NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: Welcome to the after-party
WHEN I USED to play in a band, we would often go to the Bird’s Nest restaurant and bar on Bay Street after the gig was over. There we would eat burgers or chicken and drink a beer or two as we talked over the event and how it went.
This was usually around two in the morning, and that place was one of the few which opened almost all night. It was our own version of what is now called the “after-party”.
These days, of course, the “after-party” is (I’m told) sometimes better than the actual event. It’s packed with people and you use it to “chill” and gossip about all that went down a few hours before. Just like we did, but with hundreds of people, not just a few tired band members.
Barbados has just entered its own version of an after-party, that is, the period following the longest birthday event I have ever attended. As far as the celebrations for our 50th anniversary of Independence are concerned, the party’s over.
So let me welcome you to the after-party.
It is not a pleasant atmosphere. In fact, the heavenly deluge experience on the day before the day of climax, as it were, seemed to me to not just dampen the whole thing, but perhaps to make a statement that enough was enough.
That is, if you believe in divine intervention.
But even if you don’t, what came bubbling to the surface was more than the pollution which showed up on our south coast beaches and backyards.
Unnecessary slights against at least one union and hints again at legislation coming designed to put them in some place to which they are seen to belong, in terms of restricting what they may or may not be allowed to do in pursuit of grievances, have raised their ugly heads again.
The airport negotiations have been allowed to drag right up to the start of the most important season of the only industry which is saving us momentarily from a faster descent into ratings hell.
Dr Dolittle found so much time to travel around and make speeches about our 50th anniversary celebrations that I wonder why he can’t find the time to address publicly, and also at press conferences, the burning issues facing the economy.
In its November issue the RBC Economic Report notes bluntly the state of our economy.
Among other things, the report noted that Central Bank of Barbados online data showed international reserves declined five per cent year-on-year to US$442 million in October 2016, which RBC estimated at 2.6 months of imports.
Contributing to this decline, it said, the fiscal deficit widened by 60 per cent year-on-year to BDS$242 million in the first half of fiscal 2016-17 (that is, April to October this year).
And worst of all was this: The RBC report noted that, according to the Central Bank, it financed 234 per cent of the Government’s fiscal deficit, “to the tune of BDS$566.3 million in just six months – the same level of CBB financing for the entire FY2015/16”.
No, my friends, this is not your usual after-party. It is not the one where you recall the high point of the earlier event with excitement and talk of who did what and when.
At this after-party, you don’t even want to remember all the time you spent at the last one, dragging out an affair that could have been concentrated into the month of November for maximum effect, not squeezed out like toothpaste for nearly a year, so that the final events were anti-climactic.
It is an after-party where, instead of remembering recent celebrations, you await with trepidation the grim future ahead.
Patrick Hoyos is a journalist and publisher specialising in business. Email: [email protected]