We are great fans of Barbados Underground, we find their articles though provoking and well reasoned. We don’t always agree with them, but that’s what makes the blogosphere interesting. David served up an interesting article this week:Barbados Needs National Energy Policy, NOW we agree with the headline and the main point of the article, that in a global economic environment we need a realistic energy policy with a strong emphasis on renewable resources, however we will have to agree to disagree with his subsidiary point.
We commented on the post, to the effect that the “100 Days” was a political gimmick that worked and that it was now fair game for the opposition to use to attack the government. We don’t think it’s the only reason why the DLP won (or even the main reason), but it was a central plank in their platform.
However our real reason goes deeper than that……
The “100 days” was a political gimmick that was packaged for consumption by the electorate. However read more deeply it was the DLP’s statement of “THIS IS WHERE OUR PRIORITIES ARE” and even if you did not believe they were capable of delivering it in the 100 days, (as we think most people with common sense felt) the idea of a time frame communicated that there was a real plan behind the statement.
An opposition party is not in the position of a ruling government in terms of access to information and allocation of resources, however they have a luxury that the Government does not:
An opposition has time to consult with stakeholders, time to sound out opinions, time to float ideas in informed circles, to create and construct a plan. They also have the unmitigated luxury of doing this in an environment where there is absolutely no pressure to implement. These two things, a sitting government does not have (As Dr. Estwick has found out with Greenland). In this case the DLP had 14 years to craft its agenda for governance.
We think that the Thompson administration should be accountable for its 100 day agenda. If it can’t be done in 100 days, when can we expect it? A year? two years? If the first orders of business are delayed what about the elements of your manifesto that were not in the first 100 days? We should not let it fall quietly by the wayside.
We agree that a discerning eye should be cast over the ABC Highway expansion project and it’s conduct, however we think that the level of scrutiny should be applied to this administration, the principle at stake is simply too important.
Until we hold our politicians accountable for their words and actions we will get the government we deserve.
Minister of Tranport, Works and International Transport John Boyce made a comment in the house yesterday about the Government’s potential use of Build Operate Lease Transfer (BOLT) arrangements in the future.
ANY FUTURE BOLT – Build Operate Lease and Transfer – arrangements that Government signs will be designed to bring economic benefits
to the country.
Minister of Transport, Works and International Transport John Boyce told the House of Assembly yesterday during debate on the 2008-2009 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that BOLT arrangements were supposed to generate savings and not additional costs.
The previous administration made use of several of this type of arrangement. However the nature of the implementations often left questions on the transparency of the deals. This was noted in an IMF report on Barbados.
The report makes a number of reccomendations with regard to this Public-Private Sector arrangement.
We on the margin would be much more reassured by the implementation of a legal framework to govern the use of BOLT’s and similar arrangements than simply Mr. Boyce’s statement of “Trust us”.
When the dust settled on January 16th the two parties ended up being quite far apart on number of seats but actually quite close on total number of votes cast. With only an 8% difference in terms of total votes, it means that the current government is vulnerable to a 4% swing. This means that despite a comfortable majority in Parliament, the Thompson administration must politically plan from now with an eye to elections in 2013. It also means that the Mottley opposition is already keeping an eye on that year.
As a result of this we are likely to see Mr. Thompson trying to attack what has long been perceived as the BLP’s strongest point; it’s management of the economy. The BLP for it’s part will pick at every flaw in the government’s actions.
This leads to the ludicrousness of things such as Government suddenly becoming skeptical about unemployment statistics despite never having said a word about it before or during the campaign. It certainly was not a part of their platform. They are not releasing those figures because it will reinformce the BLP’s perception of good governance.
For the BLP’s part, this whole “We don’t know why the government won’t work with our consultants” is laughable. They damn well know why and they would do the same if they were in office as well.
What it amounts to is that we are in for a five year long election campaign, with the cut and thrust of January continuing at a lower intensity until 2013
Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a wild ride!
A further thought on the AirOne story…. The airone project represented a significant investment project that would have brought considerable jobs to Barbados (or Jamaica for that matter). Because of the upward movement of oil prices, that project won’t be happening now. If you talk to people in the legal and financial fields there is a feeling of caution in the investment community. There are a number of projects that are still going ahead as their investors are committed, however there are some that have been put on pause as investors wait to see what will happen with the global economy.
If Airone has been put on hold, it does make u wonder what other projects are being put on pause? With Oil at $113 a barrel, it may be sometime before they get considered again.
We on the margin have been waging our own little campaign about the dangers of Hugo Chavez’ Petro Caribe initiative for the Caribbean, we have been very concerned about the apparent ease with which a number of Caribbean countries were stepping into what we saw as a debt trap which would be very difficult to get out of. Barbados and Trinidad have been steadfast in their refusal to join (even with a change of government in the former) now signs are beginning to emerge.
Bahamas Minister of Finance Zhivargo Laing pointed out the obvious in an article in the Bahamas Journal.
Yes it has to be paid back! And in the meantime you are on the hook to a country that has shown itself to have a territorial agenda that works counter to many Caricom states’ welfare.
We have often asked the question on this blog, “What is it that Chavez gets out of Petro Caribe?” Thankfully it seems that other people are asking the same question.
A couple of days ago we were listening to the mid day call in programme and heard Barbadian construction magnate Sir Charles (COW) Williams call in. After he had made his point, the moderator David Ellis took the opportunity to ask him about the progress of his Apes Hill project.
Never one to miss an opportunity for promotion Sir Charles proceeded to wax lyrically about the great success that Apes Hill is becoming. Apparently the sales of lots has been so great it has forced them to accelerate their business plan to keep up with demand.
Then Sir Charles made an insightful point, when Apes Hill was a dairy farm, it employed approximately 12 persons at minimum wage, in its current state of construction it’s employing close to 400 persons (we were driving so we didn’t have the opportunity to write this down so if the numbers are slightly off don’t scream for our scalps) and those 400 are employed at much higher salaries. One can reasonably assume that as the project completes it will occupy much more than 12 persons.
Now this opens an interesting point, is moving land out of agriculture necessarily a bad thing for society? Obviously there are limits on how much of this you can do but, is society better off with Apes Hill in agriculture or with it in tourism and golf courses? Similar questions could be asked about Royal Westmoreland.
It is unfortunate that there wasn’t an opportunity for this point to be discussed more on the call in programme.