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WILD COOT: Running for cover

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Running for cover

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Negativity! What is that?
It has dawned on us that there are few places to which to flee when things are brown or we feel that the forces are against us. Today the criteria for entry into another country are mostly based on the carrier’s passport and not on race. People fled in the middle of the 20th century from Barbados to places like Canada and Australia, or to Britain and America. Today we have to grin and bear it.
Circumstances now dictate that we have to mend our own bridges. So the fellow who was living high off the hog and enjoying government’s patrimony now realizes that unless the economy is firing on all six cylinders, his lifestyle of luxury and his business of prosperity will suffer just like the lady who has been laid off and now cannot find a job, but has three children to feed. You might find her roaming the streets at night.
Those whom the regime once favoured are now calling for a pulling of the weight as the country flounders. Soon we will all be in the same boat. Without the spending power and cooperation of the masses, the well-to-do are unable to prosper like before.
Sales in support of businesses will plummet and the prosperous businessman will see his assets deteriorate. Therefore, it is not a question of negativity that has to be addressed. Rather, it is the continuous ineptitude of the plans going forward, the lack of positive or sensible decisions and the excuses of the spin doctors that is the cause of inaction of a potentially powerful workforce.
Barbadians treasure the relative peace and tranquility with which we have existed for the past 70 years. Now we see it disappearing. We are angry with the Myrie decision because we thought that these fields (now bush) were our very own. We now have to acknowledge CARICOM and a global world.
But do not fear, in order to put it right, look how we have treated Butch. Other hoteliers should be pleased that in dealing with our crisis and desperation, we have levelled the playing field. Don’t you know that an all-inclusive hotel is all inclusive? Taxis, restaurants and rum shops will hereby prosper!
Here in Barbados, I have been calling for us to feed ourselves and support for the Ministry of Agriculture. I have been deploring the forced exit of the Guyanese, the current exploitation of using our Immigration Department as a blatant, punitive tax collection agency for those who brave the hardships back home and may be stuck here in Barbados. It is wrong. He ain’t sleeping! Remember why Lot had to jump ship. Remember the sower who sowed on the rocks.
Now it is becoming patently obvious that in agriculture lies a vast area of profit and prescient people will be taking advantage of these options both here and abroad. See the fight between Turnus and Aeneas – perceived spoils, it is not serendipity.   
We shot ourselves in the big toe when we sold the Barbados National Bank to the Trinidadians who “run it like it should be run internationally”. Compare it with the Bank of Nevis and its association with the development of Nevis.
We closed the Barbados Development Bank (BDB) for some unknown reason and lost skills nurtured therein. Now we are crying blue murder because entrepreneurs do not have access to the billions of our own savings in the banks. Madness!
The BDB, whatever its deficiencies, was poised to help hotels, restaurants, small businesses and fishermen in addition to other businesses. It was a development bank, unless in our wisdom we felt that we had no need for development. We need an assessment now of the success or otherwise of the Enterprise Growth Fund. It cannot be so successful with entrepreneurs crying out.
Meanwhile, those who have the bread will prosper in the downturn scheduled to resurrect at 2025, by which time politicians will still be enjoying pensions and most of us will be six feet under. Come again!
• Harry Russell is a banker.