Daily Archives: October 29, 2006

The Issue Is Not Land – The Issue Is Secret Land Deals, Political Corruption And Zero Accountability

BLP Spin Machine In Overdrive – Over Land Issues

For at least the last four weeks, the Barbados Labour Party has been pulling out all the stops to head off any serious discussion of the real issues surrounding land ownership and useage in Barbados.

The BLP spin tactic is to focus upon three areas: 1/ The economic necessity and wisdom of selling land to foreign investors. 2/ That there is lots of land left for Bajans. 3/ How great a job the BLP has done, and is doing, in providing cheap (ie: subsidized with public funds) land and housing to lower-income Bajans.

We see the Prime Minister publically “kicking butt” of housing contractors who are behind schedule, other Ministers talking about how much land there is for everyone, letters to newspaper editors from government supporters – and an old Government Minister saying that all the Opposition Party concern about land is just a “political football” and hardly worth talking about.

Not mentioned at all by the BLP are the two most important and contentous factors surrounding land ownership, use and sale in Barbados:

1/ The complete lack of accountability and transparency for those public officials who make multi-million dollar land decisions in secret.

2/ The fact that Barbados has no conflict of interest laws or integrity legislation anyway – so even if public officials’ pockets benefit from their decisions, nothing can be done.

The system is corrupt, and the ruling government does not want to change it.

Don’t be fooled by all the razzle-dazzle this weekend at the BLP conference. Keep thinking about those million-dollar land deals made in secret, and the fact that neither the Prime Minister nor anyone else involved in the secret decisions has to declare their assets…

And even if they do line their own pockets, or if their family members or “special lady friends” happen to do “consulting” work for government suppliers where the payment goes into an offshore account… it is not illegal.

In 12 years of power, Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s government has failed to make such unethical behaviour illegal.

Transparency? Accountability? Integrity and Conflict of Interest Legislation?

Not on Owen Arthur’s watch.

Smoke and Mirrors from the Nation News…

BLP To Address Contentious Issues At Conference

THE current contentious issues of land, public transportation, housing and consumer protection matters will be high on the agenda when the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) holds its 68th annual general conference this weekend.

Additionally, all six party officers including chairman and political leader Prime Minister, Owen Arthur have been nominated unopposed, but BLP officials yesterday debunked suggestions the two day event at Harrison College was an “election conference”, and the last before General Elections are called.

The theme for this year’s conference, which is expected to attract between 500 and 600 delegates, is Continuing to Make Life Better in Barbados.

Speaking during a media briefing at BLP headquarters Roebuck Stress, conference chairman Senator Rudy Grant, said: “We have decided on the first day of the conference to focus on issues relating to land. On that first day there will be a video presentation, which will detail what as a party we have been doing to facilitate land and to facilitate providing that for Barbadians, so that the lives of Barbadians could be enriched and made better.”

He said day one would have presentations by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs and Development Mia Mottley, in her capacity as Minister responsible for the Urban Development Commission UDC. Also making presentations will be Minister of Housing and Lands Reginald Farley and Minister of Social Transformation, Trevor Prescod.

Grant, who is Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, said there would be range of issues presented in the form of resolutions to be discussed including public transport, housing, consumer protection issues.

As for the election of the party executive, which will take place on day one, Grant said apart from Arthur, General Secretary, Dr. William Duguid and Treasurer Senator Tyrone Barker would be unopposed. The same stood for Minister of Labour and the Civil Service Rawle Eastmond, first vice-chairman; Minister of Health Dr. Jerome Walcott; and Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development Senator, Lynette Eastmond.

The conference chairman said the issue of land was chosen to be discussed because it was one of the topics on the minds and lips of the public.

“There are individuals in Barbados who consider the issue of land to be important and it is an issue that we thought we would bring to the fore and we would discuss fully, and we would highlight for the public what we have been doing over the last 12 years of this administration,” he said.

Duguid said while individuals were free to speculate, the two day conference was not an election one.

“As far as I am aware the constitutionally due election will be…due in 2008. So that would mean that if nothing else the last election conference would be 2007 and not the 2006. Surely you are allowed to speculate as anybody else is allowed to speculate. You are entitled to your speculation but you are not entitled to your facts and the facts are at this present time that this is not an election conference,” according to him.

The first day of the event will opened with an entertainment prelude, and both days will have devotions by Reverend Angela Phillips and Pastor Anderson Kellman respectively.

While the expected “high point” of the second day will be an address by the Prime Minister, said this year would also feature a booth where people could have blood pressure and cholesterol checks. The Barbados Prison Service and UDC will also have booths.

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

Blogging Around On A Barbados Sunday Morning

Friends, I am sitting outdoors this morning with a cup of the best coffee I have ever had – bar none. It is called “Jamaican Blue Mountain” and was a gift from a friend. I am totally stunned to know the cost of a pound of this coffee and will not repeat it here, for fear of being called a liar.

But I must tell you, that considering everything: the coffee in combination with the Cuban cigar I am about to heat up, the tiny hummingbird hovering just a few feet away trying to keep out of the wind, and the sounds of my son playing and my woman fussing away nearby – I am as contented as any man could be on such a morning.

Thank you God.

So let’s take a look around the internet and see what we can find…

How Many Roaches & Slugs Does Barbados Export?

Apparently, quite a few… New Life For TT Spiders, Centipedes In Asia

Demise Of The Barbados Data-Entry Industry

Our photographer friend over at Focus In Barbados takes a look at the decimation of Barbados data-entry industry – sans photos this time.

Anthurium – A Caribbean Studies Journal

Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed journal that publishes original works by Caribbean writers and scholars worldwide exclusively in electronic form. Looks interesting and I’ll be reading a few more of their pieces. Scooped the link from Focus In Barbados.

Eemanee Criticises BFP

Clipping from Global Voices Online… Eemanee criticises Barbados Free Press for demonstrating a “knack for sensationalism” in calling the Chairman of the Barbados Family Planning Association an “abortions provider”: “Let’s not forget that the BFPA provides a range of needed services, such as pap smears, men’s health services as well as Room 246, a drop-in room for young people.” (read Eemanee’s whole post at What Crazy Looks Like)

BLP Now Calling Prime Minister Arthur “The Father of First World Barbados”

The Barbados Labour Party Blog posts an article Happy 68th Conference BLP and calls the PM “The Father of First World Barbados” like a title. To me, it sounds a bit personality-cultish and more than a bit buffoonish. Such self-proclaimed grandiose titles are common-place in African dictatorships and other tin-pot locations where the people are relatively unsophisticated. But hey, whatever the BLP inner-circle thinks will work!

(I wonder what they think of that Arthur’s new title in the many places on the island that lack proper water and sewerage disposal?)

DLP Calls “Political Mass Meeting” For Sunday Night

I see on the DLP website that there were be a meeting tonight (October 29th) at Shecker Hall (Moon Town) in St. Lucy. Speakers include “CDE” David Thompson – which I guess still means “comrade”. Yuk…. if those DLP guys knew how the rest of the world views the words “comrade” and “manifesto” as applied to politics, they would drop that Stalinesk language overnight.

Hmmm… wonder if anyone will be asking Mr. Thompson about Royalrumble’s observations that Thompson provided all sorts of favours for Sandy Lane back in the day – the obvious implication being how can Thompson now criticize Prime Minister Arthur for providing “incentives” to foreigners who purchase Bajan property?

No doubt that Thompy and the old DLP crowd fed their share at the piggy trough. Don’t smile too smuggly now, Mr. Thompson.

Hiding Cash In Barbados Through Offshore Banking

I stumbled across this website that may, or may not, be providing accurate information on how to set up your own bank in Barbados. Somehow, I don’t think its as easy as filling out a form… and I’d bet that proper “arrangements” must be made. Just a guess.

Bermuda Blogger Now Requires Commenters To Register

A Limey In Bermuda blog has now instituted a policy of requiring commenters to register with email addresses etc.. Most people have no idea of the amount of spam and profane or off-topic posts that bloggers have to contend with. BFP will not be requiring registration for the foreseeable future, but we understand The Limey five by five.

“Maximum Leader” Castro Lives! Will “The Father of First World Barbados” Send Halloween Greetings?

Michelle Malkin has the scoop about Castro’s recent television appearance – while wearing an ADIDAS track suit! (Link here)

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Culture & Race Issues, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

December 5, 2006 is Queen Mary II Day In Barbados

queen-mary-ii-barbados.jpg

UPDATED – Oct 29, 2006 -11:09am

We notice this recent Nation News article where Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch announced that Barbados was to be “home-port” for 18 cruise ships this winter. Obviously, this will boost provisioning revenues for these vessels. See Barbados Best Home Port.

How Much Money Will How Many Passengers Spend In 10 Hours?

Tourism is such an important part of our Barbados economy that there are very few of us who are not in some way connected directly or indirectly with those reddy-pink sunburned people who wander about wearing funny hats and taking photos.

Barbados Free Press readers often discuss tourism revenues, infrastructure costs, Cricket World Cup, island environment and other subjects associated with the industry – and while there is seldom full agreement on anything, we all know that the twin blows of 9/11 and soaring oil prices hit us rather hard in the last five years. Many cruise ship operators cut back on Barbados as our island is at the end of the line from most home-ports, and frankly, from a tourist standpoint is little different than so many other islands – and maybe less attractive in terms of natural beauty than some nearer destinations.

So we should all welcome visits from cruise ships – and we do welcome them. Of late though, some of our readers have been questioning how much revenue cruise ships actually generate when compared with the infrastructure and government subsidies necessary to keep them coming to Bridgetown. Or… compared with island stay tourists who spend their entire vacation on Barbados, rather than cruising from island to island on a floating hotel.

Attracting cruise ships is a highly competitive business because, as we have pointed out, if Barbados doesn’t make it attractive for the ships to choose our nation, there is always another beautiful island that would be happy to take our place.

Queen Mary II Will Spend 10 Hours At Bridgetown on December 5, 2006

Let’s take one visit by one ship and (with BFP readers’ assistance) try to guess at the associated revenues and costs. Cunard’s Queen Mary II is scheduled to spend 10 hours in port on December 5th (link). My grandfather sailed on the original once (as a troopship just after WWII), so that is as good a reason as any for choosing QMII as our subject.

The Wikipedia encyclopedia entry for QMII (link here – Also a good read on its own) states that she carries 2,620 passengers and 1,253 officers and crew. For the purposes of our discussion, let’s assume a 100% occupancy for this new liner. Other older liners might not be at 100%, but I’d bet that QMII will be close to full.

How Many Passengers Disembark & How Many Remain Onboard?

Maybe some of our readers can assist here. On this particular seven day cruise, Bridgetown is the first stop after two days of “Cruising the Atlantic Ocean” out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As someone who knows nothing about cruise ships and the tourist industry, I’d speculate that a higher percentage of passengers would be coming ashore than if the stop was near the end of the voyage.

Is that assumption correct? (Let’s hear from some of our tourism industry readers.)

And that brings us to the next question – what is the usual percentage of cruiseship passengers who disembark at Barbados? Does anyone in tourism or the government collect these figures – and what process is used to collect the information? Do you guess, or is the ship required to file some information? If not, how can we even begin to estimate the value of a cruiseship docking?

Next question – What is the average revenue spent in Barbados by each disembarking passenger? Some will go on tours (On December 5th, the Queen Mary II is offering a group tour to a sugar plantation – and probably a few other organized tours as well), while others will wander Bridgetown on their own.

Any input on the average revenues, folks? How does the government or tourism industry calculate this?

How Much Does Queen Mary II Pay For Docking & Supplies?

What costs does the QMII pay to enter harbour, stay and then leave? My guess is that QMII would provision herself in Fort Lauderdale, as it just doesn’t make economic sense that she would take on supplies in Bridgetown. So other than port charges, I’d guess that there is probably little revenue associated with docking. (Am I correct, folks?)

Government Subsidies & Incentives

Does the Government of Barbados grant any subsidies or rebates to Cunard? I’ve heard that in other jurisdictions, sometimes docking fees are set on a sliding scale where after a certain number of visits in a year, a rebate is given. (Any input, tourism people?)

What Is The Bottom Line Profit Associated With Queen Mary II’s Visit?

The infrastructure and businesses set up to service disembarking cruise ship passengers provides direct employment to – I’d guess – thousands of Bajans. This employment has a real value even if it is difficult to put a number to it.

At the end of the day, hosting cruise ships is a national business. Are we really making money at it… or is it some type of “Loss Leader” – necessary, but not profitable in and of itself?

Let’s hear your thoughts…

Photo credit: Queen Mary II on her maiden voyage visit to Bridgetown, January 22, 2004. Photo by Theodore W. Scull (website with many beautiful photos link here)

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Traveling and Tourism