• Today
    December 16

  • 07:10 AM

Govt making a big mistake

DAVID COMISSIONG,

Added 06 December 2017

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The Clement Payne Movement deplores the decision of the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration to privatise and sell our state-owned Hilton Hotel, and we particularly deprecate and denounce the fact that the Stuart administration is making plans to divest this valuable state-owned asset at a ridiculously low price of US$80 million.

[This is] in circumstances in which the net sum that the Barbados Government will realise from the sale will be a mere US$15 million, minus any severance payments that may have to be paid out to severed staff members.

Indeed, we consider this proposed sale of our state-owned Hilton Hotel to be a betrayal of the fundamental interests of the Barbadian people and nation.

Furthermore, we consider the actions of the Freundel Stuart administration to be particularly disgraceful, in light of the fact that it contested (and won) the 2013 general election on an anti-privatisation platform.

Not only did it solemnly promise the Barbadian people that a re-elected DLP Government would preserve our state-owned enterprises, but also assured us it was saving us from dastardly Barbados Labour Party (BLP) privatisation intentions!

Needless to say, the Stuart administration betrayed this solemn undertaking by entering into a contract with Sir Kyffin Simpson’s SOL group of companies to sell them our Barbados National Terminal Co Ltd (BNTCL), and into a second contract (or proposed contract) to sell our Hilton to some mysterious entity known as “L+R”.

It is also guilty of being captive to a very backward and reactionary right-wing concept of governance. You see, Mr Stuart’s administration – like virtually all other elements of the current Barbadian political class – seems to believe that a government must be run solely and totally on the basis of taxation. In other words, that the revenue the administration needs to provide Government services must come solely from taxing the people and firms of the country.

Indeed, they are so captive to this backward idea that they are seemingly incapable of understanding the necessity of a government possessing profitable state enterprises that can earn revenue which can be applied towards providing the services that the people need.

Clearly, both SOL and the mysterious “L+R” wish to acquire the BNTCL and the Hilton because they are both profitable enterprises that will earn valuable revenue for [them] for many, many years into the future.

Well, why can’t [the administration] appreciate that we, the citizens of Barbados, wish to continue to own [them] for precisely the same reason? We are not merely interested in receiving some ridiculously low one-off payment for our valuable, profit-earning state enterprises.

Over the past 25 years Barbados has been plagued by governments that have privatised and divested such valuable and profitable state enterprises as the Insurance Corporation of Barbados, Barbados National Bank, Heywoods Hotel, Barbados External Telecommunications and the Pine Hill Dairy. And now they propose to sell off such “jewels in the crown” as the BNTCL and the Hilton Hotel.

The message that the successive pro-privatisation administrations have been sending us is that they are of the view that all profitable enterprises which are capable of earning revenue for their owners must be in the hands of the private sector, and that Government is to only own unprofitable, loss-making enterprises.

– DAVID COMISSIONG

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