuniary resource

  1. (1) Where a person who is or was a public official is suspected to be in possession of property or pecuniary resource disproportionate to such person’s known sources of income, the Commission, on a complaint or, of its own motion, may summon that person to produce evidence that the property or resource was lawfully obtained and if that person fails to produce satisfactory evidence to prove that the possession of the property or pecuniary resource was acquired by lawful means, he commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine and to a term of imprisonment of not less than six months or more than three years.

(2) In imposing a fine under subsection (1) on a person found guilty of an offence under that subsection, the court shall have regard to the value of the property or pecuniary resource in the possession of that person, which cannot be accounted for by his known sources of income or other lawful means of acquisition of the property or pecuniary resource and such fine shall be equivalent to one and one half times the value of the aforesaid property or pecuniary resource found to be in the possession of the said person.

Proof of acquisition by lawful means

  1. In any proceedings for an offence concerning an alleged act of corruption to which this Part applies it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that any property, gift or pecuniary resource in relation to the alleged act of corruption was acquired by lawful means and the accused shall be acquitted of the offence if he produces satisfactory evidence, on a balance of probability, that the property, gift or resource was acquired by lawful means.

Making of false allegation

  1. A person who maliciously makes a false allegation or maliciously provides false information related to an act of corruption commits an offence and is liable—
  • on conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of two years or to both;
  • [on summary conviction] to a fine of [$250,000] or to a term of imprisonment of two years or to both.

Complaint to the Commission

  1. (1) A person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a specified person in public life has committed an act of corruption may complain in writing to the Commission stating—
  • the particulars of the breach;
  • the nature of the evidence that the person proposes to produce in support of the complaint;
  • other particulars as may be prescribed in Regulations made by the Attorney General.
  • A complaint to the Commission under this section may be presented in person or may be sent by registered post to the Chairman of the Integrity Commission.

Duty of public officials to report act of corruption

  1. (1) A public official who knows or suspects that another person has been, is or is likely to be engaged in an act of corruption shall report his knowledge or suspicion to the Commission.
    • A public official who fails to report his knowledge or suspicion as required by subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100,000 or to imprisonment for six months, or to both.
    • No public official who reports his knowledge or suspicion that another person has been, is or is likely to be engaged in an act of corruption to a person or entity other than the Commission, in accordance with the requirements of another Act or Regulation, shall be convicted of an offence under this section.

Inquiry by the Commission

  1. (1) Where the Commission receives a complaint, the Commission on examination of the complaint may—
  • reject the complaint if it considers it is frivolous, or that it does not relate to a matter the Commission is empowered to deal with;
  • hold an inquiry into the complaint giving an opportunity to the specified person in public life to be heard;
  • on conclusion of an inquiry, forward the complaint, and any documents and a report containing recommendations of the Commission to the Director of Public Prosecutions if it considers that a criminal offence may have been committed.
  • Where a specified person in public life has been exonerated following an inquiry into an allegation of corruption, the Commission—
    • shall in writing inform the person who made the complaint of the finding of the inquiry;
    • shall in writing inform the specified person in public life of the finding of the inquiry;
    • publish the finding of the inquiry in the Official Gazette.

Action by Director of Public Prosecutions

  1. The Director of Public Prosecutions as soon as practicable after receiving any complaint, documents and report under this Act shall in any case in which he considers that a person ought to be prosecuted for an offence institute and undertake criminal proceedings against the person; and shall inform—
  • the Commission of any action taken following the receipt of a complaint from the Commission against a specified person in public life;
  • the appropriate Service Commission where a complaint relates to a public officer; and
  • the appropriate board, authority or body with which the specified person in public life is employed.

Where public allegation is made

  1. Where an allegation is made in public that a specified person in public life has committed an act of corruption, a person desiring to make a complaint to the Commission relative to that alleged act of corruption must lodge a complaint with the Commission not later than three months from the date on which that public allegation was first made.

PART IX

CONDUCT IN PUBLIC LIFE

Code of Conduct

Inquiry or investigation into contravention of Code of Conduct by public official

  1. (1) The Commission shall formulate and publish, after public consultation, a Code of Conduct for Persons in Public Life, keep the Code under review and amend or replace it as it considers necessary or desirable, and, in accordance with any Law, investigate any alleged failures to abide by the Code by persons subject to it, either in response to a complaint or on its own initiative;

(2) The Commission shall inquire into or investigate every contravention of the Code of Conduct by a public official where—

  • it receives a complaint or report of the contravention;
  • it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for it to conduct an investigation on its own initiative.

(3) An inquiry or investigation shall not be commenced after two years from the date on which the person ceased to be in public life.

Commission may request further information or hold formal inquiry

  1. (1) Where the Commission is of the opinion that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the public official contravened the Code of Conduct, it may—
  • request the official in writing to furnish any further information or documents that it may require;
  • require the official to attend an inquiry of the Commission at a specified time to be heard on any matter relating to the alleged contravention.
  • A public official who fails without reasonable cause to attend an inquiry being conducted under this section or to furnish any information that the Commission requests him to furnish, or knowingly gives any false or incomplete information at such inquiry commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year or to both.
  • A public official who is required to attend an inquiry of the Commission may be represented by an attorney or friend at the inquiry and require the Commission to summon witnesses.
  • The Commission shall not make any adverse decision without giving the public official an opportunity to be heard.

Commission to report its findings

  1. (1) The Commission shall prepare a written report of the findings of an inquiry or investigation held under this Part, and indicate its conclusion in the report that—
  • it is not satisfied that the public official subject to the inquiry or investigation contravened the Code of Conduct; or
  • it has determined that the public official subject to the inquiry or investigation contravened the Code of Conduct.
  • If the Commission determines that a public official contravened the Code of Conduct, it may include in the report any recommendations as to the punishment or disciplinary measures that it believes would be appropriate to be taken against the public official.
  • The Commission shall send a copy of the report, including copies of evidence and material documents submitted during the inquiry or investigation, to—
    • the public servant who was subject to the inquiry or investigation; and
    • the following persons in the following cases—
      • the head of the Public Service and the Governor General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by a public officer;
      • the public official’s employer, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by a public official employed by a commission, statutory board, authority or other public body referred to in paragraph (d) of the definition of public body;
      • the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Governor General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by member of the House of Assembly;
      • the Governor General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by the head of the Public Service or by the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
  • A person who receives a report from the Commission under subsection (3)(b) in which the Commission has determined that the public official subject to the inquiry or investigation contravened the Code of Conduct shall—
    • decide without delay what measures shall be taken, if any, in response to the report and shall implement such measures without delay; and
    • inform the Commission, as soon as practicable but not later than 30 days after receiving the report—
      • of the follow-up actions or disciplinary measures that will be or have been taken against the public official in response to the report;
      • that no further action is required to be taken against the public official in response to the report; or
      • that no decision has been made as to the measures to be taken in response to the report, of the reasons for the delay, and of the date by which a decision will be made and sent to the Commission.

Whistleblower Protection

Protected disclosures

  1. (1) A public official shall benefit from the protections in sections 94 and 95 if he makes a protected disclosure, in good faith—
  • to a person referred to in any of sections 87 to 90 of a kind described in that section;
  • of an exceptionally serious matter, in the circumstances described in section 91; or
  • in the circumstances described in section
  • A protected disclosure is a disclosure—
    • that a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed;
    • that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation to which he is subject;
    • that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur;
    • that the health or safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered;
    • that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged; or
    • that information tending to show a matter within any of paragraphs (a) to (e) has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.
  • A disclosure is not a protected disclosure if the public official—
    • commits an offence by making the disclosure; or
    • discloses privileged material or information disclosed to him in the course of obtaining legal advice.
  • For the purposes of this section, it is immaterial whether—
    • the matter disclosed occurred, occurs or would occur in Barbados or elsewhere; or
    • the law applying to the matter disclosed is that of Barbados or of any other country or territory.

Disclosure to employer or other responsible person

  1. A public official may make a disclosure in connection with his employment—
  • to his employer; or
  • to another person, if the public official reasonably believes that the matter disclosed relates mainly to that person’s conduct or to another matter for which that person has legal responsibility.

Disclosure to legal adviser

  1. A public official may make a disclosure to a legal adviser in the course of obtaining legal advice.

Disclosure to Governor General

  1. A public official may make a disclosure to the Governor General if the official’s employer is—
  • an individual appointed under an enactment by the Governor General; or
  • a body any of whose members is appointed by the Governor General. 

Disclosure to Commission

  1. A public official may make a disclosure to the Commission if the person reasonably believes that the information disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, are substantially true.

Disclosure of an exceptionally serious matter

  1. A public official may disclose a matter of an exceptionally serious nature if—
  • he reasonably believes that the information disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, is substantially true;
  • he does not make the disclosure for the purposes of personal gain; and
  • it is reasonable for him to make the disclosure, having regard in particular to the identity of the person to whom the disclosure is made.

Disclosure in particular circumstances

  1. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a public official may make a disclosure in any of the following circumstances where—
  • he reasonably believes that if he were to make the disclosure to his employer, his employer would subject him to a detriment;
  • he reasonably believes that—
    • he cannot make the disclosure to the Commission because the matter to be disclosed is not one that the Commission is willing or able to deal with; and
    • if he were to make the disclosure to his employer, it is likely that evidence relating to the matter would be concealed or destroyed;
  • he has previously made a disclosure of substantially the same information to his employer or to the Commission.
  • The official may only make a disclosure under this section if—
    • he reasonably believes that the information to be disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, is substantially true;
    • he does not make the disclosure for personal gain; and
    • it is reasonable for him to make it.
  • In determining whether it is reasonable for a public official to make a disclosure under this section, regard must be had in particular to—
    • the identity of the person to whom the disclosure is made;
    • the seriousness of the matter disclosed;
    • whether the matter disclosed is continuing or is likely to occur in the future; and
    • whether the disclosure is in breach of a duty of confidentiality owed by the person’s employer to any other person.

Previous disclosures of substantially the same information

  1. (1) In determining whether it is reasonable for a public official to make a disclosure in the circumstances described in section 92(1)(c), regard must also be had to—
    • any action that his employer or the Commission took or might reasonably be expected to have taken in consequence of the previous disclosure; and
    • in the case of a previous disclosure to his employer, whether in making the disclosure, the official complied with any procedure whose use was authorised by the employer.
  • For the purposes of section 92(1)(c), a subsequent disclosure may be regarded as a disclosure of substantially the same information as that disclosed by a previous disclosure even though the subsequent disclosure extends to information about action taken or not taken in consequence of the previous disclosure.

Protection vis a vis employer or person in authority

  1. (1) An employer or any person in authority over a public official who subjects that official to a detriment by reason only of his having made a protected disclosure under section 86 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $150,000 or imprisonment for a term of 2 years, or to both.
    • A public official who makes a protected disclosure under section 86 does not break a duty of confidentiality to any person by reason only of having made the disclosure.

Contractual limitations

  1. (1) A provision in an agreement to which this section applies is void in so far as it purports to preclude a person from making a protected disclosure under section

(2) This section applies to an agreement between a person and his employer (whether or not part of the contract of employment) including an agreement to refrain from instituting or continuing proceedings for breach of contract.

PART X

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Assistance by Commissioner of Police

  1. (1) Where the Commission requests the Commissioner of Police for any assistance, in connection with the performance of its functions, it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Police to provide or to ensure the provision of such assistance to the Commission.
    • Where the Commission is investigating an offence alleged to have been committed by a member of the Police Force contrary to this Act or another Act in respect of which the Commission has responsibility to investigate offences—
      • the Commission shall have conduct of the proceedings for the offence; and
      • the investigative officer shall have, for the purposes of the proceedings referred to in paragraph (a), the powers of a senior police officer under the Police Act.

Confidentiality of information

  1. (1) Any information received by any member, officer or other employee of the Commission, in the course of the performance of the functions of such person under this Act (including information contained in any document received by that person by virtue of the provisions of this Act) shall not be divulged by any such member, or by any such officer or employee, except where the information is required to be produced for the purpose of complying with any written law or the order of any court or for the purpose of prosecution for an offence.
  • Any member, or any officer or employee of the Commission who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction, to a fine of $5,000 or to a term of imprisonment of two months.
  • Any person who receives any information or anything contained in such documents as aforesaid, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe at the time when he receives it, that it is communicated to him in contravention of this section shall, unless he proves that the communication to him of the information or anything contained in any document was contrary to his desire, commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5,000 or a term of imprisonment of two months.

Amendment of Schedules

  1. The Attorney General may, after consultation with the Commission, by order amend the Schedules.

Regulations

  1. The Attorney General may make Regulations for giving effect to the provisions of this Act and without derogating from the generality of the forgoing may make Regulations to provide for—
  • any matter required to be prescribed by this Act;
  • any matter in relation to any report, investigation or enquiry under this Act;
  • any matter concerning procedure of the Commission;
  • such other matters as may be necessary or required for the purposes of carrying into effect the provisions of this Act.

Power of Commission to make rules

  1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act and Regulations made thereunder, the Commission may make Rules to regulate its procedure.
    • The Commission shall make rules, defining the circumstances in which the acquisition by an elected or appointed member of Parliament of an interest in a contract with the Government is prohibited.

SCHEDULE 1

(Section 2)

SPECIFIED PERSONS IN PUBLIC LIFE

  1. Members of the House of Assembly and the Senate
  2. Members of Cabinet
  3. Permanent Secretaries and Officers of Related Grades
  4. Heads of Departments within the Public Service
  5. Chairpersons of Boards, Commissions, Corporations or Entities established by Statute
  6. Chief Executive Officers, Managers or Executive Heads of Boards, Commissions, Corporations or Entities established by Statute
  7. Magistrates
  8. Judges

 

 

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Eldine, a BLP standard bearer beyond compare

BLP stalwart Mrs. Eldine Boyce JP and party leader Mia Mottley.

With the passing of Mrs. Eldine Boyce, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) family lost one of its most loyal, dedicated and sweetest members, and a living representation of its history.

Born in 1923, Eldine would have witnessed first-hand the birth, growth and fortunes of the BLP, and stood with us through thick and thin.

Her devotion to our party was matched only by her love for her family and St. Leonard’s Church, where she was confirmed on 22 November 1947. Her lying in repose last Thursday (November 9) at Grantley Adams House, the BLP’s headquarters, was testimony to her life-long affection, membership and involvement with the BLP.

Small in stature, warm in character with a special facility to embrace younger people and always willing to help, Eldine’s personality was tailor-made for the role she performed as a counsellor and Justice of the Peace.

These traits however, masked a steeliness and forthrightness that came to the fore in full display when confronting “foolishness” or defending her beloved BLP.

This was probably best reflected in her 12 children whom she raised on a strong foundation of morals, discipline, and respect for each other and others.

In many ways, Eldine represented what is generally regarded as Barbados’ greatest generation – that mass of individuals who came through the struggles of the 1930s and 40s to build a strong Barbados; that group who worked tirelessly to build better lives for their children; and for whom, despite party affiliation, Barbados took pride of place.

Born on 1 May 1923, Eldine would have witnessed and participated in the struggles and emancipation of Barbados through her political agitation and work as a maid at what is now the Geriatric Hospital and later, the Ministry of Health. She was able to witness Barbados progress to become the most modern small country in the world.

“Ms. Boyce was born on May 1, the day of the workers. She was Labour by birth and Labour by choice,” said party leader, Mia Amor Mottley.

“I will never forget the morning she addressed the people of Barbados at the Emancipation Day 6 a.m. ceremony at Bussa Statue. Her speech was impressive and revealed another side of her life and experiences. At a personal level it allowed us to get much closer as after that she would share a lot more about her life and the early days,” Mottley added.

Eldine’s work at many levels in the BLP, especially the Women’s League, the St. Michael West branch, and as a leading cheerleader at any meeting of the party, contributed immensely to our party’s success.

She was particularly effective in the party’s darkest hours, as she became a rallying and unifying force that belied her humble beginnings and unassuming nature.

It was especially for these traits that in 2003 Eldine was awarded our party’s highest honour usually reserved for females, the Milroy Reece Award.

Her passing at 94 leaves a void that will not be easily filled. The BLP has not only lost a standard bearer beyond compare, but Barbados has lost one of its few remaining patriots of that generation of foundation builders.

The Leader of the BLP, Mia Amor Mottley; Chairman, George Payne; General Secretary, Dr. Jerome Walcott, and members of the BLP are deeply grateful to the family of Eldine Boyce for sharing her with us for so many decades, and extend deepest condolences to her four surviving children, 23 grandchildren, 36 great-grands, and three great, great grands.

May Eldine rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Marshall: Why Dems running from corruption laws?

Former Attorney General, Dale Marshall.

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall wants to know why the Democratic Labour Party is running scared from proclaiming their anti-corruption law.

In a statement issued on Friday, November 3, Marshall said the refusal of the DLP to proclaim the 2012 Act which has already passed both houses in Parliament raises serious questions.

He asked: “What is stopping the Government from proclaiming its own Prevention of Corruption Act 2012? What are they afraid of?

“Could it be the section requiring all Members of Parliament to declare their assets?

“[Or,] could it be the section that requires political parties to declare the names of financial contributors two years before and up to six months after a general election?”

Marshall, the St. Joseph parliamentary representative, has urged Barbadians not to be fooled by any late hour proclamation of the Act just before the general elections.

“If the Government proclaims the Act at the end of December and calls the election in January or February, there is no requirement for them to file their declarations before the election,” said Marshall.

He also slammed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for trying to insult Barbadians’ intelligence by telling them that there was already an anti-corruption law on the statute books so there was no need for the Prevention of Corruption Act 2012. Marshall said that law was 88 years old and woefully inadequate to deal with modern challenges.

The following is the full text of Mr. Marshall’s statement:

“Last weekend at a Democratic Labour Party get together, in a feeble attempt to defend allegations of corruption and his Government’s failure to proclaim the Prevention of Corruption Act 2012, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made the amazing statement that a Bill passed in 1929 – Cap 144 was still the law in Barbados and that it was not true to say that there was no Prevention of Corruption Act in Barbados.

Why did the Democratic Labour Party promise in its 2008 manifesto to enact a Prevention of Corruption Act and an Integrity in Public Life Act within 100 days of coming to office? By the way, the Integrity in Public Life legislation was never brought and seems to have fallen off their radar.

Why did the Prime Minister re-affirm at a branch meeting at the end of February 2012 that both of these pieces of legislation would be passed in Parliament before the next General Election? That has come and gone.

Why did the Government bring a new Prevention of Corruption Act to Parliament, which passed both the Lower and Upper House and was assented to by the Governor-General in December 2012?

What is stopping the Government from proclaiming its own Prevention of Corruption Act 2012?

What are they afraid of?

Could it be the section requiring all Members of Parliament to declare their assets?

Could it be the section that requires political parties to declare the names of financial contributors two years before and up to six months after a general election?

There are a few things I wish Barbadians to note. The Government took five years to produce the Prevention of Corruption Act. They have withheld it from becoming the law of Barbados for another five years.

But this is the kicker ladies and gentlemen; the section that requires a person in public life to declare their assets allows that person three months to do so from the date of the commencement of the Act. So if the Government proclaims the Act at the end of December and calls the election in January or February, there is no requirement for them to file their declarations before the election.

How can you trust or believe the Prime Minister’s word on the subject of the Prevention of Corruption Act when it took his Government not 100 days, but 10 years, and yet they refuse to enact the legislation? And to add insult to injury he refers the public to a law passed in 1929 for which the maximum fine is $2,400 or $240 on summary conviction before a magistrate.

Who are they trying to fool?

The Prime Minister and the Democratic Labour Party have no credibility on this matter.

If we cannot trust them to enact their own Prevention of Corruption Act, how can we believe that they will uphold the spirit or the letter of the law?

 

 

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Better days coming with BLP

ALL AH WE WID MIA: It was a time for celebration when BLP leader Mia Mottley concluded her address to party’s 79th annual conference in Queens Park on Saturday (October 28) night. She was later joined on stage by chairman, George Payne, and the candidates to salute the several hundred supporters who attended the event.

The National Social Responsibility Levy will be a thing of the past; an integrity commission rooting out corruption is in; children will learn to swim and speak a second language, and education at the University of the West Indies will be free again.

And above all else, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) will be bringing an economic stabilization package to the country six weeks after winning the next general election.

With hundreds hanging onto her every word, political leader Mia Mottley, laid the party’s plans bare as she delivered the feature address at the BLP’s 79th annual conference on Saturday night (October 28) at Queen’s Park. It is clear that better days are coming for Barbadians when they re-elect the BLP to end the suffering and drought being experienced here since 2008.

It was a party-like celebration that engulfed the specially erected tents at the historic Bridgetown venue.

Mottley’s long-time friend and former fellow Cabinet Minister Liz Thompson had introduced her in glowing terms and gave way to her as the crowd erupted into thunderous applause and roared their approval as the Opposition Leader was ushered by an honour guard waving red flags and to the chorus of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.

“This country has lost the confidence of the people of Barbados and the confidence of the business sector. The only way we can restore that confidence is to get things done in a way that is transparent, predictable and fair, and I say to you that you need to get rid of this Government,” she said.

As she rallied her 29 candidates behind her, Mottley left no doubt that the BLP was ready to take the reins of power and immediately get about the business of running the country.

In fact, she said, the party already had its first day of government business  planned.

“I stand here tonight to commit to you that the Barbados Labour Party Economic Team, which has been working for the last 12 months on the condition which we face, will be in a position to present to the country the first economic stabilization and growth plan for the people of Barbados within six weeks of being elected as the Parliament of this country,” she promised.

Mottley also declared that on the first day of Parliament a bill will be brought to decriminalize illegal vending; there will be the first reading of the Integrity Commission Bill of Barbados as well as legislation repealing the National Social Responsibility Levy and the solid waste tax on the first working day.

“We shall also be repealing the legislation requiring tax certificates for property transactions in this country – an iniquitous and vicious act that affects more poor people with savings than it affects large people who have cash in this country,” Mottley said.

“And whosoever shall have the pleasure of being the Minister of Education shall be rising to give their first ministerial statement and . . . they shall commit the government of Barbados to paying fees for students of Barbados at the University of the West Indies from academic year 2018 to 2019.

“I make this solemn commitment to you, the people of Barbados standing here at Queen’s Park that should it be the will of the people, you do not have to ask what the government will be doing on the first working day of its Parliament,” she said.

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CBC playing partisan politics

BLP General Secretary Senator Dr Jerome Walcott.

No paid political broadcasts out of election time.

That’s the reason why the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation refused to bring a live broadcast of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s address to the Barbados Labour Party’s 79th Delegates Conference on Saturday (October 28) evening.

BLP general secretary Senator Dr Jerome Walcott revealed this while delivering his annual report at the closed door session that morning as the conference’s first business day got going at Queens Park, in The City.

In his address, a copy of which was made available to the Sunday Sun, Walcott said that on Thursday the party received correspondence from CBC’s general manager Doug Hoyte indicating that CBC could not broadcast Mottley’s speech live – similar to what was done for president of the ruling Democratic Labour Party, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, when that party held their annual conference in August and September – as that could be construed as “a paid political broadcast”.

Walcott said crude partisan politics was behind the decision.

“This same CBC announced beforehand that on September 3rd this year it would be broadcasting live from George Street the address of the DLP President, Freundel Stuart to his party’s Conference. [It was] not an address to the nation [but] a political address to a political party conference.

“Clearly some of the senior management of CBC see the operating of CBC as the public relations arm of the DLP Government, as their role and function. These same individuals cannot deny their connections to the DLP – one was a candidate, one chaired a public meeting for the DLP, and one holds dear his friendship from school days with the late PM David Thompson. . . . To cap it all off, Mr George Pilgrim, the general secretary of the DLP sits on the Board of CBC.

“It is therefore no surprise how CBC is being crudely manipulated for political purposes,” Walcott told the conference.

The surgeon and former parliamentary representative for Christ Church South, said this approach to the BLP from CBC’s management was now a pattern, and recounted the party’s experience with the debt riddled statutory corporation this year.

“On March 8, 2017 the BLP requested and paid $2277.50 for three ads to be broadcast on CBC, on the nights of March 8, 9 and 10. CBC did not air the ads as agreed to in the Booking Contract. The ad was not shown after the first night, and CBC subsequently refunded the BLP $1518.34.

“A station which is more than $100 million in debt and recently admitted the inability to pay its employees outstanding increments can return cheques? Furthermore, they issued a memo to staff on October 18th indicating their inability to pay October salaries on October 27th,” claimed Walcott.

He said following Stuart’s live broadcast, the BLP wrote to Hoyte, a former DLP candidate in St George South, requesting a similar privilege be extended to Mottley. But “as I speak to you this morning, some five and a half weeks later, I have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt of that registered letter from CBC”.

Despite this, the party made another attempt. It wrote to Rosemary Alleyne, CBC’s director of Broadcasting Services on October 24th, 2017 seeking to purchase airtime for the re-broadcasting of Mottley’s speech, and indicated that a cheque for the amount quoted to the party would be sent as soon as approval had been obtained from CBC.

“She acknowledged receipt, but to our chagrin on Thursday (October 26) we received correspondence from the same Mr. Doug Hoyte indicating that CBC could not accede to our request. He stated that it could be construed as “a paid political broadcast”,” said Walcott.

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Junior Bees told to care about people

A cross section of the teenagers inducted into the Barbados Labour Party’s Junior League on Thursday night. (Picture compliments Loop News)

Caring about people is the main reason to be in politics.

That, essentially, sums up the message the Barbados Labour Party’s political leader Mia Mottley gave to the 193 junior bees inducted into the party’s ranks on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

“Recognize that politics means nothing if you don’t care about people. It doesn’t matter how bright you are or how well you can speak; but what you must be measured [against] is how you care for each other and those around you.

“If you don’t care for each other, the basis on which we live as one family is torn. If you don’t care about people, you won’t care if they got water or food, or if they are working or not working,” Mottley told the new Bees between the ages of 11 and 16, who joined the party’s junior league.

During the two-hour induction ceremony at Queen’s Park, The City, attended by several BLP candidates for the forthcoming general elections constitutionally due within seven months, Mottley urged the youngsters to spend time in their books to enable them to make wise decisions going forward, as well as to be assertive.

“You must be confident people, and you can be confident without being rude. You must be able to speak up and speak out when things are going wrong and when you think that something has to be said.

“You will be the ones whose curiosity will be satisfied . . . . More importantly, you will be the ones that in the future will make history, and pass it on to future generations,” said Mottley, the Member of Parliament for St Michael North East, as she gave the youngsters a short political leture, while asking them to promise to become builders of Barbados.

Senator Wilfred Abrahams defended the BLP’s decision to induct young teenagers, most of whom were dressed in the traditional red of the BLP.

Abrahams, who is contesting the Christ Church East constituency, said young people should be free to align themselves with any political party.

“You have to know your self-worth. Know who you are and what you want in life. People say we should not be trying to get youngsters to join a political party from so young . . .  but if we are trying to develop Barbados we need people who are confident to do what has to be done,” Abrahams argued.

“The victimization culture has to stop. In Barbados we have a right to freedom of association. You are free to associate with anybody and any party that you choose to. It is up to you to know what is good for you and how to make that choice.”

Under the theme Remembering Our Past and Embracing Our Future the BLP promised to help the adolescents with their personal, social and educational development.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Khaleel Kothdiwala, the 13-year-old who sprung onto the political scene after delivering a fiery speech at the Step Up If You Fed-up march of disgust against the Freundel Stuart administration in March.

In a brief speeck, Kothdiwala, a student of Queen’s College, explained his vision for the leaders of the future.

“The fact is we are all leaders. Whatever we go on to do in our lives, we are all leaders. Some are born, some achieve greatness, and quite frankly, regardless of the category in which we find ourselves we all have the ability to inspire others, to motivate, to set a vision and to communicate.

“Leadership is a day-to-day matter on how we decide to do our best and how we get others to do their very best. The ability we have to make our world a better tomorrow starts with how we live our lives today,” the teenager told those gathered. (BLP News/Barbados TODAY/LOOP News)

 

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BLP willing to pay CBC

BLP general secretary, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, is calling on CBC to do the right thing.

THE BARBADOS LABOUR PARTY (BLP) is willing to pay the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for airtime this weekend.

That disclosure came on Wednesday from general secretary Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, who gave a brief update on the matter during the launch of the party’s official campaign song. It will be used this weekend at the BLP’s annual conference in Queen’s Park, The City, to present the 30 candidates for the next General Election.

Last week, Walcott accused the state-run CBC of operating like an arm of the ruling Democratic Labour Party, and challenged management to give their leader, Mia Mottley, the same courtesy paid to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart by bringing his address live when the DLP held its conference this year.

Walcott said a letter was hand-delivered to the Pine, St Michael corporation Wednesday morning, expressing the BLP’s willingness to pay to have Mottley’s address aired. She is scheduled to speak at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.  Her speech will focus on how the BLP will make a difference in Barbadians lives.

“We have inquired and we have written to CBC requesting airtime. We already know the cost of the airtime, we’ve offered to pay for the airtime and this morning [Wednesday] we sent it.

“In spite of the request I spoke to being made in September, to which we’re yet to receive a response, we have now written formally requesting certain time slots, and indicating our willingness to pay to dispatch a cheque to CBC as soon as they approve the airing of the time slot we requested.

“[This is] in terms of having the address of our political leader Mia Mottley carried, not live, because they certainly haven’t responded to our request to give us the same airtime and the same privilege that they granted to the leader of the Democratic Labour Party, Freundel Stuart, to speak at his conference.

“We’re now asking and saying that we’re requesting to have time and that we, recognising that they’re not preparing to cover it, that we’re prepared to pay for it . . . . We know that CBC is a national station, and we most certainly expect that they will accept our request to have airtime for the speech and address of our political leader Mia Mottley on Saturday,” Walcott stated.

The campaign song was a reworked version of Peter Ram’s winning 2015 Party Monarch track All Ah We. (BLP News/Nation)

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Straughn: Economy never been this bad

Chart showing how the Barbados economy consistently grew through successive administrations until the advent of the Freundel Stuart regime.

Economist Ryan Straughn has cautioned the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that if it wins the next election, it will inherit an economy that is in worse shape than when the BLP left office in 2008.

How bad?

Nearly $6 billion smaller than it was in 2008.

Delivering the eighth Tom Adams Memorial lecture on Wednesday, October 11, Straughn, who is the BLP’s Christ Church East Central candidate, said while successive BLP administrations had presided over economic activity since 1976, the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) regime had effectively reversed the gains that were previously made.

“With the exception of 2008, the current DLP Government has failed miserably to reproduce the level of economic activity the Barbados Labour Party handed to them in 2008,” Straughn told the gathering in the Hugh Springer Auditorium of the Barbados Workers’ Union headquarters.

“So far, up to 2016, some $5.5 billion has been eroded from the economic base of Barbados,” he added.

The lecture, held in honour of the island’s second prime minister, was entitled Transforming Barbados’ economy in an increasingly uncertain world: Lessons from Tom Adams for the 21st century.

In distinguishing the track record of the BLP from that of the DLP, Straughn relied on data from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre and Central Bank of Barbados, along with his own calculations, to show that the current administration had bucked the growth trend for Barbados with its economic figures now receding into the negative column.

The former macro-economic modeling specialist at the Central Bank of Barbados and current financial consultant said the BLP, led by Adams, had introduced a period of accelerated growth when it took office in 1976.

“The Barbados Labour Party successfully reproduced that level of economic activity every year during its post-independence  administration under Tom Adams. But more importantly it added approximately $7.5 billion in new economic activity over the ten years,” Straughn said.

“So we set a new bar, we raised the bar,” he argued, while noting that despite registering such growth, the BLP still lost the government in 1986.

Rating the succeeding DLP administration’s performance, he said it was “decent” at first but then it struggled towards the end of its tenure.

“The DLP created $4.2 billion in new economic activity above that of the Barbados Labour Party. [However] there was one year where it almost failed to reproduce what we were able to do under Tom Adams [and] by 1994 the Democratic Labour Party had only increased the size of the Barbados economy by some $300 million,” the economist explained.

Moving on to the Owen Arthur era, Straughn said that from the year after the former BLP leader took office, the 1995 to 2007 period saw a successful reproduction of economic growth activity “every year without fail”.

He noted that Arthur’s time saw an added $15.5 billion in new economic activity, adding that the former Prime Minister had left the economy with an international credit rating of ‘AA’.

However, he pointed out that under the DLP, the country has suffered a series of downgrades and as of September 27 this year international rating agency Standard and Poor’s placed Barbados’ status of credit worthiness at ‘CCC’. (BLP News/ Barbados TODAY)

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Sir Clifford embodied the best of Barbados

The late Sir Clifford Husbands, Barbados’ longest serving Governor General, 1996 to 2011.

Tribute to His Excellency Sir Clifford Husbands KCMG by Hon. Mia Amor Mottley Q.C., M.P., Leader of the Opposition and political leader of the Barbados Labour Party.

I would like to express my deep regret at the passing of our former Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands. His was a life and career that represented the best of Barbados.

Sir Clifford’s 15 years of service as the representative of our Head of State was characterized by charm, confidence, competence and a strong sense of duty. This allowed him to maintain the honour and dignity associated with the office. He was a stickler for decorum and punctuality and the maintenance of standards.

Sir Clifford believed in the importance of the rule of law and the maintenance of the  integrity of our public institutions and their critical link to nation building. This was equally apparent across his entire distinguished legal career.

We must not forget that it was the Report of the Steering Committee on Penal Reform which Sir Clifford chaired which paved the way for a new Penal system for Barbados in 1998, introducing a new range of non custodial punishments such as suspended sentences and community service.

Always leading by example, Sir Clifford maintained the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. His fierce  independence and competence as a judge was well-known.

Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands (at left) and centenarian Melville Williams enjoying a good joke on the latter’s birthday. Sir Clifford had the common touch as evidenced by the warmth he exuded in his interaction with scores of Barbadians during his tenure, and his words of comfort and hope in his several messages.

I am particularly appreciative of the interaction which I had with him when I served as Attorney General and also as a member of his Privy Council which he ably led. As Deputy Prime Minister I saw him regularly when I would go to be sworn into act as Prime Minister. He would often share of his vast experience and his wise counsel. For that I was always grateful.

To his children SandraDawn, Anthony and Laura and the rest of his family and his friends, I say on behalf of the Barbados Labour Party and my own family, be consoled by the knowledge that here was a man who served his country with distinction and decorum. May his soul rest in peace.

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Jordan, Barriteau warn of UWI crisis

Colin Jordan, St. Peter candidate and former president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

Colin Jordan and Professor Eudine Barriteau are warning about a looming crisis in university education here, because of the Freundel Stuart’s administration’s move to make Barbadians pay fees.

Jordan, the Barbados Labour Party candidate for St. Peter, said on Sunday, October 8 at Maynards, Peter, that Barbadians were raised to believe that education was the way out “but now that way out feels almost like a hole that has been plugged. So they’re trying to get out but can’t get out because of Government’s policies”.

“People in St Peter are saying that when you impose fees at the University of the West Indies that the rich people across Barbados, and other places, can still go to university, but that their own children are not able to access university education,” said Jordan after a Rubbing Shoulders mass canvass of St Peter.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau also warned of this looming crisis, which she said will affect the ability of the average Barbadian to afford a tertiary education.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau.

Speaking during a ceremony on Tuesday, October 10, to announce a US$2,500 scholarship for first year student Akilah Jordan-Watson who won the 2016 Optimist International Essay Competition, Barriteau further cautioned that with the economic situation as it is, students are finding it increasing difficult to pay for higher learning.

“As you know the challenge of funding higher education is being quite acute, and in essence a crisis may be looming,” the UWI principal said.

And while suggesting that Barbadians as a whole had taken higher education for granted, she warned that the cost was spiralling out of the reach of the average student following Government’s decision, back in 2014, to stop paying the tuition fees for Barbadians attending the UWI.

“I am really worried that if the trend continues, only an elite will be able to afford higher education,” the principal said.

Using herself as an example, Barriteau said she would not have been able to attend university had she not been afforded an education by the state.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have done a degree if at the time we had to pay, because my mother would not have been able to afford it,” she said, adding that tertiary education had her what she is today.

“When I think about all the opportunities that I have had personally I know that it is my first degree at the Cave Hill campus that enabled me to do that,” the Grenada-born principal said.

However, with the Barbados economy “tight” at the moment, she said it was really now left to parents to make the sacrifices on behalf of their children.

“Of course the Cave Hill campus is doing its own bit to help students in need of financial assistance, but we can only do so much given our financial circumstances,”Barriteau said, while making a passing reference to the $200 million which is said to be owed to the university by Government in terms of outstanding contributions.

“I don’t dwell on our debt, but it is significant,” she added.

While revealing that she had already written to Government seeking to get it to increase its $2,500 student grant by one thousand dollars, the UWI principal pleaded with non-governmental organizations and the private sector as a whole to assist in subsidizing tuition fees for students.

“I want to appeal to all our leaders, parliamentary, private sector, NGOs, to continue to invest in the young people of Barbados and the region to ensure that they have the opportunities, so they can take themselves further in the process.

“We need help so that we can offer our students more grants, scholarships and other activities to facilitate their development,” she said.

The BLP is committed to reversing this policy if it is elected to power in the next general election. Political leader Mia Mottley has been adamant about this since the Freundel Stuart administration made the move in 2014 and caused a near 50 per cent drop in enrollment.

As recently as February this year while Rubbing Shoulders With The People Of The City mass canvass, Mottley emphatically stated: “We will not be charging fees at the University of the West Indies for Barbadians. Life is about choices. This is a $35 million problem out of an almost $4 billion budget.”

 

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Gov’t ‘playing political football’ on public servants’ salaries

 

Colin Jordan smiles approvingly with his political leader Mia Mottley, who castigated the Prime Minister for comments he made in relation to the National Social Responsibility Levy and public servants’ salaries.

Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley has blasted Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for his comments relating to the almost $50 million raked in from the unpopular National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).

And she accused the administration of playing “political football” with the island’s public servants.

Speaking to the media at Maynards, St. Peter after a BLP Rubbing Shoulders mass canvass of the northern constituency on Sunday, October 8, Mottley said she was horrified by the Prime Minister’s response to a journalist’s question in relation to the NSRL and an increase in public servants’ salaries.

Stuart reportedly told Barbados TODAY: “The minister can say what he feels like saying, but I don’t have all of the data on the performance for the first quarter and when I get it, I will speak on it.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were in reference to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s report on the NSRL’s performance to the House of Assembly on October 3. He said the levy had contributed “just short of $50 million” to Government’s coffers, between July 1 and the end of September since it was increased from two per cent to ten per cent, and was on course to raise “just over $200 million” during the current fiscal year.

“If ever there was a . . . statement by a Prime Minister to tell people the equivalent of ‘like it or lump it’, this is the statement,” said Mottley.

“No right-thinking Barbadian can believe that a Prime Minister who has held the public service waiting in vain, can now say to them that he has not gotten to it and they will effectively have to wait,” she said, adding that Stuart had told the country on previous occasions that he would determine the performance of the NSRL after September 30.

Mottley charged that the Democratic Labour Party should stop “playing political football” with public servants and called on the Freundel Stuart administration to give civil servants their pay increase.

“This Government has got to stop playing political football with the public servants of Barbados,” she said.

“If the public servants deserve the pay increase, as we believe that they do, give it to them. And if you feel you can’t give them a full pay increase because you need more negotiations, at the very least give them a cost of living allowance; a coping subsidy.”

“This notion that you can get around to it when you feel like getting around to it or when you are good and ready is unacceptable, and if you are doing it because you feel you can . . . you can use this . . . in the political run up to the election, by giving them a pay increase just on the eve of the election, I say to you stop it!,” said Mottley.

“. . . Give them the pay increase that they deserve and is long overdue.

“At the very least, give them a cost of living allowance; a coping subsidy; whatever you want to call it, because while you are trying to have these discussions and look for these files, people are falling through the cracks,” said the BLP leader.

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Tourists numbers not translating to cash

Tourism executive and St Peter candidate Colin Jordan speaking at Maynards.

More tourists may be coming, but Barbados is earning less from the sector. And the proof of this can be seen in this island’s economy not growing.

As such, contended Colin Jordan, the Barbados Labour Party candidate for St Peter, under the Freundel Stuart Government the tourism sector has not been contributing to the country as it did before.

“Even though we have more people arriving, more people staying, we are not feeling the effect of those numbers compared to what we felt ten years ago.

“And we believe that if tourism was contributing as it was ten years ago, even with lesser numbers, we would be able to provide more in the area of job opportunities and training opportunities for the young people of this constituency,”  said Jordan as he addressed the media in Maynards, St Peter after a Rubbing Shoulders mass canvass in that constituency on Sunday, October 8.

The former president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association charged that there is a disconnect between the reports from Government and what Barbadians were experiencing. He argued that if there was growth in the economy, many of the issues such as poor roads and flooding would have been resolved.

“We need our major industries to be working, to be contributing to the national income so that we can have these issues fixed,” he stressed.

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Downgrades show up Govt’s incompetence

These graphs from the international rating agencies, Moody’s (top) and Standard & Poor’s (bottom) demonstrate Barbados’ credit rating downgrade slide.

Barbadians are paying too high a price for this Government’s incompetence and stubbornness, charged Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.

She was responding to the latest downgrade of Barbados’ sovereign credit rating to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’.

Mottley said the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgrade and negative outlook were likely to further erode investor confidence and warned that the country would not improve under the Democratic Labour Party administration.

Mia Mottley wants to know how many more downgrades it will take for the Government to realize that there is no confidence left in their ability to reverse the failing economic situation.

“How many more downgrades will it take for the Prime Minister and his Government to realize that there is no confidence left in their ability to reverse the situation?” Mottley asked in a statement immediately in response to the September 28th 2017 downgrade.

In their assessment, S&P raised a red flag that Barbados’ longstanding 2-to-1 peg to the United States dollar is under threat as economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

In their grim report, S&P also warned that the Freundel Stuart administration was unlikely to balance its budget any time soon, given lingering challenges including poor implementation of policy decisions, the likely overestimation of one-off revenues, and approaching general elections.

Against this backdrop, S&P lowered the island’s long-term local currency sovereign credit rating to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’, while affirming its long-term foreign currency sovereign rating at ‘CCC+’. The outlook on both long-term ratings is negative.

A major bugbear cited by the New York-based agency is the island’s high fiscal deficit. The deficit is estimated at six per cent, and overall debt at about 140 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which S&P said was one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Barbados’ policy challenges include high general Government debt, deficits, and debt servicing requirements; limited appetite for private-sector financing; and a low level of international reserves raising the risk to sustainability of the peg to the US dollar,” S&P said in its report.

“In our opinion, monetary financing to the central Government is at odds with sustaining Barbados’ currency peg to the dollar, and it significantly curtails the Central Bank’s ability to act as a lender of last resort in the financial system. Low inflation is a reflection of global conditions rather than effective monetary policy execution given the fixed exchange-rate regime,” it added.

The ratings agency warned that should Government fail to advance measures to significantly lower its high fiscal deficit, strengthen its external liquidity, and reverse its low level of international reserves, there could be further pressure on availability of deficit financing, albeit from official or private creditors.

S&P further stressed that this situation was also posing challenges to the fixed exchange rate regime, while at the same time pointing out that economic growth was being held back by recurrent tourism project delays, higher taxes, low private sector confidence and consumption, and a significant level of red tape, which weakens Barbados’ overall economic profile.

However, while predicting further downgrade, the ratings agency left room for an improved rating, should the administration achieve certain targets.

“We could revise the outlook to stable over the next 12 months if the Government succeeds in balancing its fiscal budget, either from implementation of fiscal measures or a prolonged rebound in growth; improves its access to financing from private creditors locally and globally; and stabilizes the country’s external vulnerabilities and bolsters international reserves,” the report said.

The latest downgrade has drawn strong reaction from several quarters.

Mottley expressed dismay that the island had been downgraded for the 20th time in nine years and the country was now virtually on par with Venezuela.

President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed said the private sector was extremely concerned about the situation facing the country.

At the same time, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed said the  latest downgrade of Barbados is yet another dark cloud over the local investment climate, leaving very little hope in the business community that the economy will emerge from the doldrums anytime soon.

He added that the private sector was extremely concerned about the situation facing the country and he feared it would not improve anytime soon, given that the next general election is due within months.

“There is nothing positive about this rating that any of the citizens and businessmen in this country can say that we have something to look forward to.

“Government has been reluctant in approaching the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. Sadly, we are paying the price for it because our foreign reserves are extremely woeful and the prospects going forward don’t seem at all to be positive, so much so the ratings agency has said that the expectations are negative,” he lamented.

Abed also expressed concern that unless Government deals with high debt, the low foreign reserves, the high deficit and the difficulty conducting business here, the island would continue to be downgraded.

Charging that there was “an extreme calm” in the investment climate in Barbados due a lack of urgency on the part of Government, the BCCI head said the situation was now “extremely concerning for businesses”, especially because no policies could be implemented between now and the election, due by the middle of next year.

He warned that it was simply “not business as usual” in Barbados.

“For all the good intention, for all the promises, there is very little that seems to be going on and I think most people are holding their breath and waiting to see. It is a question of confidence. It is a question of return on investments. People will not invest unless there is some sense that they will get a return, and this nasty question of devaluation has raised its head again by the current downgrade,” Abed said.

The following is the full statement of the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley:

“Our credit rating has been downgraded for the 20th time in nine years by the major international credit rating agencies. This has become so routine that Barbadians are becoming immune to the news, but unfortunately, overseas investors and businesses are not.

“If we are to raise our international reserves to the point that makes our dollar safe, it is these people we need to convince of the skillful and energetic stewardship of our economy.

“Equally this downgrade, and the continued negative outlook, will not give either Bajans or foreigners confidence to invest so that the jobs that Bajans so badly need are created.

“Let us put this is context for Bajans.

“Standard & Poor’s rates 130 countries. After this last downgrade to CCC, Barbados lies in 128th position. We are on par with Venezuela. There are only two countries who are rated worse than us – Mozambique and Belize.

“There can now be no doubt that the longer the Freundel Stuart Government tries to hold on to power, the harder and longer our road to recovery will be. How many more downgrades will it take for the Prime Minister and his Government to realize that there is no confidence left in their ability to reverse the situation?

“Barbadians are paying too high a price for this Government’s incompetence and stubbornness.” (BLP News/Caribbean360/ Barbados TODAY)

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Payne: Smear talk bare foolishness

 

 

BLP chairman George Payne (left) says Chris Sinckler’s allegation of a smear campaign against him is yet another attempt to distract the public from the ongoing crises inflicted by the DLP on Barbados.

The Barbados Labour Party categorically denies that it has launched a smear campaign against Government ministers Chris Sinckler  and Michael Lashley. The accusation is not only a big lie, but absolute foolishness. It is yet another attempt to distract the public from the ongoing crises at every level afflicting Barbados.

The party of which I am proud to be Chairman would not stoop to any level to smear our political opponent’s character. That, however, has been the trademark strategy of the Democratic Labour Party for decades. One only has to recall the last two general elections in which the former Prime Minister Owen Arthur was portrayed in the worst possible way to turn people away from the Barbados Labour Party.

Indeed, the Dems have already started similar dirty tactics against our political leader Mia Mottley by using their paid operatives on social media, the radio call-in programmes and otherwise to question her integrity and otherwise tarnish her character. We expect them to come with a patchwork of items sewn together to appear plausible, but on deeper examination will just be a charade of half-truths and twisted facts.

As for Mr. Sinckler, his policies have been a complete failure and the perilous state of the economy is proof of that. He has presided over 19 downgrades, the longest period of economic paralysis since Independence, the highest cost of living ever experienced here, the most taxes ever imposed on Barbadians, the longest time public workers ever went without a salary increase, and the total bungling of several matters including Clico and Four Seasons. In terms of Mr. Lashley’s performance in the ministries of housing and transport, he has demonstrated his ineffectiveness to manage effectively.

These are undeniable facts. Our party therefore needs only to speak the truth. The reality of life today for Barbadians will demonstrate who is really smearing whom.

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BLP gives Dominica a helping hand

 

 

Pat Parris, the executive assistant to Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, overseeing the loading of supplies for Dominica on a truck.

THE BARBADOS LABOUR PARTY family and supporters have donated just over $20,000 in foodstuff, water and personal items to the people of Dominica, following the devastation on that country by Hurricane Maria on Monday.

The items were delivered to the Barbados Coast Guard headquarters on Wednesday for shipment to Dominica.

The party donated 200 cases of water and 145 cases of foodstuff consisting of corn beef, baked beans, tuna, Vienna sausages, luncheon meat, Mackerel and Ensure. The personal items were made up of 52 cases that included bath soap, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrushes and insect repellent.

Pat Parris, the executive assistant to Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, who managed the collection of the donations and the purchase of the items, said the effort came from the membership of the party from the various constituencies, as well as a few traditional supporters.

Parris said the party is hoping to make another donation at a later date, and are presently in the process of collecting funds for that. She also appealed to Barbadians to support this worthy effort by taking whatever they can directly to the Coast Guard headquarters on Spring Garden, or through an approved organisation of their choice.

“I know how tough things are for many Barbadians as we are poorer today than 10 years ago. But despite that, give whatever you can to help Dominicans as they are literally at the mercies of the elements because of Hurricane Maria,” said Ms. Parris.

The following pictures show the devastation Hurricane Maria had on Dominica.

This house was reduced to debris by the relentless winds of Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria’s 160 mile per hour winds removed nearly 80 per cent of rooftops across Dominica.
Destruction is evident all across Dominica.
This aerial picture captures the extent to the devastation in Dominica.
Hurricane Maria has been described as the worse storm system to hit Dominica in living memory.

 

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‘The BLP is for all Barbadians’

Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party responds to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s accusation that the BLP is an elitist party.

 

I initially resisted the provocation to respond to the Prime Minister’s accusation that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was “elitist”, since I recognised it was said to distract Barbadians’ from focusing on being worse off today than they were in 2008, when his party first came to office.

BLP political leader Mia Mottley’s large electoral victory margins in a working class constituency is testament to the quality of her representation, not to circumstances surrounding her birth.

His equally ridiculous suggestion that BLP political leader, Mia Mottley, is an “arch conservative” and Barbados’ interest would not be best served under her leadership, was even more laughable.  That statement demonstrated the PM’s conformity to author Piers Anthony‘s assertion that, “when one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour”.

The fact is that Freundel Stuart, who nauseatingly extolls his working class origins in St Philip, was rejected by those same people among whom he lived, because they saw him for the aloof individual all Barbadians have since come to know.

In contrast, Ms. Mottley has repeatedly had large victory margins in a working class constituency. Her success is due to the quality of her representation, not to circumstances surrounding her birth. This, PM. Stuart, is what matters.

Your suggestion that the BLP is elitist says more about your perception of reality than it does about the BLP and its 79 years of providing a better life for all Barbadians.

One man, one vote and better working conditions for average Barbadian workers came through the tireless efforts of Sir Grantley Adams.

However, given the context of Stuart’s statement and the occasion, it is necessary, for the record, to correct his grossly inaccurate assertion. First, the BLP under the leadership of Grantley Adams secured adult suffrage – the right to vote – in 1951 for all Barbadians. That act gave Barbadians a say in their future, and allowed people of humble origins, like Mr. Stuart, to be become Prime Minister. Was that the action of an elitist party?

Further, the BLP fought for workers’ rights and established the Barbados Workers Union to lead the charge for better working conditions for the working class The BLP, introduced minimum wages, protection of wages, holiday with pay, and workers’ compensation and unemployment legislation. It also paved the way for thousands of casual and temporary public workers to become full-time employees with improved long-term benefits by legislating that anyone acting in   a post must after three years be appointed. We also introduced maternity leave with pay.

The BLP transformed the education system ensuring that the working class could better themselves. We moved a generation beyond “sixth standard” with the introduction of free secondary education opening the St. Leonard’s, Parkinson, West St. Joseph (now Grantley Adams) and Princess Margaret schools. We pioneered technical, skills and vocational training, implemented Edutech and provided and equipped Community Resource Centres. We also raised the school leaving age from 14 to 16 years.

In health, the BLP uplifted the working class by establishing international standards and universal access to healthcare. Initiatives ranged from our immunisation (vaccination) programme; provision of the first health centres; construction of the QEH and five polyclinics; implementation of the Home Help service and the Barbados Drug Service to ensure average Barbadians could get quality medication free.

Furthermore, the so-called elitist BLP was the driving force behind the expansion of the credit union movement which helps thousands of working class Barbadians to own homes, land, vehicles and to start businesses.

We provided the first housing units – the Pine, Cave Hill and Grazettes, St. Michael; St. Matthias and Sayers Court, Christ Church; Six Roads, St. Philip; Coach Hill, St John and Belleplaine, St Andrew. This continued with Ferniehurst and Rosemont in St. Michael, and Kensington Lodge and London Bourne Towers in Bridgetown. The BLP also developed for sale to only working class people nearly 3,000 house lots.

Prime Minister Tom Adams enacted most of the legislation that gave greater rights and economic opportunities to average working class Barbadians.

The BLP then enabled thousands living on plantation tenantries to purchase the land they occupied at 10 cents per square foot through passage of the revolutionary Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, 1980, which Stuart’s party was against. We created the UDC and RDC to improve the quality of housing, roads and business chances for working class people.

Further, we enacted the Status of Children Reform Act, that gave legal rights to children born out of wedlock, and ended the concept of illegitimacy. These are just a snapshot of what the supposed elitist BLP did.

Conversely, the self-declared non-elitist Freundel Stuart administration stoutly refuses to communicate with the electorate, and has piled on or increased the rate of 30-odd taxes, on the backs of the working class.

The self-proclaimed, more caring Mr. Stuart himself stated no public workers would be going home, but within weeks 3,000 of them were axed. To add insult to injury, no public workers have had a salary hike in eight years, yet Mr. Stuart and his colleagues reinstated the 10 per cent cut to their salaries and made it retroactive, and so collected hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These are but a few of the facts about your fanciful elitism in Barbados’ politics Mr. Stuart, which your misdirected misrepresentation can never change nor erase.

 

 

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Crime in Barbados a crisis

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall says Barbados’ violent crime has reached crisis proportions, and the Barbados Defence Force should be used to augment the manpower resources of the Royal Barbados Police Force.

He made the recommendation on Wednesday (August 30, 2017) the day after two men were shot dead at Marley Vale, St Philip.

Marshall said the Barbados Labour Party was ready “to support in Parliament reasonable measures or any extraordinary expenditure that may be required for this fight”.

Below is the full text of Mr. Marshall’s statement:

We are a country in shock. With the brutal shooting deaths of two young men in Marley Vale, St. Philip, last night, we now reeling from an unprecedented 5 gun related homicides in this month alone, four in the last nine days.

The picture that the world now has of Barbados is no longer a place of peace and tranquility, but a small country with uncontrolled gang violence, and brazen public shootings. And for Barbadians, this country is rapidly becoming a place that we do not know and cannot recognize.

This spate of lawlessness cannot be allowed to continue. It cannot be right that Barbadians now feel unsafe in their home and in their communities. Already, we are finding that in many districts, Barbadians are feeling under siege in their homes, afraid to venture out for fear of being the next victim. We must not allow our society to become paralysed in the face of this criminal element, and to be held hostage by this criminal minority.

I am gratified that two former Commissioners of Police have been moved in recent weeks to add their voices to the debate. Both highlighted the fact that one of the major challenges for the proper functioning of our police force was the absence of leadership at the highest level. It would therefore not be surprising that the Prime Minister of Barbados who was on the scene of the Marley Vale murders last night declined to make any comment!

Barbados is in a crisis and it cannot be satisfactory for our leaders to continue this deafening silence. We cannot expect the police force to share operational details with the public, but the country needs to hear from the leadership on what is being done to deal with these issues and what role we can play in the fight. The Attorney General also has to stop being a mere spectator in matters for which he has legal responsibility and which he has the duty to initiate. We have had the experience before of having the Barbados Defence Force augment the man-power resources of the Police Force and this could be especially useful at this time in the already identified hotspots.

The government must give leadership to this battle, and a battle it has now become. To deny that in recent years there has been a tremendous upsurge in firearm usage in Barbados would be to bury our heads in the sand. Added to this is the recent statement from the Commissioner of Police that we have 16 gangs in the St. Michael area alone.

We all have a stake in this battle against the purveyors of gun violence since the future of Barbados is at stake. These shootings will affect us all from our homes to our hotels from our churches to our places of entertainment, from our rum shops to our restaurants. They will affect our economy, our way of life and will destroy our families.

It might be tempting for some to reduce this to a political issue, but we cannot play politics with crime. This is not an issue that can wait until after the next election. It has to be tackled today.

If we stand together, we can win back our streets! The Barbados Labour Party again pledges to support in Parliament reasonable measures or any extraordinary expenditure that may be required for this fight.

 

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Walcott: PM’s speech rings hollow

Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s speech to his party faithful at their 62nd annual conference made a mockery of Barbadians and what they are going through, says Barbados Labour Party General Secretary Dr. Jerome Walcott.

Further, the speech which was televised live and billed as a national address, left Barbadians no wiser as to what  Government’s plan is to fight spiraling gun violence and to fix the economy that increasingly shows signs of collapse.

“Few Barbadians have more comfort today than they did before his statement. Mr. Stuart failed to reassure Barbadians that his Government actually has a plan,” said Dr. Walcott in his immediate response to Mr. Stuart’s speech on Sunday (September 3, 2017).

The following is the full text of Dr. Walcott’s statement:

At a time when Barbadians are living in fear of gun violence and increasing signs of economic collapse, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart failed to use what was billed as a national address, carried live on television, to effectively state what his Government is planning to do about these urgent matters.

Instead, he delivered a “dry and lifeless” address to the nation which has left Barbadians with no ideas, solutions, comfort or hope now, or for the future. There was no plan for taking Barbados out of reverse and into drive.

Mr. Stuart gave a history of failure of the Democratic Labour Party over the last nine years and catalogued his Government’s inability to be innovative in managing the economy since 2008, which has led to the tough times Barbadians are experiencing.

On the economy, Mr. Stuart said it is a revenue matter and should be dealt with from a revenue perspective. In other words, he is convinced that taxing Barbadians is the only way to get the economy going. Even after failure upon failure of his administration’s fiscal policies he still insists this is the way to go.

But we are not surprised that Mr. Stuart chose to stick to this old model of raising revenue on the backs of Barbadians instead of identifying solutions that would bring about economic growth. It is consistent with him and his party’s inability to offer practical solutions to Barbados’ problems.

Barbadians are today no wiser on how Government intends to battle the criminal elements that have seen four gun related murders in nine days last month, plus a number of public shootings.

It is shocking that the Prime Minister spent no more than five minutes speaking to crime, and failed to announce any immediate strategy to stem the tide of gun violence. Instead, he spoke of a suite of legislation before Cabinet but gave no details.

Few Barbadians have more comfort today than they did before his statement. Mr. Stuart failed to reassure Barbadians that his Government actually has a plan to fight the escalating gun crime. The Prime Minister failed to demonstrate that he and his administration understand the mood of the country at this time. He demonstrated yet again his utter contempt for Barbadians by his failure to address this urgent issue in a comprehensive manner.

Once again, the Prime Minister indulged in a history lesson in which the DLP again refused to accept its role as the Government and take responsibility for anything. It is obvious that his words are at a stark variance from what Barbadians know to be the truth and at total variance to what they have been experiencing under his stewardship.

Mr. Stuart declared that nowhere is the DLP’s commitment seen more than in education. Yet it was under their tenure that the channels through which young people can realise their dreams were removed.

The DLP has decimated the enrollment of young people at UWI and cut several of the other progressive programmes that gave young Barbadians opportunities to learn skills or start a business. Instead, the DLP has used the money once so dedicated to the hosting of a football tournament and camps, where the caterers gets the bulk of the money.

Mr. Stuart had the unbelievable temerity to say that his administration does not believe in sending home public servants. Yet it was his administration that sent home 3,000 public servants, even after he had given the public the assurance that no public servants would be terminated.

It is one thing for Mr. Stuart to grandstand in front of his faithful, but it is another thing to make such baseless statements to Barbadians when the evidence to the contrary is pellucid. There are too many in Barbados without even “half a loaf of bread” for the Prime Minister to make such an offensive statement. He clearly is living in a different country.

Another glaring example of this disconnection between the truth and reality is Mr. Stuart’s reference to a viable safety net through the National Insurance Scheme. His Minister continues to say the NIS is viable, yet his administration is largely responsible for the $600 million owed to the scheme.

Mr. Stuart’s speech can be summed up as a hollow statement that makes a mockery of Barbadians and what they are presently going through.

It is nothing short of nonsensical and uncaring for the Prime Minister, after every sector of Barbados has been severely damaged by his administration’s inept economic management to assert the DLP is not concerned with Gross Domestic Product. Instead they are about “Gross Domestic Faith, Gross Domestic Hope, Gross Domestic Happiness, Gross Domestic Fairness, Gross Domestic Stability and Gross Domestic Comfort”.

None of these things exists in Barbados now. He is only correct about the Gross. That is, there is Gross Suffering, Gross Despair, Gross Uncertainty and Gross Discomfort in Barbados over jobs, the economy, the cost of living, health, public transportation, roads, crime and surviving.

Thankfully, the Barbados Labour Party stands ready to yet again get Barbados working in the interests of all Barbadians.

Here, we would like to congratulate CBC for opening up the television station to the leaders of political parties represented in Parliament when addressing annual party conventions. We look forward to the same opportunity in October.

 

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Herbert predicts cash flow problems for NIS

A private sector executive is predicting that it will not be too long before the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) begins to suffer from the very cash flow problems that the Freundel Stuart administration is experiencing.

Therefore, President of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert is not optimistic about the NIS’ long-term financial stability unless there are some drastic changes to its mode of operation.

Herbert told a public forum organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados on Wednesday (August 23, 2017) that the social security programme would definitely have a cash flow problem in the foreseeable future.

As a result, he said, Barbadians should expect either fewer benefits or they would be asked to make even higher contributions.

“We do have real problems. But the truth is, all it is going to mean is – and we already have the highest NIS contributions in the region – they are going to have to go higher or we are going to have to cut benefits because we cannot realize our investments . . . . So I think cash flow is going to be an increasing problem for National Insurance like it is a serious problem for Government,” Herbert told those gathered at the Savannah Hotel for the forum themed Homegrown or IMF Designed: What Should Barbados Economic Plan Look Like?

The actuary explained that having gone through the phase when contributions were higher than the paid benefits, and a second phase where they were both about equal, the social security programme must realign some of its investments.

However, he said the scheme was facing a major problem since Government had become addicted to “just borrowing all of the money that should have been invested.

“When we reached the phase where we are no longer generating all of this money to be borrowed, is partly when our problems in having to go now to the Central Bank came because we were already addicted to this steady supply of cash,” Herbert said.

The BPSA head estimated that about a quarter of the contributions due never make it to the scheme.

Therefore, he said, “what the NIS is having to do is actually not renew its investments with Government, creating a refinancing problem in Government simply because they need cash flow”.

Consequently, Herbert said, in some cases health benefits claims were taking up to a year to be settled.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced in his Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals (the Budget) last May 30 and again last month, that with Government owing the NIS in excess of $250 million in arrears through its statutory corporations, there was a plan to issue additional Government papers at a lower interest rate to clear the debt.

The NIS currently holds approximately $1.9 billion in Government papers, representing in excess of 75 per cent of the fund’s assets, and up to the first quarter of this year it had about $222 million in investment overseas.

At the time of the Budget presentation, Sinckler had pointed out that in this financial year savings from the proposed debt re-profiling would be in the region of $70 million on interest expense.

“It is also expected that part of the proceeds from the savings accrued will in turn go to assist with the liquidation of outstanding arrears owed to the NIS,” he said then.

However, Herbert said by lowering that interest the NIS would need more income, which could lead to higher contributions.

“So really all we did when we did that is say ‘you know what, you are going to have to pay more contributions to National Insurance sometime in the future to take in the shortfall or adjustments that I just put on investment terms,’” Herbert said.

Noted economist Marla Dukharan

Chief Economist at Bitt Inc, Marla Dukharan, described the situation as “a very, very serious” one, pointing out that the NIS already had a liquidity problem that would only be exacerbated by Government’s fiscal programme.

Pointing to the International Monetary Fund Article IV Consultation, which highlighted the need for Government to pay the NIS contributions in a timely manner, and give consideration to a possible reduction in benefits if the situation was not quickly corrected, Dukharan said the NIS’ financial position was of grave concern and she believed it could require recapitalization in the future if certain steps were not taken now.

Pointing out that the NIS’ expenditure had exceeded contributions since 2013, instead of the expected 2024 date, Dukharan said the irregular payment of contributions to the fund (by Government) and the proposed swap of debentures for debt had put the fund “in a much worse position” than anticipated.

And she predicted that when an adjustment programme is implemented to correct the fiscal deficit, low growth, falling reserves and high debt, Government would be “heavily reliant on the NIS”, which she said was “in a very weak [financial] position”. (Barbados TODAY/BLP News)

 

 

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Answers needed in proposed Hilton sale

Ronald Toppin, Shadow Minister of Tourism.

The Barbados Labour Party is calling on the Government to reveal the full details and process for the sale of the Barbados Hilton and any and all other state assets.

Shadow Minister of Tourism Ronald Toppin said the call for transparency in all aspects of these sales comes in the wake of the questions surrounding the recent sale of Blue Horizon Hotel.

That Rockley, Christ Church hotel was reportedly sold for $5 million though it was valued at $10 million, advertised for sale at $15 million, and an offer of $11 million was rejected

Toppin said the BLP would like to ensure that the Hilton, one of the most valuable jewels in the Barbados economic crown since it was originally opened in 1966, is not sold at a cut-rate price like Blue Horizon Hotel appears to have been.

The St. Michael North representative said the Government must not, “like a drowning man grasping at any straws”, sell off assets for well below their value.

The following is the full text of Mr. Toppin’s statement:

The Barbados Labour Party is calling on the Government to reveal the full details and process for the sale of the Barbados Hilton and any and all other State assets. Our call for transparency in all aspects of these sales come in the wake of the questions surrounding the recent sale of Blue Horizon Hotel. 

The Government has previously indicated that it intends to sell the Barbados Hilton for US$100 million. What is the process informing this sale? Who is doing the independent valuations? Where is it being advertised for sale?

We need full disclosure from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler before any further action is taken. 

This new Hilton Hotel was reopened in 2005 after it was rebuilt; and by all standards is a new property with world class amenities. The BLP would like to ensure that this hotel, one of the most valuable jewels in the Barbados economic crown since it was originally opened in 1966, is not sold at a cut-rate price like Blue Horizon Hotel appears to have been. 

This Government must not, like a drowning man grasping at any straw, sell off our assets for well below their value. Once an asset is sold, that is it. Our Government cannot benefit from its value financially again. 

There should be no doubt in any Barbadians’ mind that the accepted international criteria and standards are being followed in securing the best deal for this country and its citizens at all times. 

Certainly, on the face of it, the Blue Horizon Hotel deal appears to fall short of these standards. 

How can Government accept BDS$5 million as is reported for that hotel when they reportedly rejected an offer of BDS$11 million? Was the Blue Horizon Hotel valued at BDS$10 million? Was it advertised for sale at BDS$15 million? 

We must therefore ask Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy why would Government sell it for half of what it was valued at and a third of what they wanted for it? That does not make sense!

Minister Sealy must make public the details of the arrangement by which that Rockley, Christ Church hotel will be operated.

One of the buyers was quoted as saying that the hotel is supposed to be developed along the lines of a private-public partnership with the intention to optimise foreign exchange earnings. The public of Barbados and its Parliament should be learning this development from the members of this Government. It is the Government who is the custodian for the time being of all public property. 

Let me repeat, while the Barbados Labour Party welcomes initiatives to boost the earning of foreign exchange, especially at his time, we would want to see the contract and all of the details involved in the development. We certainly do not want a repetition of the Sandals deal in which that company was granted a half-billion dollars in concessions, but to this date Barbadians are no wiser as to the other relevant details surrounding that agreement.

When things like this happen and the Government refuses to release the details involved, it makes one wonder what they have to hide. There are no details that could be so unpalatable to the public interest that they are to be kept secret. 

Further, it is also in the public interest for Minister Sealy to say what they were charged or have paid in legal fees and other fees to conclude the Blue Horizon deal. 

We repeat yet again, this is the property of the people – the taxpayers of Barbados – and not the personal property of ministers of the DLP administration. 

Barbadians are demanding and deserve an explanation. This is all the more so against the background of the stubborn refusal of this Government to even entertain in any small measure to meet any of the requests of the labour movement with respect to the National Social Responsibility Levy or a coping subsidy. 

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Mottley: Solid crime fighting strategies needed

Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley is calling on the Freundel Stuart administration to offer concrete solutions to this country’s crime problems.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday night (August 9, 2017), Mottley said the Barbados Labour Party was willing to support the Government in any reasonable national security measures to remove guns from the streets.

She said the shooting incidents, like the one which occurred on Grand Kadooment Day that resulted in one death and 20 others being shot, could destroy the country’s reputation as a safe place, and the livelihoods of its citizens.

Below is the full text of Ms. Mottley’s statement:

About 48 hours ago, our country, and indeed our neighbours in the region, were shaken by an uncharacteristic display of senseless and lethal violence that left Barbadians and visitors to our national festival fearful for their personal safety.

At the outset I wish to extend my sympathy to the family of Taried Rock and best wishes for a speedy healing and recovery to all those injured and otherwise affected on Kadooment Day. I cannot imagine the pain that your families are enduring especially since none of you expected this end to your Kadooment Day when you awoke Monday morning.

Indeed, an occurrence of such magnitude in any democratically governed country would normally elicit the announcement of concrete plans ensuring that Barbadians may go about their ordinary business without having to panic or be anxious.

It is even moreso when the regional and international community are watching us as they are aware that we will be hosting our regional cultural festival, CARIFESTA X111, at the end of next week for ten days and persons coming to our shores will want to know that these matters are being addressed.

While we appreciate the moral message delivered by the Prime Minister and indeed the Christian Council, we remain deeply concerned that it is only the Prime Minister and his Government who constitute the Executive of the Country and who are the majority in Parliament.

In simple terms, the only persons who can provide resources to the police or the courts or the social agencies or partner with communities and civil society, or who can facilitate the passage of legislation is the Prime Minister and his Government.

What makes Mr. Stuart’s failure to provide specific concrete measures more troubling is that he is also the Minister of Defence and National Security. He is therefore doubly charged with taking control of the situation and providing the leadership that Barbadians expect of their Prime Minister.

In addition, we have had the unusual spectacle of four different members of the Government, including three members of his Cabinet, expressing their views and their desires. Views and desires do NOT constitute a strategy. Nor does elegance of language substitute for clear, defined initiatives or resources being provided to the relevant institutions.

What they all lacked, the Prime Minister and his ministers, was the consistency and the priority to be given for the necessary actions required to give Barbadians comfort at this difficult time.

In other words, what is the legislation that you will bring rather than have an Attorney General mull over the situation and options? What are the resources to be provided to a beleaguered Police Force? What measures will be put in place to modernise our criminal justice system to ensure that people face the Courts in quick order for crimes that are committed?

I can assure the Prime Minister and all Barbadians that the Barbados Labour Party is willing to support the Government, with the appropriate consultation, in any reasonable national security measures to remove the guns from our streets and tackle their entry into our island.

In our Covenant of Hope which we launched in 2016 we commit on page 26 under the Heading of Fiscal Governance that the first claim on public expenditure must be those resources necessary to keep our citizens safe.

We therefore understand the importance of a non-partisan approach to matters of national concern, just as we recognise that multi-faceted solutions are required to tackle an issue that is rooted largely in the social conditions in some sections of our community. The time for action is now. We simply cannot afford any other horrific incident.

The Barbados Labour Party’s Parliamentarians are ready to play our part to support any firm, fair and effective action to end the senseless violence that has claimed seven lives from sixteen shooting incidents between May 1 and July 31 this year, even before the incident on Monday.

If Parliament is to be recalled from its summer recess, as it was in the emergency ensuing after the fire at Glendairy Prisons in 2005, we will be actively involved in the consideration of all measures placed before the Parliament.

My call for concrete action from the Prime Minister is therefore not about politics.

Stray bullets do not care if someone is a Dem or a Bee, if they’re rich or poor, old or young. Anyone can become an innocent victim of indiscriminate behavior. Barbadians must be able to go about their ordinary business daily without having to fear someone attacking or robbing them. That must be our simple but noble objective. It is to Barbadians that we owe this first duty.

In addition to our enviable reputation for being a safe place to live and to work, we also have the same reputation as a safe place to visit and to be entertained. These incidents can potentially destroy that reputation and in fact, impact our two major earners, tourism and international business. These pay our bills.

As for Crop Over specifically, several people often book for the following Crop Over after having a great time at the one they attended. We only need confirmation of this from the back page of one today’s publications.

If those in attendance this year do not have the calm assurance that the Barbadian authorities can manage this situation, they may not be inclined to return.

This will impact everyone – from hoteliers to the women and men involved in selling from fish cakes to craft. Many are depending on that money they make for back-to-school purchases.

Similarly, there are those involved in watersports, or who drive taxis, or depend on car rentals. All are at risk of further losses.

This is why the Prime Minister must give leadership to this entire process. All of us as Barbadians stand to lose if the perception goes abroad that Barbados is no longer a safe place to live or visit.

I want to urge those with influence in our communities to persuade our young men and women in particular to end this cycle of violence. Indeed our entertainers have already done so. There will be no happy endings for anyone involved if it continues to escalate unabated.

While we support an effective and responsive system of law and order, I want to remind Barbadians we are also committed to re-introducing as a matter of urgency the training and mentorship programmes that helped our young people negotiate their passage to adulthood.

Of course, it is also crucial that people have access to a livable income and opportunities for economic and social advancement if we are to return to the social stability to which so many generations of Barbadians have contributed and were accustomed.

This is our Barbados. It is all of us who must now act decisively to preserve our way of life.

 

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Don’t let criminal threats harm Crop Over fun

 

 

 

 

The Barbados Labour Party has condemned social media threats to public safety, and has called on the public not to be intimidated by criminal elements.

Stressing that it was still unclear if these threats are genuine or a hoax, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Dale Marshall (above) said whether they were valid or not, Barbadians should not cower to such threats from criminal elements as this emboldens them.

He expressed the party’s full confidence in the police to get to the bottom of these threats and to safeguard the public in the last lap Crop Over activities.

The following is the full text of Mr. Marshall’s statement:

The Barbados Labour Party is aware of a disturbing video, as well as statements circulating on social media suggesting outbreaks of violence as we approach the climax of our annual Crop Over festivities this weekend.

Regardless of whether these are genuine or just pranks, they must be taken seriously as they are causing citizens an unnecessary level of discomfort.

We don’t want Barbadians to become alarmed, because we have no knowledge whether the video and statements are a hoax or not. Given the technology readily available, just about anything can be produced and easily disseminated via social media. However, there is that possibility that we have to guard ourselves against.

If it is a hoax, it demonstrates the level of depravity some people are willing to sink to. Because in an already tense environment where the daily reports of gun related violence have citizens feeling as if they are under siege, such a threat only contributes further to making Barbadians anxious and fearful.

If the threats are serious, then it underscores for us the dangerous state that our country has reached.

I urge all Barbadians not to cower to these threats from the criminal elements within our midst, if they prove to be genuine. To do so only emboldens them. Instead, report whatever you see to the police, anonymously if you like, and help them to rid our country of this growing menace.

Increased violent crime in our society does not benefit anybody. It is a scourge that has to be eliminated for the safety and peace of mind of all Barbadians regardless of their partisan perspective. We must work together to win back our streets and our communities from the growing criminal elements.

The Barbados Labour Party fully supports the efforts of the Royal Barbados Police Force to ensure a safe environment for Barbadians and visitors this weekend at the several events planned, and we know that they will be doing their very best in that regard. However, we too have a role to play, and we urge all those attending the last lap Crop Over events to be vigilant and on their guard as they participate in the festivities.

We encourage everyone to enjoy the final events of this year’s Crop Over to the fullest. But we urge you to be responsible in your behaviour – don’t imbibe and drive, resist any provocation to become violent, and be your brothers keeper.

 

 

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Marshall: Do More To Fight Violent Crime

The Barbados Labour Party has called on the Government to do more to combat the surge of violent crimes that has claimed 18 lives so far this year and left scores of others injured.

The call came from former Attorney General Dale Marshall today (July 18, 2017), hours after Colleen Beresdean Payne of Lodge Hill, St Michael was shot on Monday night (July 17, 2017) by two men.

The 58-year-old was attacked when she attempted to use an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at University Drive, Black Rock, St Michael around 9 p.m.. She was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and later succumbed to her injuries.

Payne’s death was the fourth murder in two weeks.

The following is the full text of Marshall’s statement:

Yesterday’s murder of another innocent brings the number of murders in Barbados to 18 thus far for 2017. For the whole of last year we had 21 murders.

In the last two weeks only, we have had four homicides.

This is not a numbers game, since each life lost through murder is one too many. However, the statistics do serve to paint a picture of what life in Barbados has come to, and that picture is very far from pretty.

Peace of mind, safety in our homes and the stability which we enjoyed as Barbadians now seems to be vanishing fast. The fear of crime has now reached crippling proportions, so much so that Barbadians are feeling under siege and, increasingly, feel unable to go about this country to work and play as they choose.

Peace and stability are also of significant economic value, since any gains made by any government will quickly be wiped out if we lose our reputation for being a safe place to live and to do business.

But in any national cause, the Government must lead. We therefore call on the Government, and especially the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to immediately set about prioritizing the fight against illegal firearms on our streets as many of the murders committed involved the use of these weapons.

Our Parliament does not need another debate on law and order. What Barbados needs is action on the part of the Government. And we need it now, before another innocent life is taken.

The Barbados Labour Party has gone on record as being willing to support extraordinary expenditure in areas affecting the public health and the security of all Barbadians from criminal elements. I take this opportunity to reiterate this position.

As a postscript, I wish to remind the Government that as the Opposition, we represent constituents too. We therefore have the interest of all Barbadians at heart.

When we were in government, it was the policy of the office of the Commissioner of Police to share the crime statistics with the then opposition Democratic Labour Party. Of late, that practice was honoured more in the breach than anything, and since August 2016, it has stopped completely. There is no property in data and I call on the Royal Barbados Police Force to resume the sharing of the crime statistics with us immediately.

The Barbados Labour Party offers its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of those individuals who have tragically lost their lives to violence this year.

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Neglect of Parish Land houses ‘criminal’

Opposition leader Mia Mottley (left) addressing the media at Parish Land, St. Philip. Looking on is (from second left) St. Philip West candidate, John King, candidate for Christ Church East Central Ryan Straughn, and Dr. Sonia Browne, the St. Philip North candidate.

Scandalous and an example of rampant waste of taxpayers money!

That best describes the National Housing Corporation’s Parish Land, St. Philip housing project in which 122 wood and wall houses built six years ago have remained unoccupied.

And on Saturday (July 15, 2017), Opposition leader Mia Mottley stated that someone should be held accountable for the situation.

Standing in the midst of the housing development built by the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration, Mottley charged that the project appears to have been all about handing out contracts.

“It was not about the supplying of houses. If it was about supplying houses, in here would be full of little children and cars. But this was designed to supply contracts before the last election and empty it stands today. But because the next election is coming up, the front houses getting painted up,” she said.

Speaking to the media after the weekly Rubbing Shoulders on-the-road campaign in St. Philip North , Mottley said if Minister of Housing Denis Kellman spent less time contributing to call-in programmes, and less time in Moontown, St. Lucy, “he would perhaps know why it is impossible for people to move” into the houses as they are.

“You cannot have houses shut up for five, six years and expect that you can find these houses functional. Look at the trimming of some of the houses and you will see the wood rotting.

“Go and look and see the mould on the board. Go and look and see other signs of decay. What we cannot see but we all know is what happens to pipes when you don’t run water; what happens to tiles when you have a house closed up? We all know the consequences,” Mottley said.

“If he was spending less time on the call-in programmes and in Moontown, he would know that somebody needs to be held accountable for this massive wastage of money, and those persons perhaps should be better spending time across the road at Dodds rather than walking around Barbados freely,” the Opposition Leader added.

In 2016, while giving an update on outstanding Government housing projects, Kellman acknowledged that the Starter Home Programme at Parish Land, which is one of Government’s largest low-income housing projects, was behind schedule by about four years due to rising costs and legal challenges encountered along the way. He had told a local newspaper that 80 of the 122 units were due to be allocated.

Meanwhile, BLP candidate for St. Philip North, Dr. Sonia Browne, said she was not only concerned about the fact that the houses are unoccupied, but also stressed that constituents were worried that “they are small and do not suit the low-income people who are known to have more than two children”.

“A constituent of mine just up the road commented that they are so small you can’t even change your mind in them, and I agree with it totally,” Browne said.

Dr. Sonia Browne (left) conferring with canvassers during the St. Philip North mass canvass.

Alluding to the issues that affect constituents, including bad roads, poor transportation, single mothers finding it difficult to financially support their children and poorly lit areas, Browne said a better Member of Parliament (MP) is needed to represent the interests of the people.

She said constituents are fed up with the present MP, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley.

“The constituents are angry with the current representative. Some of them have lost their jobs. They are generally angry because a lot of promises were made and not kept.

“The frustration is not only among Democratic Labour Party supporters, but it is spilling over to the BLP supporters as well. But, I want them to understand that I am here to support them,” Browne said. (BLP NEWS/Sunday Advocate)

 

 

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Mottley: Talk with unions PM Stuart

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley as she addressed the media in Hoytes Village, St James on Saturday.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to bring an early end to this Tuesday’s (July 11) sitting of the House of Assembly in order to meet with upset trade unions, who are planning to march from Queen’s Park to the Parliament on the same day.

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) announced last Thursday that they intend to show up in their numbers to deliver a symbolic correspondence to Stuart. They said this would be the first phase of action aimed at getting the Stuart administration to, at the very least, cut its controversial ten per cent National Social Responsibility Levy by half.

Speaking to the media on Saturday (July 8) following  her Barbados Labour Party (BLP)’s ongoing Rubbing Shoulders on-the-road campaign in the St James South constituency, Mottley accused the Prime Minister of not treating the workers’ concerns with the degree of urgency that is merited.

“I pray this weekend in particular that this Government would understand the moment in time that it finds itself at and make the space to talk. I believe that they should be talking to all parties in that deeper and broader and social partnership, even if it means suspending Parliament early once the people come to see us, and let’s talk because Bajans cannot contemplate how they are going to make it,” the BLP leader said.

Mottley contends that the unions are being more than reasonable in their request for further dialogue on the levy, which rose from the two per cent when it was first introduced in 2016 to a whopping ten per cent, as part of Government’s austerity package to raise $542 million.

While not stating whether or not the BLP would be throwing their full support behind the future actions by the unions to force Government’s hand, Mottley chided Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler for their rigid approach in the face of growing anxiety over the measures.

“You now have four of the largest unions in this country taking action. They are not asking for industrial action, they are asking for dialogue. I find it strange that the same Prime Minister that described them as immature two years ago, is not moved to recognize their maturity in coming to them [Government] at this difficult time,” Mottley said.

She added: “The unions want to talk because what they [the Government] is imposing on the workers of this country cannot be sustained. How many people must speak for this Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to understand that people cannot take anymore?” (BLP News/Barbados TODAY)

 

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Sinckler should be fired, says Payne

BLP Chairman George Payne MP.

If George Payne had his way, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler would be fired. He would also get rid of Sinckler’s May 30 Budget which every representative private sector body has said will lead to a spike in the cost of living and job losses.

In a statement issued yesterday (June 22), Payne, the long serving representative for St Andrew, said Sinckler does not know what he is doing and this is clear from the number of times he has been forced to clarify his  budgetary measures to key stakeholders after announcing them.

That action, said Payne, is a pattern of behaviour that demonstrates gross incompetence.

The following is the full statement from the BLP chairman: 

 

Once again, the Minister of Finance has demonstrated that he does not know what he is doing.

He is the only Minister of Finance in the history of Barbados who has habitually conceptualized policy measures, announced them, and thereafter has to go to great lengths to explain them to stakeholders and the public.

We saw this with the solid waste tax, the cell phone tax, the tipping fee, and the confusion over when all but two of the income tax allowances he took away from hard-working Barbadians were to be deducted.

What happened this week with the Minister holding consultations with stakeholders to clarify his May 30 Budget was a continuation of his characteristic behaviour of repeatedly getting it wrong, and putting the cart before the horse. It is a pattern of behaviour that demonstrates gross incompetence!

Whatever credibility the Minister had left after the numerous gaffes he has made in his seven budgets; the 17 downgrades this country has suffered under his watch; and after the spectacular failure of his home-grown fiscal programmes to rejuvenate the economy, has now been totally eliminated by this week’s talks with stakeholders on his Budget, after it was presented.

No competent leader decides on a path, declares it, then holds talks to listen to how those most impacted by the measures feel. This bastardization of the Budget package after it was presented renders it discredited and unreliable. It shows how wrong the minister got it.

Worse than that though, is the fact that the Prime Minister agrees with this approach given his statement essentially to that effect. That demonstrates the rot in this Democratic Labour Party Government starts at the very top.

This entire situation would be laughable if it did not involve the well-being of 260,000 Barbadians.

But the fact is, the imposition of the increase of the National Social Responsibility Levy to 10 per cent, the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions, and the hike in excise taxes on gasoline and diesel will cause the cost of living in Barbados to skyrocket. These taxes will devastate the average Barbadian and lead to more unemployment. Indeed, this has been stated by all of the stakeholders – which is unprecedented. Therefore, notwithstanding the Minister’s belated concession not to have the NSRL applied to the near 300 basic items already included in the VAT-free basket of goods, the reality is that come July 1, the Budget measures will inflict more pain on Barbadians.

Worse still is the total silence and abandonment of the CLICO Investors and Policyholders .  After the 2016 Budget Mr Sinckler apologized to CLICO and BAICO policyholders and promised that the transition and settlement would be completed by the 31st December 2016.  Another Budget has come and gone and nothing more has happened and not a single word from the Finance Minister.

The Barbados Labour Party contends that there is enough evidence to demonstrate the Minister of Finance’s incompetence and inability to manage the economy. This is why there is a lack of confidence in the Barbados economy by local investors, while the only people attracted here in recent years have insisted, and received, massive concessions.

The Barbados Labour Party is therefore calling on the Prime Minister to fire the failure that is the Minister of Finance, and recall the entire budget.

If this Government honestly wants a Budget that is in the best interest of Barbados, they need to immediately start a consultation process involving the key stakeholders, the official Opposition, the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Development Bank.

We cannot continue with this chop and change, piecemeal approach to the management of the Barbados economy.

 

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No jobs, anxiety stalk Christ Church East Central

BLP leader Mia Mottley (seated) conferring with St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde (right) and Christ Church East Central candidate Ryan Straughn (second right). Looking on is St George North MP, Gline Clarke.

Barbadians are anxious over the country’s future given the nine years of austerity under the Freundel Stuart administration, with no end in sight. That uncertainty was compounded by the tax grabbing May 30 budget and, since then, the waffling of the Minister of Finance in his effort to clarify the harsh measures he imposed.

This unease was forcefully expressed by some residents in the middle income Kingland districts in Christ Church East Central when the Barbados Labour Party continued its Rubbing Shoulders on-the-road campaign on Saturday (June 17).

Those residents said they will find it difficult to cope with the increased taxation imposed by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler as they already  have less disposable income since he took away all of their allowances, introduced or raised various taxes, while at the same time their salary has not gone up.

The homeowners argued too, that they are already saddled with mortgages and a variety of other payments, and the expected spike in the cost of living will only make them worst off.

One couple confessed that they were living from pay cheque to pay cheque, and if either of them should be unfortunate enough to lose their job, they may find it impossible to hold onto their home.

A Kingsland homeowner accepting a brochure from St Michael South candidate, Kirk Humphrey.

These are some of the real problems Barbadians now face because of the mismanagement of the economy by the Democratic Labour Party government led by Freundel Stuart.

In the Wotton districts, another major worry is the lack of available jobs. Despite the Government’s repeated boasts of only nine per cent unemployment, in Wotton and several other districts canvassed across the country by the BLP, the inability to get jobs is a major cry.

It is so significant that for candidate Ryan Straughn, employment for young people is job number 1, number 2, number 3, and number 4 when he is successful in the next general election.

Straughn, an economist, said high unemployment and a clear lack of opportunities were creating a sense of hopelessness among young people in the Christ Church East Central constituency he plans to represent by unseating the incumbent, Minister of Education Ronald Jones.

 

A senior citizen chatting with canvassers.

Speaking in the Wotton play park after the mass canvass, Straughn said the DLP’s policies were to blame for the hopelessness among Barbadian youth and the anxiety of homeowners.

“We can’t take any more taxes. But yet, every year the Government comes and seeks to go into your pockets before you even get a chance to go there. That is fundamentally flawed. It stops businesses from expanding,” said Straughn, as he outlined the effects of relentless taxation on the economy and economic activity.

“I’ve never seen so many young people who have stopped going to university because they simply can’t afford to. People have left school and have not had even six months’ work over the last five years. That is something we cannot allow to continue in this country,” the BLP hopeful added.

Straughn assured the unemployed and homeowners that the BLP had a plan to get the economy growing again to put Barbadians back to work.

“We are preparing and doing the work meticulously so that from day one we can hit the ground running and make sure a platform is set for all these young people. That is what is required to move this country forward,” he said.

St Michael South Central candidate, Marsha Caddle, gets a receptive ear from this homeowner.

Straughn took the opportunity to blast Sinckler’s budget in which he jacked up the National Social Responsibility Levy from two per cent to 10 per cent, saying it would have disastrous effects on households already struggling to cope, in particular low income families such as those in most parts of the constituency.

“They need to come to the people. Listen to the people. If you do that you would understand what you are doing is not just detrimental to their livelihoods, but to their future,” said Straughn.

He insisted that even if the BLP was forced to introduce tough options given the poor state of the economy due to the DLP’s incompetence, the most vulnerable would be shielded.

Christ Church West Central candidate, Adrian Forde, is greeted with a hug in Lodge Road.
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Issue wider than sex registry

Former Attorney General, Dale Marshall.

Prompt responses by a wide cross section of society have led me to conclude that my position on the issue of a register of sex offenders which appeared in the Daily Nation on June 12 might have been misinterpreted, misconstrued or misrepresented. I wish therefore to state my position on the matter for the interest and benefit of all concerned.

The focus from my comments centered around a response to Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police William Yearwood’s call for introducing a sex offenders’ registry here as a means of dealing with an increase in rape cases.

First, like most Barbadians, I believe that even one sexual offence is too many. I believe that anyone who commits such a heinous act should be severely dealt with by our Law Courts. In fact, I believe that the real issue in Barbados relates to the adequate investigation and prosecution of sexual offences, and the enforcement of penalties that match the seriousness of such offences, and the damage they cause in the lives of victims and their families.

Furthermore, we all know that our problems also relate to the length of time it takes for these cases to be heard in our court system. These delays compound the victimization, as survivors must wait long periods for justice to be delivered, and for their healing to truly begin.

I also made the broader point that we cannot look at sex offenders only, but need to have discussions on how we may alert women about men who are known abusers. This call related only to a sexual offenders’ registry, and not for a wider registry of persons charged with domestic violence or other similar, very serious crimes. We know that these offences cause just as lasting damage in the way of serious injury, disfigurement and death of predominantly women.

My simple contention was that a registry may not be enough, given the nature of crimes of sexual and domestic violence plaguing Barbados. We need to do far more given the reality of what we are confronting here. I hope this clarifies what was earlier reported.

Barbadian women are plagued by a high incidence of domestic violence.

Before we look to import wholesale the measures other countries adopt to fight crime we need to adapt them to the Barbadian context. In the context of the United States, the Sexual Offenders Registry applies to sexual predators or where minors are the victim. It is especially valuable in the US given the fact that offenders can easily move to other districts or states and continue their predatory crimes as an unknown. This is less likely to be the case with Barbados.

As we address these issues and other aspects of keeping a safe and secure Barbados, we will continue to put the interests of victims and their families first, while minimizing the opportunity for injustices to be perpetrated.

I believe that rather than the initial focus on a registry, we should seek to devote resources to:

  1. Understanding the true scale of sexual and domestic violence offenses;
  2. Adequate and timely investigation and prosecution of sexual offences;
  3. Expeditious hearings in the law courts and suitable penalties and their enforcement;
  4. Survivor support and offender rehabilitation where possible; and
  5. A comprehensive approach across communities and institutions of Government to eliminating sexual and domestic violence.

 

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Sinckler owes public workers an apology

Stop threatening public workers, Sinckler. Furthermore, you should apologize to them.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, made this call today (June 13) in response to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s declaration that thousands of public servants could be dismissed from the service if Government is forced to abandon the tax measures announced in their recent Budget.

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has threatened industrial action if Government does not scrap the tax proposals, particularly the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) which will see a 10 per cent tax imposed on all imported products, or institute a “coping subsidy” for public servants until salary negotiations have been concluded.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Sinckler reportedly said: “If this really is the union’s position, it is as ill-advised as it is unfortunate at this time. I do not believe that the union leadership is oblivious to the fact that the alternatives to the measures which we introduced, including an increase in the NSRL, will be far more hurtful to public officers than what is proposed.

“Indeed, least they forget, perhaps it bears reminding that there are a growing number of persons out there who believe that Government should immediately and substantially reduce the size of the public sector, especially its wages bill. Now while that may be coded language for some, it simply means that Government should send home thousands of public servants from the service.”

Sinckler said the Freundel Stuart administration, which in 2013 severed 3,000 public servants, had rejected this route and had chosen an alternative path, which “we are now hearing that the workers’ representatives don’t want and in fact are threatening industrial action over.

“Well at least we know where their head is even if we do not agree with them. But make no mistake about it; those are the hard choices which we face at this time. So if the NUPW leadership is prepared to make the choice of seeing large amounts of their membership lose their employment and with it the capacity to earn a living, then I would definitely consider that position to be both ill-advised and undesirable,” said Sinckler.

However, Mottley described Sinckler’s threat as childish and ill-conceived. And she stated that no amount of threats and name calling can make his bad fiscal policies become good.

The following is Ms. Mottley’s full statement.

The Barbados Labour Party is alarmed by the bizarre threat of Finance Minister Chris Sinckler to send public workers home, if he does not get his way with the new $500 million-plus tax imposition in the last Budget.

Public Workers are not excess baggage on an overweight plane to be shed at will. The Minister must stop using Government employees as scapegoats to cover up his incompetence.

Two years ago he sent home 3, 000 workers and nothing lasting resulted. Our economy is still facing even more severe challenges now. Is it Minister Sinckler’s plan now to send home another 3,000 workers? Has he promised multilateral institutions that this will happen after the next elections?

The Barbados Labour Party contends that putting workers on the breadline as this Government’s first and main option will not significantly alter or enhance the economic fortunes of this country under this DLP government.

Every Barbadian can think of countless ways in which wastage can be eliminated and spending reduced before you start to put workers on the breadline.

Greater transparency in the award of contracts is a perfect place to start. So too is actioning matters raised in successive reports by the Auditor General.

In an environment where the private sector is itself reeling under the pressure of these measures, how would dismissed public workers find employment? How would they feed, clothe and shelter their families? Doesn’t the Minister of Finance care about this?

Minister Sinckler’s threat is childish and ill-conceived. No amount of threats and name calling can make bad fiscal policies become good.

The National Union of Public Workers was very reasonable in its request for a Coping Subsidy to help cushion the impact of the budgetary measures, until such time as a salary increase is affected. Against this reality, the minister’s brash response was unseemly and uncalled for.

We call today for an end to these constant threats by Government ministers. We need a more conciliatory approach to addressing and resolving issues of concern to citizens and representative organizations in the country.

The Social Partnership was created for this very purpose. Rather than just holding the usual, for-the-record, token meetings, the Government needs to sit with the Social Partners and hammer out a reasonable formula for tackling the burgeoning problems impacting our country and its economy.

If the entire country is crying out and saying it cannot bear the $500 million in new taxes, a wise and prudent Minister of Finance, together with a caring and competent Prime Minister, would stop and reflect…not throw tantrums and label all who speak out as “enemies of the state”.

Minister Sinckler owes public workers in this country an apology!

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North West ripe for Rowe to pick

St. Michael West Central candidate Ian Gooding-Edghill discussing Neil Rowe’s candidacy with a resident after presenting her with a brochure.

The St. Michael North West constituency is ripe for the taking and can be won by the Barbados Labour Party.

Furthermore, says Mark Williams, the former BLP parliamentary representative for the constituency, the Bees have a proud, enviable record of service there.

“It’s a record of truth and not lies. . . . Do not believe that this seat is not winnable,” said Williams on Saturday (June10) in the media briefing held in Deacons Farm at the conclusion of the BLP’s latest Rubbing Shoulders on-the-road campaign. The seat is held by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler who won in 2008 and 2013.

“Do not walk around and believe it when people tell you that St Michael North West is not winnable. This seat is winnable on the record of the Barbados Labour Party. . . . The Barbados Labour Party has done more work in this constituency than the Democratic Labour Party – get it right,” Williams added.

The former MP insisted that St. Michael North West constituents’ loyalty cannot be bought.

“What hurts me is that people would walk around this constituency and think that money will win this seat,” said Williams as he assured Neil Rowe, the BLP’s candidate for the constituency for the forthcoming general elections, that he would be there to help him.

St. Thomas MP Cynthia Forde was showered with hugs and smiles as she canvassed the constituency.

Rowe, a new face to the political arena, reported that issues such as unemployment, housing and blocked drains remain unresolved. And he accused Sinckler of giving constituents false hopes while neglecting their needs.

“When it comes to housing, we have eight to 11 people living in a house . . . we have people that the Minister of Finance picks and chooses to send to National Housing Corporation to give a house,” Rowe charged.

The BLP aspirant said the constituency is plagued with high unemployment and a lack of opportunities, and he intended to be the positive difference that constituents have been hoping for.

Saying that Sinckler had failed to deliver on promises of employment for constituents, Rowe said he didn’t understand how a representative could sometimes send five people to fill one position within one Government department. Worse than that, sometimes the people who the constituents are sent to were not even alerted they were coming.

“Those things are unfair and unjust,” said Rowe.

He charged that Sinckler seemed to think the constituents wanted handouts rather than opportunities to uplift themselves.

“I want to assure the people that change is coming. I want to assure the people that I, Neil Rowe, will create opportunities for people to embrace. . . I’m here to make a positive difference,” he declared.

Carl, a St. Michael North West constituent, gave Chris Sinckler a failing grade for his stewardship.

Echoing Rowe’s sentiments on the lack of proper representation, a St. Michael North West constituent introduced only as Carl summed up Sinckler’s stewardship as a disaster.

“Mr. Sinckler is not a representative. He don’t even know what the words to represent mean,” declared Carl, who claimed that

Sinckler only came around at election time.

“If I had to grade Mr. Sinckler’s performance as a minister or representative of St. Michael North West, firstly I couldn’t give him an A . . . . I couldn’t give him a B. . . . I couldn’t give him a C – he deserves a D!

“D is for words like downgrade, deficit, demise, devalue, dead end and, most of all, the word ‘debt’. . . . That’s what’s killing us today,” said Carl.

In his final assessment Carl added: “The word for he (Sinckler) is just ‘delete’ – delete him from the political landscape of this country and this constituency.”

Saying that persons should be judged on performance, Carl stated that Sinckler does not deserve to remain in Parliament or Cabinet, and reminded the MP that he should represent the entire constituency, regardless of who supports him.

 

 

 

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Mottley denies getting $4 million from Four Seasons

 

Barbados Labour Party leader, Mia Mottley.

A vicious lie!

That was Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s reaction to claims that she earned legal fees of $4 million for work done on the stalled Four Seasons hotel project.

Mottley dismissed the claims as total nonsense, saying: “This notion that Elliott D Mottley & Company earned $4 million in fees from a private company is a nonsense and a falsehood. I have indicated that eight lawyers working over a period of time did not even reach a half or a 1/3 of that amount. They are still owed funds and it was not for one transaction, but for a series of transactions.”

The claim against Mottley has surfaced following her response to the 2017-2018 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in Parliament last week in which she claimed that attorney-at-law Hal Gollop, QC, a legal partner of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, had received fees $1.5 million for work done on the newly constructed Barbados Water Authority headquarters building in Pinelands, St Michael.

While promising to uncover and root out corruption in both high and low places, Mottley had also charged that Gollop was instrumental in Stuart’s re-election in St Michael South constituency.

The Barbados Labour Party leader also took a further swipe at the governing Democratic Labour Party, reminding that “I was not a Prime Minister charging $3.3 million for legal work done for CLICO while being the Prime Minister of a country”.

It was a reference to allegations made against former Prime Minister David Thompson following his death in 2010.

Mottley also gave the country the assurance that the notion that lawyers can charge four and five times more than their counterparts in the same transaction, was wrong.

She argued that there was a minimum scale of fees which informed lawyers most of the time, stressing that they usually charged according to the scale of fees.

Mottley added that if the client felt that he had been charged excessive fees he could [contest the matter.

On the final night of the Budget debate Stuart sprang to Gollop’s defence. The Prime Minister claimed  that Mottley was seeking to sully the character of his friend of 50 years.

Both Stuart and Gollop challenged Mottley to come out into an open forum and repeat the allegations she made against them in the House of Assembly.
(BLP/Barbados TODAY)

 

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Uncaring to take new car, says MP

 

Insensitive and uncaring.

That’s St James Central representative Kerrie Symmonds’ take on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart taking possession of a new $700,000 S-Class Mercedes Benz.

Symmonds accused Stuart of living the “high life”, while the majority of Barbadians were forced to “pay through their teeth”.

“My concern, and the concern of the country overall, is the apparently insatiable appetite on the part of elected individuals for the luxuries of high life,” Symmonds said on Thursday (June 8). He added that the purchase of the new Mercedes must be taken within the context of the recent ten per cent restoration of Government MPs pay as well as the accumulated back pay.

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative also pointed out that Stuart was not the only Government beneficiary of luxury vehicles at a time when the ruling Democratic Labour Party administration has been appealing to ordinary Barbadians to make personal sacrifices as the country grapples with severe economic challenges.

During the just-ended Budget debate, Stuart had likened the current economic burdens faced by the country to “a jockey which has gotten too heavy for the horse”, after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler off-loaded a $542 million package of new austerity measures with a view to immediately redressing a $537.6 million deficit position over the next nine months.

Symmonds suggested the Prime Minister was the one who needed to climb down from the proverbial high horse, while stating that he was convinced that there was a level of “financial illiteracy” at the heart of Barbados’ problems.

“The Prime Minister has admitted that he changed not one, but two, luxury cars over the past year, namely MP2 and M50. The key point I want to make is that to my certain knowledge you can find suitable vehicles that are both robust and not necessarily high maintenance,” argued Symmonds.

While pointing out that he currently drives “a ten-year-old Toyota and it works very well”, the St James Central spokesman also expressed concern about what he termed “the absence of selectivity” displayed by the Prime Minister in the purchase of the new vehicles.

“Are we now so enslaved to brand names that we cannot shop around to find alternatives that may be more economical? And beyond that, is it fair to ask struggling taxpayers to pay through their teeth because of a lust among some in high society for brand name lifestyles that they themselves are not paying directly for?” he asked.

In dismissing the latest controversy over his vehicle, Stuart contended that there was no mystery surrounding the replacement of vehicles for High Court judges and chief justices.

However, Symmonds dismissed Stuart’s argument as total hogwash since judges have a fleet of cars and issues of maintenance, affordability and value for money were key considerations. (BLP/Barbados TODAY)

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Lead Freundel, lead!

 

Leader of the Opposition, Mia Amor Mottley.

The following is a media release from the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, on the industrial action taken by LIAT’s pilots on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, that disrupted air travel across the region.

“For the last few weeks, LIAT’s pilots were threatening industrial action. Today they have acted on those threats, and once again scores of Barbadians and other Caribbean citizens travelling within the region have been inconvenienced.

“While we appreciate that the management of LIAT would normally handle such industrial matters, the persistent grumblings surrounding all levels of administration and service at LIAT cannot be ignored and allowed to continue.

“As the largest shareholder in LIAT, Barbadian taxpayers foot the bill for the majority of that airline’s expenses. It is therefore incumbent on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to show leadership in this matter and end this tireless friction that has encumbered the Caribbean’s only significant regional air transporter.

“This whole LIAT matter is crying out for strong, decisive leadership. When will the Prime Minister take the lead on behalf of Barbadian taxpayers who essentially keep that airline flying, instead of behaving like a spectator? Why does Barbados continue to abdicate its position to minority shareholders?

“Enough is enough. Firm decisions need to be taken on LIAT. As the representative for the largest shareholder in this airline, the Prime Minister needs to summon a meeting and deal with these ongoing issues that are contributing to consistent complaints of poor service, and have led to repeated disruption of travel across the region. This rot must stop.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (left) looks on as Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the chairman of the Majority Shareholder Governments of LIAT, takes the lead.

“What is the point of owning more than 51 per cent of LIAT, having a Barbadian chairman, three of the seven directors, and the acting chief executive officer in place, but yet cannot come up with a solution that is in the best interest of Barbadian taxpayers.

“I am not saying that we should disadvantage the other shareholders. But Barbadian taxpayers should not be asked to carry the majority financial responsibility in LIAT while cost reduction considerations are ignored. The Prime Minister needs to show leadership and begin to work in the interest of Barbadian taxpayers to get the best return on our investment commensurate with our majority ownership.

“As the regional airline, LIAT’s social responsibility is to provide air transportation to link Caribbean people. At the same time, LIAT is a private business. Barbadian taxpayers cannot therefore continue pumping money into it with no improvement in sight. That is why the airline must be restructured as a matter of urgency to make it an efficient operation.

“Leadership in this matter is therefore vital. Prime Minister Stuart needs to tell Barbadian taxpayers how much more they need to invest in LIAT to get it to work efficiently, and whether that investment is advisable at this time. He needs to tell Barbadian taxpayers whether the airline would save money if it was headquartered in Barbados instead of Antigua.

“Barbadian taxpayers deserve nothing less than leadership from the Prime Minister given the millions we pour into LIAT each year.”

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Tax to be rolled back

Barbados Labour Party leader , Mia Mottley

Whether a Barbados Labour Party government goes “the IMF route” or not, its prescription will not be as painful or as unconscionable as the single dose high-risk experiment adopted by the Freundel Stuart government last week.

Indeed, BLP Leader Mia Mottley pledged on Saturday (June 3) that the controversial increase from two per cent to 10 per cent in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) will be rolled back!

“We can’t say at this time whether it will be to five per cent, three point five per cent, the original two per cent or gotten rid of all together. But, what’s for sure is that we shall ease, if not remove, the burden of that draconian and heartless imposition on Barbadian consumers that was done this week,” said Mottley.

In presenting the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals last Tuesday (May 30), Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said that in an effort to address the worrying fiscal deficit, government would increase the NSRL from two per cent to ten per cent. That measure alone is expected to earn government $218 million in revenue for the current financial year.

Mottley stated: “No useful purpose can and will be served by taxing people into oblivion. They will not get the money. This is June 2017 and we may not go to the polls before July 2018, so it’s difficult to articulate a precise alternative path given that things could get worst between now and then. But what I can say to you for sure, is that that tax shall be rolled back in the interest of taking the Barbados economy out of Intensive Care and setting us on course to recovery.”

Already Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Eddie Abed warned Barbadians to brace for a general increase in the cost of living due largely to the hike in NSRL. His advice echoed much of the concerns aired by the private sector, economists and accounting businesses who did an analysis of the budget. Also, Cabinet ministers Donville Inniss and Dr David Estwick each said the measure would be painful for Barbadians.

As for Sinckler’s charge in the wrap-up of the debate that the BLP will take Barbados into an International Monetary Fund administered programme if it wins the next general elections, Mottley said
the folly of that scare tactic was rubbished in the presentation of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur when he showed clearly in his contribution to the budget debate that the IMF route would have been much less pain, with far more predictable gain.

“I have no reason to differ with the informed analysis of Mr. Arthur. If the IMF route would have netted a guaranteed $300-odd million, why would this minister have gone with a more painful option, when he himself is not sure how it will impact? That’s the most frightening aspect of this discussion, because both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are now saying, ‘let’s see what happens’.

“How can a government be so heartless? How can it be so unmindful of the short term impact of its ill-conceived policies? They increased the tax to 10 per cent, then say they will listen to what people have to say. From when does this Government listen to anybody?

“Every informed comment prior to presentation of the Budget, advised against taxing your way out of this crisis. They made the largest tax grab in the history of Barbados, almost half a billion dollars, and then say they will wait for feedback. That is administrative madness intertwined with their characteristic arrogance. Clearly this government has lost its way, has no new ideas and is now in lucky dip mode,” the BLP leader contended.

Mottley insisted that from the responses of the Prime Minister and other front bench members, 10 was just the unlucky number that was pulled from the bag.

“It was clearly a lucky dip approach. They put all the possible percentage increases in a bag, pulled one and 10 came out. That’s what passes for governance and fiscal policy in Barbados in 2017,” she declared.

“The Barbados Labour Party is monitoring this situation on a daily basis. I can tell you what we would do tomorrow, if we were in government, but it is difficult, if not impossible to even anticipate where this country might be in 12 months when, fortunately for all concerned, this government can continue no more.

“We are considering all of our options in the interest of the country. A year is a long time. There is merit in what the former Prime Minister has said. There is merit in what the Minister of Agriculture is saying. But remember also that the Barbados Labour Party has no shortage of economic thinkers. A team with persons the calibre of Dr. Clyde Mascoll, Ryan Straughn, Marsha Caddle and a few others, backed by more than 200 years of collective parliamentary experience, can be relied upon to come up with a more palatable and less painful formula. This country can rest assured of that,” Mottley maintained.

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South Central constituents deserve better

St Michael North MP Ronald Toppin sharing a light moment with a constituent.

Richard Sealy was weighed in the balance and found wanting by several of his St. Michael South Central constituents.

Many of those who spoke with Barbados Labour Party (BLP) canvassers when the ongoing Rubbing Shoulders on-the-road campaign continued in that constituency, likened Sealy to an absentee landlord who only comes around when his interests matter.

Several constituents said their cries for jobs, better housing and improved drainage have fallen on death ears, and many of them pledged to have the last laugh on Sealy whenever the general elections are called.

St George South MP Dwight Sutherland (left) in discussion with a Marl Hole Gap constituent.

Whether one was in Hall’s Road, Arthur’s Land, Carrington Village, Tweedside Road, Brittons Hill, Clapham, Delamere Land or Flagstaff, scores of residents received BLP canvassers with open arms, and several slammed Sealy’s unresponsiveness.

The type of struggle many St. Michael South Central families are going through was exemplified in the circumstances of a Marl Hole Gap matriarch. She is the only one working in that household of eight, and is not making ends meet given the astronomically high cost of living.

Unemployment apart, for several other families in the populous avenues and gaps off Halls Road, they would like assistance to get waterborne facilities.

It is an aspect of day-to-day life in St. Michael South Central that saddens the BLP’s caretaker for the constituency, Marsha Caddle.

Slamming the large number of pit toilets in St Michael South Central as an example of the deplorable conditions under which constituents are living, Caddle accused Sealy of not caring about the plight of his constituents.

“The number of pit toilets in St. Michael South Central is way too high. In 2017, we should not have Barbadians, young people with children, having to get up at 2 a.m. to go out in their yards in the dark to use the toilet.

“We have a representative who has famously said this week [in Parliament during the budget debate], ‘I do not care’. That refrain has been ringing in the ears of St. Michael South Central for nine years – they can feel it,” stated Caddle.

The economist also pointed to “the appalling state” of housing and drainage in the constituency, which she described as “a breeding ground for mosquitoes” due to the build-up of water.

Caddle said Sealy has also failed the scores of unemployed youth in the constituency.

“We have tradesmen, steel benders, masons and carpenters who cannot find work,” lamented Caddle.

These two abandoned, dilapidated houses in Marl Hole Gap are a haven for rats and mosquitoes, claimed residents. They reported that despite repeated requests to Richard Sealy’s constituency office to get the properties cleaned up, nothing has been done.

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BMA: Budget could be disastrous for manufacturing

Barbados Manufacturers’ Association President, Jason Sambrano

The Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA) anticipates that the increased taxes imposed in the Budget will lead to further contraction of the economy, job losses and business closures.

In his latest effort to drag the economy from the brink, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced during the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals on May 30 that the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) introduced last September will rise from two per cent to ten per cent.

He also announced a two per cent commission on foreign exchange transactions, along with excise duty increases of 24 cents on diesel and 25 cents on gasoline, all aimed at reducing demand for foreign exchange and lower the fiscal deficit, which stood at six per cent as at the end of 2016, higher than the anticipated 5.8 per cent.

BMA President Jason Sambrano said the tax increases were significant, explaining that the $218 million which the NSRL is expected to bring in this financial year meant there would be less money circulating to spur economic activity.

“It means people will spend less, there will be less economic activity for businesses. It will obviously increase our cost of production because then people will start to charge us the NSRL in the different lines of what we may procure and it will drive up the cost of production. So it will have a contracting effect with regards to demand for products – both locally produced products and imported products,” Sambrano explained.

“So once those two things converge on each other basically it will put some businesses out of business, [and] especially [put] local manufacturers in a position of having to make some choices with regards to the structure of the business going forward,”

The BMA leader said the proposed two per cent fee on foreign transactions would likely have a devastating impact on manufacturers who import materials using foreign currency.

Virtually all imported material used in manufacturing will rise by two per cent, he said, dealing a further blow to the bottom line.

“So obviously that in itself, while the NSRL affect local sales to the retail trade, the foreign currency commission will then affect our export competitiveness because once we have to pay that, the cost of inputs will go up by two per cents and we will have to either make the decision, do we absorb that to try and remain competitive, which obviously drive up the cost of production, or do we pass it on to the trade and export market, which makes or products even less competitive?” he explained.

Sambrano said he was disappointed that Sinckler did not indicate how long the measures would remain in place, stressing that an indefinite imposition would have long-term implications for the competitiveness of the sector.

As a result, Sambrano said manufacturers were calling for frank and meaningful consultation with Government in an effort to devise a means to better “facilitate the efforts of the manufacturing sector to stimulate exports and improve our foreign exchange earnings”.

The manufacturing executive acknowledged that there was the need for a short-term plan to dampen the demand for foreign exchange, yet he was equally concerned that nothing was put in place to help stimulate growth and improve foreign exchange earnings.

Sambrano welcomed the news of a proposed Value Added Tax factoring programme, however, saying any measure that accelerated  refunds to companies was a good thing, given that some have been waiting for a considerable amount of time to get those returns. (Barbados TODAY)

 

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Budget a tax grab, says retired banker

Government’s plan to impose a two per cent fee on all foreign exchange transaction is being described as nothing but a “tax grab” by one of this island’s most noted operators in the financial services sector.

What is more, director and local franchise agent for Western Union, Horace Cobham, said the tax measures announced in Tuesday’s (May 30) Budget would force some companies out of business, and throw some private sector employees out of work.

“My sense of the two per cent is that it is a tax grab. It has been presented as a sort of dampening impact in terms of the economy, but the question is, isn’t it simply just another tax under another name?” Cobham said.

Stating that foreign exchange was not exported without approval from the Central Bank, Cobham said if the measure were designed to dampen the thirst for foreign exchange it was simply just an extension of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which was designed for the same purpose.

“If this is going to have a dampening effect it means that this is just simply part of the whole tax cause associated with the implementation. So from my perspective, the only purpose of this two per cent is to increase taxes. Rather than having the NSRL being 15 per cent, they have decided to make that ten per cent and apply two per cent under another heading, but the reality is that it is to increase taxes. That is my sense of the two per cent.”

The former head of the Barbados Bankers Association said missing from the discussion was the impact of the taxes on jobs.

He said there was no doubt that with such a level of taxation there was sure to be impact on economic activity, which would definitely result in some job losses.

“My fear is that the most vulnerable will be the ones that will potentially be hit first in terms of job losses because if you think of the process it is not a linear one . . . and one of the things that will certainly happen is that by virtue of the overall cost of doing business and the reduced demand, businesses will have to think in terms of how do they survive, and businesses will do something that regretfully Government is not yet prepared to do, and that is cut costs,” Cobham said.

“So when businesses start to look at how costs can be cut, wages and salaries will be one of those areas, and you are talking about a reduction of numbers of people employed. So there needs to be an overt conversation on the impact of this Budget on employment in Barbados and I could see where in the private sector some businesses will perhaps fail, some businesses will have to reduce costs, overheads [and] people simply to stay in business and that is going to be a real factor going forward,” he stressed.

The financial services expert also warned that the two per cent tax would likely result in higher charges for Western Union customers due to increased operational costs, which are likely to be passed on.

“The prices are set globally but my expectation is that the cost of foreign exchange in our business will be passed on as expected, and therefore it will make the cost of doing the normal transaction more expensive, as will happen in the commercial bank. So the impact for us will be the same as the commercial bank because we regulate under the same regulatory environment as the commercial bank,” Cobham explained.

Meantime, Cobham welcomed the proposed audit of the foreign exchange dealers to better understand how that side of the industry works, although he was unsure what process the audit would take. (Barbados TODAY)

 

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BCCI: Taxes could drive businesses underground

President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Eddie Abed

 One of the island’s leading businessmen is warning that the planned introduction of fees on foreign exchange transactions and a whopping increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) could have damning consequences for businesses and the country.

President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed said the taxes announced on Tuesday, May 30, by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler could  force some businesses to operate “underground” as they seek “alternative” means of operating, and drive some manufacturers out of Barbados.

“My fear is that the last few years have been so perilous and I am hoping that this does not drive more businesses underground. We have heard of several situations where businesses have gone underground,” Abed said this morning at the Hilton Barbados Resort where the BCCI and PricewaterhosueCoopers held a post-Budget breakfast seminar.

“If we keep doing these bridges and mountains more companies will look at alternative ways of doing business,” he warned.

In presenting the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals Sinckler announced that in an effort to address the troubling fiscal deficit and the precariously low foreign reserves, government would increase the NSRL from two per cent to ten per cent, and would impose a two per cent commission on foreign exchange transactions.

These measures are expected to earn government $218 million and $52 million respectively in revenue for the current financial year, he said.

Meanwhile, Executive Chairman of Caribbean LED Lighting Inc Jim Reid expressed concern that the measures would lead to further uncertainty in the economy.

Reid accused the Freundel Stuart administration of seeking to “dampen the economy”, pointing out that some manufacturers had cast doubt on their ability to continue operating here as a result of the two per cent fee on foreign exchange transactions.

The local manufacturer said there were more questions than answers at this stage, and demanded clarity on the measure, saying his company exports over 70 per cent of the products it produces.

“We are a net foreign exchange earner and I would like to know how this two per cent is going to work,” he said.

In his Budget presentation, Sinckler said the main aim of the measures was to dampen the demand for foreign exchange as Government seeks to shore up the international reserves, which stood at approximately $749 million or 10.7 weeks of import cover at the end of March. (Barbados TODAY)

 

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