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WILD COOT: Rambling on

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Rambling on

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One cannot help but note how, despite the heavy continuous increases in taxation, we the people are routinely called upon to bear the burden of the increasing cost of survival. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be. If times are hard, then the people should feel it. But should not this increased burden be leading to something productive – like an increased capacity to produce? Do our leaders understand this or are we only interested in the ballot box? Is there a Roman Augustus among us or only a Nero and a Brutus?
One way or the other, one by one or hundreds by hundreds will fall through the cracks. Even as Government endeavors to maintain the noble policy of not cutting back on the public service, even by expanding it, it increases the burden on the servants and, in fact, on all by instituting greater costs. So the people are employed but they cannot survive. We are also baiting Moody’s.
For example, once upon a time the Immigration Department was a cost centre to Government; now it is competing with the private sector as to how profitable it can be. It is an earning centre. Are our priorities right or “obzoky”?
Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) becomes a company to which the Government can look for help with its budget, never mind that the corollary to this is that whatever the world price of oil, each time the motorist goes to the gas station his bank balance decreases substantially, and furthermore he has to disconnect bulbs at home and sometimes turn off the refrigerator.
Light & Power has little say in this, but being partly foreign-owned has to declare dividends to the reduction of the earnings from the efforts of our struggling tourism.
Is this productive or counterproductive “through being as according to how” production may be dependent on the cost of energy both for manufacture as well as for tourism.
I now have two bricks in the toilet tank.
The hospital is crying out because it finds that it cannot afford the cost of dialysis or of drug support or of health care to non-nationals, even sometimes to nationals, or begging people to collect non-claimed elderly folk or expressing concern about the ongoing “up to dateness” of the improvement of the local doctors even if foreign doctors may get a “blai” on being able to practice in Barbados without being tested for qualifications although local doctors do not enjoy reciprocity in their country.
A gentleman meets me in the supermarket and points an accusatory finger. “Wild Coot,” he says, “you are the Monday anti-DLP writer.” I was dumbfounded, flabbergasted. If I feel that something in Barbados is not right, in my opinion, am I not to give my take of it? We are not yet in certain Middle Eastern countries.
I am one who grew up poor like many others (I never went to school barefoot) who do not want to remain poor but to see others who grew up poor raise their standard of living. I have grandchildren who will inherit this island even if pieces fall into the sea and it becomes only a rock.
I told the gentleman that, like other influential persons, I too have been following the events in St Kitts and Nevis. They are unable to redeem the bonds issued to banks and the general public. Why? The take from taxation is not enough. Therefore there is a limit to income from taxation. You see, they have no direct influence over the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
After a point you get diminishing returns, as can be seen from this year’s budget. Barbados has to watch this. Already we see the banks fighting shy of Government paper that the Central Bank and National Insurance Scheme have to take up. Government, if it wants to, can play with these institutions by redeeming bonds with new issues. But there is no productivity in that to warrant increased taxation.
“I am sorry that you feel this way,” I said to the gentleman. “I do not feel that it makes any sense focusing on those in Opposition since they do not make decisions.”
I promised him that their time would come soon.
Are the debits piling on? Are we facing another GEMS? Which thing could have been avoided in 1987? Just ask a certain lady or ex-minister.