Caribbean Sea Island Cotton brand to be killed by Barbados… as if a name change will solve anything

Does Barbados really have a cotton industry? Really?

If we just change the brand name, everything will be fine. Really.

First, some background

Times are tough and now Barbados finds the cupboard is bare thanks to 15 years of BLP “spend all we got and more” policies. Where to start when talking about the legacy of Owen Arthur and Mia Mottley? The Hotels and Resorts scandal? Hardwood Holdings? Greenland dump? A failed water distribution system? Queen Elizabeth Hospital?

Where does one start? How about at the end… with that monumental failure called Cricket World Cup delivered to the people of Barbados as a parting gesture from the BLP before they were thrown out of office. If you don’t think that CWC mattered, you should remember that Arthur and Mottley wasted about a billion dollars of your money on that fiasco. Remember the empty stands? Remember that Mia Mottley was in charge of setting up the visas and what a nightmare that was? Remember the final game played in the dark because our two hundred million dollar renovation lacked lights for a World Championship?

Hey… that played really well around the world, didn’t it?

And we’re not even talking about systemic corruption at all levels of government that touched everything under the BLP. Hell, even Prime Minister Arthur himself was caught putting a “campaign donation cheque” (made out to him personally! HA! HA!) into his very own personal bank account.

Now we’re not giving Thompson a pass for what has gone on since he was elected, but you might want to remember that the airplane called Barbados was already quite a wreck when Thompson found himself elected as pilot. That said, what’s coming isn’t pretty…

International Monetary Fund says “This is going to hurt”

The IMF International Monetary Fund just told Bajans “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, folks!” – which was communicated by saying “Barbados is facing severe recession linked to the Global Financial Crisis and the facility has advised the government to cut expenditure.”

How bad is it? You might want to read this…

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that Barbados is facing a “severe” economic recession.

It said that the island’s output is contracting, as the global financial crisis has “depressed tourism, brought Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to a sudden stop, and weakened public finances”.

“Consequently, unemployment has risen to double-digit level,” the Washington-based financial institution said… (snip)

… The IMF, therefore, urged the David Thompson administration to develop a “credible” medium-term fiscal adjustment plan “and start with its implementation, as soon as possible” and cautioned that, if left unchecked, the large fiscal deficits combined with an uncertain foreign financing outlook could result in “a deterioration in investor confidence”.

… from the CBC article IMF Warning

In response to the IMF, Prime Minister Thompson and his government knew exactly what to do:

1/ Make announcements that “We have a plan” and “everything gonna be just fine fine fine!”

2/ Then Thompson explained that he and  his team will go beg investors who abandoned projects in Barbados. Our Prime Minister will ask the investors to please come back and he’ll assure them that this time we really really promise that our government planning and building approval people will not take years to do nothing – which has been the norm in the past and one of the reasons many big investors called it quits.

You have to read a little between the lines, but Thompson almost told it like it is to the CBC as highlighted in their article Investment Plan

“I am going to be visiting the United Kingdom after the twenty-fifth of September. What we are seeking to do there is to go armed with information on each of the projects which had been identified by British investors for which concessions may have been given, for which town planning permission may be outstanding, or whatever, and essentially to sit down with them and see how we can get those projects back on course.”

Now to the Cotton

Our bull manure warning meter spiked though when we read another one of those “Things gonna be just fine!” articles at the CBC – this one about Barbados cotton. Yup, right on schedule every year or so for the past ten years the government of the day announces that our cotton industry is going to be “revitalised” through better marketing. Nevermind that we haven’t the economies of scale to be competitive on the world market. Nevermind that we can’t even find sufficient labour to harvest the sugar crop in a timely manner.

Nevermind the naysayers, says the government to CBC, Barbados will “revitalise” the cotton industry. (Hmmm…. I think I smell a World Bank development grant out there somewhere.)

And how are we going to make Barbados cotton economically viable? How are we going to compete against China and India, the first and second largest cotton producers in the world? How are we going to profit in the middle of a recession where the commodity news services are reporting Recession hits cotton consumption, down 12% ?

How is Barbados cotton going to be profitable when India is using her booming economy to subsidize her cotton farmers so much that world cotton prices are forecast to fall by 6% in the next year?

How are we going to make Barbados cotton viable?

We’re going to make a “new brand”, that’s how! We’re going to sell to “upscale” markets. Yup, that’s what Agriculture Minister Senator Benn told the CBC.

Barbados cotton was viable until the government overruled a court decision by sending in the army!

Barbados cotton was viable until the government overruled a court decision by sending in the army!

The Good Old Days when Caribbean Sea Island Cotton made money

I guess there are a few folks in government who believe that Barbados can re-create the success that we initially had with the Caribbean Sea Island Cotton brand and business implemented by Nitin Amersey back in the early 1990’s. Amersey, who was known the world over as the “Godfather of Cotton” learned a hard lesson in Barbados. As soon as the joint venture with the government was profitable, the government figured they didn’t need him anymore so they seized the company.

When a Barbados court issued an order returning the cotton and assets back to Amersey, the government sent in the army (!) to seize the cotton in direct contravention of the court order. Apparently this Canadian investor and his family were threatened, his house was threatened to be burned down and two Barbados policeman were sent to Montreal to intimidate Mr. Amersey.

After that fiasco, the Barbados cotton industry never recovered and the country was unable to find another sucker investor foolish enough interested in putting money into Barbados cotton.

That is the simple truth about Barbados cotton, so friends you must forgive us if we say that the CBC article stinks of fresh cow droppings.

Further Reading

Keltruth Blog: How the Barbados Government used the Military to Destroy a Canadian Investor, and in so Doing Destroyed the Entire Cotton Industry

BFP: From Hardwood To Soft Cotton – An Expose Of The Disaster That Is The Barbados Sea Island Cotton Company

BFP: Nitin Amersey – Sea Cotton Story: When The Barbados Government Sent In The Military To Overrule The Barbados Courts!

14 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Cotton, Offshore Investments

14 responses to “Caribbean Sea Island Cotton brand to be killed by Barbados… as if a name change will solve anything

  1. Living in Barbados

    The observations about the IMF’s views would sit better if they were your own not those prepared by CBC. The report is short and worth reading to see if you actually agree with other media comments. Investor confidence is a major concern in the report.

  2. BFP

    Hello Dennis,

    Yes it is true that “Hard time don’t lick we… yet” as you say in your recent post “Hard Times Gine Lick We: The IMF Sings a song for Barbados

    Investor confidence is a major concern and has been a major concern ’bout hey for some years now – long before the latest IMF pronouncements.

    We have an issue with the PM’s ability to make things happen as the BLP still controls the civil service in Bim, and the reality is that the best predictor of the future is still the past. Thompy is heading over to the UK to communicate that foreign investors and developers will be treated with more respect and receive better service from here on in Barbados.

    It’s a nice promise, but we don’t think it is based upon anything more than a wish. Barbados still lacks the will and the regulatory ITAL infrastructure necessary in today’s world IMHO.

  3. Living in Barbados

    As a civil servant said to me last night, Ministers decide and civil servants execute…or not. I would not want to believe that partisan politics have so infused the civil service here that there is a tussle between the people’s will (new government) and those of the losing side. That’s a serious issue for democracy. The claim of opposition control of the civil service is not new in any country, but I have no evidence one way or other here, so would prefer to not believe it without such evidence. It’s too easy to claim that when in fact the civil service is just inefficient or that the public sector is dysfunctional.

    What’s important about investor confidence is that it takes time to rebuild if it is lost–investment decisions have long lead times. I’ve expressed my concerns about what may happen to tourism down the road as the recessions effects cause permanent damage. The PM’s pending close discussion with UK investors may give a good idea of what is down the pike. Are they prepared to keep projects on ice for a long time and if so, why? If so, then the economy could really get stuck.

    Time is not a kind partner and when it has gone and corrective things are not done the effects must be worse. I still don’t see much repositioning of the economy–though the PM said that a number of actions have been taken, but without specifying where and what magnitude–or of people’s attitudes to economic prospects (eg, intervening in private sector decisions is setting a precedent that may not be sustainable).

  4. Hants

    As long as the “Investors” have the money when the world economic recovery starts they will restart their projects in Barbados.

    The Prime Minister is doing the right thing in letting these Investors know that Barbados needs them.

    BFP I don’t accept your “BLP running the civil service theory”. That would be “too much hard work”.

  5. omissions?

    In reading the keltruth site, you have omitted several serious considerations.

    Apparently this Canadian investor and his family were threatened, his house was threatened to be burned down and two Barbados policeman were sent to Montreal to intimidate Mr. Amersey.

    Thats incredibly serious s__t for investor confidence anywhere in the world.

    This matter happened in between a DLP and BLP changeover. Was Thompson or any of his cohorts involved? Did Thompson ever pick up the phone and talk to this expert on cotton or was he part of the group that thought they could do better with zero experience?

    Going on a junket to the UK is meaningless without repairing the damage that has been done at home or at best an excuse to get out of town at taxpayers expense.

    As usual, it is the appearance of doing something that is more important than actually doing something.

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

    BFP says,

    Hey, we knew that, but we MAY have had a few at the time. Tonic and gin and a little Angostura doan ya know! Called a “pink gin” in the Douglas Reeman novels, or was that Nicholas Monsarrat’s “The Cruel Sea”? Or was it just Jack Hawkins in the movie? Doan remember but damned if I didn’t try one and now I’ve have one or two afterwards.

    Oh ya… we kneww that about the threats and police in Montreal but we forgot so we inserted your sentence into the article. Plagiarized it %100 hope you don’t mind.

    (SHONA DARLIN’ please get me another Tonic. Gin. dash of Angostura. Couple ‘a ice cubes an a hug.
    Ta!)

  6. Jack Bowman

    BFP says: “Hmmm…. I think I smell a World Bank development grant out there somewhere.”

    Meanwhile, absolutely RELISHING the fantastically juicy and endlessly compelling prospect of any kind of legal contention from elsewhere, I say …

    … you don’t smell anything, BFP.

    Barbados is completely ineligible for World Bank development grants. Except in extraordinary circumstances, Barbados is ineligible even for World Bank loans. The country has, in the jargon, “graduated”. The government might ask for the country to be “ungraduated”, and perhaps that might happen. Who knows? It’s all in the gift of our government.

    We’ll all see, and I suspect we’ll see it sooner rather than later.

  7. BFP

    To Omissions?

    BFP says,

    Hey, we knew that, but we MAY have had a few at the time. Tonic and gin and a little Angostura doan ya know! Called a “pink gin” in the Douglas Reeman novels, or was that Nicholas Monsarrat’s “The Cruel Sea”? Or was it just Jack Hawkins in the movie? Doan remember but damned if I didn’t try one and now I’ve have one or two afterwards.

    Oh ya… we kneww that about the threats and police in Montreal but we forgot so we inserted your sentence into the article. Plagiarized it %100 hope you don’t mind.

    (SHONA DARLIN’ please get me another Tonic. Gin. dash of Angostura. Couple ‘a ice cubes an a hug.
    Ta!)

  8. passin thru

    “Ta” ?????? !

  9. robin hood

    But of course it was this same DLP party with the same Thompson that was the government of the day when the army take over of the cotton company occurred back in 1988/90.

    Going by memory it cost Barbados something like US$10m to finally settle with Nitin Amersey in the Carsicot fiasco.

  10. Checkit-out

    BFP, re. the Cotton issue;

    It is passing strange that you did not point out that the CARSICOT affair was one which was arguably a greater scandal than Hardwood and the the others listed at the start of your article;

    That, as Robin Hood has noted above it took place in the term of the former DLP administration period, i.e. before the last BLP one. That is not clear from your article.

    That the real CARSICOT scandal was not the Government appropriating the cotton stored at Spencers and matters surrounding that event but certain deals and possible infelicities that went into the development of Carsicot.

    That New Governments are generally targeted by International as well as local or caribbean fast talking crooks and charlatans early in their taking office.

    That unwary Ministers can often be taken in by such persons.

    That Nitin Amersey was so smart that he had reportedly formed a West INDIA Sea Island Sea Islands Cotton company, registered in India, that had the same acronym as WISICA, the Caribbean company that holds or held the trademark to caribbean Sea Island Cottons.

    That there is absolutely nothing new or innovative as far as the marketing of Caribbean Sea Island Cottons as superior upper scale cottons fetching multiples of the price of the Chinese and Indian cottons is concerned. Our Sea Island Cottons have always been a premium product in quality and the ability to attract extremely high prices hence their recurrent attractiveness to fast talking international partners.

    That the Kelthruth articles on the history of the Carsicot affair are totally one-sided giving only the perspective of the powerful personages and agencies which raped Barbados’ stillborn Cotton development. Cotton never, at least in the 1980’s and thereafter, lived up to its potential of contributing to the economy as much as BFP seems to suggest.

    That Minister Benn should study the history of the carsicot affair very carefully (hopefully the files are’nt lost) and ensure that all aspects of a new cotton development thrust, especially the technical agronomic and plant protection ones, are thoroughly worked out and that any overseas partners are fully vetted before embarking on a new Cotton Development Project for Barbados.

  11. BFP

    Hello Checkit-out

    Thanks for your contribution. That’s what makes blogging so great that ordinary folks can share their knowledge and their perspectives. With the proper laws in place the internet makes it difficult for crooks of any stripe to get away. And, if improper information is given, someone – even the involved person – can correct it or at least give their side of the story.

    For us though, the real heart of the Nitin Amersey story was the fact that the government sent in the army and in so doing disobeyed a court order and the rule of law. That action set both the legacy of then DLP government and cleared the way for the same lawlessness and disrespect of the rule of law by the following BLP government for 14 long long years. Meanwhile the citizens took note that the law was not applied equally and we ended up where we are – which is a country where those in power ARE the law.

    ITAL NOW!

  12. Hants

    De Canadian Investors just love Barbados.

    Amersey,Allard and now another set ah Canucks tekkin ova Four Seasons.

    I hope dese new wuns does read BFP.

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