Barbados in mortal danger
It is clear that Barbados faces a very serious “take-over” threat from the capitalist forces of our much larger. . . neighbour. What is the national plan for dealing with the largely Indian, Syrian and so-called “French Creole” wealthy Trinidadian business interests that are greedily eyeing “take-over” opportunities in Barbados?
We live in a Barbados in which the black political directorate sees nothing wrong with signing a contract with Mr Bizzy Williams’ Sustainable Barbados Recycling Company (SBRC), by virtue of which Government guarantees this business a specified annual quantity of work and a specified annual quantity of payments from the public coffers! And now we are being told that the masses of poor and struggling Barbadian homeowners will have to pay an oppressive Municipal Solid Waste Tax so that Williams and his SBRC can be paid their guaranteed moneys.
We live in a Barbados in which, for a good 15 years now, the white Barbadian firm of C.O. Williams has been engaged in virtually permanent roadworks in the Warrens district – all at the expense of the masses of Barbadian taxpayers. One wonders how many tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into C.O. Williams over this period of time. And this is only one of many such examples of this phenomenon.
We also live in a Barbados in which the black political directorate sees nothing wrong with signing a contract with Mr Mark Maloney’s Preconco company to build hundreds of houses at Coverly and to give a guarantee that Government will purchase, with our precious tax dollars, every single house that Preconco is unable to sell. Now, tell me, when has any black Barbadian company ever received such an advantageous contract from our Government?
(During the long centuries of slavery and colonialism, a system was established in Barbados under which the masses of black Barbadians were required to bear inordinate tax burdens and depressed wages so that unearned and undeserved benefits could be bestowed upon a comfortable and wealthy white elite. And the fundamentals of this system are still in place today.)
Furthermore, we live in a Barbados in which the black political directorate gleefully sold off Barbados’ only national bank and its only national insurance company, and was content to sit on the sidelines and to cheer while the white Barbadian elite made sure that Barbados’ biggest coglomerate – Barbados Shipping & Trading – would never fall into black Barbadian hands by selling it off to elite Trinidadian business interests. And don’t try to justify this highly negative occurence by talking about Caribbean integration! This is not what Caribbean integration is all about – this is nothing but a bastardization of Caribbean integration.
Way back in May, 2007, when it was first proposed that Barbados Shipping & Trading should fall into the hands of Neal & Massy, I wrote an article that exposed the pernicious meaning of this development for black Barbadians. I now repeat some of what I said back then:
The proposed merging of Barbados Shipping & Trading (BS&T) into the much larger Trinidadian conglomerate Neal & Massy is “proof positive” that the social evolution of Barbados has gone badly off track.
Whatever wealth and economic capital that exists in Barbados today is largely the product of 380 years of unremitting toil and effort on the part of the masses of black, working class Barbadians. And after having achieved the milestones of political and educational “emancipation” in the latter part of the 20th century, it was confidently expected that the opening years of the 21st century would bring the next logical phase in the social evolution of Barbados – the era of “black economic enfranchisement”.
However, this dream of the masses of black Barbadians finally acquiring their rightful stake in the ownership of the land and the corporate wealth of their country is fast evaporating before our very eyes. The sad reality is that instead of the prime land and corporate wealth passing from the narrow hands of the traditional white Barbadian elite into a more broad-based and democratic local ownership,
we are witnessing a process of transferral to a variety of expatriate interests.
Thus, BS&T seems well set to join the ranks of the Barbados National Bank, the Insurance Corporation of Barbados, Sagicor, WIBISCO, the Nation Publishing Company, the Arawak Cement Plant, and a whole host of other substantial Barbadian corporations that have been taken over by a variety of foreign interests.
Instead of seeking to disappear into a large and powerful Trinidadian conglomerate, a company like BS&T should be broadening its local ownership base and cementing the loyalty of its staff, by instituting a profit sharing scheme that is devoted to purchasing BS&T shares for its several thousand Barbadian employees.
It is clear that Barbados faces a very serious “take-over” threat from the capitalist forces of our much larger, oil-rich Caribbean neighbour. What is the national plan for dealing with the largely Indian, Syrian and so-called “French Creole” wealthy Trinidadian business interests that are greedily eyeing “take-over” opportunities in Barbados? And how does this new emerging pattern of racial ownership relate to our supposed national goal of “black economic enfranchisement”?
We are not advocating that Barbados should have a rigid policy of turning its back on investments from Trinidad. But there should be consideration – at a national level – as to what “type” of investment we would welcome, and on what terms.
The truth is, however, that there is no national plan or strategy! Indeed, the bumbling, visionless and ineffectual Government of Barbados has not even begun to think about or discuss this matter with the Barbadian people.
The masses of Barbadian people are currently being badly let down and even “sold out” by their supposed political leaders, and we are in danger of losing all of the achievements and benefits that resulted from hundreds of years of struggle. I am therefore urging serious and committed Barbadian citizens to join together and establish a patriotic peoples’ movement to save our country.
I invite all Barbadians to attend the University Of Independence Square public meeting at Independence Square at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, for a further public discussion of this matter.
(David Comissiong, an attorney-at-law, is president of the Clement Payne Movement.)