We have reached a state in Barbados where crime pays the bills of many households. Politicians who participated in the last general election know this. While canvassing in certain areas, it was common to hear the same excuse that there were no other options available.
Since then, things have only gotten worse for most. Many claim that: no-one in their house is working, they have received disconnection notices for light and water utilities, they cannot afford to pay all of the rent, and the Welfare department is unresponsive.
It is reasonable for the public to expect the political party in power to provide solutions to national problems. However, regardless of the severity of the problems facing Barbadians, the political response is generally the same. Namely, that it took 10 years of mismanagement to get us here, and it will take time to fix the DLP’s mess.
That political excuse is now constantly repeated by most radio moderators, and newspaper editorialists and columnists. But it does not solve any of our problems. We have been asked what we would have done to solve the crime situation. This article addresses that question.
The police commissioner recently reported that most crime was of a socio-economic nature. Solutions Barbados’ crime policies were designed to remove the socio-economic ‘no-options’ excuse. The BLP administration is encouraged to consider them for the benefit of us all, but they should be reminded that they are designed to be implemented together, not separately. So what would we have done about crime had Solutions Barbados formed the Government?
We would have managed all public services to become internationally competitive, to ensure a reliable and efficient service at a fraction of the current cost. We should remember that we currently pay for the cost of an efficient service, plus the additional wastage, inefficiency, and unproductivity costs. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00, since several of our candidates had international management experience.
With reliable low-cost public utility services, every household would have received a subsistence amount of water every month, free of cost. The rates above this amount would have been increased, so that we could help our fellow citizens, who were experiencing temporary financial challenges. The same method was to have been used for electricity and natural gas. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.
Once households can rely on utilities, they can better prepare for work and school. With public transportation properly managed, bus fares on public busses would have been reduced. The excessive maintenance cost would have been significantly reduced by allowing all garages to competitively tender for maintaining Transport Board busses for six months at a time, with parts being provided free of all duties and taxes. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.
From the start of a Solutions Barbados administration, all households would have been trained to start and grow profitable businesses. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00, since I have been doing this even before I won the 2014 National Innovation Competition. The training would have been facilitated on a national level by CBC-TV.
Once a business became viable, then it could qualify for a micro-loan not to exceed $5,000. The net cost to Government would have been $0.00, since the money was to have been repaid within 2 years.
The secondary school curriculum would have been rearranged, so that the more exciting and easier-to-learn practical aspects of all subjects would have been taught first. Every student would have left school with at least one marketable skill and a profitable small business. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.
All non-violent offences would have attracted a fine. Guilty pleas would have attracted a substantially lesser fine. Those who could not afford to pay their fines would have been provided with work. Therefore, we could have properly maintained our infrastructure for a fraction of the cost. The offender would also have learned a marketable skill that they could trade. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.
Violent offenders would have been both fined and incarcerated. While incarcerated, they would have been trained to start and grow profitable businesses, with the profits being equally shared between inmates, prison staff, and victims of crime. The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.
While the additional cost to Government is conservatively stated at $0.00, there is a significant cost saving on most of them, making the comprehensive socio-economic crime policy profitable. Taken together, these policies that we published four years ago, would have allowed bills to be paid legitimately.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com