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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Sounds familiar?


Dr Frances Chandler, [email protected]

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Sounds familiar?

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WHILE LOOKING THROUGH MY PERSONAL “archives”, I came across an article in the December 20, 1992 SUNDAY SUN entitled Prayer for society on its last legs. Except for the yellowness of the paper, it could’ve been a current SUNDAY SUN.

It began “Today, our nation stands poised on the edge of violence. There is an aimlessness and malaise abroad in our society which no one seems to be able to cope with . . . And so today we’re here to pray for our nation , for those who work in the tourist industry and for God’s blessings for a positive and productive season. But after we have prayed and asked for God’s guidance we must rise from our knees and address the issues. God no longer sends manna from heaven, but he gives us inspiration to get it by our perspiration.”

Unfortunately, successive administrations have taken on this function of supplying “manna”, encouraging the attitude that one needn’t work for a living. The result is that, having supported so many “freenesses” they can’t provide what we should rightfully expect from our taxes – like good roads and proper health, transport and waste management systems. And ironically, those genuinely needing this “welfare” often fall through the cracks.

The private sector is told it must invest, but there seems to be little attempt to provide conducive conditions. The bureaucracy is often overwhelming and although it’s criticised (even by some ministers) it continues unabated. Some public servants are helpful but others appear to enjoy pushing files around between departments, and may even lose files.

This led a colleague to recommend that government create a Ministry of Red Tape where those officers who wallow in this can be transferred, since apparently they can’t be dismissed. They would receive full pay but would be left to do what they do best without hindering progress.

In the tourism industry one must take advantage of international opportunities promptly when they present themselves since the world doesn’t wait on Barbados. The trouble is “over regulation” in some areas can cause delays and lose us business while “under regulation” and/or lack of enforcement of regulations in other areas can harm business and damage the industry generally.

This is the time of year when my brother visits from Canada bringing a host of friends and friends of friends to holiday here. I also get the chance to live like a tourist and can observe what visitors like and don’t like. I know they enjoy both the larger restaurants and the smaller “down to earth” ones serving tasty Bajan foods, attractions like Harrison’s Cave, Hunte’s Gardens, catamaran cruises, swimming with the turtles and so on. But I also know they don’t like to be harassed by unruly, unlicensed vendors, even if these are in the minority.

Nowadays, in spite of expensive advertising by the various tourism organisations, visitors are influenced in their holiday decisions by postings on Trip Advisor. So we can’t afford comments like “beware the very aggressive peddlers” and “ . . . dampened by all the locals continuously trying to sell you stuff . . .” posted very recently about a popular beach. Those in authority might relax regulations, possibly feeling they’re giving the “small man a break” not realizing theyre in fact contributing to his downfall.

In the Economic Gearing System (www.cbetmodel.org) when the large tourism sector gear (long stay or cruise tourists) turns, the medium gears (like hotels, restaurants, watersports ) and agricultural linkages (farming, fisheries and agribusiness) spin faster as they respond to market demand. They in turn create opportunities for smaller enterprises ( like taxi drivers, craft persons, bartenders). If the big wheel is broken because visitors are put off by this indiscipline, the other wheels can’t turn, so why allow indiscipline to put the big wheel (and the country) at risk?

Nowadays, it seems fashionable to “go with the flow”. Surprisingly, it’s not only youngsters who have this attitude. A gentleman who I’m fairly sure is older than I am (and I’m an old fogey) says that upholding capital punishment (the ultimate in discipline) is “old fashioned” .

Even if it doesn’t deter would-be offenders, one sure thing is, the particular murderer won’t repeat the offence. But the trend now is to jail them for terms which don’t seem to fit the crime , then free them even before the term is completed. A slippery slope indeed!

email: [email protected]

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