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Who Should Go Home? Featured

Central Bank Governor has been asked to resign.  From published reports, it appears that the Board members disagreed with the Governor’s plans to improve the management of the Bank.  If this is the only reason, and if this will be the new criterion for dismissing those responsible for managing public services, then the National Insurance Scheme should prepare themselves for applications for unemployment benefits from most chief executive officers of statutory corporations, and heads of government departments, in the coming weeks.

Perhaps the most important Board activities are to set attainable performance standards for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to meet, and then monitoring the CEO’s performance with effective accountability measures.  To reduce the risk of a CEO misleading the Board, one of the first responsibilities of any Board of public services is to specify a management system within which the Government service will be developed and delivered, and the performance standards attained.

Given the frequent complaints about poor government services, it seems that our CEOs and department managers have not established an effective management system.  If this is true, then the Boards are not performing their most basic function.

There is a basic international standard for managing an organisation.  The Quality Management System’s reference is ISO 9001 and it is available to the Government of Barbados.  Those Boards who have failed to direct their Chief Executive Officers to implement the ISO 9001 Quality Management System have done the Statutory Corporation’s longsuffering employees, and frustrated customers, a grave disservice.

When management of specific government services was transferred from Permanent Secretaries to Boards, the principal assumption was that placing public services under private sector influenced Board management would result in the improved management of the government services.  However, those public services that remained within government departments, and were managed by Permanent Secretaries, appear to offer no worse a quality of service.  Therefore, the experiment with Boards has failed to significantly improve the management of public services in Barbados, and those Permanent Secretaries who were relieved of their responsibilities can feel vindicated.

The principal reason for Boards’ relative ineffectiveness appears to be that Board members were selected by the measure of their loyalty to the political party in power – a proven recipe for failure.

So what should we do right now.  First, all Boards that have not directed their CEOs to implement the ISO 9001 quality management system have demonstrated an intolerable level of incompetence.  Therefore, they should be dissolved immediately, and the management authority should be reverted to the relevant Permanent Secretaries.

Second, all Permanent Secretaries should direct all Statutory Corporation CEO’s and department managers to implement the ISO 9001 Quality Management System with dispatch.  Third, CEOs and managers who delay the implementation of the ISO 9001 Quality Management System are harming public sector employees and frustrating the public, and should be directed to seek their fortune elsewhere.

Barbados public employees can thrive within a properly managed work environment, but they are being held back.  Barbados has wasted at least 20 years unnecessarily keeping public sector employees down, while other countries have improved.  An example in a paper titled “ISO 9000 and the public sector” by Dr. Lawrence Eicher, ISO Secretary-General, should suffice.

In 1997, the customs department in El Salvador was very poorly managed, with “problems relating to sanitary conditions, delays in customs proceedings, unduly long merchandise dispatch times, abuses of confidence, accumulation of merchandise in holds and hundreds of tonnes of abandoned goods.”

“In response, the top management of the Ministry of Finance launched a rigorous clean-up plan in June 1997, which included ISO 9000 implementation.  As a result, the customs service has been transformed into the most modern in the region with much faster enquiry response times, dramatically improved efficiency, practically no complaints and increased customer satisfaction.

The change for the better has been such that Salvadoran Customs is visited by delegations from Latin American countries to analyse the impact of ISO 9000. The programme was so successful that it was followed up with others in the Directorate General of Internal Taxes and the Internal Tax Court of Appeals.”

“Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the Salvadoran project for deep cultural change in an organization, is that it was implemented without dismissing a single employee, many of whom had worked in the Ministry of Finance for more than 20 years and were over 50 years of age.”

So, rather than planning to send home another few thousand public employees, try keeping the employees, changing the management system, and dismissing the managers who attempt to frustrate the process.

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

Voting to Suck Salt Featured

Barbadians are finally waking up to the reality that we are on the brink of economic ruin.  Recommendations of currency devaluation and surrendering Barbados to the IMF are being made by prominent economists.  Even newspaper editorials are finally sounding the alarm after ignoring the warning signs for so long.

Barbadians are also waking up to the reality that this election will have grave consequences for their families.  Some prominent media persons appear to have resigned to the idea that it will be very bad, regardless of who is elected to form the next government.  They have repeated that lie so often that gullible voters are starting to be convinced.

It is now obvious to everyone that the DLP’s best efforts have failed to improve our economy.  After many have had to endure about a decade of trying to hold on, the DLP’s most recent plan is one where we must suck the proverbial salt for at least another 4 years.  It is as if they are begging the public not to vote for them.

As if that were not bad enough, the BLP stated that they would not be able to solve our economic problems during their first term in office.  So we are supposed to suck salt for the full 5 years of a BLP administration.  Again, it is as if they were just pleading with the public not to vote for them.

The BLP have several operatives who pretend to be non-partisan.  Their constant advice is to simply elect the BLP and then hold them accountable.  That is a lunatic idea because we have never been able to hold any BLP or DLP politician or administration accountable over the past 50 years.

Why would political operatives make such an easily disproven claim?  It appears that they were promised a place near the trough, where they can hope for spillage when the politicians feed.  So they will say or do anything in order to obtain or maintain their place.

We have run out of time for such selfish political games.  If the economy does not improve soon, then within one year, approximately one third of those with home mortgages will lose their houses, and within 3 years, most of the middle class will be reduced to poverty.  Therefore, it is critical that all political plans be subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny.

The DLP have already revealed their high-austerity plan.  The BLP claims that they have a high-austerity plan, but they will not allow anyone to examine it.  Further, they stated that they will not release it until six (6) weeks after they are elected.  Why anyone would even consider voting for that sort of arrogance is a mystery.

The UPP also have a high-austerity plan, and have agreed to submit it for independent examination, but they have not yet done so.  Solutions Barbados published their proven and workable plan over 2.5 years ago for rigorous public scrutiny.  It has been submitted to several independent economists and accountants for their critical review.

We recently received our first review results, which noted that our assumptions are ultra-conservative, and our plan eliminates the deficit and provides a surplus in our first year.  This means that we would have reversed all of the downgrades and returned Barbados to investment grade in our first year.  The reviewer also noted that the other political parties should seriously consider our plan.

Why does the media appear to only report on the BLP’s and DLP’s high-austerity pronouncements, and the economists’ currency devaluation and IMF based plans, but continue to ignore the only workable non-austerity plan on the table.  Why do the media appear so desperate for Barbados to suck the salt that Guyana and Jamaica were forced to experience?

In this election, the only two available choices are to vote for Solutions, or vote to suck salt.

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

Liberating Our Youth

Last week, we described how our secondary school students could graduate with some measure of independence.  This can be achieved by keeping our students interested in learning by teaching them the practical aspects of subjects during the first three years, and then training them to start and grow successful businesses using this practical knowledge.

Our students can be taught the more theoretical information during years 4 and 5 in preparation for their CXC examinations.  However, what will we do for those who have already graduated with no marketable skills?

Solutions Barbados’ plan is to train all persons, including recent graduates, to start and grow profitable businesses, with no or very little start-up funds.

The training workshop takes five (5) weeks and it will be transmitted on CBC television and on the Internet, where it can also be accessed with a smart phone.  At the end of the 5-week workshop, all participants should have started a viable business.

Once persons have a sustainable business and wish to expand, a Solutions Barbados administration will provide micro-loans from a new national bank, which will be managed at all post offices.  Such loans will not be available to start a business, only to grow a profitable business.

It is common for our youth to leave secondary school in search of entry-level jobs.  Such jobs include washing dishes, mixing concrete, carrying construction materials around a site, and security guard duties.  Nothing is wrong with these types of jobs.  However, our youth must see them as means to an end and not their end.

There is a measurable difference in the attitude of a person who washes dishes to fund his business, and the person who washes dishes for a living.  The one who sees an entry-level job as a temporary stepping-stone may work hard to complete his tasks.  The one who has resigned himself to the realization that the entry-level job is permanent, may pace himself for a life-sentence of boredom.

Barbados needs all persons to participate in our economy at their highest potential.  Therefore, all persons in entry-level jobs should have a plan for advancing in the company or starting their own businesses.  The 5-week workshop is designed to also train those in entry-level jobs to grow out of them.

Despite all the training, our youth can still be frustrated when they try to access government services that are critical to their advancement.  That is why all government departments are to be managed to the highest international customer-focused standard, ISO 9001.

Our youth can also be held back because they do not know a political operative or are not in favour with the political party n Government.  Our youth should not have to prostitute themselves just to access services to which they are entitled.  In a Solutions Barbados administration, any public worker who delays, denies or approves an application for politically partisan reasons, or attempts to solicit a bribe or sexual favours for government services, will be fired and lose their pension.

Our youth will eventually replace us.  Therefore, they must understand our foundations, appreciate our struggles, acknowledge the threats to our country, accept their responsibilities, and embrace the discipline that is required to lead others.

In preparation for their leadership roles, they must accept the challenge to find honest income-generating work, responsibly grow out of entry-level jobs, ethically start and grow their business, and responsibly advocate for improvements that benefit all of us in Barbadians.  Our students and recent graduates will enjoy developing in a Solutions Barbados administration, and we, their parents, will be relieved when they do.

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

Prepare for the Nightmare.

Solutions Barbados is the only political party that has published a workable economic plan that does not require IMF funding.  The BLP and DLP have embraced development philosophies that no longer work when a country is in this level of debt, and have taken us to the brink of economic ruin.  That is why many economists recommend that borrowing from the IMF should be part of their economic plans.

Should voters choose to elect Solutions Barbados candidates in the upcoming general election, then they can finally experience well-managed government services and a fair economy in which all participants can benefit.  Since we are not following the BLP/DLP failed development philosophies, every resident can become healthy, wealthy and educated if they choose to, without being politically favoured.

If Barbados has the misfortune of electing any other Party, then as soon as the election results are announced, they should prepare for the worst, because within one year, they will likely be living their nightmare.  Mercifully, they may only have to survive the 5-year term of the nightmare that they voted to experience.  Some useful post-election advice follows.

Those with cars need to ask their mechanic to replace every part that will likely need replacing within the next 5 years, especially the wheels and shock absorbers.  If persons cannot afford to have them installed now, then they should at least purchase the parts while they can still afford to.

Persons should not apply for home mortgages, and those who were recently approved for a mortgage should not take it.  Those with houses should complete any outstanding maintenance projects.  Everyone should consider purchasing a new computer, cell phone, camera, TV, microwave, washing machine, and any other device or home appliance that may need to be replaced within 5 years.

All employees in an export related sector should try to protect their salaries.  Such employees should request that the basis of their current salaries be in US dollars, but paid in the equivalent Barbados dollars.  Persons in this ‘export’ category include maids and gardeners in foreign-owned villas, all employees in the tourism and international business sectors, and all employees of those who directly export goods or services.

Persons who can access their pensions should try to protect them before they are worth less.  Those who do not qualify to access their pensions should weep for their dependents and join their fellow Barbadians, who recklessly decided to suck whatever is left after the salt that they voted to suck has gone by not voting for Solutions Barbados candidates.

All of this will be necessary because the IMF has one main role – to protect the country’s foreign currency earnings from the country’s residents.  They are well-aware that if you have access to foreign currency, you will spend it.  They are there to ensure that the foreign currency is used primarily to repay those from whom we borrowed – it does not belong to us.

To prevent us from using foreign currency on our needs or wants, they will likely devalue our currency to make the foreign currency purchases very expensive for us.  They will also significantly increase income taxes so that we will have very little money to spend.  Finally, they will increase sales taxes so that after we have spent our remaining money on our bare necessities, there will be nothing left.  So the foreign currency will be protected from us, and we will basically be working for nothing, like slaves.

In an IMF program, we should not expect our politicians to represent our interests.  That is because the IMF has learnt a very important lesson of slavery – feed the overseer and he will beat his fellow slaves.  Therefore, the only persons who normally do well during an IMF program are politicians, who are rewarded for carrying out the IMF’s instructions without mercy.  It is instructive to note that when the IMF doubled the income tax rates on Guyanese, their politicians offered no meaningful objection whatsoever.

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

Stop Frustrating Our Youth

Graduating from secondary school is normally an exhilarating time for our youth. However, for those who have not found employment, or acceptance in an institution of further learning, the end of the summer holiday can be the start of a long period of hopelessness for them and their parents.
 
The longer that school graduates remain idle, the greater their disillusionment when they compare their situation to that of their more fortunate friends, and the greater the risk that they will be tempted to obtain money by illegal methods. Selling stolen property, illegal drugs, and their bodies become viable income options.
 
As Solutions Barbados’ candidates interact with people in our communities, a common question is: “what is your plan for these youths?” Our plan is to remove the hopelessness that so many of them currently experience. Our youth will enjoy maturing in a Solutions Barbados administration.
 
Every young person will be able to realise their full potential by being trained to be independent, both while they are at school and after they have graduated. For this to be realised, the secondary school curriculum needs to be improved.
 
Our secondary school curriculum was designed to prepare students to enter the major professions. Our resulting professionals can successfully compete with professionals from any part of the world. However, since the majority of graduates do not pursue such professional careers, our school system fails most of our students.
 
The simple solution is to arrange the secondary school curriculum so that it benefits everyone. Everyone includes those planning on pursuing the major professions, business, artisan trades, arts, and those who entered secondary school with low common entrance scores and low aspirations.
 
The curriculum can be arranged so that the easier-to-learn and more exciting practical parts of subjects, that all students will likely find interesting, can be taught during the first three years. This is opposed to teaching the more difficult-to-learn theoretical aspects first, and the more practical aspects after students have become frustrated and have lost interest.
 
This will mean that students will learn conversational languages, where they learn to speak the language before conjugating verbs; music by ear, where they learn to play an instrument before music theory; applied sciences, where the usefulness of the subject is understood, before science theory, where the usefulness of the subject is less clear. With this practical knowledge, students will learn how to start and grow a profitable business.
 
The final two years will be spent preparing for the CXC examinations. However, with students already benefiting from the useful knowledge of the subjects, they are more likely to exercise the discipline necessary to learn the generally more difficult-to-learn theoretical aspects. They will learn the subject “Principles of Business” after they have a business to apply this learning to.
 
Every student will graduate with at least one marketable skill and feel useful. If our students cannot graduate with being able to survive with some measure of independence, then we have done them a disservice.
 
Our political leaders should be held responsible for an educational system that has failed so many of our students. Why? Because it was a political decision to: mandate that our children attend secondary school; determine how students were allocated to these schools; allow secondary schools to be managed by different boards of politically appointees; determine the teaching, materials, and maintenance resources that each school would receive; and determine the amount of discipline teachers could enforce.
 
In a Solutions Barbados administration, we will make the political decision to manage all schools to the highest international customer-focused management standard available, ISO 9001, for the benefit our students and their parents.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

David Walrond, JP

2S8A8975 David Waldron

My name is David Walrond and I am honoured that you, the residents of St James North, would consider me to represent you as a Member of Parliament.

I have had many diverse experiences that have prepared me to serve you at this time.  They include owning and managing a successful printing business for a decade, being a secondary school teacher for 7 years, and being a consultant and community activist.  I am also a Justice of the Peace.

I tend to analyse problems, design workable solutions and implement them.  For example, I was privileged to design a workable solution to the giant African snail problem in Barbados, and pioneer the implementation of this solution at a national level.

The problems of lack of employment opportunities, poorly managed public services, and poorly maintained infrastructure concern me greatly.  I know that these problems are found in most constituencies.

For decades, I have heard the political rhetoric blaming one political party or the other for the problems that we face.  In a Solutions Barbados administration, we will actually solve them.

We plan to deliver a flyer and mini-manifesto to each house in St James North.    It may be downloaded below.

A4 Flyer David Waldrond R1

Best regards,

David

Where is the Love

Last week I took my car to Nassco to get it serviced.  When it was ready to be collected, it was too late for their shuttle service.  So I decided to do some ‘management by walking about’ and take the bus to Bridgetown.

The Transport Board’s web site provided an impressive bus schedule, and the College Savannah (Route 9) bus was scheduled to leave Bridgetown on the hour every hour.  So I walked to the nearest bus stop, hoping to arrive in Bridgetown by 4:00 pm.

I arrived at the bus stop around 3:30 pm and there were two ladies who said that they had been waiting for a bus since around 3:00 pm.  They confirmed that the fare was still $2.00.  At approximately 4:15 pm, a passing vehicle offered the ladies a ride.  I decided to continue to wait for the bus since I was on a mission to observe the public transportation system directly, having not ridden in a bus in decades.

After standing at the unshaded bus stop for one hour, while exposed to the merciless sun without a hat, I decided that I would postpone this inspection and try to thumb a ride.  I did this in my youth without incident and normally transported persons thumbing rides – so I know the procedure.  However, despite being well-dressed to conduct business in Bridgetown, I spent one hour thumbing a ride without success.

Many cars passed, and they had to slow down while they passed me since there was a large pothole approximately 30 m on the approach road to the bus stop. Yet, despite almost all drivers glancing at me and my outstretched arm and thumb, no one stopped.  By 5:15 pm I decided that I might as well wait for the bus, which finally arrived at 5:31 pm.

I paid the fare and sat down with no small amount of gratitude.  I was one of 10 persons in a bus that seated approximately 40 persons.  The bus was clean, and the engine was just as noisy as I remembered.  I arrived in Bridgetown at 6:00 pm.

To wait 2.5 hours for a bus can result in a lot of unproductive time.  Passengers who rely on the Transport Board’s published schedules can easily find themselves late for work, church, school, and other scheduled appointments through no fault of their own.  They can also find themselves taking a long time to get back home.  Since Barbados’ economy can be harmed by this level of unnecessary unproductivity and uncertainty, it needs urgent attention.

Quick relief can be found by properly managing the Transport Board’s resources to the ISO 9001 quality management standard.  This standard aims at satisfying the customer by continually improving the product or service.  The improvements are identified by solving the root causes of customer complaints.  As a customer, I was not satisfied with the long wait, but I was satisfied once I boarded the bus.

I do not expect the Transport Board to implement the ISO 9001 standard before the upcoming general election; therefore, it will be up to a Solutions Barbados administration to make the necessary improvements.  However, we need an immediate temporary solution for the travelling public, which can be found through iterative discussion.  A first iteration follows.

If you are a driver of a private vehicle and you see people thumbing a ride at a bus stop in a rural area, then consider giving them a ride.  If you have waited for more than one-half hour at a bus stop, then consider thumbing a ride and offering the driver the bus fare.

If you feel the least bit uncomfortable, then do participate.  Minors and youth should not participate without a trusted adult.  Vulnerable persons should not travel alone, and should call a relative to provide the vehicle’s license plate number before they get in, and notifying the relative after safely leaving the vehicle.

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

Brace for the Consequences

My last article on Barbados’ vote against the US received sufficient feedback to justify a further explanation.  Some felt that it was simply a case of the US bullying another country, and Barbados’ courageous stand against the US’ offensive threats of retaliation against countries who dared not vote with it.  But is this true?

In assessing claims of truth, we should evaluate evidence.  What is the available evidence?  The US decided to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.  Israel did not object.  However, the UN objected and tried to force the US to change its decision.  It did this by crafting a non-binding resolution to condemn the US before all nations at the UN General Assembly.

This type of targeted sanction is normally reserved for nations committing highly offensive actions, like genocide.  The US objected to being singled out for this type of sanction, and the US responded by noting those who voted to condemn it, in order to re-evaluate their friendship agreements.  This is not bullying, rather, it is a response to being bullied.

What is Barbados’ bullying experience with voting against US interests in Israel?  I have found no evidence that Barbados has ever been bullied into voting the way that the US votes.  The evidence shows that every year, it is typical that 100% of our votes are against the way that the US and Israel votes, and this has never put our friendship with the US at any risk.  So why are some claiming that the US bullies us when there is no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim?  Perhaps we are being manipulated.

Let us now address this last UN vote.  This vote was unlike anything that we have ever done as an independent nation.  It was not the typical vote that targeted an issue favourable to Israel or the Palestinians, this was a massive vote directly targeting the US for international condemnation.  That is why the US Ambassador issued her unprecedented warning, which persons have mis-defined as bullying.  This is the first and only time since our independence that we have ever put our friendship with the US in such jeopardy.

To put this in perspective, let us assume that China was singled out for severe criticism at the UN on human rights abuses, and China warned Barbados not to disrespect them before all nations.  Would our principled UN representatives vote to publically embarrass China?  Probably not.

Guyana is currently trying to exploit significant oil reserves in waters disputed by Venezuela.  In my opinion, Guyana has a strong case, but let us assume that Guyana was singled out for criticism at the UN for this action, and they asked us not to disrespect them before all nations.  Would we vote to publically embarrass our Caribbean friend and neighbour?  Probably not.  Why not?  Because we are principled hypocrites?  No.  Because that is not how we treat our friends.  But perhaps it is how we treat perceived enemies.

Errol Barrow summarised our foreign policy as friends of all and satellites of none.  It seems that we are being manipulated into adding … and enemies of the US.  The question is why?

Some have justified our vote by claiming that we have no beneficial relationship with the US, and therefore, nothing to lose by derisively criticising the US in front of all other nations.  This is simply not true.  Barbados is a highly favoured trading partner with the US.  Barbados does not just have a good trading (double-taxation) agreement with the US, or a very good trade agreement like that of Trinidad and Tobago who had an active US military base at the time. We have a rare exceptionally favourable (to Barbados) trading agreement with the US. It is almost unheard of internationally and it is the envy or every country that learns of it.

Being the 2014 winner of the National Innovation Competition, I train groups of individuals, free of cost, to start and grow profitable businesses.  Participants learn to trade with the US and take advantage of this highly beneficial (to Barbados) trade agreement, with direct access to the largest consumer market on the planet.  So I know of what I write.

We are currently on the brink of economic ruin.  The main thing that may keep Barbadians from losing their mortgaged homes, and out of dire poverty if we are surrendered to the IMF, is that favourable trade agreement.  Regrettably, we carelessly treated our friendship with the US with reckless indifference.

Our representatives’ excuse that we were just voting on principle in support of International Law, seems to confirm that they simply misread the UN vote as just another typical vote against Israel’s interests.  The US Ambassador’s uncharacteristic warnings should have prompted them to take a closer look.

So, if we could do it all over again, then how should we have voted?  In my opinion, the most appropriate course of action for complex disputes where we do not have all of the facts, is to abstain from voting.  We should remember that when a vote was taken to give the Palestinians non-member observer state status in the UN in 2012, Barbados did not get involved in the dispute and simply abstained from voting.

The approximately 70-year Arab-Israel dispute qualifies as complex.  Adding a bilateral agreement between the US and Israel that is of concern to the UN further complicates an already complex issue.  Therefore, the most appropriate course of action in the interest of all Barbadians was to abstain from voting.  Eight of our Caribbean neighbours voted in the interests of their citizens and did just that.

Most Barbadians are completely unaware of the grave danger that our UN representatives have now placed us.  If we actually misread the vote as I am charitably assuming, then the damage can be repaired.  However, if it was intentional, then they should have at least warned us to brace for the likely consequences.

So my main point is that if we feel disrespected by another country at the UN, we should vote for the best interest of Barbadians.  If we feel bullied, we should vote for the best interest of Barbadians.  If the US bullies or does not bully another nation, we should vote for the best interest of Barbadians.  If the Palestinians want to establish a runway in Gaza and a central bank in the West Bank, we should vote for the best interests of Barbadians.  In my opinion, our recent vote was not in the best interest of Barbadians.  I am willing to be convinced otherwise with additional evidence.

The only reason why we should not vote for our own self-interests is if there is genocide and the like in another country.  Otherwise, we should do what every other country at the UN does – vote for the self-interests of our citizens, and be wary of being manipulated into voting for the interests of others at the expense of our citizens

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

A Bunch of Hypocrites

As I engage the younger generation, who we are training to manage Barbados after we have gone to the great beyond, I am normally impressed with their general boldness and ability to articulate their concerns.

I recently saw a young fellow who appeared to have just graduated from secondary school selling newspapers.  I bought one and encouraged him to keep doing the right thing.  I was impressed by his politeness.  He should do well in business, because he was selling a high-demand product in a high-trafficked location, and he was polite – which is a valuable asset.

I also encountered persons selling mangoes.  Some had no fear about explaining that they had picked them from a neighbour’s yard.  They felt justified since they did not pick all, but left some, that were harder to reach, for their neighbour.  They also felt entitled to the mangoes since they previously chased the monkeys from stealing the fruit.

They asked me what I will do about police coming into their community and taking bribes for looking the other way.  They laughed when I informed them about the Police Complaints Authority, saying that it is a joke.  I asked them whether they had ever made a complaint, and they admitted that they had not because it is a joke.  I explained that they should first make a complaint, and then observe the response before they conclude that it is joke.

They agreed that this was a rational approach, but then countered by stating that they were tired of all of the hypocrisy in Barbados.  Why is everyone preaching “do as I say but not as I do”?  They then asked some pertinent questions.

Why are obese health officials preaching that the public should not enjoy the unhealthy foods that they seem to be enjoying in abundance?  Why are people with high salaries telling those who are barely getting by to tighten their belts?  Why are people who are always drinking preaching that others should drink responsibly?

When I asked about their choice of job, they tried to justify their choice of employer.  What is the difference between having an employer who tells you to use substandard materials and methods, and having a gang lord who tells you to sell drugs?  In both cases, the employers are doing wrong, customers get hurt, and if they get caught, you will be out of a job.  So what is the real difference?

Why do the police leave the men who pay and receives bribes, and the restaurants that dilute drinks, and contractors who do bad work, and shops that sell defective products, and supermarkets that sell expired food alone, but want to arrest the fellows who are selling drugs?  How is that right?  I agreed that it was not right, and that in a Solutions Barbados administration, they would all be treated equitably.

This brings us to the political poster issue.  The Barbados Light and Power formally requested all political parties not to place posters on their poles.  One reason given is that they can seriously injure workers.  Respect for private property is a basic human right in Barbados, and is protected by our constitution.  Politicians who want to write our nation’s laws, but unashamedly violate constitutional property rights in full public view, are extremely poor examples for our youth.

Fortunately for all of us, there is an upcoming general election and an opportunity for us to select better political models for our nation’s justifiably cynical youth.  Your responsibility in this regard is to simply note every political candidate on a utility pole, and do not vote for them.

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

Put Up or Shut Up

This is the most crucially important general election that we have ever had since our independence.  We are so much in debt that we are facing economic ruin.  If any successful political party fails to significantly improve the economy within their first year in Government, the majority of Barbadians will suffer unimaginable harm.  We are realistically looking at most of the middle-class being reduced to poverty within the next 3 years

With so much to lose in this general election, voters need to examine each Party’s economic plans.  However, that is clearly asking too much of voters who have more immediate concerns.  In recognition of this, the US has a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that examines political plans and determines their effect on the economy.

For this critical general election, Barbados desperately needs a set of non-partisan accountants and economists who are willing to put aside their political biases, and honestly examine the effects of each Party’s plans on the national economy and society.  I am calling on the Barbados Economic Society and the Institute of Charter Accountants of Barbados to form a joint committee to do just that – for all of our sakes.

The criteria for membership of this committee should be agreed with all political parties.  The joint committee should critically examine each assumption used in each Party’s economic plans, because we cannot afford to get it wrong this time.  It is in all of our interests to know whether a Party’s plans are likely to work, and any deficiencies in a Party’s plans that need to be corrected before they are implemented on the public.

While this can serve to protect the public in some way, it is not fool proof.  Despite all political parties knowing full well that there is no more money left to pay for reckless political promises as in the past, some Parties will continue to make them, because that is the only way they know of getting elected – but this time, they know that they will be blatantly lying to the public.

Since we have run out of time for any more political games, Barbados needs a guarantee that we can return a political product if it is found to be defective.  One such method is to allow voters to recall all members of Cabinet after their first year in office, if their economic plans fails to meet the measureable improvements promised.  With this method, politicians are less likely to make reckless promises and are more likely to keep responsible ones.  It is much better to hold by-elections in those constituencies than to put Barbadians through any more unnecessary suffering.

Solutions Barbados is the only party offering to do what the other parties have not done, namely, properly manage public services, reduce our national debt, allow public workers to be promoted on merit alone, and root out corruption.  Our plans have been published for the past 2.5 years for rigorous public scrutiny, and we welcome having them scored by any non-partisan group.  It is now time for every political party contesting this important election to either ‘put up or shut up’, because we simply cannot afford anymore broken political promises.

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