WILD COOT: David and the ‘Goliufs’
IN THIS WORLD there are many ‘boar-dickies’. It seems that in addition to the deep debt trouble in which we have put ourselves, more trouble is on the horizon. There is more in the mortar than the pestle. The accusation that Barbados’ stance on homosexuality is frowned upon by the ‘Goliufs’, including the United States, Canada and the Mother Country, has some traction.
Look how President Obama fast in the people of Kenya business. Mr Hamilton Lashley is right in highlighting the areas of bullying that have bedevilled our development. He is not wrong in hinting that these big countries wish not only to stamp their economic superiority on small and vulnerable countries, but also their sick interpretation of moral values. Is it not enough for these countries to have raped our economies for centuries without reparation? The recent forced signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by Caribbean countries is a plain case of bullying tactics.
What Mr Lashley referred to in his condemnation in the MIDWEEK Nation last week cannot be denied. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in his usual arrogant style, forgetting that Britain no longer rules the waves, threatened to withhold the few pennies in aid without researching the many families in his country whose fortunes today come from their slavery investments in Barbados; the mighty United States went after the few coppers of investors abroad resulting in job losses for us; the EPA agreement is structured in favour of Europe, and as one commentator observed, “through the EPA the EU has more advantageous relations with Africa and the Caribbean separately than Africa and the Caribbean have with each other”; what about the rum industry? What are we to do with our sugar cane? Why does the APD surcharge apply to a journey to Barbados and not New York? And you are surprised when young people have different values.
We in Barbados have been the playground of the rich countries. It is good marketing to say to the tourists that they would come and see sun and beaches in Barbados. Thus the megaships call but we get little foreign exchange. How much is spent locally when on board the ships offer similar goodies?
The Central Bank’s governor has to hoard every cent in his bid to justify the Government’s policies. What he said recently makes great sense, because if you wish to reduce the export of foreign exchange, the best way is to reduce spending – taxation. Or is it? The pie becomes smaller and smaller since there is no growth. Therefore the policy is wrong and will lead to an even smaller economy. We would be sucking salt without hope of relief. This is a case of simplistic thinking that does not befit the dwellers of Mount Olympus.
In addition to compulsorily requiring their foreign-run businesses to submit for taxation, the onus is put on our tax collection unit to make sure that Americans pay the taxes. In addition, if our unit does not comply by importuning on our banks, our unit is subject to fines and our banks blacklisted. This is blackmail of the highest order.
If we were big like Russia, we could refuse.
But you know, we are in this position because we are afraid of the bully. The law of the jungle!
Let us look at the situation in Barbados. In order to support the present Civil Service and its appendixes, the Government must either ask for more taxes or simply reduce the number of souls. Right! Send home those over 60, incorporate customs officers into BRA at a reduced salary, reduce the number of bursaries for students, tax pensions and allowances, reduce health subsidies, and so on. But each move to reduce expenditure is hotly resisted. We resort to the courts for our rights. Reminds the Wild Coot of La Fontaine’s The Rats In Council. Who will bell the puss Rodilard. “A few survivors shivered in their hole / their dwindling rations mocked their appetite. To tie a bell to Rodilardus’ throat / which tinkle, when he took the field.”
Recently twice Rodilard was on the back foot, twice Rodilard retreated, and twice the rats conceded.
However, Rodilard fired 3 000 civil servants, reduced their allowance and many other tightening of the noose but still no rat is willing to bell the cat. As I said before, we spinning top in mud. Let us enjoy Crop Over, we who are about to . . . .
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]