Failing grade

Diaspora: Fix Barbados and we will come

A nonchalant work attitude, which leads to uncompetitive behaviour, may be the major force stopping nationals living abroad from investing in their homeland.

That emerged as a dominant theme as expatriate Barbadians spoke about what was needed for them to feel encouraged to either return and contribute to their country’s development by applying their skills, or invest in local projects.

A People’s Assembly session that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) organized with the Diaspora Wednesday night at the Island Inn saw the discussion move from indifference in the workplace to an unwillingness to continue learning to suit the professional environment.

“I need to see value for my money. So why invest in a system or country that is not giving enough output, is not as efficient as it should be?” asked Cheri Pedersen, who has been resident in Denmark for the past 15 years.

Expatriate Cheri Pedersen makes a contribution.

Making it clear that she is not a supporter of the BLP but the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), she said: “I feel as though the country is slipping. I just want to have a fresh outlook as to where any party is taking this country.”

“You all are asking us to do a lot. Invest in Barbados. Why?” she continued.

“Have you ever gone to the banks and stood in the long lines? Have you called a business place in Barbados and actually gotten someone who wanted to engage and actually work for their money?”

Reflecting on her Scandinavian work experience where “you have to give your all”, she said that in Barbados, “we lack the maturity to recognize that this is where the world is moving to . . . People are demanding more of us and we are not meeting those demands”.

“I work extremely hard for my money, so why should I invest in the country when I come here and I see it run inefficiently? And, on top of that, the attitude of Barbadians is not such that I would want to invest in it.”

Philip Lewis, who recently returned here after living in Bermuda for 31 years, said “the pace of running business in Barbados is just atrocious”.

Philip Lewis speaks about his experiences.
Philip Lewis speaks about his experiences.

He shared his experience of seeking to use the duty-free provision for returning nationals purchasing vehicles locally. “It took me five weeks to get the application approved.”

Lewis reflected that in Bermuda he could go for a driver’s licence and in 45 minutes get it renewed for 10 years.

“I came here to get my licence and I had to spend a whole day, and go back a second day.”

But rather than just point out the problems, Lewis was willing to help fix what he saw wrong in Barbados.

“I am willing to change the mindset of Barbadians,” he said. “We are very uncompetitive in a competitive world because of the attitude of Barbadians.”

Athiel Greenidge, who lives in Nigeria, spoke of what he saw as the hostile attitude of Barbadian professionals towards persons returning from abroad, hoping to make a contribution.

“They would think that you are coming back here to criticize them, rather than suggest new ways of doing things. I think the majority of Bajans believe that what they are doing is set in stone and can’t change, and they’re not prepared to change.”

Drawing from what he saw while living in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, Lawson Clarke, said, “They have privatized many services that work much better than the government will ever do”, suggesting Barbados go that route.

He went on to speak about the island’s education system which he said had become an impediment to Barbados’ success.

Claiming that when many people graduate they just stop learning, he said this even applies to Barbadians who migrate.

“Many people who are abroad and are Bajan walk with Harrison College on their sleeve,” he said.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley addresses the People’s Assembly meeting with the Diaspora.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley addresses the People’s Assembly meeting with the Diaspora.

Clarke’s comments about elitism in Barbados’ school system were endorsed by BLP leader Mia Mottley, who said it began from the time Barbadians qualified to enter secondary school.

She said changing this outlook was “fundamental to the unlocking of creativity in this country”.

“Having spent seven years as Minister of Education, Barbados has cemented people into underperformance at the age of 11. It cannot continue,” Mottley declared.

“For Barbados to be good for the Diaspora, Barbados has to be good for Barbadians,” conceding that, “Barbados is currently not working for the vast majority of Barbadians”.

The Opposition Leader added: “If it’s not working for us, then it’s going to be difficult for us to attract people here. The one missing ingredient is confidence. If people don’t have confidence that things will work here, they are not going to take up their hard-earned money and come.”

11 Responses to Failing grade

  1. Brien King
    Brien King August 5, 2016 at 2:34 am

    If your home country isn’t to your standard then don’t come back, simple. You have the right to stay in the place that you are most comfortable in and with. The people of Barbados problem is very simple, 98 % of them have chosen not to fully obey GOD’S instructions , so don’t matter what you do or who say what, it will continue in the manner that you are seeing now, REGARDLESS of who is the government.

    No one here has to beg no one from the rest of the world to come here to vacation or live or do any business . Look around and see that they come by their own free will and some refuse to go back too, to the point where the authorities does have to look for them and send them back. If Barbados was as bad as you all claim, why is so many investors want to invest in Barbados ? Why it is that non-nationals buy property here and move in and live here ? Beware, our police don’t go around killing people for the fun of it, no terrorist operates here and if they show up, they are quickly addressed by our forces. So compare Barbados with any country in the world, I staying right here, even if I have to tell that sheep to go around to eat some of that grass. So stay where you live now and keep your money as it will not be missed, because your neighbors that are citizens over there have brought and spend theirs here already, and if you are not careful, by the time you made up your mind, all the reasonable price land would have been sold to your neighbors. There is no place in this world that is perfect but if there where, Barbados to me, in comparison in many things, would be close to the top.

    • Brien King
      Brien King August 5, 2016 at 3:47 am

      Don’t take my word for it, but take a few steps back from political parties and see for your self, do a non-bias research and state what you find.

  2. ch August 5, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Barbados, like all countries, has many areas that need development and Bajans must open their minds to change and progress. But that is really a job for those of us who live here and do the daily work to build this country. The ex-pats are not responsible for our current situation.
    To be honest, it’s sometimes better for these ex-pats to remain where they are settled. This is a new Barbados and some cannot handle the reality that time has moved on and our social mentality has changed.
    So, returning nationals may find themselves irrelevant and unwelcome, if they return with a nostalgia for colonial times or with superior attitudes. The world has opened for all of us and many of us have advanced in knowledge and wider education.
    We are not beggars, waiting to be rescued by handouts from persons detached from the reality of Barbados in 2016.
    They have their own struggles where they are and some are worse off than we are so, give them a break.

  3. Hal Austin August 5, 2016 at 4:14 am

    All these complaints are true and have been around for a long time. Would I come to Barbados to attend a conference to be talked down to by civil servants, and even worse, politicians who do not ha a clue about what they are talking about.
    I have told the story of Billie Miller attending a meeting in the City of London with some Trinidadian permanent secretary, Dr Mumbo Jumbo, who set about telling people in the City how financial funds are run.
    I gave Miller one of my business cards and told her I would like to speak to her in private. I also told the late Peter Simmonds the same and he promised he would arrange it.
    The rest is history.

  4. Tony Webster August 5, 2016 at 5:10 am

    @Brien King: Sir, you have just illustrated exactly why this country’s future ain’t exactly shiny: far too many “blinkered” Bajans like you, stuck in “first gear”; ears that are simply not listeneing; and looking for a brighter future through , and sightless eyes… when the very rocks scream out for enlightened governance. Please Sir, don’t kill the messenger…just deal with the message. While I have it: my thanks go out to Ms. Cheri Pedersen, and to Mr. Lewis and others whose constructive criticisms and suggestsions are comforting to me, and hopefully will cause our current crop of “leaders”, to ponder a bit and to be-stir themselves. We ALL can do better; each of us, as individuals; and yes, also those of the Thursduh Throng.

    Forward, the Fabulous Fifty…cannons to their right , and cannons to their left…onward, to glory etc rode the Fabulous Fifty. (with sincere apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson)

  5. Donna Harewood August 5, 2016 at 6:32 am

    In one thing Ms. Mottley is correct. Barbados is not working for the MAJORITY of Barbadians. And maybe that is why those same people find it hard to work for Barbados. The benefit of their hard work goes into the minority’s pockets. There is a disconnect among the people. They no longer believe the Barbadian dream sold to them at Independence. They feel like second class citizens. They feel disenfranchised, marginalized. They are cynical and in many cases bereft of hope. Many don’t even expect to get a bus to take them home after work. And access to justice in our law courts? Ask them about that and they will laugh until they cry. They have NO EXPECTATION of getting that before they die.

    Even the Prime Minister has eloquently acknowledged this.
    And now the Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged it.

    And the majority of the disenfranchised and marginalized let out a collective,


  6. Alex Alleyne August 5, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Can Bajans living outside of Barbados vote in Barbados’ elections outside of Barbados ? . If not, “fix-it so they can”. Must move with the times.

  7. recoanthony August 5, 2016 at 8:41 am


  8. Athiel Greenidge August 5, 2016 at 9:13 am

    The headline “Fix Barbados and we will come” is mis-leading. Most Bajans living abroad, I have met, are of the opinion “give us opportunities to contribute to the development of Barbados and we will willing do so. However, accept that you are willing to listen as we are willing to and work with us on equal footing toward a better Barbados. No man is better than the other. The division of “them” and “us” is self-defeating. As long as we all seek the same outcome, progress, we should be willing to do what it takes. Politics should be secondary “Barbados First”.

  9. Maria August 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    If problems exist, find a ways to solve them. Just talking about situations will not bring about change.

  10. Sunshine Sunny Shine August 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Only if this were a discovery it would be shocking. If only Mottley’s comments did not have the political spin over the murk that is well known, it could be considered a valid attempt at tackling the prehistoric matter. To even contemplate the problems associated with the public sector is just one insight into the poor representation we have had posing for leadership. There are no real strides towards change. Just the talk about it and around it. Mottley knows what must be done and the decisions that must follow to make Barbados a balanced society. Rather she will do or just continues to play her part in the play that is Barbados politics will be revealed during her tenure as the next Prime Minister. Action speaks louder than words.


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