Daily Archives: July 16, 2007

Barbados Escalates Oil Lottery Hype In Election Run-up

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Barbados Government Conjures Up Visions Of Winning The Oil Lottery – Just In Time For The Election!

Oil. Money. Fortune.

We’re all rich, don’t you know? Minister Liz Thompson is talking about setting up a national “Petroleum Heritage and Stabilisation Fund” to deal with the billions of dollars of profits that are sure to be flowing our way from all that oil just off our coast. There’s going to be sooooooo much money that we’ll have to take special pains to take care of this legacy for our children and their children.

We had big news coverage of the survey, and now the Barbados media is pumping oil fever to new heights. The story is that international oil firms are being “forced to bid” for the lucrative rights to get a piece of the action. Minister Thompson flew all the way to Texas to talk with the big boys – with Barbados press coverage of her every word, of course. Texas is synonymous with oil money, and if there is one thing that the Barbados Government knows, it is how to put on a stage show. You can’t create that type of drama meeting in a government board room at the PM’s office folks! So off to Texas went our Liz.

Nobody in the Barbados media asked why it was that the Barbados government had to go on a road trip flogging the supposed billions to be made from Bajan oil rights instead of the world beating down our door here on the island.

The truth is that the survey and efforts to auction off oil exploration areas are nothing in comparison to the FEEL GOOD propaganda campaign being engineered by the Barbados Government. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear again in some different way about how good things are going to be when we tap into that big pool of oil money, how many big oil firms are “interested” and this expert or that expert talking about oil. And then we’ll have one more quote from Minister Thompson about the process.

Government Leaks Own Maps To Generate More Hype

Last weekend, the government itself leaked it’s own maps to the media to generate further excitement. The Nation News responded with a big article about the NAMES of the oil exploration areas. The areas have all been given BAJAN names, don’t ya know! This means that they are ours… making for further excitement, hope and dreams. Two chickens in every pot and two BMWs in every garage.

Hey… the government has even put two areas aside with NO BIDDING. Saving them for future generations they say. THAT generates a bit of excitement too, doesn’t it?

Nobody is asking, “Hey… we’ve been in trouble financially for a decade. If there’s so much easy, high quality oil waiting just off the coast, why didn’t we auction off our oil rights six or seven years ago and get some of that big money heading our way sooner?”

What has changed in the last ten years that has improved the quality, quantity, accessibility and desirability of our supposed oil deposits?

The price of crude has changed, that’s for sure. And that makes oil – accessible, good quality oil – all the more desirable. But what has changed that makes our oil of better quality now than it was in the past? Barbados has had oil exploration and deals before – none of which proved profitable enough to keep the companies here.

While all Bajans hope that new exploration will produce an oil bonanza for Barbados, even if the oil companies are successful it will take many years or even a decade before there could be an appreciable impact upon our economy. The current hype by the government is akin to buying a lottery ticket and starting to brag about what you are going to do with the winnings.

The only appreciable short term benefit of the oil hype is for the election… and folks, this is ALL about the election.

Don’t spend your oil money yet, my friends.

Story Links

Barbados Advocate: Steps being taken to set up Petroleum Heritage and Stabilisation Fund

Nation News: Response from oil bidders “good”

Nation News: These Undersea Fields Our Very Own

19 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Food Prices A Result Of Monopoly?

BFP Reader George Orwell writes…

BFP: You people are getting at the secondary story here. Whether BS&T shareholders are getting the correct share price or if Barbados should allow a Trini “merger” is not the real issue. The real issue is whether Barbados can afford to hand a virtual monopoly in food distribution and retail to any one private company whether Bajan or Trini. Where is the FTC on Ansa McCal’s bid?

Add Stokes & Bynoe, Brydens, A&R Tempro and a majority share in Trimart to SBI and Supercentre and we have a recipe to go hungry as the near monopoly is exploited and food prices get even more ridiculous than they already are.

BS&T and N&M are both mediocre companies with patchy track record and I would reckon anyone holding BS&T shares after years of asset sell-offs to deliver “record profits” deserves whatever they get. The government must exercise competition policy now or admit that the FTC is a sham set up to defend the new utilities.

Juice for the children is HOW MUCH?

Maybe Mr. Orwell has a point.

2 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Internet No Bargain Compared With The Rest Of The World – Double and Triple Cost

BFP reader Bajanboy considers the cost of broadband in Barbados…

I think the price of DSL internet access in Barbados is still too high, the connection speeds too low, and the service too mediocre. I was hoping with Telebarbados operating here, we would have seen the kind of competition that drove down prices and improved service for cellular subscribers. That has not happened even if one considers the recent doubling of the internet speeds (from very slow to slow) by Cable and Wireless.

In Japan, the cheapest cost per 1Mbps is US$0.22 while in Barbados it is US$50. While other countries move ahead, Barbados is falling behind by standing still.

Before Cable and Wireless launches its recently mooted IPTV service, they better had bring Barbados broadband access into the 21st century.

Bajanboy

Article Link: BBC News: Global Broadband Prices Revealed

67 Comments

Filed under Barbados

America’s War On Tourists – Can We Capitalize On The Unfriendly U.S. Tourism Environment?

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Above: Typical American Tourism Welcoming Committee 

From the Chicago Tribune via Travel Wire News, we read the following piece about the hostile reception facing tourists who want to visit the United States for a vacation. Our own Cliverton lived, worked and studied in the United States for years – but every time he re-entered that country he was made to feel like a criminal.

Surely we can somehow attract some of the tourists that the USA drives away for no apparent reason?

Excerpts from: America’s war on tourists: How the U.S. hurts itself

America’s war on tourists: How the U.S. hurts itself

I recently spent a day fielding phone calls from people who had just returned from the World Travel & Tourism Conference in Lisbon. The subject of their news: the calamitous drop in the amount of incoming travel to the United States.

Since 2000, tourism to the United States from abroad has declined by 10 percent. Though all nations lost tourism in the immediate wake of 9/11, virtually all other nations have made up the deficit and forged ahead. Since 2000, tourism to Britain has increased by 13 percent. Tourism to Australia has increased by 21 percent. Tourism to France has increased by 20 percent.

Why have we lost incoming tourism? In these days of a weak U.S. dollar, the U.S. has become a remarkably cheap country for most foreign tourists; by all rights, our incoming tourism should have soared. The overwhelming consensus of the WTTC was that we have made it extraordinarily difficult for most foreign tourists to obtain visas for travel into the United States. In some countries, it requires several weeks simply to make an appointment to apply for such a visa at a U.S. consulate.

Let me repeat that: Not only is the application process a time-consuming procedure, but it requires a several-week wait for an appointment to apply for the visa!

As if the failure to issue visas expeditiously weren’t bad enough, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing (as reported in the trade press on June 25) to create additional obstacles to those foreign citizens who don’t need visas to travel here.

… the department is proposing that these exempt individuals, in advance of departure, provide the U.S. with biographical data and their proposed travel plans within the U.S. They would then receive electronic authorization to proceed with their plans.

A nation that cannot issue visas on time is expected to review the travel plans of millions of additional foreign tourists and quickly approve their trips here.

With so much at stake, with so much income, including tax income, to be enjoyed through added tourism, with so favorable a time for incoming tourism because of the weak U.S. dollar, the failure to create smooth and reasonably quick procedures for the issuance of visas is a catastrophic oversight.

The further proposal to require that foreigners advise us in writing of their plans is loonier still. The entire situation calls for intervention by grown-ups.

… read the entire article at the Chicago Tribune or Travel Wire News.

13 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Traveling and Tourism

Dennis Jones Shifts Into High Gear With Two Lively Blogs: Caribbean Comment and Living In Barbados

Dennis Jones is an economist with an international financial institution and is living for a time in Barbados while taking a period of leave. He was born in Jamaica, but migrated to England as a young boy in the early 1960s and spent most of the time up until his mid-30s in England. Jones moved to Washington, DC in the 1990s and from 2003 to 2006, he worked in French-speaking west Africa seeing at first hand the lowest levels of third world life.

Living In Barbados and Caribbean Comment are his works and they are well worth your time. Jones’ articles are well organised and he backs up his opinions point by point. He also has the nicest way of slashing and burning without causing offense or risking censure by Caribbean governments – and he causes readers to look deep into our national soul, and step back and see if there might be a better way for Barbados and the Caribbean.

Here are few articles that interested the staff at BFP…

From Living In Barbados blog…

Barbados On The Brink?

Burying a National Treasure: Goodbye Graeme Hall?

Bajan Man Takes A Severe Beating…

From Caribbean Comment Blog…

My Caribbean Neighbour Is Not My Friend

Conference On The Caribbean: A Participant’s Perspective

And here is an excerpt from his current piece Time To Reflect

The more I look at Barbados, the more I am struck by a sense of parochialism, and “Caribbean” ways of doing things. We seem to see the world in what can be very odd terms, and we organize ourselves and resolve issues in a particular way. The BS&T saga is a case in point, where mergers and acquisitions are arriving in people’s consciousness like a new invention. In my other blog, I have touched on how the process of eductating the population in the realities of development is a process that seems to have not taken place, which means that many developments that are part and parcel of certain kinds of economic progress have been left as the province of “experts” only.

Many comparisons are made with the paths taken by other countries of similar size, but I feel without sufficient real assessment or understanding that the outcomes for, say Singapore, reflect radically different approaches to economic and social development. I wont expand on that here, but just go back to a debate I heard on “Down to Brass Tacks” earlier this week. A caller stated that he thought that Barbados was overcrowded and his “evidence” was the long waits for hospital treatment, limitations in public transport, etc. The moderator, Tony Marshall, asked if the caller knew the size of Singapore; the caller did not. When it was pointed out that Singapore is about the same physical area as Barbados, but with a population of some 4-5 million, the caller went silent knowing that with the 280,000 or so who live on this island his view on overcrowding was nonsensical. The moderator posed questions about why Barbadians did not want to venture into high rise living. He also touched on the point that Barbadians need to think more about whether they are ready to change the way that they do things, e.g., accepting shift work systems.

The question scratched the surface of what should be a very interesting discussion, and they are not touching issues that are new for any country. Questions about work ethics, about social organization and development, about what kinds of investment are sought and attracted to a location, are part of a debate that should have occurred and be going on about “the vision” for a country. Economists are not the only group of thinkers who have good arguments on these subjects, though in this region they seem to have led the charge, especially when elevated to positions of power. (It’s almost an insult for an MP to charge that another MP is “not an economist”.) These questions are pare of an enormous discussion area, which touches not just about the Caribbean, but easily includes any country or region that is supposedly seeking to move from a state of absolute poverty and economic instability, to a position of greater wealth and economic progress. I am not setting out a thesis here and now. Some of these questions are coming out in Barbados in a piecemeal fashion now as various problem issues surface, but I wonder to what extent a real debate is going on. This is not easy territory on which to stand, and for politicians and those who have significant economic power it may be far too dangerous if one does not really have any grand vision to share.

… Read the entire article at Living In Barbados blog

4 Comments

Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, Politics & Corruption

Who Really Owns Kensington Oval?

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14 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Cricket, Politics & Corruption