Theory of value and property – Locke [John] uses the word property in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right and it is derived from labour.
Locke believed that ownership of property is created by the application of labour. In addition, property precedes government and government cannot “dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily.” Karl Marx later critiqued Locke’s theory of property in his social theory – Wikipedia
Barbados celebrated Errol Barrow Day on January 21. One of the pleasures of the day was to listen and view the many audio and video clips which were broadcast on the day which featured The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow. Clearly evident was the vision of the man – many of the concerns he expressed in the 70s and 80s are still with us today. In one of the clips Barrow lamented that our banking, insurance, tourism and other key sectors were controlled by foreign interest. Sadly two or three decades later nothing much has changed on this front.
One of the many imponderables which seems to be confronting Barbados at this time is the extent to which, as a people, we have forgotten who we are. How do we want Barbados to be defined for our children? Do we still want to be friends of all and satellites of none? Why do we continue to allocate 20% of our education budget to education but seem to have a growing predilection to sell the fruit of our labour to foreign interest?
In recent weeks the sale of shares which the Barbados government owns in the Barbados National Bank (BNB) has been the subject of robust national discussion. Republic Bank Limited, BNB’s parent, made an offer to local shareholders to buy out the 35% minority interest. Word on the street suggested at the time the government was game to sell, the public outcry appeared to have set Minister of Finance Sinckler on the defensive. BNB amidst all the public outcry withdrew its offer.
The latest debate which has evoked a similar outcry is the offer by a Canadian company Emera to local Barbados Light & Power Ltd shareholders. Today is the deadline for shareholders to accept a very attractive offer of $25.70. Of interest will be the response of the National Insurance Board which owns a significant 23% holding of the 62% local interest. Will we see another sellout and the ceding of all local interest in the only* local power generation and distribution company on the island? The Chairman of the National Insurance Board Tony Marshall seems to be of the view that the Fair Trading Commission was established to regulate utilities and therefore the focus of his board has to be on ‘yields’ while disregarding all concern about the BL&P being a ‘strategic national asset’.
BU is saddened at the several Bajan companies which have been ‘snapped up’ by outside interest in recent years. The straw which broke the camel’s back would have been the surrender of Barbados’ conglomerate, Barbados Shipping & Trading, to the Neal & Massy Group in Trinidad. It was not surprising to listen to General Secretory of the Barbados Workers Union making the observation last year that the way how industrial relations is being conducted in Barbados is a departure from the norm. At the time he was responding to the manner McENEARNEY QUALITY INC, another non Barbadian company, had sent home workers before apprising the union. Expect the corporate culture in Barbados to change as the ownership becomes more non Barbadian.
Perhaps it is a simplistic notion on our part to abhor the fact that we should labour to nurture local companies only to surrender majority interest to outside interest. It is foolish. What symbols of success will we be able to accumulate as a sovereign nation to proudly display to our people? How will we be able to use our symbols of success to demonstrate pride and industry? Are we to define who we are 44 years on by our ability to make decisions to sell local companies based only on what is the economic value to be had?