Sir Frank Alleyne
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler persuaded parliament last week to raise government’s borrowing limit from 1.75 billion to 2.75 billion. This single act ensures that government can float Treasury Bills and other government securities as the need arises. One may reasonably assume that for the government to have expanded its borrowing capacity it raises the issue of a concern for cash flow. The Minister’s explanation that seeking approval for one billion at one sitting pre-empts the need to return to parliament is ‘interesting’.
On the international front Barbadians ‘heard’ that Minister of Finance Sinckler and Governor of the Central Bank visited the UK recently to enter the capital market. As recent as 2011 Minister Sinckler publicly expressed a reluctance to accumulate external debt. His preference was for the government to leverage the flexibility of a highly liquid local market. Of late however we have heard that the lack of appetite for government securities has forced government to rethink this strategy.
About protecting the international reserves the government has made this a priority, relatively so. Although an adequate number of weeks imports provide Barbados safe cover, Barbadians must be concerned that shoring up the forex reserves of late required the sale of Republic Bank and Emera shares.
It is estimated that the cost of electricity has doubled in Barbados since 2008. We are curious about the process of sourcing Bunker C to fuel Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) generators. How are the generators which use Bunker C integrated into the distribution of electricity to the benefit of the consumer? How has the price of Bunker C trended since 2008 and have Barbadians consumers benefited?
Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel
Perhaps more than many, I can empathise with individuals who have recently seen their business either fail or brought dangerously close to insolvency. In 47 years it has happened to me twice and in both cases, they were largely external forces which caused near personal financial catastrophe.
Of course, it is easy to attribute the blame to others but in my case, I can unequivocally state that both near failures, which occurred years apart, were largely caused by strike action in the United Kingdom. Both involving the National Union of Seaman. Personally witnessing bus loads, of what can only be described as pickaxe wielding thugs, destroying property and intimidating ordinary people simply wanting to go about everyday work and operating their businesses.
More than a decade later, it was the same union, blockading the English channel ports, which prevented literally thousands of our booked holidaymakers taking their hard earned trips.
Submitted by Napolean Bonaparte
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says “we all have to find ways in which to ensure that we adumbrate our ambitions”.
Listening to the call in programs nowadays, one oft can hear much bickering about fraught economic policies and the resulting businesses closures and even homes going up for sale. In one instance, one caller has gone as far as to suggest, that the landlords need to lower their rents and adopt a more lenient and humane attitude towards their tenants’ predicaments.
By the way, have some forgotten that (just as with their situations)landlords have similar financial obligations such as mortgage and maintenance cost to the premises. Besides what is all the harangue and cantanker about? Was it not some of these now philanthropic callers who some eight weeks ago voted (while in a much less belligerent temperament) to retain the status quo? So what is all the noise about? Why then if you were one of those who so aptly fell into that belladonna, you need to put up and shut up!
Late Prime Minister David Thompson (l) disgraced former Chairman of CLICO Holdings B’dos Ltd rumoured to be local partners in Cost-U-Less
We do not charge membership fees and believe we can offer low prices to Barbados shoppers, just as we have in our most recent store opening in the Cayman Islands, which was also a partnership with local business people
It has been almost five years from the time of the announcement Cost U Less Maybe Coming To Barbados that it launched in Barbados. However, based on consumer feedback the wait has been in vain. It has been two months since launch and Barbadians continue to wait for the low prices promised. Before the coming of Cost-U-Less the Trinidadians, who now have a vice grip on our food retail and distribution channels, had promised Barbadian consumers the same, that is, we would benefit from economies of scale created by a larger T&T market.
Barbados now finds itself in a situation where we have a new entrant to an already competitive retail food sector. And it has not demonstrated any appreciable price differentiation in its offering. Sad to say the inevitable must follow. We created 200 jobs with the coming of Cost-U-Less but SuperCentre and DacostaMannings, owned by the Trinidadians, continue to send home employees.
Vernon Smith QC
BU read the Barbados Today article with interest which outlined Vernon Smith QC reaction to being characterised a delinquent Barbados Bar Association (BA) member. The BU family is reminded of the list which was circulated by the BA and posted to BU in a blog by Caswell Franklyn – Defaulting Lawyers.
BU has posited a view that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados concerning lawyers who opt not to pay BA fees and is therefore a nullity ab initio. Vernon Smith’s view has also been discussed. Now that he has come public in his defense it provides the opportunity for the BU family to explore the matter further.
Vernon Smith is quoted in the article as follows:
Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel
Sometimes so many statistics and figures are bandied about in the tourism industry, it is easy to be distracted from any cause and effect that these may have. Take the recently announced long stay visitor arrival figures for January and February 2013 for instance. A 9 per cent fall for each month. While that may not appear devastating in numbers alone, you have to look past the percentage decline. These are two of our critical four peak winter months. Add the fall in arrivals during December 2012 and already the heady predictions of a strong winter are completely out the window. In January 2012 , we welcomed 52,619 stay-over visitors and in February 2012, some 54,162.
Many hoteliers rely on the winter for not only a high room occupancy level, but also the premium rates charged over this period. December 2012 welcomed 52,174 persons, which naturally includes what is probably the busiest time of the year, Christmas and New Year, for most properties. Compare arrivals with summer months and you can get a feel of the importance of winter volume and revenue. As examples, August 2012, which could have the benefit of Crop Over and visiting friends and relatives, 43,191 and June 2012, 36,656.
Submitted by islandgal
Cost-U-Less is baiting and switching at the checkout. For example, honey dew melons and cantaloupes are priced each when you get to the checkout they are weighing them and charging you more. I have had arguments with them on four occasions and each time there were several managers and supervisors checking their computers and telling me that they are sold by the kilo. I pointed out to them that they are priced at each. One of the floor managers came to me and explained that it was priced by the kilo so I told him that they should change the price on the on the shelf. He went to see the shelf price and agreed that it was priced each. I was so frustrated that I told them to take it off my bill as there were other people in the line waiting to checkout. They removed it and the manager came to me and apologised and he offered it to me on the house. I told him to tell the guard about it so that he wouldn’t think that I stole it.
On my second visit I encountered the same problem they went and took down the each price tag and told me it was the wrong price and I left without purchasing.
Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel
I would like this week to stay on the subject of transparency and communication in the tourism industry, and the underlying speculation, misunderstanding and consequential harm that can result by not ensuring these virtues are carried out successfully. In both major newspapers last Sunday was the announcement of an auction, set to take place the following Saturday, of many ‘goods and chattels’ owned by Almond Beach Village which closed its doors two weeks short of a year ago.
Yet in another arm of the media, a few weeks ago, under the banner headline ‘Buying back’ we were told that of the four options on the table, ‘Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will sit with his Cabinet to agree to buy back Almond Beach Village and its brand for almost $110 million’. The article went on, ‘The plan, being piloted by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, calls for a US$10 million refurbishment project, after which the sprawling 400-room facility will be turned over to former staff, who have submitted a plan to operate it’.
The purported logic behind choosing this fourth option was justified based on the time the property would be out of service, citing the other three alternatives as taking too long to implement. Other verbatim quotes include ‘In view of the urgency of this need, it is now proposed that Government seek to immediately acquire Almond Beach Village’ and ‘with a view of reopening in an effort to supplement room stock for 2013 and beyond’.
The governor of the Central Bank appears quite clearly to have lost all sense of balance as far as the local economy is concerned. Not only has he been in office for the last five years or so, he is yet to come up with a publicly available reasoned and detailed plan for rescuing the nation’s economy from the situation it is in. His recent obvious confusion about the constitutional role of the Central Bank adds further to the confusion. Even local journalists are confused.
Dr Worrell’s reported U-turn on a policy announcement – a veiled criticism of the government, then claiming the government was on track – was but the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes. But first, we must get the legislation right. The Central Bank Act is irrelevant to the new financial architecture post-2007 and the new global regulatory paradigm. I said before, and say again, that the Act needs serious reform, giving the Bank a legally defined role, on par with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and all the other major Central Banks. Be that role inflation targeting, financial stability, or even more explicitly, managing unemployment rates, there must be a benchmark against which we could measure the Bank. Now we have a situation in which the governor is publicly expressing views about fiscal policy, and one local website even describing the governor/central bank as the government’s primary monetary and fiscal adviser. Not at all. The central bank should be independent of the government of the day and should be reporting direct to parliament.
Submitted by Not Taken
Francois Hollande, President of France
French President Francois Hollande has called for “eradication” of the world’s tax havens and told French banks they must declare all of their subsidiaries.
As a regular visitor to Barbados, I am concerned with what I am reading in the mainstream media in Canada and Barbados and the blogs. Tourism is in the tank, and the Ministry is creating two new entities to replace BTA. So now there will be two layers of bureaucracy. That should really speed things up. The Minister heads a delegation to Miami to convince the cruise lines to send more ships. I may be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that Barbados pays the cruise lines to dock at Bridgetown port; and less than 20% of the passengers disembark and spend money in Bim.
The matter about which I write is the “Tax-Haven” issue. I see that the post Low Tax Haven Jurisdictions Under Scrutiny has slipped into the older posts and is generally out of view. I may be over-reacting to or over-concerned with the Tax-Haven issue; but I think the discussion is important and should be kept in the forefront, so the Barbados authorities can not simply bury their heads in the sand.
I am repeating myself in some of the following, but I think it warrants repeating. According to recent media reports in Canada, Canadians or non-resident Canadians have $53 billion invested in Barbados in 2011. Whether Barbados is in fact a “Tax-Haven” is open to debate. In Barbados it is referred to as Foreign Direct Investment; In Canada it is being referred to as “off-shore” investments.