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WILD COOT: Are Bajans neutered?

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Are Bajans neutered?

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Are Bajans neutered? or only the trade unions? Wild Coot, I hope that those two fellows, Mas Evelyn and Mas Tony, are still friends of yours after reading this article.

Mas Evelyn, how come you have so much say now? Because you fired the wuk? What you say about the credit unions does not represent their true position, as they have no right to give their profitability and hard work (savings) to the commercial banks. I agree that they should not enter the market now by developing their own commercial bank. However, that is for a different reason than that proffered by you.

The economic climate is not conducive to good banking now. Government’s imposition on the banks by way of taxation, the obligation to invest in low interest paying debentures and the unfettered way in which our beloved Central Bank allows the banks to inflict vengeance on the public by way of fees (see the remarks to the balance sheet of FirstCaribbean in the NATION of 13/9/14) and poor service, make them unattractive but necessary to the public. However, what I have always advocated as a cogent solution is a bank set up by Government instead of this and that bureau.

Mas Evelyn, your take on the Sandals issue is also only partly right. Because Sandals has wide international exposure, Barbados can gain from that, but the huge concessions have caused massive distortions in the tourism (hotel and restaurant) markets as Government sees itself deprived of serious taxation if it gives similar tax relief to the whole sector – a decision at which Government baulks.

Poor Mas Richard! Why are hotels required to sign an MOU and Sandals only has to give its word? Mas Paul, see the confusion. I told you about “different strokes”. Government will have to forgo taxes on all hotel and restaurant properties, forgo VAT on electricity, telephone, overseas employee and so on. Before I forget, imports for the industry also. The dwindling employed and pensioners will have to make up the shortfall.

Mas Evelyn, your tongue seems relieved now that, like the Wild Coot, you have entered the seventh stage of life. You have gotten tired of the bureaucracy. I beat you to it in 1979.

Ever since refusing to set up a bank modelled on the Ministry of Finance, opportunities to bring business to Barbados have been mired in red tape to the extent that frustration has set in.

The hotel sector is pressing our Minister of Finance to make good his promise. However, the concessions are not their only problem. They are mired in debt and in need of refurbishing to attract reasonable rates in the competitive market. Our minister is like the lion caught in the trapper’s net requiring the hoteliers to gnaw away at the ropes to give him some freedom. There is no point in making an issue about an MOU now; sign the wretched thing and move on, as you will never catch up with Sandals.

Don’t you see that we cannot even arrange a budget? This shows a lack of focus evidenced by what brings us to the way in which the Central Bank now interacts with the public.

Are we following the “Bajan style of critique” as advocated recently in the DAILY NATION newspaper, or should we lull Dr Joseph to sleep when he advocates expressions of grave discontent? If my memory serves me correct, Mas Evelyn is the second diplomat in recent days to complain of the short shrift given to an expensive area of involvement.

The term neutered does not imply total silence, because a neutered dog’s problem is that he cannot effectively, according to Lowdown, “arrive”, but he can still bark and bite.

Are we not taking our tolerance and our “Bajan style” to the limit by endorsing an exclusive community? Shades of Strathclyde coming back? Why did we have that dividing line removed? The rationale proffered is a foil.

• Harry Russell is a banker.

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