As is customary, I was relaxing at a place we commonly refer to as a paradise for fools, where the conversations are normally robust. Topics discussed included but were not limited to the upcoming elections, issues affecting Barbados and the strategies being deployed to woo voters.
Since June 2017, we were debating when the Prime Minister would call the elections. And given the prevailing conditions at the time, I reasoned that the most opportune window was somewhere between October 1 and November 28, 2017.
Failing which, I offered two scenarios for mid-February 2018, the more probable being that the Estimates would be laid, debated and approved before the dissolution of Parliament as opposed to the election being called.
I am now convinced that Election Day will be April 30.
Any political party seeking to win would be foolhardy if it didn’t try to woo the voter. I expect that public sector workers will get the much talked about coping subsidy, along with their monthly salary cheque on April 25.
I also expect that other sectors will be provided with something, which in the lead-up to the suggested April 30 election date should create a mood of merriment as people get an ease in the financial pressure.
Calling the election before April 30 is risky when national issues are currently festering. It would be political madness to call an election when the optics are not favourable.
At the moment, it certainly does appear that our economy and society can compare to a truck I passed on my way home that was loaded with blocks and tilted to the left with the back wheel missing. Much like the truck, our economy is laden with debt, our systems are in dire need of reform and we have dropped into a crater called the South Coast sewage crisis.
Similarly and given the announcement to issue the title deeds for hundreds of National Housing Corporation (NHC) housing units to the occupants, which may be viewed by some as good optics, I would like to offer some cautions to my friends on the incumbent side.
In my experience, which exceeds 25 years in construction-related activity, the plan to divest the NHC units could backfire if they are not upgraded and specific initiatives implemented as it relates to financial risk.
There is no denying that the electrical systems in many of these units would require significant upgrade at significant cost if they are brought in line with current Government Electrical Engineering Department regulations.
Then there are the issues relating to separation, privacy, fire retention and sewage management. Many of these new home owners will be in for a big surprise when they attempt to use their property as collateral for loans.
I don’t see many finance institutions holding title deeds for a single unit. Perhaps the entire block but not a single unit in the absence of significant assurances and guarantees with respect to some of the points noted above.
In essence, the optics of home ownership while effective as a means to woo the voter, may in this instance and in the absence of specific guarantees, lead to frustration.
– SEAN ST CLAIR FIELDS