More experienced professionals normally find that the simplest practical solutions are often the most effective. The least experienced professionals normally propose very complex and less effective solutions due to their recent academic training and lack of practical experience. We have found that the most effective solutions for Barbados are relatively simple.
We presented our draft solutions for rigorous public scrutiny over 2 years ago (on 1 July 2015) so that through discussion, they can be improved. We especially welcomed discussion with those who thought that they would not benefit from the proposed solutions, because we tried to design them to benefit all residents and citizens of Barbados. They have now become our promises to the people of Barbados.
1. Improving Governance
The general inefficiency and indecision within the public service is the main problem hindering Barbados’ development. This can be solved with a professional public service that is not influenced by any political party.
- To address Government’s inefficient public services, all Government departments (including statutory corporations) will be required to attain and maintain the highest international quality management standard – ISO 9001. Priority will be given to those departments that regularly interact with the public. People should receive efficient and competent service from each government department. [Link to ISO 9001 Implementation Plan]
- To address Government’s indecision, the lifetime pension arrangement for politicians will be abolished. Parliamentarians will receive pension contributions to their pension accounts only while they are in office. Making important but unpopular decisions should not be delayed until enough first time politicians qualify for their pensions. [Link to Abolishing Lifetime Pension Implementation Plan]
- To address the lack of civility in parliament, the parliamentary privilege that allows politicians in parliament to defame individuals without consequences will be abolished. Parliament should be the place where exemplary debates and discussions are held. [Link to Abolishing Defamation Protection Implementation Plan]
- To address civil servant apathy, the power to hire, fire and discipline civil servants will be returned to a non-political body. All civil servants will be appointed on merit alone, by a non-political professional commission. We cannot expect civil servants to be anything but apathetic if they believe that there is no hope of being promoted, unless they are in favour with a particular political party. Further, frustrated civil servants is the likely outcome of being poorly managed by an incompetent political appointee. [Link to Civil Service Apathy Implementation Plan]
- To address political victimization, a discussion will be held with civil servants on whether they should join political parties, and any proven case of political victimization, by any civil servant, will result in the offender’s immediate dismissal, and forfeiture of their pension. This should protect civil servants from being victimized if the government is forced to lay-off staff. It should also protect any person, regardless of political affiliation, when they try to obtain government services. However, this policy would need to be agreed with their respective Unions. [Link to Discouraging Political Victimization Implementation Plan]
- To address the problem of nurses and teachers who no longer passionately care, and feel trapped in an unfulfilling job, counselling followed by either promotion (for qualified persons), early retirement with full pension (for older persons), or educational grants for an alternative career (for younger persons), will be provided. Barbados depends on the continual influx of nurses and teachers who genuinely and passionately care. [Link to Health and Education Implementation Plan]
- Statutory corporations will be managed by a Chief Executive Officer, who will report to the Permanent Secretary. Boards will be abolished since they appear ineffective at preventing questionable expenses, providing audited accounts, or addressing the major concerns of the Auditor General. Therefore, they appear to be an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that can be more effectively handled by the Permanent Secretary. [Link to Statutory Corporation Implementation Plan]
- To address the unwillingness of the Opposition to work with Government in proposing solutions given their concern of a snap election, the Prime Minister must call an election one year in advance.
2. Improving the Regulatory System
- To address the quality of government’s regulatory system, the qualifications and experience of regulatory posts will be high. Professional posts will require chartered or equivalent professional qualifications, preferably at the level of Fellow. The regulators must be at least as qualified as the persons whose work they are regulating. Barbados is too small a country to risk regulatory failures. [Link to Regulation Implementation Plan]
- To address the prolonged settlement of insurance claims, the insurance industry will be regulated to ensure that property and injury claims are either settled within 3 months of the incident, or they are adjudicated by a third party. In special cases, the adjudicator may allow the insurance company additional time to further investigate a claim (for example, in cases of suspected fraud, or exceptionally complex claims). If a person has a valid insurance policy, then they should be paid, at least partially (i.e. the full amount which is not in dispute), within one month. [Link to Insurance Claim Settlement Implementation Plan]
- To address the problem of arbitrary regulations, all Ministers will have advisory committees consisting of independent representatives of relevant organisations. [Link to Advisory Committee Implementation Plan]
- To address the problem of regulations being unknown or unfair, all laws and regulations of Barbados will be published on the Internet. Further, if any Barbadian citizen or resident thinks that a regulation is unfair, then they may request its review by the advisory committee who shall make a recommendation to the Minister. If the Minister rejects their recommendation, then the advisory committee may appeal to Cabinet. Cabinet decisions shall be final.
- To improve the effectiveness of Permanent Secretaries, all Permanent Secretaries and their Deputies will be trained in Project Management.
3. Improving the Criminal Justice System
When offenders commit crimes, the police normally investigate and charge them. Then they are prosecuted, and they may be fined and/or jailed. However, it is the taxpayers who currently pay for the justice system. With the increasing number of inmates at HMP Dodds at around 1,000, the cost of charging, prosecuting and looking after the offenders for the duration of their sentence has become burdensome. The main reason for Barbados’ expensive justice system is to address the actions of offenders. It is time that the offenders pay for their justice service.
- To address the high cost of crime to the taxpayer, on conviction offenders will be fined 10 times the replacement value of the offence, and HMP Dodds will be reserved for violent offenders who must both serve their sentences and pay their fines. Therefore, if someone steals a cell phone, and a similar new cell phone costs $700, then they will pay a fine of $7,000 on conviction. It should be cheaper for an offender to buy their own than to steal someone else’s.
- After persons are charged, but before they are formally tried, the offenders will be allowed to consult with their lawyers and pay a pre-trial settlement of 3 times the replacement value of the offence, where one part will go to the victim, and two parts to fund the justice system. Otherwise, the fine on conviction will be 10 times the value of the offence if found guilty, where 2 parts will go to the victim and 8 parts to fund the justice system. The minimum pre-trial sentence will be $500, and the minimum trial sentence will be $5,000.
- To address the problem of violent crime, violent crime will attract a minimum 3-year prison sentence for the first offence and a minimum 10-year prison sentence for subsequent offences. They will also attract fines of 10 times the value of the offence. Therefore, if a first offender used a knife during the robbery of the $700 cell phone, then on conviction, he will spend at least 3 years in prison and must also pay the $7,000 fine.
- To address the concerns of bribery, a 3-month amnesty will be provided for both the payer and receiver, where each of them can confidentially pay a fine of the value of the bribe. Thereafter, the fine will be 10 times the value of the bribe. The statute of limitations on bribery and other corrupt practises will be Barbados’ date of independence. All investigations, charges, and prosecutions will be confidential. However, convictions will be made public.
- To address the concerns of corruption, whistle-blower legislation will be enacted immediately following the bribery amnesty, where the whistle-blower will receive 10% of the resultant fine. Therefore, the whistle-blower will receive the full value of the bribe or other corrupt offence. However, to reduce the risk of malicious unsubstantiated accusations, the whistle-blower may be liable for defamation if there is no evidence of corruption.
- To address the stigma attached to charged persons in a small country like Barbados, only the charges and court cases of those convicted will be published. Publishing any such details of innocent persons will attract defamation fines. Defamation will not attract a prison sentence, and the damages will be quantified based on loss of reputation and profit.
- To address the mixing of violent offenders with non-violent offenders in prison, prison will be reserved for violent offenders (separated into first time and repeat offenders) and those who refuse to pay their fines. The fines can be paid by instalments, and work opportunities will be found for those not employed in order to facilitate their payments.
- To address the proliferation of guns used to commit offenses, all persons involved in the illegal distribution of a gun will be charged with the same offense as the final user. Therefore, the importer, distributor, seller, and renter will all be charged with: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, rape, theft, threats, illegal possession, or whatever the final user was charged with.
4. Improving Government Procurement
Internationally, government procurement of goods and services represents a significant share of national corrupt practises (between 10% and 30%). Once a country has been negatively branded as corrupt, then it can take at least one generation to change that perception. Therefore, such negative branding should actively be avoided.
- All government contracts, where the full value of the work is over $25,000, shall be publically tendered through a fair and public prequalification and tender process.
- The tendering process shall be managed by a non-political tenders committee. Members of the committee shall comprise of representatives of professional organisations with effective disciplinary sub-committees. It should be noted that civil servants do join professional organisations.
5. Improving Education
When secondary school students graduate, they should have at least one marketable skill and feel useful. They should know how to survive on their own; otherwise, we have done them a disservice. We must provide the environment where they can build a strong foundation on which to support and carry forward the legacy that is Barbados. Secondary school should be more than an enhanced day-care for teenagers. All students should at least know how to cook, make marketable products from raw materials at home (eg: coconut oil from coconuts), perform basic accounting, perform basic maintenance on manufactured products, and speak and write well. Further, none of Barbados’ diligent students should be deprived of a University education because of their inability to pay.
- To address the problem of unskilled secondary school graduates, the school curriculum will be revised so that secondary school students spend their first three years learning the more exciting, easier-to-learn, and more marketable practical aspects of the subjects. The final two years will be spent learning the more challenging theoretical aspects for the CXC examinations.
- To address the high cost of UWI education to taxpayers, the UWI tuition for a first degree will be paid in full for those who qualify with 7 CXC General passes (I and II) and 3 CAPE passes. The tuition will be for the normal duration of a marketable Bachelor degree. A marketable degree is one in which an average of at least one quarter of the graduating class of the past 15 years has been able to obtain employment in that field.
- To further address the high cost of UWI education to taxpayers, any student who is accepted into an accredited degree programme at a foreign university, that is less expensive than UWI, may be fully funded. However, they or their sureties will be required to refund all costs with interest if they do not return within 10 years of graduating.
- To address the concerns about the quality of teaching, secondary and tertiary level students will complete confidential course evaluations and will have their promotion exams audited.
- To address teachers’ concerns about violent disruptive students, such students must leave the classroom so that the others can learn. The disruptive student will first receive counselling. If there is no change in the student’s behaviour, then they will be enrolled in the National Youth Service for two weeks where they will receive additional counselling. If there is still no change, then they will be enrolled in the National Youth Service for one year and will have to repeat the school year.
- To address teachers’ concerns about non-violent disruptive students, repeat offenders must visit the geriatric hospital to care for the elderly at least one hour after school each week-day, for a duration of 2 weeks. Young offenders can spend the hour reading to sight or memory-impaired residents, while older offenders can also assist with feeding and exercise. After two weeks, they should learn compassion and some of our collective wisdom, and our elderly may appreciate interacting with our children. Students will not be allowed to return to school unless they have a note, signed by the duty nurse, confirming their attendance the previous day. This should ensure the parents’ cooperation.
- To address the management problems within the schools and the Ministry, all schools and departments within the Ministry of Education will be managed in accordance with the international Quality Management standard, ISO 9001. This should result in complaints being permanently addressed, wastage being minimized, innovation among teachers and administrative staff being developed, and productivity among all employees being higher.
6. Improving Transportation
- To address the high cost of public transportation, the public transportation system will be privatised and fairly and well regulated. Permit owners will be charged 10 times the value of each offence, and they will forfeit their permit if their vehicle has attracted more than 3 dangerous offences in one year (letting someone on or off between bus stops is not a dangerous offence, but speeding, overloading, reckless driving, etc are).
- The existing public transportation system will be limited to transporting school children in uniform and will be available for charter.
- Pensioners will be allowed to travel without cost on the privatised system.
7. Improving Health Care
It can be challenging to eat healthy food when it costs significantly more than the unhealthy alternatives. The unhealthy high fat, high salt and high sugar foods are linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. These make our health care too expensive for us to afford.
- To address the high cost of health care to the public, taxes will be removed from all healthy foods and a health tax will be applied to all unhealthy foods consumed in Barbados, whether imported or locally manufactured. Therefore, those who choose the more expensive unhealthy foods will pre-pay for their health care.
8. Improving Welfare
- To address the inequities in the welfare system, all households (whether in an owner occupied or rental dwelling) will be allowed a subsistence amount of water and electricity without cost. Rates above this minimum will be increased to fund the initial subsistence amount.
- To address wastage in the welfare system, each welfare recipient will be issued a debit card that can only be redeemed at the Barbados Agricultural Society, and is topped up weekly. The BAS will be audited annually to improve the management of this system.
9. Improving Business Development
Business development can be facilitated by knowledge, and by funding that does not financially ruin the individual while they learn from their failures.
- To address the lack of knowledge, secondary school students will learn how to develop and manage a home-based business as part of their school curriculum. A national workshop will be televised, and will be freely available over the Internet, training families in step-by-step methods, how to start and properly manage a home-based business. The national workshops should benefit persons with insufficient family income, or employees who feel trapped in unfulfilling jobs.
- A new national development bank will be established to assist small businesses. Transactions can be performed at the various post offices across Barbados, over the Internet, and at ATM’s. Unsecured micro-loans (up to $5,000) can be provided through overdraft facilities. Larger loans can be obtained with securities.
- The BIDC will facilitate businesses wishing to invest in Barbados, and export from Barbados. BIMAP will facilitate the training of ISO 9001 auditors.
10 Improving Taxation
- To address the inequities in the income tax system, individuals will pay a flat tax of 10% of their gross income with no deductions.
- To address the inequities in the corporate tax system, all businesses competing in Barbados’ market will pay a flat tax of 10% of gross revenues in local currency received (not invoiced) with no deductions. The percentage of gross revenues received in approved foreign currency by the Central Bank, will be taxed at 0% during the first year, and 2.5% thereafter. All taxes are due within one month of the previous month’s receipts. Late payments will attract a penalty of 10% for one month. VAT and NSRL will be abolished.
- To address the non-payment of taxes, all taxes of any type owed to Government by individuals and businesses will be forgiven. In exchange for starting with a ‘clean slate’, all individuals and businesses should pay their taxes promptly. All businesses will be audited. Blatant cases of refusal to pay taxes will attract fines of 10 times the unpaid balance.
- To address the ethics concerns of professionals, professionals will need to show evidence of membership in a relevant professional organisation, with a code of ethics and an active disciplinary committee, in order to register in Barbados. The registration fees will be 10% of what they currently (2015) are for the first month when they are due.
- To improve the tourism product, all inputs used exclusively in the tourism property will be duty free. Any duty free items diverted for non-tourism or personal use will attract a fine of 10 times the market value of the good or service.
- To address the inequities in the land tax system, taxes will not be applied to either land primarily in agriculture, or residential land with 1 large fruit bearing tree maintained in at-most every 5,000 sq-ft of unimproved land area. Taxes will be applied to occupied unpainted houses, unoccupied houses, vacant lots not in agriculture, and lots with less than 1 fruit bearing tree in every 5,000 sq-ft (max) of unimproved land area. The tree must be capable of bearing in order to qualify.
- To address the inequities in the duty free sector, duty free purchases will only be allowed using foreign currency.
- To address the high cost of solid waste disposal, separating domestic and commercial wastes into metal, glass, paper, plastic and organic wastes will be mandated, recycling and reuse will be encouraged, and a solid-waste tax will be applied to all manufactured products and packaging consumed in Barbados, whether imported or locally made. A tax rebate will be available to all importers and local manufacturers who ship the waste packaging and waste products outside of Barbados.
- To reduce wasted resources, public workers should not be required to pay 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.
11 Improving Agriculture
- To address the main disincentive for farmers, Government will share the theft risk. Farmers will be reimbursed immediately for thefts, and an effective praedial larceny section will be established within the Royal Barbados Police Force to investigate and charge offenders. The fine will be 10 times the market value of the crops and/or equipment reported stolen. Fraudulent accusations will attract the same penalty.
- To address the stealing of crops by monkeys, the interior and sides of gullies will be planted with fruit trees.
- To encourage small farmers to plant more, tractor services will be available to all small farmers, and an efficient collection system will be arranged for export crops.
12 Improving Infrastructure
- To address the high maintenance cost of Barbados’ infrastructure, maintenance will be a principal design and construction criterion which will be enforced in the management of building contracts.
- A Ministry or Department of Maintenance will be established to maintain Barbados’ infrastructure.
- To address soil erosion of agricultural lands clogging drainage structures, the edges of fields bounding the road will be planted with Khus Khus grass.
The Way Forward
Our current plan follows.
- Subject the policy solutions described on this page to rigorous scrutiny for the sole purpose of improving them (ongoing).
- Develop implementation plans for the scrutinized policies (ongoing).
- Develop drafts of the legislative and regulatory amendments, revised school curriculums, and ISO 9001 quality management procedures that support the implementation plan (ongoing).
You are welcome to contribute to these efforts by commenting on the drafts when they are published. Our aim is not to spend months after the elections still planning improvements, but to start implementing from the first months. Please note that if your suggestions are found to improve any of the plans, then they will be modified. If not, then they will be implemented as is.
To demonstrate our usefulness from the start, we will be providing solutions to topical Barbadian issues. These solutions will be published on our Topical Solutions page and/or our Blogs and Notices page. The solutions will include proposed implementation plans for the various Government agencies. We hope that now we are in the political trench, our suggested solutions will be considered – for the advancement of Barbados.