Daily Archives: July 17, 2007

Mugabe-Like Statements By Barbados Prime Minister – Owen Arthur Says BLP Will “Defend To The Death”

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Rhetoric Or Threat? PM’s Words Send A Chill Up Our Spines

Prime Minister Owen Arthur and the BLP have their backs to the wall in the coming election.

We know that election time brings out the rhetoric – and Owen can punch and jab with the best of them. He is a master.

BUT…

In an atmosphere of increasing fear over freedom of the press in Barbados, with the statements by the Deputy Prime Minister attacking citizens rights, and the other government attacks upon democratic principles – the words “to the death” as spoken by the Owen Arthur send a chill right up my spine.

Time to wake up, folks…

This government changed our constitution with two days notice and zero public debate.

They ignore the rule of law and their own laws when convenient.

They threaten journalists and citizens who disagree with their abuses of power.

They use the police to drag away journalists from public property.

They expropriate private lands and then build their own houses on the same lands.

They operate without Conflict of Interest rules or integrity standards. Government members go from poverty to millionaires in a few years.

They keep public information secret so they can profit from the knowledge our tax dollars paid for.

They use the courts and outrageous libel laws to quiet political opposition and citizens.

To strengthen their hold over the courts, they appointed the Attorney General and best friend of the Prime Minister as the Chief Justice of Barbados.

Time to wake up, folks.

From The Nation News

‘STICK WITH US’
Published on: 7/16/07.

by TREVOR YEARWOOD

PRIME MINISTER OWEN ARTHUR has appealed to voters not to reject his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) just for the sake of change.

“This is not the time to gamble with the future of this country,” Arthur told party faithfuls yesterday at the opening of the new BLP St George South constituency branch office in Eastlyn.

In a reference to the Opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Arthur said this was not the time for voters to put “a bunch of adventurers, a bunch of wild boys” in control of the government.

He predicted that the DLP would be pushing the line of “time for a change” in the election campaign, but without being able to offer a platform for justifying this change.

“Do not underestimate what it is to be up against desire for change,” he advised party supporters and candidates.

Arthur pointed out that many youngsters listed to vote for the first time would not have had intimate knowledge of the hardships Barbadians experience under the Dems before 1994.

Arthur contended that his party’s first three terms had proven “it is better with the Bees” and that “the best is yet to come”.

Under the Bees, “Barbados is poised . . . for a future that is beyond your imagination”, he added.

Warning

He also sounded a warning to the DLP that in the coming election the BLP would be defending “to the death” the seats that had been held by stalwarts including Dame Billie Miller, Louis Tull, Sir Harold St John, Sir Grantley Adams, Sir Henry Forde and Sir Richard Cheltenham.

Tull, a former minister of education, told the gathering that he would be managing the election campaign of his successor as the St George South BLP candidate, Ian “Cupid” Gill.

He described Gill as “a natural”, modest and humble and “a good man”.

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Filed under Barbados, News Media, Politics & Corruption

To The Canadian Journalist Who Wrote To Us – Yes, You May

At the Barbados Free Press we have a simple policy for the use of our words by anyone else…

You may freely use our words, in part or whole, for any purpose, as long as they are clearly attributed to “Barbados Free Press”.

So to our Canadian friends visiting Barbados with your Prime Minister Stephen Harper: go ahead! Quote Barbados Free Press as much as you like.

Marcus, Shona, George, Cliverton, Robert and Auntie Moses

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados News & Media, News Media

Public Service Vehicles In Barbados – We Need Them, But Government And Police Treat Them With Disdain

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The Public Service Vehicle Problem

They stop suddenly in front of you while you are driving, They stop at intersections, major stops, in corners, any and everywhere, indiscriminately picking up and putting off passengers. They often do not use lay-bys at bus stops. They move off without signaling, just as you are overtaking. They overtake you and then stop in front of you to pick up or put off a passenger.

The entity people with cars love to hate. The PSV. What causes this offensive and uncivil behavior? The answers lie partially in the conditions under which the PSV’s operate.

Public transportation in Barbados is provided by the Government owned Barbados Transport Board and privately owned Public Service Vehicles (PSV). These two entities compete for business. Here however, the similarity ends.

ZR’s, Rainbows & Big’uns

The Route Taxi (ZR) pays road taxes of $4,500 annually for vehicles that carry 14 passengers. The Minibus (B) pays $7,200 annually for vehicles that carry 34 passengers.
The Transport Board bus (BM) pays $800 for vehicles that carry 65 passengers.

Hino Rainbow coaches operated by private owners, have a seating capacity of 31 and standing capacity of about 20. Under the existing permit structure, the number of passengers allowed on these vehicles is 31 and the Police routinely report the operators for “overloading” if more are on board and remove the excess. Government has been requested to amend the permits of owners of these vehicles to allow for the increased capacity, but has not seen fit to do so.

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Police Hammer ZRs & Mini-Buses, But Ignore Transport Board Offenses!

Transport Board buses carry more passengers than permitted on a daily basis and the Police routinely turn a blind eye, while persistently reporting PSV personnel and making as few as one (1) excess passenger get off the vehicle. Drivers and conductors feel that they are being unfairly targeted, while Transport Board drivers are allowed to break the same law with impunity. There is no transport system in the world that can accommodate peak period demand without some crowding and PSV’s ought to be given the same leeway as that extended to the Transport Board. Some policemen do report Transport Board drivers for overloading, but these cases somehow don’t seem to reach the prosecution stage.

Commuters who patronize these vehicles in large part support and sympathize with the PSV crews as they see the double standards and unfair treatment by the police. They suffer considerable inconvenience and delay when they are put off an “overloaded” vehicle. They know that the PSV will stop for them if they have not reached the bus stop or if there is no bus stop. They know that if it is raining, the PSV will most likely turn into their gap and drop them at their door and that the conductor will help them with their shopping bags should they have. Many parents know that they can trust the crews to look out for their little children on the way to and from school and assist them in crossing roads safely.

No Subsidies For Public Service Vehicles – Only Transport Board

Government mandates that school children in uniform pay $1 on private or public transport. The Ministry of Education pays the Transport Board a subsidy of .50c for each school child carried. The PSV operator cannot legally refuse to carry school children, but is denied any such compensation from Government and is in effect being forced to subsidize the travel of school children out of his own pocket.

The PSV operator is subjected to the discriminatory requirement of the production of clearance certificates from The Inland Revenue Department and The National Insurance Department annually before his permit to operate is renewed.

PSV’s are refused access to the facilities of the country’s two major bus terminals at Fairchild St. and Speightstown, much to the inconvenience of the operators and traveling public, who have no shelter from sun or rain at these locations. The two areas formerly used by the PSV’s at Probyn St and Speightstown are now prohibited and PSV’s are forced to park along the road. PSV crews and passengers at these locations have no toilet facilities.

Bus fares have been fixed by Government at $1.50 for over fifteen years. The cost of vehicles, parts, servicing, mechanical repairs, bodywork, diesel fuel, oil and lubricants has increased steadily over this period, but Government has consistently refused consideration of a fare increase or a reduction of other imposts.

The Transport Board has operated at substantial losses over the past fifteen years and Government has continues to subsidize it at considerable cost to the tax payer rather than increase bus fares. The subsidy runs between twenty million and thirty million dollars annually. The corollary is that Government is forcing private transport providers to run their businesses at an income level which is clearly below the economic cost of providing the service and making it extremely difficult for them to survive. The Public Service Vehicle operator is very likely the only entrepreneur in any free enterprise economic system who has had his income base legally restricted, while his operating expenses have been subject to everyday inflationary pressures in addition to punitive financial impositions by government.

It is interesting to note that during the Cricket World Cup, The Transport Board charged patrons $2.50 to ferry them from designated spots, none of which exceeded a few miles, to Kensington and $2.50 for the return journey, while the PSV is obliged to carry a passenger the length or breadth of Barbados for $1.50

In these circumstances, the only salvation for the PSV operators is in maximizing the numbers of fares collected, hence the constant competition for passengers and complaints of overloading.

An objective examination the above brings one to the conclusion that the PSV operators are not only being subjected to unfair competition from the government, which should properly be the subject of a Fair Trading Commission investigation, but the law is being used unfairly against them. It is ironic that in a case which cries out for the application of fairness, the FTC claims that it cannot intervene as the case involves the Government.

Strangely enough, the area in which the law can alleviate the major problem caused by PSV’s is being neglected. That of repeat offenders. Owners are being blamed in some quarters for offenses committed by their employees and the unsupportable suggestion has been made that owners should be held legally responsible for these offenses. The solution is simple. Repeat offenders should have their PSV driver’s or conductor’s license suspended or rescinded. This is clearly the responsibility and function of the Licensing Authority, the police and the judicial system and not that of the PSV owner.

The official setting of an artificially and unrealistically low bus fare has other unrecognized or unacknowledged negative implications. The first of these is that the earning capacity of workers in this sector has been similarly limited for the past fifteen years. Their wages have been limited by the fact that their employers’ income base has been artificially set by Government mandate, whereas workers in the competing Transport Board have had increases in wages over the same period, increases which have been funded from the public purse and not solely from income generation. A worker who has not had a wages increase in fifteen years and who has to work a fifteen hour day on average to maintain a basic level of income is a disgruntled worker. This situation has led to an extremely high turn over rate in employees.

The second implication of the fifteen year old $1.50 fare is that the low wages available in the PSV sector attracts only a certain level of employee. The inability of owners to offer a decent wage affects their ability to attract a higher level worker and as a result, we are seeing the type of indiscipline and indeed hostility being exhibited.

None of the above is intended to defend or excuse loutish behavior or condone illegal acts, but to offer an explanation of some of the reasons why they occur. It needs to be recognized that PSV’s provide an indispensable service to local commuters and are a critical component of the productive sectors of the economy of Barbados, They are, however, severely discriminated against and marginalized by the Government. The playing field needs to be leveled and a more realistic approach to the pricing of transportation needs to be taken.

When the PSV operators do not have to fight tooth and nail and compete fiercely under adverse conditions for each passenger just to survive, are not subjected to blatant official discrimination and can earn a decent wage while working reasonable hours, then we can expect them to feel more a part of society and conform, rather than pariahs and behave as such.

… Submitted by BFP Reader Inkwell

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Filed under Barbados, Business

Two Letters From BFP Readers – Should We Put Up A “Letters To The Editor” Page?

Folks, we just can’t publish every letter we receive, but we’ve been getting more and more lately. I wonder if we shouldn’t put up a “Letters to the Editor” page and publish them all?

What do folks think about that?

Meanwhile, here are two emails that just arrived within the past few minutes…

The Best Is Yet To Come

I read with utter amazement the statement of Owen Arthur in todays nation (July 16), in that report Mr. Arthur said ” the best is yet to come”. This statement itself is amazing, for after 3 terms in office, we are still awaiting the best, WOW. The best of what , a future that is beyond our imagination.

Well that statement does not work for the BTA and I doubt it will work for Mr. Arthur and his BLP.

Mr. Arthur we are already beginning to see the future, for if we continue with you, our children will surely not know what it is to own a piece of this rock, if we continue with you the QEH will be a place where ordinary people will continue to suffer, if we continue with you the job market will now consist largely of Chinese labour, the bajan labour will become extinct. You’ve had your opportunity, and you have let the ordinary people of Barbados down, big business have soared under your management will the poor man has been left by the wayside.

Even now the used cars which were a blessing to the poor man who could not afford a new car, but could get a recondition vehicle with good features at a reasonable price has been taken away by you. Yet as you said, your wish is for every household to own a vehicle, how can we trust anything you say. A couple of weeks ago Mr. David Thompson made a comment about your political shelf life, the aftermath of that statement was a barrage of calls to the radio station , and letters to the editor condemning that statement.

Now you sir on nation tv, called a group of professional men, some of whom run their own businesses, some of whom are devoted family men, “a bunch of wild boys”. It seems a case of the pot calling the kettle black. We have already seen what is in store for us in the future under your management sir, and we say NO THANKS. Fool us once, fool us twice, fool us three times, Sir we will not allow you and your BLP group to fool us a fourth time. For us the best is yet to come, that is, the removal of the BLP.

Bajejun

Gutter Talk By Prime Minister

There were more people in Ellerton on Sunday evening than there were at the “conversation with the people” meetings.

I went there to see if there was going to be one of those famous announcement from which the Barbadian public would benefit, but nothing was said to that effect. No major election promise. Of course the Bees were out. They came from all over the island. I overheard one St. Thomas man saying that he was asked to come and “bring long a crowd because we got to show de Dems someting”.

Yep, it was well attended or should I say “well managed”. Oh, there were quite a few Dems that were also present.

The PM was very much in the gutter with his description of the Dems. He was at home with his robust talk. The yardfowls just loved it. At least they were quite boisterous in their support.

If what was expressed at that meeting is any yardstick, then the Bees must work extremely hard to retain that seat.

One young lady said that she aint voting for the Bees “ ’cause dey too much fuh demself an nuhbody else”. I asked her why she was there and she said “Cupid promise we wuk wen he get in”. I foolishly asked when would that be and the young lady and her friends then, almost in chorus, said that all Cupid want to do is tek over from Glyne Clarke. When asked they said it look like wuk fuh wuk.

This was after the meeting ended and people were just mingling.

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Prime Minister Arthur Sternly Lectures About Free Movement Of Labour Within CARICOM – (How Many Chinese Are Working On Barbados, Owen?)

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The Only “Free Movement” ‘Round Here Is Piled Higher And Deeper…

Oh the hypocrisy!

Newly appointed CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur is lecturing about how CARICOM nations should help each other out and provide job markets and freedom of movement for CARICOM workers.

I guess the Barbados PM “forgot” about all the imported workers from China that his government approved instead of issuing job calls for skilled trades from our CARICOM partner nations.

Auntie Moses has forbidden us to use the word that best describes the latest malodourous utterances from the CARICOM Chairman, but she didn’t say anything about a picture.

Excerpt from the CBC News…

Since the free movement initiative came into existence, Caribbean states have issued 4,000 certificates allowing for Caribbean nationals to work freely within the region, but Arthur told the opening ceremony of the Caricom summit that “there is a very uneven concentration across the countries suggesting that only a few countries are carrying the weight of providing a market for the workers of the region.”

… read the entire article at the CBC News (link here)

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Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, Politics & Corruption