WILD COOT – Recolonization?
Every day families sacrifice to live within their means; they deserve a government that does the same. – Barack Obama
The Fair Trading Commission is a unit set up by Government to ensure that trading is fair between companies, companies and individuals, and individuals.
One of the issues that it has had to deal with is the financial relationship between companies with a monopoly and the general public.
It is a pity that it was not charged with arbitrating over the fairness of the commercial banks’ charges – or is it/should it be?
A particularly burning issue has been the arbitration involving the fairness of the charges of the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P). The BL&P put up a case for increases in its rates. The Fair Trading Commission felt that the arguments of the BL&P to provide for a reasonable countrywide service, to plan forward for improvements, to get a ten per cent return, to cover wear and tear and to modernize were acceptable.
On the other hand, it found that the Barbados public would have to dig deep into its pockets in order to afford the increase in rates. Nevertheless, it found in favour of the BL&P. Like the God-fearing Bajans we are, we peacefully accepted the verdict.
Problems! The directors of BL&P want to sell the shares of the company to a Canadian enterprise. The question is: are the ordinary Bajans to fork out their dwindling coppers every month, which they do reluctantly, for the dividends to be sent over and away to the disadvantage of Bajans?
Even so, are Bajans to pay through their noses for electricity and not see the profits reinvested in their country? Should they not benefit from whatever goodwill or economic benefits accrue to their sacrifice? Should not the company take this into consideration?
In any case we need to consider if tremendous benefits will be in line for the company when the shares are sold. Would the company have had access to any expected growth benefits without selling the shares? Will the people in St Lucy have to grin and bear it for nothing?
Government, which set up the Fair Trading Commission, needs to step in.
But, National Insurance sold part of its holdings! Will it reinvest the proceeds in Government bonds? In view of the above arguments, what would you call this action?
Can the situation be so bad? Was this why Cain killed Abel? Are we so desperate for foreign exchange? I don’t think so! We may be desperate for other things. Amen!
An old woman met me in the supermarket and said: “Wild Coot, you ain’t shame? You mean to say a man who work in one boardroom open ’e mouf an’ get newspaper headlines, and you who claim to have worked in ‘copious’ boardrooms over umpteen years don’t even get a headline, even though you have been preaching the message since Adam was a lad?”
I really felt embarrassed. John Beale, God bless you! Perhaps, only perhaps, your ambassadorial status will help to prick the conscience of those who can do something about the matter, that is, the new Minister of Finance, the new Prime Minister and the new Governor of the Central Bank.
?• Harry Russell is a banker.