Category Archives: Economy

Cotton crop in danger as Barbados Government unable to pay pickers for last year’s work

Barbados picking cotton

Labour Action a result of no pay for a year

Contributed anonymously by Rotten Cotton

Our 2015 cotton crop is in danger of rotting in the fields as fewer than 10% of last year’s 150 registered cotton pickers are willing to work, and this year the crop is almost double the size of 2014.

The problem is that the Government of Barbados hasn’t been able to pay the pickers for the work they did a full year ago, picking the 2014 crop.

Guess what folks? You promise to pay agricultural workers a certain amount for each pound of cotton and you don’t pay them for a year… what happens is that nobody shows up to pick the next crop.

Got that Prime Minster Stuart?

It’s a simple and basic concept that this government hasn’t grasped I know. The government can put off paying suppliers, contractors and government employees when the money can’t be found, and those people will hang in waiting for the government to catch up on payments.

But you can’t do that to poor agricultural workers for a year or they walk and that is exactly what has happened.

“How bad is the financial situation really when the government puts the whole 2015 cotton crop at risk because they can’t pay workers their 40 cents a pound that has been owing to them for a year?”

The newspapers and television are full of cotton stories with politicians, Agricultural Ministry officials and industry spokespeople hyping the value to the economy and the doubling of fields planted over last year but hardly anyone is talking about the growing sense of danger – some say verging on panic – that is spreading throughout the cotton community.  Continue reading

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Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Cotton, Economy

Encouraging reports about British tourism bookings

Barbados_Flag125.jpg

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

According to a recent TravelMole article, British travel agents are reporting ‘exceptional’ days of trading so far this month. Some say forward bookings are up as much as ‘30-50 percent’ over the same period last year and that a third of summer holidays currently being offered in 2015 will be sold during January and February.

Based on early indications the most popular long haul destinations are within the Caribbean and in particular – Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Others far flung choices include Mauritius and the Maldives.

On the downside, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reported that short haul holidays are being boosted by the low value of the Euro against Sterling, making the Mediterranean much more affordable.

But conversely, the abolition of the dreaded Air Passenger Tax (APD) for children below 12 years is driving demand for destinations further afield. There is also a continuing trend for travellers booking further in advance. As a former tour operator for 12 years, I can tell you just how helpful that is in the overall scheme of things. Continue reading

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Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy on natural gas shortage – Hotels, businesses at fault for failing to plan for government’s failure to plan.

Barbados is paying the price for Prime Minister Stuart's wrong decisions and planning failures.

Barbados businesses and citizens are paying the price for Prime Minister Stuart’s wrong decisions, planning failures.

submitted by old todd

For the past four months – not “a few weeks” as said by The Nation newspaper – businesses, restaurants and hotels have been devastated by the failure of the Barbados Government to deliver sufficient natural gas. Every industry using natural gas has been impacted, right from biscuit maker WIBISCO that lost 60% production and 50% of export sales in December, to restaurants and hotels along the west and south coasts forced to close or suffer tourist cancellations.

Tourism Minister Richard Sealy says businesses should be ready for his government's failure to plan.

Tourism Minister Richard Sealy says businesses should be ready for his government’s failure to plan.

The harm to our tourism and manufacturing sectors will not be over when the shortage ends. It will take a year or more to regain the confidence of tourists and business customers who were directly impacted.

The government and the National Petroleum Corporation are portraying this as the failure of two wells – something that could not have been foreseen. What rot!

The truth is that Barbados has been running too close to the line for years, with known insufficient reserves and weaknesses in the distribution system. There was no surprise – this has been coming for years as predicted by industry pundits.

So now that the crisis is here, government is taking steps to import the machinery and perform repairs that should have been done years ago. That is only a stop-gap until new wells and natural gas imports can be arranged for.

And we have no money.

Government made decisions to withhold spending on distribution system maintenance and improvement. Government made decisions every year for the past seven to lower natural gas reserves and to sail closer to the disaster zone, counting on luck and hope that we would have enough gas to get through the busy tourist high season.

That was a decision and it was the wrong decision. Now the country is paying.

Further Reading

Barbados Today: Toppin: Deal with natural gas shortage

Nation News: Hoteliers told to get back-up energy

Nation News: Biscuit Blues

Advocate: PM: Efforts on to resolve natural gas shortage

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Economy, Energy

Inter-American Development Bank cancels $160m loan for Barbados Four Seasons project

barbados four seasons construction

Another monster project left to rot in the Bajan sun

The on again – off again Barbados Four Seasons resort project may have received its final coffin-nail with the IDB finally withdrawing from this decade-old debacle. (Nation News: IDB withdraws loan for Four Seasons)

How much taxpayer funding has the Barbados government poured into this mess? Are we allowed to know? Did the government transfer any of the National Insurance Scheme pension funds to the project developers?

Barbados Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has made all sorts of claims. In March 2013 he told Bajans that our taxpayer monies would be recovered on the sale of the Four Seasons. Well Mr. Sinckler? Where’s our money?

Back then, BFP’s readers were asked if Bajan taxpayers would recover all the monies that their government invested in the Four Seasons. 50% said we’ll never know the truth, 43.5% said there was not a chance that we would recover the monies. 6.4% said we’d get back all the money, (but that was probably Minister Sinckler himself sitting there for voting for hours.)

Former PM Thompson said that supporting Four Seasons could be “extremely risky” to the DLP Government, but Freundel Stuart went ahead and did it after Thompson died.

“Now of course the first objective is not for Government to give guarantees to projects of this type. So the Government is not available, generally speaking, for that kind of thing and I want to make that abundantly clear. It is extremely risky. It has brought down Governments in other countries and I don’t intend to let it bring down my government. And it can sometimes smack of an element of favouritism and once you start it, it becomes like a rolling stone that will gather moss…and therefore, we have to be very careful,”

February 2, 2010 – Prime Minister David Thompson in the Barbados Advocate article PM defends stance on Four Seasons

Hard Times have arrived in Barbados

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it…

1/ Shun debt. Shun expenses. Live as frugally as you can.

2/ Work hard, save what you can.

3/ Look after family and friends as you are able because you might need their help someday.

4/ Learn to grow food, repair your own car, maintain your own home. Repair clothes, repair everything. Don’t buy new anything: let some other fool pay the depreciation!

5/ Smile at the tourists, make them feel welcome but never pressured. Pick up the rubbish where you can and never do anything that takes away from the beauty of Bim.

6/ Thank God for what you do have – then get back to working harder than you ever have before.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Economy, Offshore Investments, Real Estate

Falling fuel prices no guarantee of increased tourism – Barbados must work smart and hard in a tough market

Barbados Grantley Airport Tarmac

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Most of us, of course, warmly welcome the current fall in fuel prices which probably in the hospitality sector be demonstrated by the greatest savings in electricity prices, especially those properties who have extensive air conditioning units.

But almost needlessly to say, that Government will collect a lower level of taxes and VAT, so it’s a two edged sword.

I also wonder how long it will take our limited number of distribution companies to pass on the benefit of reduced delivery costs as a result of cheaper petrol and diesel prices. Assuming of course, they will pass on the benefits at all.

Experts in the aviation industry do not expect any dramatic reduction in airfares and again it may work initially against the consumer’s interest while used aircraft values rise as fuel falls, slowing down the delivery of newer most fuel-efficient aircraft in some cases.

Across our major tourism markets the halving of oil prices will hopefully give people more disposable income, perhaps most notably in the United Kingdom, where we have witnessed a recent significant fall in the value of Sterling against the US Dollar.

The Key to Success for Barbados tourism

Judging by the unprecedented level of email holiday bargains on offer in the UK I have tracked, there is absolutely no room for complacency this year and particularly in the more challenging softer summer months. Key to the success of this will be to portray the destination as offering real value-for-money. And I do not mean attempting to achieve the almost impossible objective by making everything cheaper, but ensuring that every product offering is as good as we can get it and going that extra mile to make visitors feel rightly special.  Continue reading

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy, Energy

Loveridge: Private tourism sector must get creative and work together

Barbados German Tourists

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

As we enter another new year, perhaps the best way to sum up the mood of the industry is to quote the title of the classic novel by Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

As and when the long promised concessions to the sector become a reality there is a hope that viability can be restored and collectively we can re-build the arrival numbers without sacrificing the average duration of stay.

Personally I feel there are many more ways the diverging interests in tourism can work better together with joint promotional activities. Some may inevitably benefit more than others, but that is almost impossible to avoid. What cannot be disputed is with this approach the destination garners increased visibility and that will become increasingly more important if we are going to regain past long stay visitor falls in critical markets like the United States.

The previous Chairman described the Barbados Tourism Authority as ‘a slothful wasteful and inefficient organisation in an increasingly dynamic, technologically-driven, and commercial industry’

Over the years we have pioneered a number of co-operative campaigns including the first joint villa full page ‘ads’ with three of the major rental companies collectively advertising, the first 12 page Barbados supplement in a leading magazine targeted towards Caribbean travellers, the first intra-regional travel event, the first fully functioning small hotel grouping, Barbados Treasures, Carib Escape, airline/accommodation inclusive packages, our Rewards Card and MILESCloser, a frequent flyer programme, among several others. Continue reading

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Will the Harlequin Resorts debacle explode in 2015?

David Ames - Harlequin's Ponzi King

David Ames – Harlequin’s Ponzi King

The numbers tell us one giant truth: From the start Harlequin was set up as nothing less than a Ponzi scheme requiring a constant influx of new victims to keep everything going.

Consider these numbers…

- Total “deposits” by victims: US$800 million

- Percentage of “deposits” paid as salary and sales commissions: 50%

- Percentage of “deposits” used to pay interest to earlier “investors”: 22% (estimated, see below)

- Number of units sold: 9,114

- Number of units built: 230

It might be worth Ames and his merry band of supporters considering to remain silent throughout 2015.

To do so would reduce if not eliminate the anti-Harlequin responses no matter how articulate and factual they may be, given that the anti-Harlequin posts in the main are merely responses to the incessant nauseating, repulsive litany of lies emanating from Harlequin and their supporters in their never ending quest to justify “at best” the gross incompetence and abject failure by the Ames family and staff of Harlequin to operate their businesses in a proper manner.

The constant need to allay the blame for the failures of the Ames family and management at Harlequin at the door step of others demonstrates that the Ames family and management of Harlequin are in serious trouble.

And that summary is giving Ames and his cohorts far more benefit of the doubt than the facts say they deserve. The only reason I can think of that they haven’t been arrested as yet is that the Serious Fraud Office has been overwhelmed by the planned worldwide chaotic nature of the fraud through only god knows how many different companies, coupled with legal contracts bearing so much fine print, inter-jurisdictional references and available outs for the criminals.

The resorts will most probably never get built, not in the lifetime of many of the purchasers victims.      
Continue reading

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