Tourism Minister Sealy does a little dance
The headline in The Nation states “Sealy clears air on Gol lure“. The “So and so clears the air…” headline is a big favourite of government and the news media because it says to a gullible public “Well, that’s explained then. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.”
Whenever thinking Bajans see that “Clears the air…” headline, the red lights and alarm bells should start going off. “Clearing the air” is usually a smokescreen and once you realise that you find that the air is usually anything but “clear”.
Minister Sealy was responding to opposition charges that the DLP paid GOL some US$200,000 in January to fly half empty airplanes from Brazil to Barbados. Although Sealy denies the amount, he truthfully says that Barbados has guaranteed revenue for GOL Airlines and that it is hoped that this “investment” will pay off in the long run.
Okay, I can see this type of an arrangement being a legitimate strategy to open up new markets, but we are uneasy about the ability of our government and bureaucrats to properly make cost-benefit decisions. As Minister Sealy himself points out, the BLP government paid Air India US$300,000 to make one disastrous flight to Barbados and also arranged the $10 million dollar debacle involving hiring the Carnival Destiny for Cricket World Cup.
Our government is non-transparent and with the previous disasters we simply don’t trust Minister Sealy or anyone anymore to tell us the truth. Minister Sealy is still hiding the truth because he only denied the alleged amounts but didn’t state the facts.
But really… what can you expect from a government that promised to implement Freedom of Information legislation within 100 days of being elected: three years ago.
Minister Sealy: you and your DLP government lied to us before. Why should we believe you now?
Here is the article from the Nation. You should read it at their website here, but as usual we’ll reprint the entire article because the Nation has a habit of changing history…
Sealy clears air on Gol lure
MINISTER OF TOURISM Richard Sealy yesterday sought to respond to what he calls bits of misinformation that have been going around concerning Gol Airlines.
Likening the situation to the game Chinese Whispers, Sealy said that during the course of the Estimates debate the Barbados Government was accused of paying the Brazilian carrier Gol Airlines US$200 000 in the month of January.
“I refuted that during the course of the debate as being totally false and I stand by that assertion.
“I am forced to come public because it has now gone on to the Upper Chamber, and [on Monday] an outrageous claim was made that we have been paying Gol in the vicinity of $140 000 per flight to come to Barbados”, he said.
Though the minister did not specify which currency was being referred to, he stated: “It is simply not true”.
Sealy said the Government had a revenue guarantee arrangement with Gol Airlines in the same way it had arrangements in place with other airlines, as has been the practice of Government for many years.
“While stating that he could not be lectured by the Barbados Labour Party on this matter, Sealy added that the situation of Air India receiving US$300 000 to fly one flight to Barbados and never coming back again was not occurring, nor the $10 million fiasco involving Carnival Destiny that the current Government still had to pay for every year.
He called Government’s investment in Gol an extremely promising one that, though at a developmental stage, was yielding results.
Sealy said the last flight that arrived on Saturday had 97 passengers and the flight prior to that had 147.
“[In] March, which started a bit slow, we had two good services . . . We had an excellent December and January, [and] February was not too bad – many of those flights actually were full.”
The minister said the relationship was being looked at in terms of the rate of return on the investment (ROI). Stating that the regular ROI was seven, he said the ROI on WestJet was around 13 to one, on JetBlue 23 to one and on Gol 7 to 1. (LK)