Barbados Government raids public pension money to fund collapsed Four Seasons Resort project

“This is not about saving the Four Seasons project: it’s about using NIS pension funds to protect private investors who are already in. Who are these private investors?”

In 2009 Avinash Persaud said Four Seasons was all about trust. We trusted. Look what happened. (click photo for large)

Newspaper reports say the Government of Barbados is about to take your pension money from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and loan it give it to the developers of the collapsed Four Seasons project. (Nation report here)

The $60 million dollar “investment” is necessary because no further private money wants to “invest” in the project.

Why don’t private investors want a piece of a project that Finance Minister Sinckler says will yield “massive returns”?

The answer is simple: Private money wants nothing more to do with the project because they believe it is not a viable investment.

Private investors examined the risks, possible profits, projected revenues, tourism projections, project management, and the likelihood of success or failure and determined that only fools would continue to “invest” in the collapsed Four Seasons boondoggle.

“To whom the benefit?”

When Finance Minister Sinckler makes the official announcement later this week, he will talk about the construction jobs and future employment prospects of a re-started Four Seasons project. He will talk about the fact that Barbados government money is already into the project and that we risk that “investment” if we don’t put in more. “In for a penny, in for hundreds of millions” is apparently the motto of the Sinckler government.

(I’d say “Stuart government”, but there’s no proof that Stuart has been running the government up to now, and as for next week, who knows?)

The one thing that Mr. Sinckler will NOT talk about is conflicts of interest. He will not name the investors who are at risk, and who will benefit from the gift of public money. He and his fellow MPs will not declare if they or their close family members have anything to do with the project: as investors, suppliers, contractors, creditors or in any way will benefit from the bailout using your pension funds.

A few questions for Prime Minister Chris Sinckler… 

  • Name all the investors that our tax money will rescue! How many politicians or close family members are already invested in Four Seasons, Mr. Sinckler? Who are we bailing out?
  • Do any current or previous members of government or their family members have a stake in this project? I want full disclosure before one more dollar of public money is placed at risk.
  • How much of the project does Barbados own now?
  • How much more money to completion? Can the project ever be profitable considering the costs?
  • What percentage of units have to sell at what price and during what time period to meet the interest payments? What occupancy rate at what room price for how many years for the hotel to function, perform reasonable maintenance and pay off the loans?

I doubt our government ‘experts’ know the answer to those questions any more than I do.

Not one more dollar of public money. Not one dollar of our pension money.

Previous BFP posts on Four Seasons…

Dec 3, 2011 – Four Seasons Bahamas was a disaster for investors. Why will Barbados be different?

Oct 14, 2011 – Peter Boos warns about NIS “investing” in Four Seasons

Sept 28, 2011 – Four Seasons Barbados wants your pension money

Advertisements

28 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Offshore Investments

28 responses to “Barbados Government raids public pension money to fund collapsed Four Seasons Resort project

  1. Climbing the wals

    Fool me once, shame on you!

    Fool me again, and again, and again, and again: shame on me!

  2. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Anyone expecting a different outcome other than what was decided is more than a big fool that person is a bigger fool. Pension money gone into a project that will not benefit bajans. Oh yeah I know all the talk about the superstar money and tourist but the average bajan will only see Four Seasons from the outside. I think this is a very bad decision but we will know as time goes on if it was right or wrong.

  3. Hocus Pocus

    If the government is looking for an investment for NIS money, why doesn’t it invest in restructuring CLICO as has been recommended by the Judicial Manager? At least this would benefit BAJANS, many of whom are retired and in dire need. There was never anything wrong with CLICO as a company – it always “did” very well indeed. The only problem with CLICO was the “teefing” hierarchy and with those persons gone and a new directorate and management in place, together with mindful marketing strategy, a restructured and renamed company should be successful and beneficial to all.

  4. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Hocus Pocus

    Have you ever heard about ”Once bitten twice shy?”

  5. Hocus Pocus

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine

    I try not to feed past negative experiences and be weighed down by a bucket of bitterness – and you?

  6. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Bajans will not have any faith in CLICO even if someone else takes it over

  7. Hocus Pocus

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine
    Sounds negative and unproductive to me – but to each one his own.
    I feel it would be very successful if mindfully handled.

  8. pop

    wow. buckle up. here we go. enjoy the ride.

  9. Hocus Pocus

    Typical Bajan mentality includes :-
    1. Victim consciousness
    2. Apathy
    3. Inability to understand what taking personal responsibility means
    4. Inability to understand the power of positive thought
    5. Feeding negativity
    Fortunately, there are some Bajans who do not suffer from the above symptoms.

  10. Hocus Pocus

    Maybe it’s time to have “Occupy Bridgetown”!!!!

  11. Newbie

    At present no one seems interested in letting us know how the previous contribution to the FOUR SEASONS project was spent but we are being told that even more of the taxpayers money will be diverted to save this project. We already have a high number of unoccupied hotel rooms and in my opinion it will get even higher as the rest of the world learn about what really goes on behind the scenes in Bajan society. The internet has now made it possible for individuals to speak out about their experiences and we no longer need the mainstream media to highlight any incidences of wrongdoing. The need for transparency and accountability is of dire importance. Most of us will never step foot in the Four Seasons and most of the money made through FOUR SEASONS (if any) will not stay in this island either.

  12. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Hocus Pocus

    The climate in Barbados has always been high suspicion followed by a heavy dose of mistrust. Trade confirmers, the nonsense that Bristish American Life Insurance did to policy holders before their take over by CLICO, the current exploitation by the food merchants, the allege corruption in government circles and the list can go on ensures that Barbados remains a society filled with phobias and a passive disposition towards knowing what their rights are. That is how our society was shaped and those who are not affected by it are the ones who have lived outside of it to return back to it only to recognize it for what it truly is.

  13. Hocus Pocus

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine
    Way past time for change. Nothing in this world/cosmos is forever. Society is in constant change. Change needs to be mindfully guided.
    There is a universal law stating that unlike attracts. However, there is a greater law that says like attracts like. As long as a population reinforces the negativity of past events, then what will manifest is repeated negative events, similar to what has happened in the past. Nothing can be gained by holding on to old mind sets. The one thing we all have total control of is our thoughts. Thoughts can be changed and everything starts with a thought. Obviously, education is needed and people need to be able to access free, personal contact with individuals who can enlighten them of what are their rights. Any ideas?

  14. Anonymous 245

    One suspects that Hocus Pocus is one of the CLICO people now left out of pocket
    and hoping that NIS funding of CLICO will get him his money back??

    but I’m prob. wrong….

  15. watcher

    Taking money from NIS, which is in Barbados dollars and investing it in the Four Seasons project is bad planning and will have a very negative effect on our foreign exchange reserves. My bet would be that for every $1 invested 50% of it will leave the island to purchase items needed to construct the place. The gamble is can it get built and recoup the foreign exchane outflow quick enough to not have a devistaing effect on the islands ability to pay for the import bill of the whole island. Foreign exchange reserves stand at about 4 months worth of imports but if you subtract the monies owed in foreign currencies it is a very different story. That is why the Barbados dollar is valued at a little more than “junk category”. Apparetnly not even the Chinese want to invest in this resort. Taking money from NIS for this should be banned.

  16. Michael

    I would advised all workers who reach age 60 in the Civil Service,and who are eligible for 2 pensions (those employed before 1975), to seriously consider early retirement,and claim early NIS pension too ! because the gap between age 60,(the age from which one can claim early NIS pension) and the receipt of full pension will continue to increase until it gets to age 70.,resulting in a greater % of your pension being lost.Before the fund was in trouble,my pensionable age was 65, when I retired in 2009 it went to 66 1/2,now it is 67. In other words ,when I retired ,I took early NIS pension and lost 78 months or 39% of my full pension.A person retiring now at age 60 ,and taking early NIS pension would lose 84 months or 42 % of their full pension.So those of you who are waitng to collect that full pension,would probally die before you get to that pensionable age. By the way,it is 30 months now that I have been taking early NIS,and I have received over $40,000 so far,and by the time I reach age 66 1/2,I would have already received over $100,000.Furthermore,if a person reached age 60 the same time as me,and was eligble for full NIS pension at age 66 1/2 like me,but who had decided to wait until that age ,because he didn’t want to lose any of his pension,by the time we both reach age 66 1/2, I would have already have a head start of $100,000 on him.

  17. rastaman

    @Michael: Very interesting information.You just have to make sure you can live reasonably comfortable on the reduced amount you receive.

  18. Hocus Pocus

    @ Anonymous

    Sure, I have money invested in CLICO and, obviously, I need return on it so I can eat and lead the modest life I had planned for my retirement. I am over 60 with virtually zero likelihood of employment. There are many in similar positions.

    Before investing in CLICO (2005) I carefully read the Insurances Act and understood that government regulatory control made sure that if a Life Ins. Co. was not it compliance, as set out in the Act, it would be shut down; that mandated statutory funds would ensure protection of policyholders’ investments should the company go “belly up”; that regular inspections by Department of the Supervisor of Insurances would ensure statutory funds were at required levels using approved instruments. There is no way I expected to be betrayed by government flouting the laws of the land as it appears to have done. In 2005 I could have got 6.75% if I had invested with another company – a mere 1.25% less than the 8% I got at CLICO. I would hardly call this greed – something CLICO policholders have been accused of! CLICO was also an old (60-70 yrs), established institution. If it had been a 10-year-old company, for instance, then one might not have ventured there. In addition, CLICO financials appeared to be in order giving no reason to suspect that anything was amiss.

    A few weeks ago I listened to a video clip of a speech given by the governor of the central bank of Trinidad and Tobago, at the Hilton Hotel in Port-of-Spain and he said that blame for the CLICO downfall in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean could be placed directly at the feet of government.

    Of course, CLICO and BAICO policyholders (of which I am one) are trying to identify a successful solution for all, and the restructuring of CLICO using an injection of $152m cash (or thereabouts) by the government is one solution identified by the Judicial Manager.

    It would appear that the government of Barbados has NIS money to invest. Would it not follow that investing it in an instrument like the restructuring of CLICO, which would be for the benefit of Barbadians, would be better than the Four Seasons project? And please note, Anonymous, the restructuring of CLICO does not mean that anyone gets their money back. It means that policyholders would get a reduced interest on their investments with the hope that principals be repaid at a future date. Furthermore, having CLICO up and running again would mean jobs for a lot of Barbadians.

    When I hear of/read about Barbadians’ lack of support for other Barbadians who have suffered as a result of alleged betrayal and negligence at government level, I shudder. Government has got to make reparation to those who suffer at their hands. One needs to be reminded of the adage “There for the Grace of God go I”. Who knows who or what will be next to suffer as a result of similar betrayal and negligence?
    It would be constructive for us ALL to pull together in an effort to call to put right that which has been allowed to go wrong.

  19. watcher

    @Hocus Pocus

    It all comes back to Integrity and integirty legislation of which there is none.

  20. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Hocus Pocus
    There are many who would love to champion the cause for change, like yourself, in the many biases that exist in many of the systems of governance in Barbados. However, there is a network of indifference that sullies or use much rhetoric to distor or abort potential change, especially if that change is not beneficial to their cause or purpose.

    There is to much collusion and intertwining of the political, business and judicial processes in Barbados that makes change a playing field leveled only for certain segments of the Barbadian populace whilst the other segment suffers bitterly in a pool of passivity.

    You state people need to be educated but are they not? Is our boasting of 99.9% literacy a fallacy or does it just speak to the ability of Barbadians to read, write and articulate orally in a skillful manner without execution or implementation of their fancy words and ideas. There are more university degree graduates per capita in Barbados then any other time in our academic history yet the continuance of the laissez-faire permeates much of our systems in an island that is becoming D.R.O.P i.e. Depressive Regressive Oppressive and Pressured towards a state of conformity. I say that because the tolerance of our people to accept crap has been carefully woven into our psychy by bribes, gifts, induce fear and intimidation and threats of job lost. How to combat this in an island that hardly supports any causes or hardly stand up for what it believes to be right is beyond me. I have a few ideas but what sense it makessharing them if they will not be acted upon to help bring about the desire change we hope to see. Right now we air our fustration via BFP which is good place to hide your identity under an alias so you can lambast the SOB’s in government and business for the nonsense they do. You think any of us will be bold enough to state who we are here openly (unless we are an over and away bajan) and confront the same systems with the choice of words we use on here? What you think

  21. Hocus Pocus

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Well written … I understand and empathise with what you say.

    However, when I said that Barbadians need to be educated, I do not mean that they need to be educated scholastically. As you have written, the level of scholastic education on island is relatively good. What I mean is Barbadians need to be educated about how to change their mind sets in order to bring about the change that most of us are calling for.

    Hopefully, there are a lot of Barbadians, like yourself, who realise that our populace is stuck in a mind set that is no longer appropriate – but what to do about it? How does one change the collective consciousness? This is what I mean by needing education. There are proven mental and emotional practices that can be used to transcend the fear most people face when they try to bring about change which almost always impacts personal comfort zones and produces feelings of anxiety and discomfort. To use another adage – one must feel the fear and do it anyway!

    Basically, each of us be responsible only for our own change. That way critical mass can be reached and the collective transformed. There are many local practitioners available to help and there are numerous books available to assist us on our journeys. But people must first recognise that one cannot look to see change in others before being willing to identify that change must, first of all, take place within – for one will never find “without” that which cannot be found “within”.

    So, if we want change, we have to find the strength to rise above the fear evoked by ego (e.g. victim consciousness), act out what we KNOW to be truth and conduct our lives in accordance. Take personal responsibility. I am not saying it is easy, but the process produces growth of true self (NOT the ego) which can only lead to a better physical life.

  22. Newbie

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine
    “What do you think”
    I think that you are right, none of us would care to state who we are openly and that is a large part of what is wrong with this Bajan Society. To voice one’s opinion openly is like putting a rope around your own neck or a great big sign with the word TROUBLEMAKER carved on it. I say the Government is to blame when a person cannot feel safe about voicing his/her opinion. “TELLING THE TRUTH HERE IN BARBADOS WILL GET YOU IN TROUBLE”
    I have heard those words on more than one occasion and it makes me ashamed sometimes to call myself a BAJAN.

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine
    “That is how our society was shaped and those who are not affected by it are the ones who have lived outside of it to return back to it only to recognize it for what it truly is.”

    The view that returnees are not affected by it is not correct. There seems to be a distinct difference in the way returnees are handled in comparison to those that have lived here all their life. Returnees were and some still are unaware of the game played here or the rules and as such were wide open to victimisation, which has happen to some that I know. Most returnees are considered mad because they try to speak out about their experiences and their pleas fall on deaf ears anyway, “Accepted practice” is a term that echoes loudly in their ears. To me all that term means is that because no one speaks out about wrongdoing everything wrong becomes “ACCEPTED PRACTICE”
    .
    BAD GOVERNANCE = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    CROOKED CONTRACTORS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    UNPRINCIPLED LAWYERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    UNRULY ZR DRIVERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    CORRUPT/CORRUPTIBLE LAW OFFICERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    VICTIMISE THE MAD RETURNEES (WHO WERE STUPID ENOUGH TO THINK THAT THE LAW IN BARBADOS PROTECTS VICTIMS) = ACCEPTED PRACTICE.
    WITH NO RULE OF LAW ANYTHING CAN BE ACCEPTED PRACTICE.
    Even rape seems to be becoming an ACCEPTED PRACTICE according to some recent tourists.
    I could go on and on.
    This GOVERNMENT with this whole CLICO affair is just proving to all of us that when you have power you can do what you like to whoever you like. .

  23. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Hocus Pocus wrote…
    What I mean is Barbadians need to be educated about how to change their mind sets in order to bring about the change that most of us are calling for.

    The mind sets to which you allude are deep rooted from the days of slavery. We live in a Barbados were the greatest discrimination against the black race comes from within the black race itself. Do you remotely believe that collectively, black people can unite in way that is beneficial to their purposes without active ill will? What exist in the black consciousness is an engrained sense of disloyality to our own kind. I am not sure if the type of education you purport can change a collective consciousness that is inert. Take the CLICO saga for instance. Where is the united front to confront what everyone knows to be blatant nepotism between the government and CLICO’s ‘schemers’. To continued…

  24. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Continuing

    You stated and I quote ” There are proven mental and emotional practices that can be used to transcend the fear most people face when they try to bring about change which almost always impacts personal comfort zones and produces feelings of anxiety and discomfort. To use another adage – one must feel the fear and do it anyway! ” To you honestly believe that what you purport would work with bajans? Barbadians are categorically resistant- base-persons who scoff at anything that has the appearance of causing embarassment. Our society is not as mature as we think it is hence the reasons why everybody minds everybodies business. There are too many destablising elements in our society that would bring a programme of change to an abrupt halt. We lack discipline; we lack societal harmony; we tend very much to be non cooperative; we have a large percentage of the population living on border line poverty (and way below the poverty line) who would not commit to any non profitable goals that do not have monetary benefits; we have political systems that are geared at the development of the islands infrastructure but neglices the development of its people. Oh yeah I know what free education has done for us but most of our geniuses are contributing their brains outside of Barbados. Why is that? bipartisan political systems are interested primarily in self preservation and so in this economic crisis the formation of a coalition to combat the serious economic state of our country is not important. In essence society must be sacrificed at the whims and fancies of party politics.

    Hocus Pocus I am with you on the change but its practicality in a society like ours is virtually impossible unless we target specific programmes of change for the next generation.

    Newbie

    I embrace what you have said with 100%. You are spot on. However with reference to my thinking that returnees are not affected by our poor services and bias systems, please read my comments carefully again. The mere fact that they challenge it shows that the tactics use to surpress any upsurgence towards unacceptable and poor service systems in our island, is not nulled by fear or intimidation. They see it for what it is and so continue to challenge it. They are not the ones mad but are labelled that way because its not often that the accepted norm is challenge. The ones who are mad is the policy makers who continue to believe that Barbados can function with 50 year systems in a 21st century technologically advanced era. Notwithstanding that the persons who service these systems holds the notion that service is representative of persons who show a screw pooch for a face and a tone of voice that is not far from inbred swine. But as your rightfully point -ACCEPTED PRACTICE!!!

  25. Hocus Pocus

    @ Newbie and Sunshine Sunny Shine

    I do not feel it is necessary for anyone to disclose their proper name. What is important is what they have to say. “No man is an island” and our every thought and action impacts those around us. Therefore, it stands that anonymity may be prudent within Barbados society as it is today. Non-disclosure is no big deal unless one chooses to make it so.

    Your rhetoric, to my mind, is both intelligent and valuable especially in how it highlights and explains the shadow side of Barbadian society. Elements of a shadow side are important and can be used positively. Suspicion, for example, can be used as a tool to ferret out truth. Conversely, Barbadians have many qualities that can be used as leverage to disarm harmful elements of their shadow sides. How about highlighting our society’s strengths? All is possible and anything can be achieved, we just need to know how. The how comes by removing ignorance using knowledge which is gained by education, of which there are many areas. It serves no positive purpose to say that Bajans are unable to change because of x, y and z. I have great faith in the Barbadian people and know that with appropriate assistance they can affect whatever change is necessary to promote positive change and upward growth.

    It is people like yourselves – educated and spirited – who can be forefront in creating conditions for change.

  26. Low standards = Accepted practice

    Someone so correctly opined…. and this is worth repeating..

    BAD GOVERNANCE = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    CROOKED CONTRACTORS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    UNPRINCIPLED LAWYERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    UNRULY ZR DRIVERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    CORRUPT/CORRUPTIBLE LAW OFFICERS = ACCEPTED PRACTICE
    VICTIMISE THE MAD RETURNEES
    (WHO WERE STUPID ENOUGH TO THINK THAT THE LAW IN BARBADOS PROTECTS VICTIMS)
    = ACCEPTED PRACTICE.

    WITH NO RULE OF LAW ANYTHING CAN BE ACCEPTED PRACTICE.
    Even rape seems to be becoming an ACCEPTED PRACTICE according to some recent tourists.
    I could go on and on.
    ___________________________________

    We are a nation of Low Standards. Anything goes.
    And we are finally seeing and feeling the end-result of our acceptance of low standards over the decades since wonderful independence and the institution of a socialist style of government/vote-prostitution.

    But..”All is well”. The Golden Goose is not dead, not yet..
    but is certainly “on the way out”
    I hear 2012 is going to be just dandy too. Niiiice!

    Our country/nation has very quickly become the can of worms I always knew possible.

  27. Newbie

    @ Sunshine Sunny Shine
    My apologies, point taken.
    I also agree that Barbados is suffering because of the “WHIMS AND FANCIES OF POLITICAL PARTIES”. I also think that a coalition Government may be the best route towards revamping a lot of the 50 year old systems that we are living with.

    @ Hocus Pocus
    I would say that there are obviously many intelligent and forward thinking persons in Barbados outside of the established professionals i.e Politicians, Lawyers, Doctors,Teachers etc . The problems I have noticed are mainly a suppression of initiative and lack of training in many institutions ESPECIALLY GOVERNMENTAL. No one wants to make a decision (or disclose information) on their own for fear of losing their job (there’s that word again, (FEAR). This leads to frustration for the general public when trying to get simple answer to simple questions. I am interested to know what your idea of APPROPRIATE ASSISTANCE to change is.

  28. Pingback: Inter-American Development Bank cancels $160m loan for Barbados Four Seasons project | Barbados Free Press