My name is Grenville Phillips and I am the founder of Solutions Barbados, and a Candidate for St George North.
First, I want to acknowledge God. We as a nation depend on Him. Our National Anthem confirms that, with Him still on the people’s side we have no doubts or fears. Since we do not want Barbadians to be doubtful or fearful about the future, we have no intention of putting that relationship in jeopardy. So we plan to lead this nation in righteousness and humility.
Leading in righteousness does not mean trying to avoid scandals. Scandals may come as we try to help others, because some people may misinterpret our motives. But we intend to lead in doing right things.
We will walk humbly before God. That means that we are not demanding to be your lords, but offering to be your servant-leaders. A relevant question is, “What do you intend for those who do not believe in God, or who are part of the L G B T community, or who worship something else”. Our answer is that because we are a Christian country, they are equally entitled to participate in Barbados’ economy without persecution, and any who persecute a minority group will find themselves outside of the protection of the law.
However, let me make one thing very clear. Christians are being persecuted in other countries just for being Christians, or giving their Biblical opinion. Because this is a Christian country, any minority group has a right to politely offer their opinion on any topic, without persecution. However, others also have a right to politely disagree with them without being persecuted, or disqualified from participating in Barbados’ economy.
They may come a time when the majority of Barbadians no longer wish to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well, then we will experience the persecution that we now only read about. However, until that time comes, me and my house will faithfully serve the Lord to the end.
Many ask me why do you have to talk about God? Well I am unashamedly a structural engineer, I am unashamedly a husband and a father, and I am unashamedly a Christian. That is just who I am.
Let me also say that for me, it is an absolute honour to be associated with each of these highly competent persons who also love God, as we offer ourselves to serve you.
Later this evening, Scott will describe how we plan to cause the economy to soar with our proven economic plan. It is a 4 point plan comprising lowering taxes, improving the management of government services, depoliticising the public service, and eliminating corruption.
Our plan is not some theoretical untried plan, but it is proven. It is proven that a country takes in more revenues when it reduces its tax rates. It is proven that better managed public services result in less wastage and a higher level of customer satisfaction. It is proven that a politicised civil service can ruin a country, and it is proven that corruption results in severe austerity for most citizens.
So if all of this is proven, then why won’t the established political parties follow the proven plan? Because it is also proven that politicians are prepared to ruin a national economy, for the sake of their development philosophy. That is essentially what happened in Guyana, and it is where we are currently headed.
Just to remind you, Guyana was one of the richest countries in the Caribbean. Barbadians used to leave Barbados and find work in Guyana. However, once the politicians surrendered the Guyanese people to an IMF programme, within one year there was: a 70% devaluation of the dollar, doubling of the income tax rates, a ruined economy, mass emigration of professionals, and 75% of the population in poverty.
In the aftermath, Guyana’s citizens learned three simple lessons the very hard way.
- Politicians rarely tell citizens the true state of a poorly performing economy.
- Industries are not toys for politicians to share with their friends.
- Politicians are prepared to ruin a national economy for the sake of their development philosophy.
Be very careful who you choose to vote for in this election.
Tonight, I want to specifically address corruption and mismanagement.
What is corruption? Let me explain this with an example from another country – not Barbados. If a person is building houses for the Government of another country, then who really pays him? It is the tax payers of that country that really pays for the work. Therefore, it is important not to waste the taxpayers money by overpaying for goods and services.
So if a contractor agrees to do some work for say $2M, a corrupt official will tell him that, “If you want this job, then you must sign a contract to do the work for $3M, and when you get paid, then you must give me $1M.”
Alternatively, a corrupt contractor will say to the corrupt official, “If you give me this job, then I will bill the Government for $3M, and I will give you $1M, because I can do the job for $2M”.
Now, every political party in opposition normally accuses the party in power of at least 2 things, high corruption and gross mismanagement.
The DLP, when they were in opposition, regularly accused the BLP of corruption and mismanagement. When DLP were elected to govern, then they attracted the same regular criticism of corruption and mismanagement. Why don’t they simply address the corruption and mismanagement if they are both so concerned about it?
Why does it appear that any act intended to address corruption has windows of escape, or loopholes. A former Chief Justice noted that our Prevention of Corruption Act was “seriously deficient”. If it were actually used, he stated “one would be able to drive a cart and ten donkeys through it.” That is what he said.
The BLP recently published their draft anti-corruption legislation, and after reading a few pages, I had to put it down. I then tried to design some fool-proof legislation that would protect corrupt persons, and this is what I came up with.
First, I would establish a separate court. I do not want any of my boys going through the normal court system, since they may get locked up. So I would establish a separate court, and call it an Integrity Commission.
Then I would make it appear independent, so I would add a lawyer from the Bar Association, and representative from the Church. Since they are 2 independent persons, I want twice that number to over-rule them. So I would select 4 of my own people.
I would let the Integrity Commission busy themselves doing nothing. However, if they ever happened upon someone who had his hand in the cookie jar, with crumbs around his mouth, and half of a cookie sticking out his mouth, then I would not want any of the independent members looking at any of that incriminating evidence. Not at all.
If the evidence against him was strong and damming, then I would not even want the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Police investigating.
So I would appoint a special investigator, who must not be a member of the police, to investigate the fellow and determine whether there was enough evidence to charge him.
Therefore, the investigator simply has to appear busy for a few weeks, declare that there was not enough evidence to support a charge, and my boy goes free. It is perfectly fool-proof.
Guess what, the BLP’s proposed legislation appears similar. They have an integrity commission, with 2 independent members and the 4 others are appointed by the Governor General after consulting with political leaders. The integrity Commission then appoints an investigative officer to investigate fellows with damning evidence, for the purpose of determining whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the accused.
The BLP’s plan also notes that no investigation can be carried out once a person has retired from public life for 2 years. That is the ultimate loophole.
The BLP can improve their plan by allowing the Integrity Commission to be filled by non-political persons, proposed by professional organisations. Why can’t they do that? And why the apparent amnesty after a person has retired for 2 years. Why these glaring apparent weakness?
The BLP’s plan notes that they plan to fine people $500,000. This appears to be a deterrent. However, it will not make a difference if the Investigative officer simply declares that there is not sufficient evidence to charge an accused with his hand in the cookie jar. Politically protected individuals tend to have an expectation that they will be protected if they get caught.
What is our solution? Well, when bribes are added to the cost of Government services, the public pays more for them. So who really pays the bribe – we do.
Now they say, that there are high levels of corruption. If we have overpaid for goods and services because of bribes, then we want that money back – with interest.
Therefore, for our first 3 months in office, every person who has paid or received a bribe must repay the full value of the bribe. That should take care of the principal owed and the interest since both the giver and the receiver must pay.
After 3 months, we enact whistle-blower legislation, where the whistle-blower is rewarded with the full value of the bribe. However, the fine upon conviction is 10 x the value of the bribe. So if a $100,000 bribe was given, then the fine on conviction is $1M, and the whistle-blower gets $100,000. There are no loop holes there.
Let us address a related topic, crime. In a Solutions Barbados administration, every offense will carry a fine of 10 times the value of the offence. Therefore, if someone stole a $700 cell phone, then he must pay a $7,000 fine on conviction. After stealing a few cell phones, he will eventually learn that it is a lot cheaper to purchase his own.
If he cannot afford to pay the fine, then we will find work for him to do in maintaining Barbados infrastructure. He can patch pot holes, seal cracks, paint walls, and such like. If he will not show up for work, then he can reside at Dodds where he will be taken to the work-site on-time.
Staying on crime, you may ask what we will do about the guns. Well, we will pass an effective law, not these loophole laws, an effective law, where the importer, distributor and renter of a gun are charged with the same offence as the final user. Why? Because they are like accessories to the crime. What do they expect the person to do with the gun? Do they expect him to use it to do some construction work? Or to Cook? Of course not. How about using it to rape, rob, or commit murder.
We do not think that importers, distributors and renters of guns will want to risk being jointly-charged with the final user of the gun. So they will likely get out of the gun business, either voluntarily, or by residing at Dodds with the final user. Either way, they are both off of the streets.
I want to address the next big accusation – that of mismanagement.
There is a customer-focused management standard that can solve most if not all of our nations’ management issues. That is the ISO 9001 quality management system. Many countries have benefitted from it over the past 20 years. We plan to implement it in all government services.
While this may sound nice, it does not help anyone right now, because we have no authority while we are the Government in waiting. However, may be possible to influence change by simply being part of the political process. Let us see.
I recently had to visit the QEH repeatedly, and clearly it needs better management. Anyone who visits can clearly see that. Let me put the QEH board and their CEO on notice. Why them? The Board should instruct the CEO to implement the ISO 9001 quality management standard, and/or the CEO should recommend to the Board that they should implement the ISO 9001 management standard.
So I am speaking tonight to the Board and CEO of the QEH. Manage the QEH in accordance with the ISO 9001 QMS, or your contracts will not be renewed in a Solutions Barbados administration.
If you are unsure what the ISO 9001 quality management system is all about, then you are welcome to attend a free public town-hall meeting this Wednesday 29 Nov 2017 at 6:00 pm at Combermere School hall, where it will be explained to you in detail. Send someone and come yourselves.
You will learn exactly what it is, how it can benefit public workers and everyone who uses Government services, and how you can start to implement it in your organisation. At the end of the meeting, you will have the training and tools to start implementing the system the following day.
Do not delay in providing the public with the relief that they deserve, when it is within your power to do so. We have all suffered to long, both employees and the public.
The Sanitation Services Authority. People have had to wait for weeks to get their garbage collected. Why are so many trucks of off the road? Please implement the ISO 9001 QMS. Come to the same training seminar. If you do not implement the system, so that people can get relief from poor management practises, then you have received fair warning.
The Barbados water authority. I understand the lack of water to rural parishes. But raw sewage flowing on the streets in Worthing? I am calling on the Board and CEO to implement the ISO 9001 QMS or do not expect your contracts to be renewed in a Solutions Barbados administration.
Transport board. Why are people waiting 90 minutes for a bus? Come on. You need to better manage our resources.
The NPC, Licensing Authority, Barbados Revenue Authority. Senior management, you are all on notice. I am calling on you to start implementing the IS0 9001 QMS for the benefit of your longsuffering employees and the longsuffering public, or your contracts will not be renewed.
Now I am well aware that there will be some fellow on these boards who will ask, who is this Grenville Phillips? Why do we need to listen to him? Why can’t we keep managing these employees and resources as badly as we have? Why do we need to improve anything at all? Who is this Grenville Phillips? Well, please tell him for me, he will be the next Prime Minister of Barbados after the upcoming General Election. Tell him that for me. I am trying to help all of you now.
Finally, I want to briefly address the cultural industries. That would include those fine artists whom we heard earlier. You will hear a lot of long talk about the cultural industries from those who like to talk rather than do. We are a party of doers.
Our singers and musicians and crafts-persons. What do they really want? They want exposure, which can lead to them earning a living. They want the opportunity to fully participate in Barbados’ economy without hindrance. Let me try and help them out – right now.
I do a lot of travelling around the Caribbean region. When I am in the departure lounge of our airport, I normally only hear American type popular music. I have never heard Barbadian music there. I have complained several times for many years, but they claim that they can do nothing. I am normally told that the ‘higher ups’ have to make the decision to play local music.
If I am going to Trinidad, then as soon as I enter the aircraft, there is the pleasant and calming steel pan music. Why can’t we showcase our Barbadian artists in our own airport. Why must we only promote American artists and their music?
Why don’t I hear Nocovia, Neesha Woodz, Gozzy, Arturo Tappin, Nicholas Brancker, Gabby, and any of our talented Barbadian performers at our national airport. If we do not promote them, then who will?
Will airports in the US and Europe promote Barbadian artistes in their airports? Not likely. Therefore we need to promote our own artists in our own airport, preferably with a banner at the bottom of the Arrivals and Departures screen identifying who the performer is at the time. Why is that so difficult?
Well, let me give the board and CEO of the GAIA inc fair warning. Either play 100% Barbadian artists in our airport, or provide the public with a reasonable excuse of why you cannot play local music in our airport, but are instead somehow forced to promote American artists.
If you cannot manage a simple thing like playing Barbadian music in Barbados’ airport, then why should we trust you to manage more complex things, like managing an airport.
Given the length of time it normally takes to get things done, let me try to speed things up a bit. If I pass through the airport next week, and you have not given the public of Barbados a reasonable response, then start sending out resumes.
In the event that some board member wants to know “Who is Solutions Barbados. Why do we have to listen to them? Why can’t we keep our Barbadian artists down but promote the American and European ones in Barbados’ airport. Who is Solutions Barbados. Tell him that they will form the Government in the next General Election, so you better start listening to them now.