FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Crop Over and more…
CROP OVER is finally over – thankfully with little if any violence. But we can’t have an authentic Crop Over without a crop. As someone mentioned: “Crop Over lasted longer than the sugar crop.”
We must support the sugar cane industry for many reasons, including the fact that we’re promoting heritage tourism. What could possibly be a more significant part of our heritage than sugar cane and rum?
Barbados has even been trying to get an official acknowledgement of the importance of the sugar cane and rum industries to the island by submitting a proposal to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for The Industrial Heritage of Barbados: The Story of Sugar And Rum. Surely we can’t expect them to accept a Barbados covered in cow itch and other bush.
While the festival probably plunged some individuals into financial difficulties, we hope it improved the island’s economy through increased local business and some much needed foreign exchange from visitors. But I agree with Minister Stephen Lashley that its contribution must be quantified. I’ve certainly heard some small store owners say that visitors from the diaspora coming for Crop Over often compete with rather than support them, since they “bring in items to sell”.
Coming on the heels of Crop Over is the 4th Diaspora Conference. While this may also bring summer business, here again, its contribution (versus its cost to Government) needs to be documented in tangible terms and not just based on anecdotal evidence.
One thing I noted, though, that might be helpful is the frank comments made by returning nationals on our poor quality of service. Perhaps when these observations are made by “outsiders” they may be taken more seriously than when made by locals living here, and we may see some improvement.
Still with tourism, I was impressed by the statement given by William Griffith, CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., on the tourism statistics for the last six months. He was clear and concise, quite unlike the repetitive and convoluted statements we get from our politicians. Hopefully the statistics were based on solid information.
On another topic, the Canadian company Deltro seems to be making some bold statements about its planned operation. Barbados Today reports an executive of the solar firm as saying the company had received “some tax concessions and some import concessions” from Government. Yet the public isn’t aware of any licence being granted to the company. Meanwhile, it’s alleged that 30 containers of equipment consigned to Deltro are in the port. Do we have another “Cahill” on our hands? Based on a recent media report, I would suggest detailed due diligence on the company and its directors.
There seem to be two aspects of the project – solar panel construction and the installation of a 20MW solar energy plant. The Future Centre Trust expressed its views on the “dirtiness” of such a production facility. Wasn’t this area earmarked for a “green space”? I doubt that referred to green electricity.
As for the 20MW plant, following many wishy washy and seemingly ill-informed statements made on the call-in programme Brass Tacks, it was refreshing to hear the clear and objective statement by Aidan Rogers of Barbados Renewable Energy Association regarding the alternative energy situation in Barbados.
Since studies commissioned by Government and BL&P indicate that without major upgrades to the grid, the preference would be for a larger number of small operations, rather than fewer large operations, how then can Bizzy’s 1MW plant be turned down while it seems that Deltro’s 20MW plant is being considered? It just isn’t logical.
There was much talk about “sharing the solar energy cake” and who would benefit from Bizzy’s operation. As far as I’m aware, Bizzy’s hundreds of employees are shareholders in his companies, so I would assume that all these shareholders would benefit from his proposed plant. Also, aren’t there several companies doing home installations? Wouldn’t these and the homeowners benefit? Do we know who Deltro’s shareholders are?
We must ask, “Does the apparent turnaround in policy have anything to do with the change in control from the Fair Trading Commission to Government’s Advisory Committee and the Energy Minister?”
Hopefully, Patrick Bethell will get an answer to his question about payment for the land apparently being leased to Deltro, and Bizzy Williams will get an explanation as to why his application was refused, yet Deltro’s seems to be proceeding.
• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator.