“REDjet might still have been flying if the Barbados Government had honoured financial commitments to the collapsed airline.”
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur talks to The Nation about the DLP’s failure to honour its promises.
Owen Arthur chides DLP for breaking REDjet promises – conveniently forgets he did the same thing with other foreign investors
Submitted by One Who Knows
For a man who himself made false promises to major foreign investors just to entice them to Barbados, Owen Arthur has some nerve criticizing the DLP for their handling of REDjet.
Not that the DLP government is undeserving of criticism over the REDjet matter. The point is that both DLP and BLP governments have shown they will say and promise anything to a foreign investor: at least until the cash arrives. The promises aren’t always about money or tax breaks, sometimes they are about changing the laws to facilitate business or protection of the environment, or putting in roads and sewerage treatment to encourage development.
Unfortunately that long-established history of promising anything to potential investors but then failing to keep up the agreement is starting to cost Barbados credibility in the eyes of the world.
A sense of immunity and impunity
It wasn’t so long ago that Barbados and other Caribbean governments could get away with anything. International news agencies were loath to report some of the investor horror stories in Caribbean nations because every year these same countries cumulatively spend hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism advertising.
These advertising revenues are like a gun to the head of the foreign newspapers and broadcasters. If they issue too many reports on island crime against tourists, or about real estate or business investment horror stories, the editors are likely to find their advertising share cut for a few months.
In the current economic situation the withholding or reduction of advertising by a major client is serious business. Usually nothing need be said – the editors and publishers get the message. And if they don’t get the hint when a client makes an offhand comment “You’re giving a lot of coverage to that one isolated incident, aren’t you?” they will get the message when their rival newspaper receives 100% of the advertising for the next three months. I have seen it happen more than once.
When Ottawa tourist Terry Schwarzfeld was murdered in Barbados, the internet editions of all the Canadian papers featured dozens of major stories for about a month. Then the coverage suddenly stopped and the majority of the original stories disappeared from the internet. Check it out yourself on Google; it’s almost like it never happened. Other stories published at the same time remain, but most of the Terry Schwarzfeld stories are gone.
“The internet destroyed the ability of Caribbean governments to entirely kill negative stories in the mass media through withholding tourism advertising expenditures, but the governments can still impact much of what is published in the mainstream.”
Investors will discover the truth somehow…
What the Caribbean governments can’t control are the specialized forums and websites dealing with offshore investments, real estate and travel. These websites have such a strong impact because they attract a highly interested and intensely focused audience.
A story that the Barbados Government promised but didn’t deliver financial support to REDjet is likely to be read and then forgotten in the general news media, but not on the airline and business investment forums. Combine the current headlines that LIAT will now use government money to buy seven new aircraft while Owen Arthur says REDjet investors were deceived, and you can predict it is likely to be big news on aviation and investment forums.
Barbados can’t control those revelations or discussions – and you can be assured that the next group of
foreign investors suckers contemplating starting an airline in Barbados will think twice.
In addition to REDjet, other stories where the government made various promises and then abandoned investors come to mind off the top of my head, including John Desanti and the failed condo real estate laws, Peter Allard of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, the Dog Shelter investor who pulled out after spending $1 million and the American investor Mathew Kerins who lost $2 million to ‘consulting services’ in Barbados.
Successive Barbados governments continue teaching foreign investors a lesson: you cannot depend upon the politicians to keep their word, even if they put it in writing.
Let-down – The Nation
REDjet might still have been flying if the Barbados Government had honoured financial commitments to the collapsed airline.
That’s according to Opposition Leader Owen Arthur, who told the MIDWEEK NATION it appears that the failed low-cost carrier had been given monetary assurances by top Government officials, including Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy.
Arthur said that representation had been made in the public that the principals of REDjet met with Cabinet ministers and commitments were given.
“There is something called legitimate expectations and if someone is given commitments by ministers for financial support then they can be entitled to make decisions based on those commitments alone.”