Why is the Private Sector Recommending Austerity?

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Both established parties, some of the newer ones, and almost all Barbadian and foreign based economists are warning Barbadians to brace for severe austerity measures.  Several prominent economists are even calling for a devaluation of Barbados’ dollar as a way to address our dire economic problems.  Surprisingly, none of these entities are being challenged to provide a plan showing how or when their austerity recommendations will end.  Instead, Barbadians are essentially being told to just shut-up and prepare to get used to their austerity plans.

Solutions Barbados has published the only non-austerity plan for Barbados’ economy, and it has undergone approximately 2 years of rigorous public scrutiny.  It requires no laying-off of public workers, no reduction of their salaries, and no national disruption.  The plan has been shared with the NUPW, CTUSAB, and anyone who would listen, with overwhelmingly favourable responses.  Therefore, it is highly irresponsible for persons to be advocating austerity, and it is reckless for persons to be recommending something as radical as devaluation, without them first discussing the only non-austerity published option on the proverbial table.

Why won’t they discuss our published non-austerity solutions?  I understand why the political parties won’t discuss our solutions, because they have their own political agendas.  However, why won’t members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) discuss them?  This one group will be most impacted by our plans, yet we were told that since we were not yet elected, we could not be allowed to share our plans with BCCI members.

That decision is regrettable – for them.  However, it is near lunacy for them to then join with the Barbados Private Sector Association and recommend austerity for the rest of us.  Why are these, and other private sector groups, so eager to push austerity measures, rather than to discuss our non-austerity plan?  It makes no rational sense.  What could they possibly be afraid of?

For the past two years, we have encouraged discussion, even criticism of our policy solutions in order that they may be improved.  However, we have found that a specific set of persons ‘run away’ from discussion, and flippantly dismiss our solutions as too simple in order to stifle discussion.  Let me confirm that all of our solutions were consciously designed to be as simple as possible – but not simplistic.

When approaching a problem, the first step is to design a solution that works.  This initial effective solution is normally complex.  The problem with complex solutions is that they are normally implemented poorly, because they are too complex for those responsible for their implementation.  Complex solutions are also normally more expensive to both implement and maintain.

If the aim is the efficient and economical implementation of an effective solution, then the solution needs to be made as simple as possible.  This requires repeated iterations of complex analysis in order to reduce the solutions’ complexity and implementation costs, while maintaining or improving its effectiveness.  This is the approach that I have successfully taken over my 25-year structural engineering career.

Analysts of Barbados Government operations generally conclude that our principal problem is one of implementation.  What do we expect if we persist in giving our public workers unnecessarily complex plans to implement?  Why does Government insist on developing these highly complex plans?  Why would anyone design a highly complex plan when a simpler one would be more effective, more economical to implement, and less of a tax burden on Barbadians?  Why indeed.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

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To Trade School With You

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Whenever examination result are announced in Barbados, there is the predictable call for fundamental changes to our educational system.  With approximately 60% of our secondary school students failing to achieve grades 1 or 2 CSEC passes, the system clearly need improving.  However, an analysis of the recommended changes reveals that the aim is not to reduce the failure rate, but rather, to divert those whom they consider ‘non-academic’ into trade schools, where they can learn to ‘work with their hands’.

Hands do not work by themselves.  The same brain activity required to guide a surgeon’s hands is the same that is required to guide an artisan’s.  Further, the consequences of failure for both can be disastrous.  A surgeon’s error can result in the death of his or her patient, and the artisan steel-bender’s error can result in the collapse of a multi-storey building.

With proper training, the surgeon can learn to do the steel-bender’s work and the steel-bender can learn to do the surgeon’s.  The reason why one became a surgeon and the other a steel-bender is based on the incorrect assumption that some secondary students are not academically suited, and should be sent to ‘work with their hands’.  All of our secondary school students can learn – they just need time and encouragement.

In primary school, I had difficulty understanding the school work.  My teachers did their best, but I simply could not understand most mathematical concepts – like the square root.  In response, for one year my mother taught me English, my father taught me mathematics, and I was not allowed to enter the ‘living room’ which contained the television.  With much effort, I passed the Common Entrance Examination for Combermere School.

I entered Combermere School in 1975 in lower first form.  I remember the feelings of accomplishment when I realised that I was actually understanding the work.  However, I soon recognised that I had another problem.  While the teacher’s and text book’s explanations were understandable, I had difficulty remembering the material once the teacher left the classroom, or once I closed my text book.  My brain seemed to leak knowledge like a sieve, so that there was very little left to recall during tests and examinations.

After the first term, they handed out yellow report books.  Mine read: “Number of boys in Class: 29.  Position in Class: 29”, and occupying the highest possible position, I thought that I came first.  I proudly declared that to anyone who asked me, until I happened upon Peter Riley, who claimed that he came first.  I was about to challenge the accuracy of that assertion, but then realised that Peter was the brightest boy in the class, and I was not.  As God is my witness, it was only then that it began to dawn on me that in this case, the highest number was not the most favourable.

In 1976 I was promoted to upper first form, and girls entered the lower first form.  In 1977, I entered second form.  However, they abolished the upper first form and there were suddenly girls in my classroom.  I was now 13 years old, and the novel feelings associated with puberty made the girls an impossible distraction to me.

When an attractive girl sat next to me in class, and her skirt rose above her knee to expose her thighs, then the teacher taught me in vain.  The only subjects that I had decent marks in were technical drawing and industrial arts – where I worked with my hands.  Recognizing this problem, I read the textbooks at home, but the challenges of recalling information persisted well into 4th form.

Occupying the bottom third of the class for most of my secondary school life, I observed too many boys giving up prematurely.  One senior teacher revealed his observation that most boys gave up in third form.  Sometime between late 4th and mid-5th form, my brain seemed to mature, and I began to both understand and remember the work.  Had I not kept persisting, had my parents not kept encouraging me, then I would not be a structural engineer today.

The solution is to keep all of our secondary school students interested enough in the school work, until their brains have had a chance to develop to both understand and remember information.  In a Solutions Barbados administration, the secondary school curriculum will be redesigned, so that the first 3 years will be dedicated to teaching the more practical aspects of subjects, like: music-by-ear, conversational languages, applied sciences, English literature, art, technical drawing and home economics.  The final 2 years will be reserved for adding the more theoretical CXC requirements.

The foreseen criticism is that Barbados needs all types of workers.  That is accepted.  However, who gets to choose another’s vocations? The educational system is currently set-up for those who mentally develop earlier. They get to choose their vocations. The remainder simply take what is available. There is an attempt to formalize this by forcing a set of persons who mentally develop slower into the trades.

The point of this article is that we can all choose our vocation. Some will select a vocation based on the value that the market places on the trade or profession, some will select it on personal interest and fulfillment, while others will select it to meet temporary cash flow challenges, but we should all be allowed to choose.

It should be noted that this article does not address persons with permanent clinical mental deficiencies, but rather, persons who natural developed slower. Had everyone taken the Common entrance exam when they were 20 years old, then almost everyone would pass for a ‘top’ school. Had everyone taken their CXC exams when they were 25 years old, then almost everyone would pass. Why, because by that time, everyone would have a similarly developed brain.

Clearly we cannot wait until all of our students have passed puberty before testing them. Therefore, we do perhaps the next best thing. We keep them all interested in the practical aspects of subjects, where they can all experience the immediate benefits of the subjects for the first 3 years, while they continue to develop mentally without thinking that they cannot learn. This should give them the encouragement to persist in order to enjoy the latent benefits.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

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Fallon Best

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Dear Residents of the City of Bridgetown:

My name is Fallon Best and I am honoured that you would consider me to represent you in Parliament.

I love the City of Bridgetown and all of its communities.  I attended secondary school in the city, and both of my parents had entrepreneurial business interests in the city, my father being a sales manager and my mother being a caterer.

My academic background includes undergraduate and postgraduate economics, management, marketing, law and accounting.   I have a diverse 15-year work experience, including in best-practice private sector organisations like BMW and ArcelorMittal Steel Corporation, and in the UK public sector administration in Oxford, London and Luxembourg City.

I was raised to respect God, and I have learnt the benefits of seeking God’s guidance when faced with personal, business and community challenges.  I currently volunteer as national secretary with the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, which has over 7,000 chapters in 142 nations.

I believe that Bridgetown must be properly managed and maintained.  I further believe that the prosperity of the nation is linked to the prosperity of the city, and the city cannot prosper unless the people and families in the city prosper. The family unit is the cornerstone of individual, social and economic development.  However, the next generation’s culture is being negatively affected by low marriage rates, high divorce rates, and disenfranchised fathers leaving un-mentored sons and daughters.

I believe that my training and work-experience has prepared me to serve you at this critical time in our country’s development.  I pledge to you that will listen to your concerns and faithfully represent your concerns.

We have delivered a flyer and mini-manifesto to each house in Bridgetown.    It may be downloaded below.

A4 Flyer FB R2

Best regards,

Fallon[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Robert Toussaint

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Dear Residents of St Michael Central:

My name is Robert Toussaint and I am honoured that you would consider me to represent you in Parliament.

I grew up in Military Road and spent much of my youth playing basket-ball in Station Hill and Bank Hall.  I also attended a church and ministered in this constituency, and married my wife from this constituency – we have been together for the past 20 years.  My mother-in-law still lives in this constituency.  For the past 25 years, I have owned and managed a juice manufacturing company, and employed several people from this constituency.

I am committed to this constituency.  I am also intimately aware of the needs of the youth, families, employed, unemployed and elderly residents of this constituency.  I pledge to do my best to meet those needs and faithfully represent your concerns.

We have delivered a flyer and mini-manifesto to each house in St Michael Central.    It may be downloaded below.

A4 Flyer RT R3

Best regards,

Robert[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Grenville Phillips II

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Dear Residents of St George North:

I am a structural engineer and businessman.  I have lived in St George North for most of my life and plan to improve the quality of life in this constituency.   I am honoured that you would consider me to represent you in Parliament, and I pledge to you that I will faithfully represent your concerns.

So, who is Grenville Phillips?  At 52 years of age, I have found that the older I get, the more the boundaries appear to be blurred between what I do and who I am. I am a: son, brother, husband, father, friend, employer, marriage counsellor, teacher, musician, singer, composer, inventor, author, publisher, mathematician, programmer, designer, engineer, project manager, planner, and current president of Walbrent College, which is a Caribbean institution that trains persons to build properly.

I have held several leadership positions, including the following:

  • President, Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (3 terms)
  • Chairman, Barbados Professional Services Export Committee
  • Deputy Chairman, Economic Development Advisory Committee
  • President, Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (2 terms)
  • Secretary, Institution of Structural Engineers, Caribbean (2 terms)
  • President, Combermere School Old Scholars Association (2 terms)

Since I only have one life to live, I am passionate about pursuing and sharing Truth. I accept the teachings of Jesus to be true, which include loving God unashamedly, and demonstrably loving others.

My flyer and mini-manifesto is linked below.

Grenville Phillips Flyer

Best regards,

Grenville[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]