Month: December 2017

They Know Not What They Did

If there was not a clear reason to vote for Solutions Barbados in the upcoming General Election, then our recent vote at the UN should be the final straw.  Our politicians have once again recklessly put us in grave danger.

The US decided to locate their Embassy in Jerusalem.  Barbados was thinking about publically criticising that decision with our vote in UN.  So the US Ambassador, Nikki Haley, gave us citizens a clear warning. “On Thursday there will be a vote at the UN criticizing our choice. And yes, the US will be taking names.”

The warning did not seem to deter our politicians, so Ambassador Haley made her statements even more explicit.  “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” and to ensure that we would be without excuse, she added, “We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the U.N., and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Our politicians could not be dissuaded from adamantly angering the US and potentially harming Barbados for symbolic reasons.  Ambassador Haley explained that the US will put their embassy in Jerusalem regardless of how countries voted.  She also stated “But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN, and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.”

While our politicians were praising themselves for their principled stand, Ambassador Haley identified the countries that would remain under their good graces – Barbados is not listed among them.  She noted “We appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the United Nations” and included the following Caribbean countries: “Antigua-Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad-Tobago.”

Did these Caribbean countries vote with the US?  No. They simply abstained from participating in an exercise designed to embarrass the US at the UN.  We are a friend of the US – well, perhaps until that last reckless vote.  Barbados frequently opposes positions supported by the US without our friendship being put at risk.  However, the US suggested that our friendship would be put at risk if we voted to embarrass them on this occasion.

There may come a time when all responsible Barbadians will fully accept the consequences of our politicians’ attempt to publically embarrass the US at the UN.  However, such action should only be used as a last resort when it is the only remaining option.  Because friends try moral suasion first, not international disrespect.  Further, the offence would need to be grievous, like genocide, or killing people because of ideological differences – not their decision to locate their own embassy.

Our politicians are supposed to represent our interests.  It was not in our interests for the BLP to recklessly borrow in our names to the point where our debts became unsustainable.  It is not in our interest for the DLP to have brought us to the brink of economic ruin.  It is not in our interests for our politicians to have made us one of the most economically vulnerable nations on this planet.

Other countries with our level of debt have devalued their currency long ago.  We have had 20 Government bond downgrades.  We are desperately selling every national asset of value before we will be surrendered to the IMF.  We have been blacklisted by the European Union as a tax haven.  Now, our politicians are trying to get us blacklisted by the US.  Why?  What was so important for our politicians to risk our children’s future?

Our politicians have recklessly chosen to place Barbados in a conflict that they have not demonstrated any level of understanding whatsoever.  The Arab-Israeli conflict is primarily a religious conflict, and not a political one for politicians to get themselves involved in.  It is rooted in Mohammed’s final command that “Two religions should not be allowed to remain in the peninsula of the Arabs.”

Islamists on the peninsula will never violate Mohammed’s final command, regardless of any type of political compromises that their politicians reach.  As long as the Islamic nations teach that Israel is part of the peninsula, then it does not matter what Israel does or does not do, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state will never be accepted by the surrounding Islamic nations.

One non-military route to a sustainable solution is through meaningful discussion, by Islamic religious leaders, on whether Israel is situated outside of the geographic and political boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula.  If Barbados has a burning desire to enter this conflict, then we can play a meaningful role in this solution by facilitating such a discussion – not by putting our economically vulnerable population at risk by attempting to publically humiliate the US.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer, an analyst of history, and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Find Redemption like Scrooge – Christmas Message

Dear Fellow Barbadians:

Sometime during the Christmas season, I normally find myself watching a movie of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.  The story describes the reactions the selfish Ebenezer Scrooge to visits by ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future on Christmas Eve.  However, his redemption only happens after he sees the impact of his selfish actions on others in his likely future.

This Christmas, each of us need to see whether our planned actions will harm or benefit our fellow citizens.  For the first time since our independence, we can accurately predict the type of Christmas that most of our fellow Barbadians will have next year if we do not change.  That is a future with the IMF dictating our economy.  So let us get to know our planned new masters.

Before the World Wars of the last century, if a country could not repay its debts, the lender could invade the country and plunder its wealth in order to recover the debt and the cost of the invasion.  After World War 2, the principal lending nations decided to establish a bank of last resort from which indebted nations could borrow in order to repay international creditors.

As a condition of the IMF’s loan, indebted nations first had to agree to inflict severe austerity measures upon the population.  One reason is to punish citizens for electing politicians who would take out unaffordable loans in their names.

A former Prime Minister asked the now famous question “How did we get back here?”  We got back here because the last punishment was not memorable enough.  The most memorable IMF austerity measures are reserved for those countries who have run out of all good options, like us.  Guyana is another country that had run out of all good options, and their experience with the IMF is instructive.

Within one year of being surrendered to the IMF, Guyana had fallen from being one of the richest Caribbean countries to one of the poorest.  Guyana’s politicians became overseers who oversaw: a 70% devaluation of the dollar, doubling of income tax rates, a lack of supplies and maintenance parts, reduced social services, mass emigration of professionals, and 75% of the population in poverty.

Our Christmas next year may be similar because our dollar will likely devalue.  The obvious result is that everyone with a mortgage who is not earning foreign currency will likely lose their homes, our infrastructure will not be properly maintained, and the cost of imported products will be unaffordable for most.

Like Scrooge, we can ask “Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be?”  We can also learn from Scrooge’s insight that if you do not change your behaviour, then your future is predictable.  However, you can change an undesirable future by changing your behaviour now.

If you thought that your only option was to vote for severe austerity for your fellow Barbadians, then be assured that you can vote for Solutions instead.  Austerity can be avoided by: reducing taxes, depoliticising the public services, rooting out corruption, and properly managing public services.

All Barbadians can finally experience: a fair economy where everyone can participate based on merit and not whom they know; good quality public services delivered in a timely manner; and significantly more income left after paying their normal monthly expenses.  If you truly want to give all Barbadians that bright future next Christmas, then vote to give them Solutions, and not austerity.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The First Domino has Fallen

The Government has decided that after 3 years of sewage problems in Worthing, the solution was beyond the capabilities of the Barbados Water Authority.  This is not surprising.  The Government has been degrading Engineering posts for some time.

Barbados came to a crossroads over 40 years ago.  We could have continued with our highly professional civil service that others wanted to copy, or we could copy the example of failed states and politicise ours.  Our politicians chose to politicise it.  But it was the degrading of the engineering posts that was most harmful.

The Government started putting non-engineers in engineering posts.  When Engineers complained, our politicians permanently solved this problem by abolishing all engineering posts and creating a new post called Technical Officer.  This is a root cause of Barbados’ poorly designed and high maintenance infrastructure.  Barbados needs to care about the professional development of public sector Engineers, since their work affects us all.  They can demonstrate this care by facilitating their route to Chartership.

The Ministry of public works used to have 6 Chartered Engineers, who ensured the proper design and maintenance of our roads and drainage systems.  Barbados’ water authority used to have 3 Chartered Engineers, who ensured the proper design and maintenance of our water and wastewater systems.  By 2004, there was not a single Chartered Engineer in the entire public service of Barbados.

A modern Barbados needs highly qualified Engineers to ensure that our infrastructure is designed to be as low-maintenance as possible, economically constructed with no defects, and effectively maintained to avoid customer complaints.  Without this professional management, we can expect intolerable infrastructure maintenance problems as a natural result.  This brings us to the sewage problems that have been affecting Worthing for the past 3 years.

The Government had two good options for quickly identifying and proposing a solution to the sewage problems.  They could have invited Engineers, both from within and outside of Barbados to tender for the engineering work, or they could have invited the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers to participate in the problem-solving process.

The Government chose to engage the services of consultants.  However, the final insult was to disqualify all Barbadian Engineers from tendering for the work, and exclusively select foreign consultants to solve a very simple problem.

The Auditor General keeps complaining about the audited accounts not being completed.  These accounts can be completed by any member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.   How would accountants feel if the Government disqualified all of them from tendering for this work, and then engaged the services of a foreign consultant to displace them?

I am sure that all professions in Barbados would reasonably expect the Government, who is supposed to represent our interests, to include local professionals in the tender for any tax-payer funded work.  The Government should never be handing out no-bid contracts exclusively to foreign consultants in 2017 – we are no longer a colony.

Are the foreign consultants who have unfairly displaced Barbadian Engineers in this no-bid service to blame?  Of course not.  They are simply engaged to perform a service, completely oblivious to the harmful consequences of their engagement.  Persons who care only about their fees and nothing else are called mercenaries.

Since the Government has now embraced this path, then all professionals, especially those not yet targeted, should be very concerned.  If they choose to keep silent now, then when they are inevitably targeted, they will be no one left to speak for them.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Remember this Last Christmas

There are some events that change all of our lives so dramatically that we remember what we were doing when the national event occurred.  For most of our grand-parents, it was hurricane Janet which devastated the island in 1955.  Since our independence, we have been spared such life-changing national tragedies, until now.

This Christmas season, we should prepare our families for the impending national disaster that will likely affect us all, because we are now out of all good options.

Our politicians have borrowed so recklessly that we are now one of the most indebted nations on this planet.  The rating agencies do not think that we can repay what we have borrowed.  So they have already warned all international banks and investors that lending to Barbados is extremely risky – they are unlikely to get their money back.  That is what all of those downgrades were about.

The Government must put on a brave face in order to inspire confidence.  However, many nations have failed before us, so we need to prepare ourselves for what is clearly foreseen.  The scriptures advise:  “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3)

Since we are now at the brink of economic ruin, we need to prepare for a level of austerity that is outside of our living memory.  Like a desperate addict in his parents’ house, the Government is selling off our prized assets.  The Hilton Hotel is reportedly being sold at a loss, just to get enough money to afford a loan payment.  Soon, everything of value will be gone, and they will be forced to surrender us to the IMF.

The IMF’s measures will be particularly harsh – for us.  We do not have to wonder about them, because they have warned us for years about the bitterness of the medicine that we citizens will be forced to swallow.  Few of us will be able to afford our mortgages, most public workers will be sent home, the maintenance of our infrastructure will plummet, and our dollar will devalue.

The IMF punishes citizens for electing politicians who take out unaffordable loans on their behalf.  It is analogous to punishing parents for allowing their 5-year old son to drive their car, and then he gets into a serious accident.  What did we expect would happen?

We have elected our children to rule over us.  We have given them access to our national bank, and they have spent all of the money on shiny stuff that they then had the temerity to put their names on.  When they had spent all of our money, they then maxed out the national credit card an put us all in an unsustainable debt so that they could buy more shiny stuff.

Our children will surrender us to the IMF so that their trough can be filled.  The BLP and their spawn want to surrender us to the IMF as soon as possible.  The DLP will have to surrender us to the IMF after they have sold everything of value in Barbados.  Solutions Barbados is the only adult offering to steer Barbados away from the IMF to a level of prosperity hitherto unknown in Barbados.

Our 4 point plan has been published for over 2 years for rigorous public scrutiny.  It comprises: lowering taxes, improving the management of government services, depoliticising the public service, and eliminating corruption.  It should be clearly stated that our plan is not some theoretical untried plan, but it is proven.

Of course you can expect our children to kick up a fuss when they realise that we are taking back our credit card and bank account, but it is high time that parents took back control.  If we do not, then we must all prepare ourselves for the impending doom into which our children will take us.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

South Coast Sewage Solution

It has been reported that the sewage problem in Worthing is beyond the technical capabilities of the Barbados Water Authority.  The evidence suggests that that may be so.  However, it is not beyond the technical capability of Barbados. The reason why the problem is allowed to exist is essentially a management problem, and therein lies the solution.

Seeking outside assistance is the responsible thing to do, but only after properly managing the local expertise on this matter.  The problem is not a lack of technical knowledge.  But rather, the management of this knowledge.  Let me explain.

The Auditor General regularly complains about the poor management of statutory corporations, especially in their continual failure to provide audited accounts.  Can members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados complete the accounts?  Of course they can.  The main problem is that Barbados’ resources are being poorly managed.  Is the solution to deem all local accountants not sufficiently competent and invite accounting companies from the US and China to perform the audits?  Of course not.

The Caribbean Court of Justice regularly complains about the poor management of Barbados’ court system.  Can members of the Bar Association and management consultants improve the system?  Of course they can.  But our national resources are being very poorly managed.  How would members of the local Bar Association feel if the Government invited lawyers from the US and China to displace them, and show them how it should be done?

The sewage in the streets of Worthing is evidence enough of bad management.  Can Environmental Engineers in the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers solve this problem?  Of course they can, but our national resources are being very poorly managed.  The management of our public services is so far beyond redemption that not even raw sewage regularly flowing along the streets of Worthing, for over one year, can get them to improve.

In order to provide quick relief, we offered to train all Board members and Chief Executive Officers of our statutory corporations in the customer-focused ISO 9001 quality management system.  We promised them that after 2 hours of free training, they would have both the knowledge and confidence to implement the system in their organisation the following day.

Their sacrifice of 2 hours being trained was to provide almost immediate relief to their frustrated employees and the long-suffering public.  To their utter shame, not one board member or CEO attended.  Therefore, the sub-standard public services must be tolerated a bit more until a Solutions Barbados administration provides the much needed relief.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com