Short-changed by Govt

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Front Page -

There is a no­tion that money is a cure-for-all. It has the power to erase ev­ery­thing from the past once it turns up. It is so pow­er­ful that the jour­ney it takes to reach its des­ti­na­tion may of­ten be over­looked.

At the end of the year, I felt equally in­spired to re­visit some of the sen­ti­ments in that ar­ti­cle be­cause of the ob­vi­ous ab­sence of money dur­ing the cur­rent Christ­mas sea­son. This ab­sence is the con­se­quence of a decade of mis­guided poli­cies and in­dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

The ques­tion to be asked and an­swered is: why is there an ab­sence of money? The an­swer pro­vides the ev­i­dence for a decade of pol­icy fail­ure that, iron­i­cally, came to light on the tenth Christ­mas.

There is be­lief that the po­lit­i­cal in­dif­fer­ence, at the heart of the fail­ure, can be turned around by sim­ply turn­ing up at the eleventh hour. Equally, if you turn up with money, so much the bet­ter. In short, money can erase years of in­dif­fer­ence.

We have a Gov­ern­ment that ex­tracted in­creas­ingly more from us over time, as we re­mained com­mit­ted to a jour­ney. The more it ex­tracted, the more it wasted. A lit­tle with con­tent was not great gain for Gov­ern­ment.

Notwithstanding the ob­vi­ous pain that the ex­trac­tion caused to Bar­ba­di­ans, there was no sym­pa­thy. Rest as­sured that af­ter a decade of de­cay, the same Gov­ern­ment will try to gloss it over with a golden hand­shake in the com­ing months.

Ba­jans are sup­posed to have short mem­o­ries. So short that they are not sup­posed to re­mem­ber be­ing short-paid or short-changed. It is not okay to spend years de­fend­ing pol­icy po­si­tions, re­verse the po­si­tions in a few months and ex­pect Bar­ba­di­ans to for­get. How­ever, there is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween chang­ing your po­si­tion on pri­vati­sa­tion and short-chang­ing Bar­ba­di­ans in their pock­ets. They res­onate dif­fer­ently.

When Bar­ba­di­ans work, they ex­pect to re­ceive ad­e­quate pay. If prices are ris­ing and they are not re­ceiv­ing more pay, then the pay is not ad­e­quate. Fur­ther­more, when taxes are ris­ing, the work­ers are truly be­ing short-changed.

Bar­ba­di­ans are more than will­ing to sac­ri­fice for the good of the coun­try. But the pe­riod of sac­ri­fice must be de­ter­mined; it can­not be in­def­i­nite. From 2008 to 2017 is a long time to be mak­ing sac­ri­fices, es­pe­cially when there is no ev­i­dence that the sac­ri­fices are not in vain.

Af­ter such a long pe­riod, it is unimag­in­able that Christ­mas of 2017 could have been worse than the Christ­mas of 2008. This is in­dica­tive of eco­nomic fail­ure and po­lit­i­cal in­dif­fer­ence. The com­par­i­son of the Christ­mases is much eas­ier to digest than the fact that “since the in­tro­duc­tion of the Gov­ern­ment’s Medium-term Fis­cal Strat­egy in 2010, in re­sponse to the per­ceived ef­fects of the world fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008/2009, some un­prece­dented eco­nomic con­se­quences emerged. Th­ese in­clude: (1) per­sis­tently large fis­cal cur­rent ac­count deficits, (2) gal­lop­ing na­tional debt, (3) ex­ces­sive do­mes­tic credit creation and (4) lit­tle to no growth in nom­i­nal gross do­mes­tic prod­uct”.

There is room for both types of anal­y­sis. The Christ­mas com­par­i­son is far more visual and, by ex­ten­sion, more ef­fec­tive. How­ever, from a lead­er­ship per­spec­tive, the two are equally im­por­tant. Fail­ure to recog­nise the lat­ter is cur­rently hav­ing se­ri­ous con­se­quences for Bar­ba­di­ans in the short and long term.

Again, this week, I ap­peal to the game of cricket. In the early days, it was un­mis­tak­able that Bar­ba­dian and West In­dian crick­eters played the longer form of the game with the be­lief that it al­lowed them to de­fine who we are as a peo­ple on the re­gional and world stages. We pur­sued ex­cel­lence with lim­ited resources. Suc­cess came in the jour­ney.

It is now pos­si­ble to de­fine suc­cess in a big pay packet for a one-off 20/20 series some­where around the world. Is the new def­i­ni­tion of suc­cess be­ing used as a mea­sure in other spheres of our lives?

It ap­pears so. Our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are find­ing it very easy to com­pro­mise our short- and long-term pros­per­ity for their gain.

AT THE BEGIN­NING OF 2017, I felt in­spired to write an ar­ti­cle that con­tained ref­er­ences to per­sonal hap­pen­ings in my life. I wrote: “Suc­cess is not for most a jour­ney in which we learn, make mis­takes and there­fore con­tin­u­ously re­de­fine our­selves for the bet­ter; it is a des­ti­na­tion that is mea­sured in terms of po­si­tion/sta­tus that is ac­com­pa­nied by ma­te­rial gain/growth. The lat­ter of­ten is re­duced to money as the mea­sure.”

the en­vi­ron­ment or for the na­tion’s bud­get.

The cur­rent pro­posal com­bines float­ing wind tur­bines, with natural gas power ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and tidal tur­bines built and po­si­tioned to pro­duce their pro­jected out­put, with low-sched­uled main­te­nance and re­pair cost, re­alised by crews on float­ing plat­forms.

Fi­nanc­ing such a trans­for­ma­tion, from fos­sil fuel-fired gen­er­a­tors to re­new­able en­ergy-driven tur­bines, must be seen in terms of its sav­ings. Con­sider the cost in for­eign cur­rency that would be used to pur­chase fuel on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket as a non-pro­ducer, or as a pro­ducer con­sider the rev­enue that could be earned from the sale of fuel not used in­ter­nally, both as a di­rect re­sult of this tran­si­tion.

This also seems to be a very prac­ti­cal way to meet and sur­pass a self-im­posed tar­get of gen­er­at­ing over 20 per cent of elec­tric­ity needs from re­new­able en­ergy by the year 2020.

(In­ter­net Im­ages)

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