Do-Nothing Barbados Environment Minister Highlights DLP Government’s Impotence

A Sunday Morning Barbados Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please give us a government that will be able to announce actual accomplishments in the media – instead of a continual litany of half-baked plans, promises and musings about things everybody knows should have been addressed ten years ago.

Recently, Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe stated that the absence of legislation to govern the disposal of chemicals in this island, including those categorised as chemical waste, needs to be addressed.

Wuhloss!

Lord, after 14 years as Opposition and then 13 months as the Government of Barbados, one would think that Minister Lowe and his party might have long realised that Barbados has no environmental legislation or enforcement. One would think that the current DLP government might have been able to introduce and pass at least ONE piece of environmental legislation sometime in the past 13 months.

Dear Lord, as we the people of Barbados consider the past year, we have a checklist of simple things that Prime Minister Thompson’s government could have easily accomplished had they bothered…

1/ New legislation to set handling and disposal standards for toxic chemicals like those that resulted in the closing of Louis Lynch school?

Nothing

2/ Petroleum pipeline standards that would require companies to measure transmission losses on a daily basis to detect pipeline leaks – to prevent another pipeline leak from going undetected for months as happened with Shell?

Nothing.

3/ Targeting of the Top 10 polluters on Barbados to document, educate, notify and then charge?

Nothing.

4/ New Environmental Legislation of any kind?

Nothing.

5/ Major educational and enforcement efforts introduced to stop the island-wide littering that is destroying our value as a tourist destination?

Nothing.

Dear Lord, PLEASE make the newspapers stop publishing stories about what our government is “thinking”, “intending” or “planning” to do. PLEASE make the newspapers publish only stories about what the government has actually done.

Only then, Lord, will Barbadians realise exactly how little their elected representatives really accomplish. Only then will Bajans start to demand real accountability from the so-called leaders who have accomplished absolutely nothing tangible – who produce fine words but no actual results.

People like Environment Minister Denis Lowe and the employees of the Ministry of the Environment.

Amen.

Here is the sad article from the Barbados Advocate that again confirms Bajans are stuck in a never-ending bad dream where politicians keep making the same speeches year after year. We post the article in full because the Advocate destroys its archives every so often. One would think from Minister Lowe’s comments that no other government in the world has studied or implemented environmental legislation of any kind and that Barbados will be inventing the science from scratch! Please, Minister Lowe… stop your gosh darn talking and call up Britain or California and copy their rules. PLEASE just make something – anything – happen!

WILL THE GOVERNMENT PLEASE STOP TALKING AND JUST BLOODY-WELL DO SOMETHING!

Local chemical waste disposal laws lacking

2/6/2009 (Online story link here)

THE absence of legislation to govern the disposal of chemicals in this island, including those categorised as chemical waste, needs to be addressed.

Speaking at the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Workshop, Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, said there are several gaps in the existing legal infrastructure for chemicals management, while pointing out the need for the implementation of relevant regulations.

Reminding those persons gathered at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday of the fire at Baygon in 2007, he said this caused quantities of pollutants to be released into the air and soil.

“Pollutants that had the potential to harm the respiratory systems of those who inhaled them, and impact negatively on our water quality,” he stressed.

He stated that incidents such as these underscored the adverse affects that chemicals, including those persons used everyday, could have on the environment and therefore on human health.

“More importantly, these incidences have accentuated the need for us to review, evaluate, reform and, where necessary, develop mechanisms to minimise any threats posed by the use or disposal of chemicals to the environment,” he added.

Commenting on the current state of chemicals management in the island, Lowe pointed out that there was room for improvement regarding its practice and its framework.

Lowe opined that not enough was being done to sensitise the public on the proper handling of chemicals, and called urgently for an education and awareness program to be implemented.

“All too often, persons can be observed spraying pests control agents around their homes wearing shorts, without protective clothing or equipment, seemingly unaware that contact between some of these chemicals and the skin can lead to medical conditions such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea,” Lowe said, adding “This lack of awareness has even been exhibited by pest control professionals and others who perform such functions.”

Pointing to the SAICM, he said this offered a unique opportunity to assess the handling of chemicals in the island, while devising approaches to address them.

According to him, Barbados therefore would be proactive in strengthening the knowledge, abilities, skills and behaviour of individuals and improve institutional processes for the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle, minimise risk to human health and the environment, strengthen enforcement measures and encourage national laws and regulations regarding chemical management. (JM)

31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Environment

31 responses to “Do-Nothing Barbados Environment Minister Highlights DLP Government’s Impotence

  1. Barbados the beautiful

    Someone remind us whether any law has been passed since DLP took power?

    The promised Freedom of Information Law is conveniently missing and gone silent so now we prevented from asking the government what it doing.

  2. BFP

    We are unaware of any new legislation that the government has passed – other than spending bills, etc.

    The DLP has introduced no new laws respecting anything in 13 months.

    Nothing.

  3. paralysis

    The body is alive and still collecting cheques but nothing is moving?

    Lowe is way over his head!!!

    Time for a new green party that also believes in ITAL and FOI

  4. Hants

    Grammaticaly very well written article BFP.

    I will leave it to the BLP operatives and election campaign team to continue the attack.

  5. BFP

    Please, Hants…

    As a defender of the DLP government, please alert us to one piece of legislation that the Thompson government has introduced in the last 13 months other than spending bills.

    Any piece of legislation. About anything at all except spending.

    Anything.

    Thanks,
    Cliverton

  6. pt8

    BFP, don’t be so negative on the Thompson government!

    They have accomplished a lot and passed many worthwhile pieces of legislation like,

    ah, um,

    er,

    ah. Well they must have passed the legislation dealing with ah, um…

    Let me get back to you!

    🙂

  7. Fool me once

    To all BIM parliamentarians we the people hereby declare you can spend 2009 as a holiday where you are allowed to rest, do nothing, have a break and just enjoy yourself.

    No one will notice you are gone.

  8. Re CLICO

    Fool me once
    February 8, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    “No one will notice you are gone.”

    Except CLICO

  9. PiedPiper

    I can’t help but wonder if Dr. Lowe visits BFP. ON a number of occasions, I have drawn attention to the lack of awareness of Bajans who use pest control chemicals in their homes and/or have pest control companies spray their homes on a regular basis. Not only do home owners need to be educated to the toxic effects of these chemicals, but the pest control companies need to be regulated and monitored to ensure that they are following manufacturers guidelines, warnings and directives on use of the product.
    The first time a pest control agent came to my home in Barbados, I had removed all food products, dishes, cooking utensils, etc., from my kitchen and covered them and had made plans to leave the house for the day. The agent, who was wearing a mask, told me that none of that was necessary. I chose not to believe that and in all subsequent visists did the same thing.
    These companies need to behave more responsibly and the government needs to get off it’s butt and enact environmental legislation to deal with not only the abuse of chemicals in Barbados but pollution of all forms.

  10. pt8

    Pied Piper, every politician and reporter in Barbados reads the blogs. Every reporter in Barbados wishes he or she could have their own blog but they can’t safely have a blog and stay employed!

  11. BLP Let Shell Oil Off The Hook

    Good point about the pipeline leaks. Why couldn’t a rule have been introduced to require pipeline owners to measure how much product goes into a pipe and how much product comes out? That would tell if the pipe is leaking. Pipeline operators/owners should keep records and be required to report immediately any suspected leaks.

    Our beaches are responsible for about 90% of our value as a tourist destination. One bad spill on the south or west coast would destroy our economy for years.

    It is hard to believe that no government made a law about reporting chemical leaks.

    Welcome to the 3rd World.

  12. wondering

    This government is very much a reactive rather than proactive one and there is a bias for a throw back to the simple Bajan times and attitudes. It has a populist national agenda in a very complicated international situation .

  13. Jason

    BLP Let Shell Oil Off The Hook said:

    “It is hard to believe that no government made a law about reporting chemical leaks.”

    No, it is not hard to believe! The DLP and BLP are different flavours of the same cold soup.

  14. Hants

    @ BFP

    The dismal news came the same day the U.S. government reported employers chopped 598,000 jobs in January.

    Since October, Canada’s economy has shed 213,000 positions, nearly all of them full-time.

    In the UK the number of people out of work and claiming benefit is 840,000 but the broader measure of unemployment is 1.6 million.

    Under Thompy Barbados en doing too bad yet.
    I coming down dey soon to “do nothing”.

    Well not quite nothing. I gine eat nuff food, get some sea baths and watch some cricket.

  15. Thomas Gresham

    Dear Hants,

    I am afraid you are gravely out of date in your information. Perhaps your source is a DLP Newsletter?

    Here are the bald economics: The Barbados government stopped providing up to date unemployment figures.

    The hotel industry are reporting strong declines of between 10% and 25%. Where bookings have held up it is because they were made some time ago.

    Jobs are being lost in a range of industries from Lime (supposedly recession proof) and construction. Much worse is on the way.

    The central bank has officially forecast that growth will slump to 0% this year. The central bank is very conservative and when it says growth will fall from around 4% in 2007 to 0% this year, you can assume there is a risk of -2% which would be my forecast. (Many emerging market economies, especially those in Latin America and Asia will report lower but still positive growth for 2008.)

    The government has announced that is preparing to do some things, but so far nothing has been done. We do not have a global financial industry or a highly leveraged housing market (Britain does, which is why they are hit worse) and so we will be affected in the second round effects of loss of income elsewhere leading to loss of spending.This meant that we unique had time to prepare which the government has squandered by living a fantasy that we would some how stand alone in this global slowdown, (even though we export tourism serivices a highly income-elastic good).

    They are making exactly the same mistakes they made last time. It is as if Thompy is living in the 1990s wants to prove to Barbadians that what he did then was right. Perhaps we was right then, but the rest of us should not be sacrificial lambs to prove a point.

    The first thing they should and will probably do will be to reverse the effects of the budget of 2008 which effectively took around 1.5-2% out of the economy through higher taxes and fees. It was their intention to take money out of the economy. It was a crazy budget designed for 2006 when growth was strong, not 2008 when it was already faltering.

    2009 will be a very hard year for Barbados. Unemployment hit a low of 6% at the end of 2007. It will likely be 8-9% when we get up to date numbers for 2008 and will probably close out 2009 around 10-12%. The government may try to change the unemployment figures but this profile is consistent with the growth numbers. By 2010 unemployment will have doubled since the government took office. Let us hope they avoid this with stronger construction plans – bringing forward construction plans for flood defenses, sewage works, affordable housing etc. There are some plans, but the scale is too tiny to make a difference to a B$9bn economy.

    The social consequences of a doubling of unemployment will be grave. We are already, anecdotally at least, seeing a rise in robberies. An alarming number being armed robberies.

    So, Hants. Please come and spend money.

  16. Jukecheckedeyskirt

    I really do not understand you people, the government of Barbados is doing something and that is nothing. You think it is easy doing nothing. It takes a hell of a lot of effort to do nothing. Nothing requires planning to acheive any semblance of non-accomplishment. Take for instance ITAL. In order for ITAL to be considered, we first have to plan to do nothing in order for us to been seen like we are doing something. In Barbados politics, nothing is something because we get something from nothing. Nothing is an expensive ordeal. Politicians say nothing but you have to carefully pick up on this from out of all the articulation and rhetoric.

    Notice that nothing is said on cover ups in this country. Inquest comes to nothing. Alleges of corruption come to nothing. Documents that could implicate persons in collusions and possible fradulent behaviour comes to nothing. Even here on this blog, with all the educators and informed people, all of our talk is coming to nothing.

    So do not say that we are not getting anything because we surely are getting nothing.

  17. 206

    Again leglislation is not created out of thin air.

    The Environmental Management Act is in the works. Sometimes i think you knownothing at alls just enjoy seeing your diatribe online.

    *************************

    BFP says,

    “In the works”

    Sure. Like the 100 day promised Integrity Legislation. Sure.

    We believe you. Really.

  18. Hants

    @ Thomas Gresham

    I will come and continue to come as often as possible until I am ready to come back for good.
    Lord spare life. If yuh is a Bajan yuh kno wha dah mean.

    You should submit your blog comments to the Nation and Advocate so you can educate the masses.

    I prefer to listen to David Thompson and the DLP.
    Right BFP?
    wanna done kno me aready.

  19. Thomas Gresham

    Dear Hants,

    I am sure when you decide to return that it would be of benefit to Barbados as well as to you, and if you can catch a good fare from Canada for a holiday, dont think about it, just come.

    Warmest Regards

  20. Kofi

    Barbados Labour Facts Sheet No.1

    Following is the economic record of the BLP from September 1994 until January 2008 and can be supported by the respective official reports.

    Gross Domestic Product

    During the years under review, the economy experienced real growth in its GDP for every year except 2001. Over the period real GDP increased from $790.5 in 1993 to $1154.3 in 2007, a 46% increase, averaging well over 3% per year. Per Capita Income also increased rapidly, almost doubling as it moved from $10,500 in 1993 to $20,300 in 2007. Over the same period nominal GDP at Market Prices more than doubled, increasing from $3,308.9 million to $6,818.4 in 2007.

    Unemployment

    In 1993, the unemployment rate was 24.3% with 100,500 persons working and 32,300 persons unemployed. By the end of the BLP term in Office, the unemployment rate for 2007 stood at 7.4%, the lowest rate ever recorded. By then some 133,500 persons were at work and only 12,500 persons were unemployed.

    Prices

    The most recent Retail Price Index was set at July 2001. It remained steady for three years but steep increases in the prices of oil and agricultural commodities caused a severe increase. However by 2007 the movement has moderated and inflation for 2007 was calculated to be 4%.

    Foreign Reserves

    The international reserves of Barbados moved from $246.2 million in 1993 to $2,462.7 million at the end of 2007, a ten fold increase. Domestic exports climb from $270.8 million in 1993 to reach $513.4 million in 2007.

    Tourism

    Tourism, our main industry, improved rapidly during our term in office. The number of long stay visitors moved from 395,079 in 1993 to 574,533 in 2007. Cruise Ship passengers over the same period grew from 428,611 in 1993 to 616,354 in 2007. It is estimated that visitors spent an estimated $1,881 million in 2007.

    Housing

    Outstanding mortgages from all sources stood at $573.7 million in 1993, but at the end of 2007 outstanding mortgages more than trebled, rising to $1,871.5 million as thousands of Barbadian became homeowners.

    Total Savings

    Total savings in the Commercial Banks stood at $1,112.6 million in 1993, however by the end of 2007 it had rocketed to $9,056.4 million, an eight fold increase. This strong growth in savings allowed Banks to increase their lending to Barbadians as loans and advances moved from $1,234.8 million in 1993 to $5,097.2 million by 2007.

    The National Debt

    At the end of 2007, the national debt was $5,367.9 million with the foreign component at $1,508.5 million. However, the foreign debt to GDP was at 20%, the lowest for six years and the foreign debt service ratio stood at 6.7%, among the lowest for the last decade.

    Barbadians are still waiting to see the facts sheet for the DLP for their first year in office.

  21. reality check

    Jukecheckedeyskirt

    I almost died laughing and then realized it wasn’t funny—its all true.

  22. Hants

    @ Kofi / BLP

    The world economy was doing great during your term in Office.

    The world has been spiralling into recession during 2008 and continues downward.

    The fact is the majority of Barbadians voted you out of office.
    Repeat. The MAJORITY of Barbadians voted you out of office.

    Now you can have your public meetings and show the MAJORITY of Barbadians how foolish they were.

  23. Thomas Gresham

    Dear Hants,

    Not quite. Perhaps you have forgotten that after the dotcom debacle of 1999-2000 was 9/11. Both were very challenging.

    The plain facts are these. It is a tough environment internationally. This was clear by the end of 2007.

    Which is why the budget of 2008 was such a shock to me and other economists. It was a budget for boom time: higher taxes and higher fees on the back of a hefty removal of petrol relief. It was probably a budget they planned on in 2006-07. In the government’s first six months, it removed around $150-$200m of spending power in the Barbados economy.

    To do this in boom time makes sense. To do this on the verge of recession is reckless or foolish.

    By the middle of 2008 it was clear to all that the world was in a serious recession and that the budget was, at best, inappropriate for the circumstances. And what has happened? There is talk of increased construction, but very little has been announced or carried out. The scale of the projects being considered would only partially reverse the 08 budget. In the mean-time many countries have unveiled hefty packages of stimulus in the region of 5% of GDP.

    What the government needs to announce is a $100m National Reconstruction Plan that brings forward all the needed infrastructure investments – schools, roads, clinics, flood and sewage infrastructure, coastal maintenance etc – that we need to over the next 20 years and do them now, and look to fund this plan with the issue of a National Solidarity Bond that will offer a tax free rate of return.

    Faced with a challenging external position the government has dithered or panicked, I am not sure which. They resemble the English batting line up on Saturday. They are headed to repeat all of the mistakes they made the last time round. Why are people fated never to learn? Expect a repeat of the sorry 1990s with pay freezes or cuts along with swiftly rising unemployment and desperation to protect the balance of payments that will worsen dramatically this year.

  24. Environmental framework legislation for Barbados has been “in the works” for at least 10 yrs, maybe longer (I’ll have to dig out my 1990’s email from a government official telling me it was “in the works” then).

    There’s plenty of models to use in drafting, some from Barbados’ neighbors in Caricom (not necessarily the best examples I know of in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), but not awful (which reminds me, time to do a post about primary, secondary and tertiary environment legislation in LAC, which I promised way back when I did the piece on environment provisions in constitutions!), so why should it take so long for Barbados to come up with a bill?

    If the government is reading this blog, simply go to my download page with all the environment laws of LAC, download away all the general framework and chemical laws (look under “hazardous substances” for most of these). There’s plenty of raw material to work with there.

    As for chemicals, one could argue that if Barbados simply met all its existing commitments under the Stockholm Convention on POPs and finally got around to ratifying the Rotterdam Convention on PIC that it signed, the government would be halfway there already and eligible for the technical assistance on chemicals assessment, classification and legislation linked to the Rotterdam, Stockholm & Basel (on hazardous wastes) Conventions and a better candidate for funding on chemicals work from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). There’s lots of good model legislation, aid, software & training on chemicals out there to be tapped from UNITAR, UNEP, ILO, WHO, UNDP and others if you just demonstrate active desire to get something concrete done!

    Regards,
    Keith R

  25. Hants

    @ Thomas Gresham

    Obama says ….What the government needs to announce is a $100m National Reconstruction Plan that brings forward all the needed infrastructure investments – schools, roads, clinics, flood and sewage infrastructure, coastal maintenance etc – that we need to over the next 20 years and do them now,…

    I guess you drank the koolaid. So did our PM Harper.

  26. Hants

    @ TG

    Remembered your theories about us potential RetNats when I read this Editorial.

    http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/todayspaper/default.asp

  27. Hants

    Correction

    @ TG

    Remembered your theories about us potential RetNats when I read this Editorial.

    http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=editorial&NewsID=1899

  28. Mac

    I was among a privilege few today to witnessed a first for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. B`s Recycling/ B`s Recycling demonstrated its multimillion dollar car compactor which was aptly nicknamed “The Beast” by workers.

    Mr.Paul Bynoe and Jo-anne Lewis must be commended for doing more than the government to Reduce,Recycle and Reuse waste without any governmental help. I witnessed a Honda Accord crushed to a 4ft x 2ft solid mass.

    Thus I am calling on all Barbadians to give B`S Bottle all their support by calling them to collect Old Cars, Stoves,Card Boxes,Refrigerators, Batteries and bottles.

    Shame on the Government of Barbados for not taking the protection of our environment serious.

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  31. Nice article good work
    leave it to the BLP operatives and election campaign team to continue the attack.