Walter Blackman: Numbers don’t lie – People do!

“His silver hairs will purchase us a good opinion, and buy men’s voices to commend our deeds.”

William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

by Walter Blackman

by Walter Blackman

I make reference to a Nation News article dated November 4, 2013, entitled “Numbers don’t lie” and written by Sanka Price.

In that article, Mr. Erskine Griffith is highlighted as a top‐level civil servant who served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance under six Ministers of Finance and five Prime Ministers, dating back from his appointment to the post under Tom Adams to Owen Arthur, under whom he retired as the Director of Finance and Head of the Civil Service in 2000.

Mr. Griffith used the following economic indicators to demonstrate that Barbados is in deep trouble:

Economic indicator

Trend compared to 2007‐2008



Retail Prices


Disposable Income


Value of the Barbados $




After looking at the above trends, an impartial economics or finance professional would concede that Barbados is experiencing a recession. The following questions would then naturally follow: What can be done to raise the level of our GDP, disposable income, and employment? How can we suppress rising retail prices so that businesses and households could have more purchasing power?

One would have hoped that a person with Mr. Griffith’s experience and background, realizing his country is in the throes of a deep recession, would have been able to leverage his knowledge of the intimate workings of the WTO, his long‐term control over the country’s financial services apparatus, and his presumed access to the policymakers of Barbados to recommend at least a few strategies aimed at generating sustainable employment and future economic growth.

Instead, by comparing the above current economic indicators to those in 2007 and 2008, Mr. Griffith deliberately chose to walk Barbadians down the proverbial garden path with the aim of getting them to swallow two falsities:

  1. The first myth is that the Owen Arthur administration, in conjunction with the BLP, had placed Barbados on the road to sustainable economic growth by 2007‐2008. (We were presumably all living in a paradise back then. Of course, Mr. Griffith, having functioned effectively as an operative for over 25 years, was then enjoying the highest level of his political rewards in the form of a member of the Senate and Minister of Agriculture).
  2. The second untruth is that the present Freundel Stuart administration, in conjunction with the DLP, is totally responsible for the country plunging precipitously from its heavenly, idyllic state in 2007‐2008 to “deep trouble” in 2013.

Truth be told, in order to trace the origin and depth of some of our national troubles, it might be worth our while to return to the start of the 1980’s, so that we can get a feel for what was happening then:

Back then, our civil service was viewed by many as one of the finest in the Caribbean; our NIS was being hailed as the best administered social security program in the region; no major international scandal had

occurred within our insurance and financial services sectors; most civil servants were committed and hard‐working and expected to be promoted based on ability and fairness; the revenue collecting agencies of government were functioning at acceptable levels of integrity and efficiency; there was an urgent need to develop and regulate the financial services sector, which had the potential to be a major foreign exchange earner.

Now let us compare that picture with the situation at 2007‐2008 (or even today):

Commentators, casual observers, and customers now paint a picture of a civil service which has deteriorated to the point where red tape, malingering, low productivity, unethical and fraudulent activity, political victimization, kickbacks in all forms, nepotism, favoritism, laziness and a blatant disregard for the needs of businesses and the general public have become the status quo. Along the way, the careers of decent industrious civil servants have been ruthlessly derailed and destroyed to make way for mealy‐mouthed mendicants who a particular minister, or senior government official, might happen to find favour with.

By 2008, David Estwick, as the minister responsible for National Insurance, felt compelled to warn Barbadians via the national press, that the NIS fund was being used like a bank account.

Judged from all angles, the performance and management of major governmental agencies, especially the ones responsible for revenue collection and the regulation and supervision of the financial services sector have been woefully inadequate, to say the least.

Shortly after 2008, after a sustained period of poor and ineffective regulatory oversight, the financial services sector of Barbados buckled under the insidious weight of one of the most catastrophic, but insightful, scandals ever recorded in our country’s financial history. Our hitherto pristine reputation on the international financial stage was now irreparably tainted.

I would advise the reader, if you are interested in gaining a better understanding of how we managed to reach this sad state of affairs, to get your hands on the various totally‐disregarded Auditor‐General’s reports from 1982 to 2008. As you pore over the material, see if you detect a pattern of increasing levels of infelicity, malfeasance, greed, graft, and corruption. Hopefully, at the end of the exercise, you would realize that unwholesome practices within the civil service, tended and fostered for over thirty years, eventually became so entrenched and pervasive that they now form the backbone of our country’s abysmal decline.

Finally, ask yourself: “Did Freundel Stuart and his administration preside over this shameful slide?”

Walter Blackman is a United States‐trained pension actuary. He is a former talk show host of VOB’s “Getting down to Brass Tacks” and “Tell it like it is” call‐in programmes.


Filed under Barbados, Economy, Politics

5 responses to “Walter Blackman: Numbers don’t lie – People do!


    Walter Blackman@ PLANTATION DEEDS. 1926 -2013

    NOW, May or March of 1985 ABC high way was being cut , A cost or worth od land of 80 million bds, ?
    The owner of the land Beatrice Henry was still alive until December 13th 1985 , Her self not the Estate was never paid till this date
    Beatrice Henry Estate was Probate to Violet Beckles on /june 5th 1986.
    No.26 of 1986. LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION cum testamento annexo the 17th date 17th day of January, 1984.
    TIME Sir Henry Forde AG? there after move 70 title search of CLEAR TITLE THAT goes back to the Plantation deeds to 20 years so call now renamed a GOOD TITLE = FRAUD , after holding Violet Beckles off in order to move land by way of Fraud .Where we now have the names ,? rent collector name Forde, Minister in Church name Forde, Lawyer at C& S named Mark Forde , Land Tax Head Man Named Forde. CLEAR TO US,
    BLP= OWEN AND MIA. =UDC , CAME TO LIFE, to launder the land by way of lawyer fraud Keith M. of the UDC. 1997 , Now here comes VAT ALSO in 1997 to feed the THE MASSIVE FRAUD, TO MOVE the people from land rent to land TAX, land rent at 500 bds a year or land TAX where the BLP or the DLP can move up when FUNDS NEEDED.
    Walter Blackman@ look at the number on your many charts to see what happen 1996 and 1997 the years after Beatrice Henry died , Now also look at the 2 years after Violet Beckles died August 23rd 2010 on your charts .. looks the same for Barbados.

    Walter Blackman you Numbers and heading is great and support our own information, NOW add the NEXT 7 STEPS TO see what came after, Add the Two Queens of Barbados in to your Math and then see the full picture,
    Then tell us what you see , PONZI , ADD THE HIGH COURT LAND , THE OVAL, GEMS OF BARBADOS, HOTELS LAND LEAST MIGHT BE UP ? NOW LOOK to see the Deeds with no CLEAR titles, one CREDIT UNION holding more than a BILLION DOLLARS in ASSETS OF LAND AND BUILDINGS ,where are the DEEDS, To service these deeds in side of Barbados and can not sell assets to other BANKS , Credits Unions even like Light and Power On the BAY PLANTATION 1930( BLACK MAN)John Beckles to Beatrice Henry 190 acres not John Beckles AG (WHITE MAN) that was 100 years before,, DO NOT GET IT TWISTED


    SORRY SHOULD READ NOT @ look at the number on your many charts to see what happen 1996 and 1997 the years after Beatrice Henry died,


  3. Anonymous


  4. Just saying

    Oh it’s all Owen’s fault? You people are pathetic. The DLP has been hiding behind “don’t you know there is a recession on?” for five years. But somehow we are doing worse than everyone else.

    There is ALWAYS something unfavorable going on in the international environment, bird flu, oil prices spike, wars, SARS, terrorist attack, etc. etc. if you are in charge you don’t get to throw up your hands and abdicate any responsibility for anything.

  5. Rastaman

    Well,well,well.So Min Sinclair says that Sir Hilary is not telling the truth. Pot calling the kettle black ..LOL