The first quarter of 2013 provided equity investors in Caricom with little or no relief from the misery of 2012. Despite gains on Manufacturing, Conglomerate and Communications & utility stocks, returns were depressed by declines on Insurance, Investments and Tourism and Real Estate stocks…Full Report.
Here is what Kammie Holder is writing elsewhere – Credit to Nation Newspaper 16/07/2010
Too many of our leaders seem allergic to eating humble pie and come over as insular in their thinking. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy is under threat by narrow political ambition.
The Caribbean Court of Justice is still not accepted by Trinidad where it is headquartered. St Lucia does not give LIAT the financial support even though it heavily relies on intra-regional trade and tourism.
Guyana offers land to extra-regional countries cheaper than it offers it to fellow Caricom members. Where is the visionary leadership within the Caribbean? The new prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, recently made what I considered to be the insular statement that “Trinidad will not be an ATM”.
Would you believe that Trinidad’s largest market for its goods has been within the Caricom for years? These Caricom countries seem obligated to acquire Trinidadian goods, despite that cheaper alternatives can be had within Asia. Thus, it’s imperative the new prime minister of Trinidad tread cautiously and think before making such ready statements. Someone should remind Persad-Bissessar that elections are over and words can be misconstrued.
The Immigration Debate has abated because of a combination of a stagnant economy, Barbadians loudly voicing dissatisfaction at the open door immigration policy practiced by the former government and a new government whose politics is built on a hybrid ideology of socialism cum populism.
In October 2009 the government disseminated a Green Paper on Immigration which sought to stimulate discussion on these issues which drive our immigration policies and which are critical to both national security and national development. It is anticipated that on conclusion of this extensive dialogue the WhitePaper will therefore reflect Government’s position on this important issue in addition to the views of the people.
True to its word the government of Barbados facilitated feedback from the public by staging town hall meetings, receiving letters and emails etc. Prime Minister David Thompson promised at the final town hall meeting in March 2010 that in a matter of a few months, a white paper setting out a new immigration policy will be completed. The last time we checked about two weeks ago our parliament had not received any notification the White Paper on Immigration was ready for debate. It is interesting to note because of the illness of David Thompson Fruendel Stuart has been appointed acting Prime Prime Minister, he is on record declaring that Barbados is not ready to become the warehouse for unskilled workers in the Caribbean. He is now in a position to drive the amendment to the Immigration Law to give meat to his pronouncement.
This blog was written in an airport soon after Prime Minister David Thompson intervened, at the very final hour a few weeks ago to avert a threatened national strike over a matter which many Barbadians feel was an ‘over reaction’ to a storm in a tea cup situation. This matter could backfire for Sir Roy because the rich tradition of ‘across the table’ discussions to manage industrial relations matters in Barbados is being challenged in some quarters to be replaced by an Industrial Court.
Prime Minister Thompson being introduced to Minister of State Mariano Browne by PM Manning
We understand that the national strike has been averted and Prime Minister David Thompson and his high powered team have proceeded and returned from their obligatory trip to the land of calypso and flying fish, in case you are puzzled we are referring to Trinidad & Tobago. Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur did it before him and as far as our memory can recall, all previous Bajan Prime Ministers have felt obligated to make the trip.
The economies of our islands and people have become so interdependent that when Thompson arrived in Trinidad & Tobago on an official a few weeks ago, he arrived to a red carpet reception. Of interest would have been that Mariano Browne, who a short time ago was a close confidant to the late Prime Minister Owen Arthur and a protagonist of the man Barbadians love to talk about Leroy Parris. Interestingly, Parris is a close family friend of the current Prime Minister. Barbadians understand that Prime Minister David Thompson voyaged to Trinidad & Tobago on a private jet. Enough has been said about this matter. It seems that the inefficient regional air transportation system is being used by our leaders to engage the services of private jets. Last week weread of the Trinidad government supporting a scheme for the national airline Caribbean Airlines to lease a private jet to be used for government travel.
In a Nation news story today (Tuesday 12th February) under this heading, the Chief Executive Officer of LIAT is blaming regional Governments, including the three principal shareholder’s for the high intra Caribbean airfares. (Nation News link here) Mr Darby has in my humble opinion a valid point. Departure taxes, handling fees and other user fees have climbed to an all time high. But let us examine an example of these fares. Booking a month ahead and looking at the cheapest option on LIAT’s website for return flights from Barbados to St. Lucia, the fare is US$240.24. Of this, the outward taxes and add-ons are US$55.87 and on the return leg, US$57.37.
So a total of US$113.27 or 47% of the overall airfare is made up of taxes and additional charges. What Mr Darby fails to mention is that of the US$113.27 in add-ons, some US$28 is made up of LIAT’s own fuel and insurance surcharge. There is no doubt that the new Minister and Tourism and all the associated agencies involved will currently be grappling with ways to redress the decline in intra regional travel.
We read the above blog on Barbados Free Press and was forced to offer our two pence worth.
Is it not ironic that Adrian Loveridge, our resident tourism expert, who has been vilified and invective hurled at him by all and sundry on the issue of LIAT? He has been consistent in his belief that LIAT, our regional airline, MUST be held to a high standard regarding its management. Is it not unacceptable that at a time when our tin pot leaders in this region are promoting regional integration, it has become an unbelievable farce that ticket prices for intra-regional travel have now reached a point where to travel is viewed with some trepidation by West Indians.
It was reported in the news recently that Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Marion Williams validated the dark reality that intra-regional travel has fallen by 16% in 2007 compared to 2006. The article above which quotes LIAT’s CEO Darby confirming that 30% of a LIAT ticket reflects taxes levied by the respective island governments. Is this not a laughable situation of an immense proportion?
On the 5 February 2008 BU published the article Barriers To Implementing Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME) which was submitted by a BU commenter under the moniker of Analyst. We have had some good discussion which prompted the following response by another commenter by the name of Andrea Symmonds. The commenter using simple language sought to explain why some countries would have more easily adopted CSME as a realizable concept. Of course having heard the explanation we remain confused as to the realistic implementation of CSME any day coming soon.
I would now like to talk a bit about CSME.. although it is not the central theme here….
The issue is really whether CSME will work for Barbados when fully implemented. Right now it is partially implemented with certain categories like graduates, musicians artists etc. Artisans and unskilled persons still have to get work permits. The aim of CSME is to ensure that all facets of the agreement are in place by 2015.
The main reality of CSME is that there is free movement of capital and people between the members of Caricom. The strong business people in the region want the free capital movement for investment. they also want the expanded markets with special benefits re duties and other trade controls (e.g. C.E.S).Therefore CSME means effectively one economy with a strong central control, but with individual countries having some control in local decision making. It may not mean one currency like in the eight OECS countries, but like the UK and the EU, there may be different currencies as we have now.
Recently, the International Cricket Council (ICC) which is the governing body for World Cricket, instituted some changes to the playing conditions, effective 29 September 2007. The BU household, like most West Indians, was concerned about the huge sums of money which the region spent to support CWC 2007. Six months later, we remain steadfast in our view that money which were spent to prepare for CWC 2007 does not match a realistic expectation of returns. The much touted legacy benefits are yet to be realized. We hope, for our children’s sake, that we are wrong and the debt created by CWC 2007 is not recorded as the biggest white elephant the region has ever seen.
Barbados’ domestic price level seems broadly consistent with its level of development, suggesting no evidence of misalignment. Recent tourism developments also confirm Barbados’ competitiveness: its share of Caribbean tourist arrivals has remained flat, while its tourism receipts have actually risen relative to others, reflecting its successes at the higher-end segment.
There has been insufficient analysis of the IMF 2007 Article IV Consultation report. Don’t we get the feeling that for an intelligent nation we are just happy to read what is reported hook line and sinker? Isn’t it rather boring that although we are touted to be an educated society, we are always inclined to be divided on serious issues based on our political persuasion? We hear the Prime Minister talking how his government is proud of the social capital of Barbados — we are too Mr. Prime Minister but not so fast! What about the continued upward trend of HIV and AIDS? Doesn’t this indicator compromise the quality of our human capital and by extension our national productivity (GDP)? What about the physical infrastructure of Barbados – its roads, hospital, obsolete systems which support our civil establishment? We could go on. The point we want to make to Prime Minister Arthur is: how can he talk about the strong social capital of Barbados when there are signs all around that we are struggling with physical and human capital development. Let’s not forgot the undisciplined students in our schools, and the next generation! Don’t worry Mr. Arthur, it is common for economists to forget the social well being of countries they manage in their economic planning.
We have a concern which rests with the statement quoted above. What is the significance especially for Barbados of the intra-regional travel and of the regional integration movement? CARICOM has been trying to sell the idea of the importance of CSME and describing it as “one economic space”; but how can our confused public understand that on one hand, there is the need to travel around the Caribbean but on the other, the price to do so is prohibitive? We have heard people like Peter Wickham and Maxine McClean who sell their services throughout the region complaining about the cost of air travel, as well as the inefficiency of the regional airlines. It is a no-brainer to the BU household that the implementation of an efficient regional transportation system should have been a prerequisite to opening the doors to CSME. Sometimes we wonder, when our leaders attended school what is it that they did with their time there.
In other parts of the world, bullets, the sword, or other forms of violent persuasion are used about as often to interrupt the courses of leaders while leading their countries. But the cynics would once again point out that these same leaders have a track record of leaving Caribbean shores for treatment overseas when personally affected by the CNCDs, while suggesting that their people have access to the “best affordable” health care locally.
Caribbean people have become accustomed over the last two decades of promises from our ministers responsible for health of “improved health provision”. The optimists can suggests that a 21-year wait between identifying health areas for priority consideration and finally getting some action is “reasonable”.
The weeks, months and years ahead will determine whether the cynics, accustomed to the No Action Talk Only (NATO) approach by our ministers responsible for health to many health issues that wreak havoc in our populations, or the optimists, will be forced to keep their mouths shut.
We read the expose posted byBarbados Free Press today about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). We all agree that although our health care system is one of the best in the region, by our own standards, we have been slipping in recent years. The myriad of issues which continue to flow from our lone public hospital makes the BU household pray every night that we remain in good health. In a previous article, we have taken Dr. Jerome Walcott to task because, as the minister responsible, the buck should stop with him. We felt at the time of his appointment to the health ministry, as a doctor he should have a grasp of the many issues facing the hospital and this insight would ensure that a solution oriented culture would have emerged by now. It does seem to us as outsiders looking in, the problems at the QEH are unsolvable. It was only this week while discussing the absence of Gline Clarke from Barbados, who is known to be in the USA seeking medical attention, that the concern was raised as to why our leaders seem so quick to seek outside medical attention. Dr. Alert in the quoted article above is of the same view.
Tonight, the early result of the General Election in Jamaica has given the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) 31 seats to the People’s National Party 29 seats. Portia Simpson-Miller in a late evening speech, when the projected result became known has sent her intention to challenge the result. The issue of recounts and candidates which hold dual citizenships will come into focus. If Portia carries out her threat to challenge the result, we may see the PNP continue as a lame duck government for some time to come.
Here is what Portia said in what was anticipated to be her concession speech last night:
“The election is too close to call,” said Simpson Miller, seeking her first election mandate after replacing retiring Prime Minister P.J. Patterson last year. “As of now we are conceding no victory to the Jamaica Labour Party.”
BU say, shame on you Portia, demit office with grace and let the courts decide the outcome if it has to!
What is clearwill be that the JLP will have a very difficult time instituting governance to carry its mandate accepting that the JLP will have to appoint a Speaker of the House. It will be up to Portia Simpson-Miller to step aside for the sake of the healing of the country and allow Jamaica to move forward at a challenging time in the history of Jamaica.
Jamaica is a country not a stranger to violence and we can only hope and pray the good sense prevails. Who will be next, Trinidad or Barbados?
Tech communities are booming all over Africa, says Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, cofounder of the open-source software Ushahidi. But it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty Internet hookups. So Rotich and friends developed BRCK, offering resilient connectivity for the developing world.
The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.)
There's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so -- and filming herself for YouTube. Hear her story of what happened next.
As a novelist, Daniel Suarez spins dystopian tales of the future. But on the TEDGlobal stage, he talks us through a real-life scenario we all need to know more about: the rise of autonomous robotic weapons of war. Advanced drones, automated weapons and AI-powered intelligence-gathering tools, he suggests, could take the decision to make war out of the hands […]