Tag Archives: Barbados Freedom of Information

Grantley Adams International Airport refuses to account for public funds. No transparency. No accountability.

Freundel Stuart Barbados Tourism

Freedom of Information stillborn in Barbados

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

In the editorial column of another publication recently, the writer seized on what I thought was a very pertinent question. ‘How much of the enormous government taxes tacked onto flight tickets actually go toward the maintenance of our airports?’.

In the case of our own airport, Grantley Adams International (GAIA), the taxpayer may never know the answer, because even though the facility is wholly owned by Government, it feels no obligation to publish its annual audited accounts for public scrutiny.

“A polite request made a few days ago for the airport’s latest fiscal statements, met with a deafening NO!”

While its difficult to draw any direct similarity, I wonder if ‘we’ the taxpayers had been able to view the accounts of another Government entity, the ill-fated Hotels and Resorts Ltd (GEMS) in a timely manner, perhaps then more pressure could have been brought to bear, to prevent the hemorrhage of hundreds of millions of dollars. So to try and calculate any comparison between the amount of taxes paid by departing passengers and what proportion GAIA Inc., retains towards operational and capital costs is almost impossible.

I also posed two other questions to the airport public relations department., and asked if direct air to cruise ship and in-transit passengers paid the same amount of ticket taxes as other travellers, but sadly did not receive a response.

This lack of accountability and transparency does nothing to enhance the wider understanding of the industry and the various contributions made by the many component players.

I will however compliment GAIA Inc., on the statistics section of the their website. At a glance you can compare, on a monthly basis the numbers of embarked and disembarked passengers, those in-transit and transfers, together with cargo, number of aircraft movements etc. Especially interesting is comparing the airport disembarked figures with long stay visitor arrivals figures on the CTO website.

Preliminary stay over arrivals for July were 51,253, down 12 per cent for the same month in 2011,  while  the airport disembarked number was 84,734, a variance of 33,481 or over 65 per cent.

August long stay visitors numbered 43,191 which represented a decline of 13.6 per cent over 2011, but with 77,601 disembarked passengers, a differential of 34,410 or around 79 per cent more.

As transit and transfer movements are shown separately, I think the discrepancy in these figures have to be explained. Are they residents returning home, people flying in for visas for the day and not occupying accommodation or who? Clearly, it could make a massive difference with the sustainability of airlift.

The gaps get even bigger in the winter months. As an example in January, 101,738 disembarked passengers yet only 52,619 long stay visitors. In fact, if you average the first eight months of 2012, the number of disembarked passengers is nearly double that of long stay visitors. What also appears inequitable, is that the same rationale for recovery of costs that is applied to the airport, does not seem to apply to the seaport.

We are told the stated justification of massive hike in departure or services fees, is to cover the true costs of GAIA Inc. But if the BOLT financed Sugar Point Cruise Terminal becomes a reality, will the repayments be totally funded by port fees and other charges directly related to servicing the cruise ships?

So many questions, so few answers!

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

International Press Institute reports how Barbados politicians lied about Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information, Defamation law changes

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his DLP promised Integrity Legislation. They lied. That was a slimy thing to do!

UPDATED: January 22, 2013 (pinned to top. scroll down for newer)

Have another read of this folks and remember that the promised Integrity Legislation will not become law before the next election.

Time to vote for ANY INDEPENDENT!

Here’s our original story first published October 15, 2012….

Lying corrupt DLP, BLP politicians will not pass Integrity Legislation

The just-released International Press Institute report on Barbados tells the sad history of how the DLP – Democratic Labour Party lied about Integrity Legislation just to get elected. The report is dated last June, 2012 and now that we are well into the political campaign for the next election we know the truth: there will be no Integrity Legislation put forward by the governing DLP. It was all a sham to get elected in 2008.

“The government and the population know that Barbados’ Defamation Act is a relic of the colonial past and that it hinders freedom of expression. IPI believes that when the country’s politicians are aware of the situation and have already attempted to change it, half of the work is done. We are optimistic that there is still enough time before the January 2013 elections to implement the new legislation.

While several news outlets now say that the people in Barbados were misled and that the Freedom of Information, Defamation and Integrity Legislation is an outstanding debt, IPI believes that public opinion can be changed. Barbados’ leaders have the opportunity not only to change these reports, but also to make history, as those who make this decision will have ushered in a more free, transparent, and democratic country.”

… the last two paragraphs of the Report on the IPI Advocacy Mission to End Criminal Defamation in Barbados (PDF here)

Former BLP Attorney General confirms no plans for Integrity Legislation

Barbadian voters remember former BLP Attorney General Dale Marshall as the one who hilariously gave a clean bill of health to VECO’s operations in Barbados after a 25 minute conversation with representatives of the company. This was after a series of scandals showed that Alaska-based VECO used bribery of politicians as a standard operating procedure to obtain government contracts.

The Owen Arthur led BLP government awarded VECO the contract for the new Dodds Prison even though the company had never built a prison before. Everything was done in secret and that’s the way Dale Marshall, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and the BLP like it. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information dead on DLP Government’s 4th anniversary

Remembering the DLP Victory on January 16, 2008

Do you remember the pride we felt? For the first time Bajans had hope that we could free ourselves from the corrupt cartels that anonymously purchase our elected representatives’ loyalty with massive amounts of “election support”.

With the election of the DLP Democratic Labour Party, Barbados would now have the integrity legislation, freedom of information access and conflicts of interest rules so citizens could effectively monitor where our tax dollars were spent and hold our elected and appointed officials accountable.

The corruption of the previous BLP government caused a citizen rebellion at the polls in January of 2008. With no restrictions, no rules, no reporting and no transparency the “election support” money flows freely in Barbados politics and the favours are returned by the successful politicians in the form of government contracts… which ensures more “election support”. It is a viciously corrupt circle that politicians have the power to break – but none will.

David Thompson, Freundal Stuart and all the DLP candidates promised they would implement laws and policies to change all that. True, it takes more than laws and rules to change a legacy and culture of corruption, but without the laws there is no beginning and no hope. Thompson and the DLP knew that new laws and rules were the foundation of any change and they promised to establish those laws.

Remember the joy?

Here’s what one DLP supporter had to say at the time…

Yardbroom

January 16, 2008 at 9:36 am

This election was won because the people of Barbados had an opportunity, – denied in the recent past – to really see what goes on in Barbadian politics.

The Blogs played a decisive part, and you BFP was as the vanguard, no praise is too high. What BFP did was expose the underbelly of Barbadian politics. There was then a reason, for Integrity Legislation and your “constant position” on the subject meant it had to be addressed. The DLP responded to the wishes of the people, as they had to, and as a result we awake this morning, 16th January 2008 to the change we had all hoped for – at least on this blog.

Sadly, “Yardbroom” and most of the DLP diehards haven’t been seen too much around Barbados Free Press since a few months after the election when they realized that Bajans had been fooled again. Too bad the DLP supporters’ fervor for Integrity Legislation and Accountability disappeared with the DLP’s election victory. And disappear it did!

Here we are four years later with no Integrity Legislation, no Freedom of Information, no accountability, no rules about Conflicts of Interest or election funding transparency.

David Thompson and the DLP lied to us to get elected. They promised to “within 100 days” introduce Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information, amendments to the Defamation laws, checks and balances on the Prime Minister’s power and to “immediately upon election” introduce a Code of Conduct for Ministers.

Instead, the DLP borrowed the CLICO business jet, protected Leroy Parris from prosecution and put him in charge of the CBC to influence what news Bajans would hear. The DLP did that in exchange for “election donations” from CLICO – paid for with policy holders’ money. That’s as corrupt a scenario as anything the BLP did.

Thompson and the DLP lied. Four years later there can be no dispute.

Waiting in the wings for the triumphant return are Owen Arthur and the corrupt Barbados Labour Party – who sucked the treasury dry during their 14 years in power. What they didn’t sell, they stole.

Corrupt DLP or Corrupt BLP: Who will you vote for?

Some say that the choice between DLP and BLP is the only choice voters really have. I say we have another choice: the “Anybody but” candidates. Please let me explain my thinking…

Between the DLP and BLP, it really doesn’t matter who you vote for. There is no real difference in policies or performance. As a result, for decades politics in Barbados has largely been about tribal politics: it’s about which gang holds the best shows, and distributes the most corned beef and beer. That is a pretty sad picture of Bajan politics but I don’t think that anyone will challenge it.

The only way we can change things is to depower the DLP and the BLP – so here’s the plan…

Take their money. Say nice things to whatever party you normally support. Don’t do a thing differently until election day…

Then, walk in and vote for Anybody but DLP and BLP.

No, we’re probably not going to send many independents to Parliament (but if we could, that would be wonderful!) – but what we can do is to disrupt the circle of corruption, upset the “predicted” results and take comfort that you’ve spoken far louder than if you simply hold your nose and vote DLP or BLP.

Time to punish the DLP and the BLP: take their money, dance and party – then vote for “Anybody BUT”

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

How much is Barbados paying GOL Airlines to fly to the island?

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… Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Freedom Of Information, Politics

How much do our politicians and senior civil servants earn in salaries and extras?

“It is my understanding that public servants salaries are a matter of National Record.

I would like to know if you can help me find the salaries of this group – ONLINE.

I have for the salary scales for a number of categories attached to the Civil Establishment Act 2005, but I want a complete list including the salaries of the Governor General, Chief Justice, Prime Minister, Ministers, MPs, Commissioner of Police etc.”

… email from a Barbados Free Press reader

BFP answers

We don’t know where to find the information you seek for Barbados. In the U.K. such information is available online – including specific payments to individual politicians. Here’s the UK Parliamentary website: Pay and Allowances for MPs.

Perhaps some of our readers can offer more information? Is there anywhere that Bajan citizens can view this information online?

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Freedom Of Information

Harrison’s Cave Barbados – $85 million renovation, how many visitors a year? Do the math

UPDATED: September 28, 2010

A little birdy tells BFP that there are problems with the new elevators at Harrison’s Cave and that management is debating on a fix – which seems to indicate more of a problem than just a few bad parts. Our anonymous source didn’t say the nature of the problem so we don’t know if it’s something to do with the windows or mechanism. There was a story going round a while ago about a window problem but we haven’t heard any more on that and the elevators looked fine to us when we visited a while ago.

Can anyone out there provide more information?

Meanwhile, here’s our original story first published on February 20, 2010…

How long will it take to pay for our “Investment”?

EIGHTY-FIVE million dollars!!! Is this figure correct?

Just what does $85,000,000 dollars have to do with reality?

Well, well, well. If one just takes into account the entrance fee, 60 dollars, and forgets such things as salary for the administrators, cave guides, guards, gardeners, maintenance crews and any other running costs, Barbadians will still be paying back for a very long time.

$85 million divided by $60 entry fee = 1,416,666.6 people have to pass through the Cave gates. That means, 56,666.66 people per year for the next 25 years.

Or, on average, 156 people, every single day, weekends, holidays included, arriving at the caves for the next 25 years.

We have never been told what the original work on the caves cost or seen anything on the cost breakdowns of these new multimillions.

What about all those who still hardly have running water? Were The Caves, really, the very best way to spend such money?

Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Tourism

Dear Prime Minister – Your promises got you a shot, but you’re blowing it

When you lack accomplishments on your own, you have to feed off the success of others.

When you lack accomplishments on your own, you have to feed off the success of others.

DLP delivers Circuses to the Barbadian masses

“Immediately introduce integrity legislation requiring

• a declaration of assets by public officials,
• a Code of Conduct for Ministers,
• a new Freedom of Information law,
• amendments to the Defamation laws and
• new constitutional provisions to rationalise
the powers of the Prime Minister.”

… from the DLP’s 2007 “Pathways to Progress” election manifesto

These things which were used as political bait and ammunition to differentiate the DLP from the BLP have ..what’s the term.. ah yes.. fallen by the wayside (if you read this Ryan Brathwaite, take note buddy), in favour of lavish celebrations, promises of support, ambassadorships, and sports and youth policies, while elected officials who no one can catch nary a sight of since the election, get fat doing NOTHING for our money.

I will not touch the cost of living, roads, or jobs right now. I may well be charged for inciting riot.

The PM would like to think that these memorable events will count as having proven his worth come election time, but they will not. The youth vote came out last year in a BIG way. It will come out again, just like last year, armed with facts and a scorecard with many incompletes and absent MPs.

The DLP will get a rude awakening I believe. Right now I cannot say they will lose, but articles like this will continue to be written every month, every year, especially in light of proclamations which spit in the face of poor people who are in need. (see the article in the Nation with the crowd outside of the Welfare office).

People aren’t stupid, and promises may get you a shot, but that’s it.

The voting youth run tings now and they don’t need your cornbeef, even the yardfowls have diversified their diets to include some truth. They will be persuaded by results.

You have precious little to show thus far Mr. PM…

… from The Good, The Bad & The LOL article Doing Nothing Never Looked So Good

Photo of Ryan Brathwaite from our friend at Cheese on Bread blog

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Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Where did Denis Lowe get the money to pay for this Barbados Advocate advertisement?

Denis Lowe Barbados 2

The Public has no right in law to monitor any government expenditures – Once elected, MPs do as they wish

The simplest questions are often the most awkward – but only if you have to answer them. Dr. Lowe and our other elected representatives don’t have to answer questions about money, so why should they worry? With zero transparency and accountability required of government officials, Barbados Members of Parliament don’t have to be concerned about keeping financial records showing where the money comes from and how it is spent.

Barbados has no Freedom of Information laws, so unlike in many responsible democracies Bajans have neither the right in law nor the tools necessary to monitor how government officials spend our tax dollars. We were promised an FOI law within 100 days of the DLP’s election, but you know what happened to that and other promises of Integrity, Transparency and Accountability.

But back to our simple little question…

…where did Denis Lowe get the money to pay for the advertisement in today’s Barbados Advocate?

Did Minister Lowe pay for the advertisement out of his own salary? (As if!)

Did the money come from the DLP’s bank account. (I don’t think so!)

I’d have to guess that the money came from the taxpayers. That’s your money and mine that Minister Lowe used to congratulate the Sanitation Service Authority for 40 years of hard work.

How much money does Mr. Lowe spend on newspaper advertising? How much on meals and entertainment? How much on trips? Has he ever purchased any personal items using government funds? Any computers or clothes? Any books or supplies for his “home” office?

How much money does Mr. Lowe spend in a year placing advertisements in the Barbados Advocate? How much in the Nation? How much does the DLP spend in advertising with the Advocate compared with the Nation?

These are all valid questions. Citizens have a moral right to know how our tax dollars are spent, but thanks to the joint efforts of David Thompson, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and a host of present and past politicians, there is no transparency or accountability concerning the discretionary spending of the government and individual elected members.

And that is exactly the way that Denis Lowe, Mia Mottley and David Thompson prefer it.

Your local MP?

Your local MP?

And speaking about Members of Parliament and money, we hear rumours that one or two MPs turn around and walk the other way when they see certain landlords and creditors heading in their direction.

With no accountability for official spending and everyone willing to extend credit to members of a newly elected government, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear that some elected members have dug themselves into a little hole with their personal finances. This, of course, opens the door to temptation as a Member of Parliament who is under personal financial pressure might be susceptible to “loans” from land developers or people who obtain government contracts.

As strange as it seems, elected Members of Parliament are free to take “loans” or “gifts” from people who do business with the government – because Barbados has no law against this activity. Prime Minister Thompson and the DLP government reneged on their promise to implement a code of conduct immediately upon taking office, but we don’t hear Mia Mottley and the BLP Opposition saying anything about it. Something about pots and kettles.

Rumours of a Fax from Dr. Lowe

You might want to read our piece from December 19, 2008 to remember a controversy that came and died and was forgotten…

BFP, Dec 19, 2008: Barbados Government Minister Denis Lowe Seduced By The Dark Side

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

The Barbados Problem: Unethical behaviour & conflicts of interest are legal

City of Bridgetown Co-operative Credit Union Limited Members Learn About Conflicts of Interest The Hard Way

Holder says nothing wrong with $250k untendered contract to old friend Dowell

"Ethically-challenged" Lynette Holder says nothing wrong with $250k no tender contract to old friend Oral Dowell

Some COB members are upset that their board awarded a quarter-million dollar contract to an old friend and “just resigned” board member Oral Dowell – without tender or notice.

Ethically-challenged COB President Lynette Holder arrogantly says that no laws were broken so Credit Union members can shove their concerns where the sun doan shine.

Listen to Holder’s slippery, slimy response in the paper…

Holder told the SUNDAY SUN the board was not guilty of any irregularities or financial mismanagement.

“There has not been anything untoward as evidenced in our [annual] report,” Holder said.

… from The Nation article COB defends money-spending

And why shouldn’t Holder behave with that kind of arrogance? Barbados government officials have been giving the “it’s not illegal” excuse for decades – all the while refusing to implement laws that make such conflicts of interest illegal. Slippery devils, indeed, these BLP and DLP politicians!

Hey… look at the St. Joseph’s Hospital mess. Never mind the millions of dollars missing and wasted, we had a government contractor simultaneously building the hospital and doing private work on the home of a Minister of Government, Dr. Brandford Taitt. The St. Joseph’s Hospital Commission had to say “no laws broken” because that slimy rascal Taitt didn’t break any laws. Ha! There were no laws to break, that’s why Taitt walked from disgrace right into the Senate!

Meanwhile, the Barbados DLP government sails along and (once again) announces that it will be another year or so until we see Integrity legislation. Maybe. If.

I am so tired of being deceived by David Thompson, Mia Mottley and the rest of them. They can and did change the Constitution in an afternoon to get their hands on Cricket World Cup money (that disappeared anyways), but try and get the politicians to do anything (like pass integrity legislation) that restricts their ability to feed at the trough and you suddenly become aware that Thompson, Mottley and the gang have an agenda that has nothing to do with raising up Barbados. For them, it is all about the mighty dollar in their own pockets.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption