1. Barbados has not supported third parties since independence. Why do you think they would support you? Why do you think that you will succeed when the NDP did not?
Whether we succeed in getting elected is ultimately not up to us. We simply wish to give our fellow citizens a competent alternative to the two dominant political parties and those who share their now destructive policies.
Both established parties have tried the high taxation, excessive borrowing, ineffective secondary school curriculum, and politically managed public service approach for too long. It is time to improve. The choice is whether we will continue to struggle in the existing environment embraced by the two main political parties and their offspring, or benefit from the improvements that we have described.
If they accept our solutions, then Barbados should prosper. If they wish to continue with the current failed approach, then we can expect more of the same.
2. I like what I have read. Where can I make a donation?
While we need money to run an effective campaign, we have chosen not to solicit funds. We will spend our own funds and run a campaign that we can afford. We will not be offering any employment, paying any household bills, or giving any money or gifts to any constituent. Instead, we plan to create an environment where all constituents can soon do these things for themselves. If the people wish to receive temporary gifts in exchange for another 5 years of misery, then that is their choice. We are here to give them a competent alternative.
3. How do you plan to address the national debt?
Barbados needs an improved economy so that all Barbadians have the opportunity to thrive, so that we can afford to maintain our social services and infrastructure, and repay the national debt. We cannot afford to pay the salaries of teachers, police, nurses etc, or the supplies to the QEH and other government departments, or NIS benefits with a weak economy.
As a country, we are heavily in debt. We are in so much debt that those who are currently working can never pay it off at the current rate of spending. It will be left for our primary school age children and grand-children to pay our debts. Getting our children into debt was intentional. It is an economic instrument called debt financing which was only designed to be used for a short period. But it has become permanent because both political parties lacked the discipline to avoid abusing it.
One of our Prime Ministers tried to justify burdening our children with our debts by explaining that since our children would benefit from the roads, that they should have to pay for them. That type of irresponsible thinking partly got us in this economic mess.
We did not ask for this debt. We simply wanted our political leaders to manage the economy properly by not overspending. They could not do even that. Their current strategy appears to be to keep the national debt alive for our children and grandchildren to pay. How irresponsible is that?
The interest on the debt is paid by increasing taxes on Barbadians and Barbadian-based businesses. This means that Barbadian people have less money to spend, and Barbadian businesses must increase their prices. The result is that Barbadians on reduced incomes are forced to buy the less expensive non-Barbadian products.
Our position is that it is irresponsible for the current voters to pass on national debts to the next generation of voters.
On 21 April 2017, I attended a public meeting by the Barbados Private Sector Association and was disappointed by their austerity-based solutions to Barbados’ dire economic situation. The Government, private sector merchants, financial institutions and individual economists are warning us to brace for austerity. Eight years ago, austerity meant forcing most Barbadians to access their savings in order to survive. Today, it means to force our fellow Barbadians into poverty.
Approximately 2.5 years ago, Solutions Barbados published a plan to bring Barbados back from the brink of economic ruin without the austerity promised by others. The plan is based on proven solutions. However, the Government continues to ignore this plan while stubbornly pursuing its strategy, which the IMF predicts will lead to the devaluation of the Barbados dollar.
We have shared our plan with anyone who will listen, including the BWU, NUPW and CTUSAB. It was also published in both print and on-line news media, and also on the radio. To-date, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive, because the plans are proven and workable. The published plan consists of 4 main steps – none of which require laying-off civil servants, reducing their wages, incurring additional Government spending, or begging other countries to lend us money.
Step 1 is to increase Government’s local currency revenues to run the Government and pay local currency debts. This can be done by reducing taxes on personal and corporate revenues to 10% of gross revenues – with no deductions. This will make taxes easier to calculate, pay and audit. It is also fairer.
Currently, businesses pay taxes on net-profits. Therefore, it is possible to run a successful business for decades without paying any corporate taxes. However, since the Government must obtain revenue, the taxes that such businesses currently legally avoid paying are extracted from the rest of us. Well, not under a Solutions Barbados administration.
To facilitate the prompt payment of all taxes, all taxes previously owed to all Government departments will be forgiven and VAT and NSRL will be abolished. Businesses are currently being forced to pay VAT when they issue an invoice, rather than when they receive payment. This is unfair, because businesses may not get their invoices paid until months later – or never. Taxing businesses before they receive payment is an insidious method of taxation that can both prevent businesses from growing, and reduce their competitiveness.
The forgiveness of debts to Government should have happened as part of our 50th anniversary jubilee celebrations. However, only a few select persons benefitted financially from those celebrations. Therefore, everyone will start with a ‘clean slate’. In exchange, all new non-payment of taxes will attract a penalty of 10 times the value of the outstanding amount for those who blatantly refuse to pay. Those who refuse to pay taxes under a Solutions Barbados administration will be competing unfairly in our economy, and that will not be encouraged.
Step 1 also includes increasing foreign currency revenues in order to pay for imports and foreign currency debts. This can be done by temporarily reducing taxes on all foreign currency earnings to zero.
It should be noted that the 10% corporate tax rate on revenues only applies to companies competing in Barbados’ market. International Business companies will operate as they currently do, with taxes applied to their profits.
Companies with relatively large profits (like some professional services), will likely pay the tax out of their profits, so that they can keep their fees competitive.
Companies with large expenses and low profits, will likely increase the cost of their products by 10% in order to collect the tax, much like a sales tax. Therefore, they will maintain their marginal profits. They will likely maintain their market share since everyone will be taxed in the same manner and at the same rate.
Companies with moderate profits will have the most flexibility. They can pay the tax from both their profit and by increasing the cost of their products. For example, they may pay 4% from their profit and increase the cost of their products by 6%. They can iteratively change these combinations in order to optimise the benefit to their business.
The market will check greed. If a profitable business greedily increases all products by 10% and his competitor does not, then the market will punish him.
Step 2 is to effectively address corruption by fining those who receive and pay bribes up to 10 times the value of the bribe, and rewarding the whistle-blower with the full value of the bribe.
Step 3 is to increase productivity in both the public and private sectors, and reduce wastage and unnecessary costs in the public sector. This can be done by managing all public services to the international customer-focused ISO 9001 Quality Management System. Parts of the ISO 9001 system can be implemented across the entire public service within hours, to the benefit (and relief) of those who deliver and receive Government services – at no additional cost to Government.
One low hanging wastage fruit is to stop public workers from paying income taxes. Currently, the private sector must pay additional taxes, which are then given to public sector workers, who then give it to the Government. The accounting bureaucracy and costs required to manage the taxation of an estimated 25,000 public workers can be avoided.
Step 4 is to depoliticize the public service. In a Solutions Barbados administration, public workers will be selected and promoted on merit alone.
Any of these steps taken by themselves will not pull Barbados back from the brink, because frustrated public services can frustrate the entire process. Therefore, they must all be taken together. We need an increase in local and foreign currency revenues, and a better managed and depoliticized public service. The Minister of Finance is strongly advised to examine our plan before we run out of viable options.
4. Why do we need ISO 9001? Why can’t we expand the NISE initiative?
The ISO 9001 system is focused on satisfying all customers by improving the quality of the product or service that the customer receives. This is achieved by continually improving the management of how the product or service is developed and delivered.
The NISE initiative appears to be focused making the customer’s conversations with the person delivering the service as pleasant as possible, without actually improving the product offered. A few examples should suffice.
a) I do not go to Town Planning to have a pleasant conversation with the secretary, but to have my application processed quickly.
b) I do not go to the bank to have a pleasant conversation with the teller, but to transact my business accurately and quickly.
c) I do not go to a car dealership to have a pleasant conversation with the receptionist but to have my car serviced properly.
NISE focuses on satisfying customers by improving the pleasantness of the employees who interact with the customer. ISO 9001 focuses on satisfying customers by improving the quality of the product, which is done by improving the competence of everyone involved in developing and delivering the product.
The NISE initiative has failed to improve the product and failed to improve the satisfaction of customers. NISE was warned that this was a failed approach a decade ago, and the product improvement approach was recommended as an alternative, but they chose to focus on the persons at the point of delivery.
That the Private Sector continues to embrace this approach after over 10 years of failure explains perfectly why so many former Barbadian businesses are foreign owned, and why Barbadians have reverted to the position of aspiring to the highest level of overseer.
5. Are you on a witch hunt with the bribery and corruption allegations?
We are not alleging corruption. Every party in opposition seems to claim that the party in Government is corrupt and is mismanaging the economy. The ISO 9001 Quality Management System will address the apparent management problems. The bribery amnesty and whistle-blower legislation should prevent any corrupt practices from occurring in the future. They will also provide a legal mechanism for those who claim to have knowledge of past corrupt practices, and a disincentive for making malicious accusations.
6. Are you trying to destroy the other two political parties?
Not at all.
We are here to present you with a competent alternative political option. We do not want to see the demise of the other two parties, and are not encouraging you to give up your membership in them, but we are asking you to give us the opportunity to do what the others perhaps want to do, but cannot.
To demonstrate this commitment to you, we are not issuing membership cards or accepting membership dues. There is no fatted calf to slaughter and no special groups to invite to the feast. Every Barbadian citizen and resident is expected to benefit from the solutions presented. We are a group of people who treasure our reputations too much to damage them by behaving irresponsibly.
7. Is Solutions Barbados a Party only for Business Persons?
Absolutely not. It is a party for all residents of Barbados. However, given the recent clever effort by political operatives to redefine Solutions Barbados, a detailed response is necessary.
Solutions Barbados is very concerned with all of the principal problems that hinder Barbados’ and therefore, every resident’s development. We have defined workable and proven solutions to these problems and published them on 1st July 2015 on SolutionsBarbados.com for public discussion and improvement. They encompass: governance, regulations, criminal justice, procurement, education, transportation, health, welfare, business development, taxation, agriculture, and national infrastructure. All of these comprise Barbados’ economy.
With workable solutions in hand, we then invited the other political parties to implement them. Being aware that both parties have not implemented similar solutions despite 15 years of active lobbying, we published a Wanted Advertisement for accomplished leaders to consider running in the next general elections, in order to implement the necessary structural changes to the economy.
We recognized that in 1991, the NDP had a superior message and more accomplished candidates, and the time was ideal – since they were the formal opposition during a recession. Yet they could not convince the electorate that they were more capable then a party with less opposition members.
The Caribbean has been run by single professionals (mostly lawyer-politicians) and former employees who have, by any reasonable measure, generally mismanaged the public services and their national economies with popular, but unworkable ideas. The main problem appears to be one of individual preparation. The successful candidates were simply not properly prepared to manage, and therefore, not capable of managing a national economy.
Who then are the most prepared and capable persons to manage a national economy. We believe that a good preparatory path is for those who were once employees themselves, to risk starting a business to develop a product. As the product is continuously improved and they are able to attract more customers, they are able to make a profit and employ others. A national economic recession is an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their priorities, whether in maintaining profits or maintaining employees. For this reason, we initially set the ideal standard at an employer who had employed 10 employees for a decade.
Given that most people are employees, we understand that they would rightly feel uncomfortable if their only experience of an employer was someone who was more focused on increasing profits rather than on improving the product. That many businesses in Barbados tried to maintain their employees during the recession appears to show that Barbados has responsible employers.
It is important to note that employers include: engineers (like myself), doctors, lawyers, contractors, accountants, merchants, hair dressers, landscapers, barbers, dentists, musicians, accountants, dramatists, economists, and every other professional and non-professional who took the risks of starting their own business and employing others.
It should be noted that being an employer is no longer a Candidate selection requirement. It is currently any competent and caring person.