Barbados Today Read, Watch, Listen & Discuss Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:18:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Not forgotten Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:18:06 +0000 Today marked four years since former Prime Minister David Thompson lost his battle with cancer while still in office.

For many residents of St John where he served as parliamentary representative for over 20 years, October 23, 2010 will forever be etched in their minds as the day when their friend, and an individual who they felt always had their best interests at heart, was snatched from them.

Barbados TODAY visited the rural parish today where many residents quietly observed the anniversary.

Many spoke of the relationship they had with their late representative who was always around and told of how much they sincerely missed him.

One woman even spoke of her visits to his gravesite.

Shopkeeper Ena Sealy said Thompson was a good Prime Minister and generally a “jolly good fella”. While she has accepted that he has gone home to be with the Lord and she has to do without him, Sealy told Barbados TODAY she will cherish the precious memories she shared with him, including the long conversations they had at her church.

Ena Sealy showing off her picture of David Thompson.

Ena Sealy showing off her picture of David Thompson.

The elderly resident indicated that a piece of Thompson remained with her, as she disclosed that his widow Mara and three daughters often visited to make sure she and her family were progressing well.

“When he passed that was so sad,” Sealy said.

“Although you know you have to die, you don’t know how you are going to die. It was a shock although we knew he was sick. We miss him, but he gone to be with the Master and as the years come and go we will always [observe] the anniversary,” she added.

From early this morning, Suzette Clarke posted a message on her Facebook page acknowledging the anniversary of Thompson’s death. She remembered him as a good representative who was always there for the people he represented.

“I made the post to show people that he will always be remembered by the people of St John, and that he’s gone but certainly not forgotten.

“I can’t speak for the rest of Barbados, but certainly that is the case in St John. You used to find him hanging out under the pavilion watching cricket. He was always there if you needed a favour. After four years, I am still missing him, particularly on this day.”

Meanwhile, Stanton Small said he believed that if Thompson was alive, the country would have been a better place. The gravedigger described his former representative as a good man.

Stanton Small reflecting on his former Parliamentary Representative David Thompson.

Stanton Small reflecting on his former Parliamentary Representative David Thompson.

“He used to come and enjoy himself with us like [former Prime Minister and representative for that parish] Errol Barrow. He use to come and suck cane. Thompson was such a nice person,” said Small.

Irvine Cooke described the deceased leader as a positive individual who executed his job as a representative very well. He said what he appreciated most about Thompson was the fact that he was always there when needed.

“He was a person you could afford to ask him anything. You could attack him anytime. And when Thompson tell you ‘yes’ it was yes. He would never tell you he would do something and not do it.”

Next door at the Estwick residence, a framed picture of Thompson stood next to the television. The residents of that home declared “he belongs to here”.

Izola Estwick looking at a picture of her friend David Thompson.

Izola Estwick looking at a picture of her friend David Thompson.

As Aileen Estwick put it, “the whole house is a Thompson fan”.

“He belonged to us and he wasn’t just here at election time. Even his barber lives here.”

Odessa Waithe, an elderly resident, said she frequently went to Thompson’s resting place at the St John Parish Church where she sat at his grave and talked to him.

She dismissed any suggestions that she may be “crazy” and stressed that she never looked for a response.

“I know he can’t come out and talk back to me but I does still go,” Waithe said.

She said she fell in love with Thompson from the first time she set eyes on him.

“I [am] one that helped bring he up here. When Mr Barrow bring he up here I did down there by a woman sitting down and he asked, ‘who wunna want up here?’ I say, ‘I want Thompson up here’ and it did happen,” she recalled.

When our team visited the gravesite early this afternoon, a few visitors were gathered around reading the tombstone and conversing about Thompson’s legacy.

]]> 1 S&P WORRY Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:29:32 +0000 The international ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says while positive improvements are being made, Barbados’ fiscal adjustment programme has not gone far enough.

Reacting to this week’s Central Bank report, S&P’s lead analyst for Barbados, Richard Francis, said the island was still some way off in terms of economic recovery, while warning that the authorities would have to implement additional measures to achieve the targets set out in the 19-month programme, which is due to come to an end in March.

“The good thing is that the Government has embarked on a fiscal adjustment strategy and it is yielding some results,” Francis told Barbados TODAY.

He pointed out that while foreign exchange reserves had stabilized, the fiscal consolidation measures were still off target.

Furthermore, he said, “there is no growth, which is something that I think needs to happen in order for Barbados to work itself out of the problem which we have seen for the last few years”.

In its release issued on Tuesday, the Central Bank said the Fiscal Adjustment Programme already had the effect of restoring the island’s foreign reserves to $1.66 billion or the equivalent of 15 weeks of import cover, as at the end of September.

However, apart from the lack of growth, Francis said another area of concern was the country’s high debt, which up to the end of September stood at 75 per cent of GDP, up from 67 per cent at the end of last year.

He stayed clear of saying whether the Government’s strategy was the right one for the country but highlighted shortcomings that have been hindering a turnaround.

“It [fiscal adjustment strategy] is not sufficient in order to arrest the increase in the debt to GDP ratio because you can see the debt to GDP ratio [has] climbed. It has been sufficient, it appears, to stabilize the international reserves, which is actually a very key factor for Barbados and the [currency] peg. But it’s not enough on the fiscal side to stabilize the debt to GDP and they are not completely on target so that you need to take further measures to bring this relatively high debt down to a more sustainable level.”

The financial expert was also not satisfied with the level of Government revenue, which he noted posted no real increase.

“Clearly one of the things that we have seen over the past few years is the underperformance on the revenue side and you continue to see there has been some stabilization, but certainly not an increase in terms of revenue. In fact, indirect taxes have fallen [and] it seems that the Government has been better able to make come corrections on the expenditure side.”

With these factors in mind, the S&P official said a strong case could be made for the Government to revise the 19-month programme, while warning that on its current track targets would remain out of reach.

“If the programme stays on its current track they won’t reach the targets. I am assuming, as the Governor indicated, that there will be additional measures to meet targets. Whether that will be sufficient I can’t say, but it’s pretty clear that they do need to make further measures to meet the fiscal targets.”

Governor Worrell warned that further revenue enhancement and expenditure adjustment equivalent to two per cent of GDP will be required in the second half of the fiscal year to meet the target deficit of 6.6 per cent GDP.

While maintaining predictions for low growth this year, Francis stressed the need for a clear and sound plan from the Government to further reduce the deficit in the next fiscal year.

And with S&P due to issue its next report on Barbados in December, Francis said there was currently a “one in three” possibility of a further downgrade, depending on the island’s performance in a number of areas.

“Some of the things that we are going to be looking at are whether the Government will be more in line with its fiscal targets; the level of international reserves; the outlook for the hotel projects; and especially a return to growth.

“I think those are the key factors that we are going to be looking at and we will have a review by the end of the year,” he told Barbados TODAY.

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Barbados to get a Wyndham Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:13:10 +0000 On the heels of this week’s announcement by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy that Barbados will soon have a Hyatt, Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that another major international hotel brand is tipped to operate the former Sam Lord’s Castle in St Philip.

Informed sources say the Wyndham, which is one of the world’s largest and most diverse hotel companies with over 7, 000 hotels and more than 50 brands worldwide, is about to get Cabinet’s nod to operate the 58- acre property.

Construction of a new 450-room/suite hotel and restoration of the 9-bedroom castle is expected to begin by the middle of next year with a targeted completion date of early 2018.

The $200 million project, which will be funded through the government of China, is also expected to generate at least 1,000 jobs, including 400 in the construction phase.

When contacted today, the chief executive officer of the Barbados Investment Inc (BTI) Stuart Layne would not confirm that Wyndham would be the operator.

However, he told Barbados TODAY “we are close to making a decision, but to name someone now would be premature of me. The Cabinet will have to make the decision and they are close to making that decision”.

The approved plans for the redevelopment of Sam Lord’s have been in place since 2008.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Tourism told parliament that work is scheduled to begin during the first quarter of next year on a spanking new Hyatt hotel with two 12-storey high rise towers on the site of the old Harbour Police Station and Detco Motors on Lower Bay Street, the City.

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Stop stalling! Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:06:58 +0000 With Government and CLICO’s judicial manager said to be close to signing off on a firm agreement, they are being told to stop stalling and pay policyholders right now.

Chairman of Goddard’s Enterprises Charles Herbert issued the stern advice during a Barbados Labour Party-sponsored People’s Assembly panel discussion last night at which he got strong support from retired permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance William Layne.

Goddard’s Chairman Charles Herbert

Goddard’s Chairman Charles Herbert

Layne, who is a director of the National Insurance Scheme, agreed with Herbert that there was money available to pay policyholders at least a portion of what they are currently owed, but they complained that the process, which started  back in 2009, was taking way too long to reach a settlement, while investors were suffering as they waited word on their investment.

Former permanent secretary in  the Ministry of Finance William Layne

Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance William Layne

“CLICO has roughly 50 cents on the dollar to pay everyone, and for a couple of years now we are not giving people that 50 cents, and every year that we don’t give them that 50 cents it becomes 45, 40,” said Herbert, who is also a professional estimator of insurance risk and a principal at Eckler Partners Limited.

“Regardless of the solution of finding the other 50 [cents], give people the money that we have there for them now, and stop wasting it,” Herbert said.

Layne also suggested that “if there is sufficient money to pay people 50 cents on the dollar, pay them now”.

Pressing the case for payment of ordinary shareholders, Herbert said, “I don’t have the exact statistics, but I think I’m right. At least half of the money that is lost, is lost by people who had more than $1 million deposited with CLICO.

“Those people are not going to the breadline because they get back 50 cents on the dollar, and they are not the people that the public of Barbados should be having to bail out.”

He further contended that the large investors simply made business decisions that went wrong, but the ordinary shareholders were the most vulnerable and in need of their money now.

“We need to bail out the poor people who are in CLICO and that would not cost us as much as trying to bail out everybody,” he stressed.

However, Herbert’s suggestion did not go down well with former tourism minister Noel Lynch.

“I wouldn’t like Charles to just dismiss everyone who invested in CLICO as having made a bad investment, and only seek to look after the people who were the poor and the vulnerable that were involved in the investment,” Lynch said.

“I wouldn’t like it to be said here that only people who were poor people should be compensated. There are a lot of other people too who have invested monies and are dependent on those monies for their own welfare and the future, and I think they should also be looked after and Government has a responsibility to them.”

Lynch’s argument was that investors, regardless of size, trusted the CLICO investment because it was regulated by a government agent, the Supervisor of Insurance.

“If CLICO was selling a particular product, like all insurance companies and all financial institutions do, and Barbadians made an investment in that, whether they had a dollar or $1 million . . . Government cannot walk away . . .  because it was a legitimate product that CLICO was selling and should have been regulated better by the Supervisor of Insurance.

“So therefore the Government has a responsibility to those people as well.”

Also commenting on the situation, Ed Bushell, the president of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons, which represents the interests of persons over 50 years of age, said, “We are still very concerned about CLICO because many members [of BARP] are members of CLICO, and we are looking very carefully to see what the outcome of that particular fiasco will be”.

Barbados TODAY understands that Government and the Judicial Manager Deloitte Consulting are in the process of finetuning an official statement which will be issued on the matter shortly.

]]> 0 BCCI suggests ways to avoid raising taxes Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:45:57 +0000 The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) says it is “gravely concerned” about the pace of this country’s economic recovery, and it is extremely jittery about the possiblity of any new taxes.

Echoing many of the concerns expressed yesterday by the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), the BCCI today warned that its membership could not survive any additional taxes.

However, based on the latest report of the Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell, BCCI President Tracey Shuffler said she anticipated that “temporary” taxes may have to be extended, considering “the ongoing failure of the current fiscal adjustment plan to meet set targets”.

BCCI President Tracey Shuffler

BCCI President Tracey Shuffler

“The business community’s fear is that temporary taxes may be extended, further dampening demand and preventing a much-needed rebound in this economy,” the BCCI president said.

While the immediate temptation may be to raise taxes, the Chamber today suggested that Government should focus its attention on more efficient tax collection.

“Our members are in many cases suffering terribly from the effects of restricted cash flow and while the Governor’s report seems quite optimistic, his enthusiasm is not being borne out by economic activity and employment levels among members of the business community,” added Executive Director of the Chamber Lisa Gale.

She noted that the unemployment rate had moved from 11 per cent to 13.2 per cent, which she said was worrying “as it did not fully reflect the level of joblessness and underemployment being a reported average, rather than an up-to-date indicator”.

Instead of raising taxes, the BCCI is also encouraging Government to pay outstanding Value Added Tax refunds to the business community, saying the positive impact of such a move on the economy should not be underestimated.

At the same time, it wants the Freundel Stuart administration to settle long outstanding balances owed to the private sector for goods and services, as a means of adding some stimulus and job creation potential.

The Chamber also suggests that more support needs to be given to the foreign exchange earning sectors of tourism, international business, export manufacturing and renewable energy, adding that such support should be reflected in the Government’s upcoming budget.

As for the Central Bank’s report, the Chamber said it had seen no encouraging difference between Tuesday’s release and the previous quarter’s.

“Like the previous quarter’s report, this report indicates overall continued economic malaise and sluggishness in the areas of revenue generation, expenditure reduction and ineffectiveness of parts of the growth strategy,” the Chamber pointed out.

The BCCI also expressed the view that projected deficit target of 6.6 per cent of GDP was a long shot, considering that only a quarter of the goal had been achieved at the half way stage of Government’s 19-month fiscal adjustment programme.

“We expect this [quarter] to be a less responsive period for the fiscal adjustment programme. It is a traditionally softer quarter and to see the fiscal deficit closed by only 15 per cent of the projected reduction up to the half-point of the fiscal year, even with best efforts, we expect the 6.6 per cent of GDP target will be elusive,” Shuffler said.

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Teens ready for challenge Fri, 24 Oct 2014 03:26:46 +0000 The Wildey Gymnasium was a buzz of activity today as some of Barbados’ best Under-15 table tennis players got the opportunity to rub shoulders with other teen players from around the world.

It was an excellent practice opportunity ahead of the October 27 to November 1 ITTF World Cadet Challenge which will be played at the sports complex.

President of the Barbados Table Tennis Association, Ray Jackman, emphasized that the staging of the tournament in Barbados presented the youngsters with an opportunity for exposure that they might not have had under normal circumstances.

The youngsters have been hard at practice over the past months under the guidance of national player Trevor Farley. The team is being managed by Dale Rudder.

 The squad is: Erica Banfield, 13, of Coleridge & Parry; Jalani Miller, 15, Barbados Learning Centre; Janae Lewis, 12, The St. Michael School; Marcus Smith, 13, Queen’s College; Marissa Alleyne, 15, The Alleyne School; Ramon Jackman, 15, Harrison College; Ramon Maxwell, 13, Graydon Sealy; Tyrese Knight, 14, Combermere; Jazel Griffith, 14, Coleridge & Parry.

Erica Banfield

Erica Banfield

Janae Lewis

Janae Lewis

Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith

Kenady King

Kenady King

]]> 0 Sponsors on edge Fri, 24 Oct 2014 03:05:17 +0000 The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), reeling from the fallout from the team’s withdrawal from the tour of India, is facing fresh pressure from its worried commercial and broadcast partners.

West Indies cricket was plunged into a major crisis after the tourists abandoned their series in India over a protracted payment dispute between the players and their board.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI), the most powerful body in the sport, responded by suspending all future tours with the Caribbean team and beginning legal action against the WICB –– moves that could have a devastating financial impact.

Oliver McIntosh chief executive officer of Digicel Sportsmax, the pan-Caribbean sports television network, has stated he is worried about the forthcoming West Indies tour of South Africa and added the WICB needed to undergo serious changes.

Oliver McIntosh

Oliver McIntosh

“We are due to broadcast West Indies tour of South Africa in December and January. We have invested a lot of money in the rights and in the talent. We have started marketing it, we have sponsors on board and if that doesn’t happen, you totally retract, you have to go back to sponsors and give back money. We are worried. It does impact our audience. If West Indies cricket is no longer on, that is a big blow for us, a big blow,” he said.

While in the past governments in the Caribbean have intervened in the various crises that have afflicted West Indies, McIntosh said that it was sponsors and other backers who needed to start pushing the WICB to make major changes.

“What has to happen in this case is that the private interests have to get involved and say, ‘Look, if I have a stake here, if you want me to stay involved and want me to continue to help funding the cricket, this is how it has to go’,” he said.

Telecommunications company Digicel, which recently bought Sportsmax, is well established as the main backer of West Indies cricket and is likely to sit down with the WICB in the near future.

“Like all cricket fans, we’re disappointed when matches don’t happen,” Digicel said in a statement issued today.

“To be clear, our contract is with the WICB. And it is with the WICB that we must have a discussion. As such, we will not be commenting for the time being.”

While several efforts have been made to reform the WICB during the past two decades of decline on the field, and Twenty20 cricket has enjoyed plenty of success in the region, conflicts have continued throughout different leaderships.

McIntosh said that major reform was needed.

“The board has to be restructured. You need to get some independent people on the board who are not going to run it on a country basis. Whenever there is a new president elected and he is from Jamaica, then the CEO comes from Jamaica and then if he’s from St Lucia then it’s a St.Lucian.

“It has to be what is best for cricket and developing cricket. I think that private interests are going to have to get involved in saying it is not going to work (like this).”

]]> 1 Looking beyond an Ebola ban Fri, 24 Oct 2014 03:03:54 +0000 It is a natural reaction, when facing a threat – real or perceived – for humans to fight for survival.

We face the threat head on and beat it to the ground, or use evasive action to dodge and avoid, or create a barrier between ourselves and that which threatens us. Those responses are all understandable and expected.

It should therefore have come as no surprise when Barbadians – fearful that the deadly Ebola virus could reach our shores and devastate this 166 square mile island unable to cope with an outbreak – called on the authorities to ban West African travellers from entering this country.

They pointed to our Caribbean neighbours that have made it clear travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – the three West African countries most affected by the virus – would not be welcomed in their islands and called on the Freundel Stuart administration to follow suit.

The response has been swift and clear: No ban.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, as he disclosed that an oil tanker had been denied entry into Barbados’ waters because two people on board had “symptoms deemed to be Ebola-like”, pointed out:

“If you go and identify three countries in West Africa where there are Ebola cases and ban travel from there, what happens when you have a couple of cases in the United Kingdom? Are we going to shut down the UK source market and ban travel from there too? It doesn’t make sense . . .”

On the flip side, others argue that there is more at stake if a ban is not implemented and just one person carrying the virus gains entry, not only putting the health of the population of this small country at risk but scaring off visitors from the same tourist markets and possibly making Barbados the subject of a travel ban. Either situation has the potential to be just as devastating as closing off our borders to countries affected by Ebola as they could decimate the country’s number one foreign exchange earning sector.

The arguments for and against a ban are numerous and Government’s decision not to follow the lead of some of its Caribbean neighbours has divided the population.

But there is an issue bigger than the implementation, or lack thereof, of a travel ban.

While the fearful and the concerned among us worry about infected persons from countries where, out of a population of hundreds of millions, fewer than 5,000 have been infected, and insist on shutting out visitors from West Africa, Ebola could slip through another unmanned door.

Neither the UK nor the United States – Barbados’ main tourist markets – have banned travel to any Ebola-affected country.

As travel continues unhindered between the countries of those we fear – the Ebola infected – and those we welcome – the vital tourists – the possibility of an Ebola-carrier reaching our shores increases. Will those travellers be screened?

And what about Barbadians who travel overseas, are unwittingly exposed to persons carrying the virus, and then return home? Will they be checked to ensure they are not returning with an unwelcomed guest?

And if they test positive for the Ebola virus, what then?

There are still more questions than answers.

We need to put aside the arguments against and for a ban against travel from West African countries and focus on what else needs to be done to protect Barbados from joining the list of countries now fighting the disease.

We need to hear more about what the Government is doing to protect its citizens, other than blocking the entry of one cargo ship carrying two persons with Ebola-like symptoms.

]]> 1 WET THREAT Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:28:45 +0000 No one has control over rainfall. But in the context of the threat of dengue fever and Chikungunya caused by mosquitoes, everything should be done to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water. That such is on the premises of a school, in this instance Queen’s College, poses a constant danger to our children.
In this picture by Marissa Lindsay this youngster recovers a basketball from the stagnant water adjacent to the court.


Stagnant water adjacent the basketball court.

Braving the dirty water.

Braving the dirty water.

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JAMAICA-More terror in Bog Walk Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:17:39 +0000 KINGSTON – Gunmen have continued to wreak havoc in Bog Walk, St Catherine, killing three men, among them a 70-year-old, at Pine Apple Lane, yesterday.

The police have identified those killed as Malty Taylor, otherwise known as ‘Malty Blair’, an elderly man from the community, and the other two men only as Patrick and Pete, who were said to be farmers of Kingston addresses.

Police investigators talk among themselves at the scene where three people were killed yesterday.

Police investigators talk among themselves at the scene where three people were killed yesterday.

According to the police, approximately 10:30 am, the two men from Kingston had gone to the area to purchase coconuts.

Residents reported hearing several explosions minutes after they arrived in the community. The police were called, and after a search of the area the bullet-riddled bodies of the three men were found.

Residents look on as the police process the crime scene where three men were gunned down, yesterday.

Residents look on as the police process the crime scene where three men were gunned down, yesterday.

The murders, which bring to seven the number of people killed in the St Catherine North Division in the last week, have triggered an exodus of citizens from some of the surrounding communities, despite assurances from the police that they will be maintaining a 24-hour presence in the volatile areas under attack from criminals.

However, this has provided little comfort to the many fearful residents.

“Lord, have mercy on us, look what wi district come to,” said one woman.

  She was part of the large group of people who gathered in the area behind the police yellow tape, which were used to mark the crime scene.

“Right now, based on what has been taking place in this area, nuh body nuh safe,” said another woman, who vowed that she would be moving out of the area before nightfall.

The police tried to provide some assurance.

“We can guarantee the residents, in this area and surrounding communities, that the police and military have been deployed to the area and will be maintaining a 24-hour presence to restore normalcy and restore order,” said head of operations of Area Five, Senior Superintendent Anthony Castell.

He also said that the police were following strong leads in yesterday’s shooting.

This latest shooting, which brings to 11 the number of people killed in the area within the last month, occurred nine days after four men transporting a $2-million payroll for workers on the Chinese-constructed North/South link of Highway 2000 were brutally murdered in a robbery in Bowers Wood located on the outskirts of Bog Walk.

Police said the men Courtney Courbourne, 38, Carlton Scott, 37, Greg Harris, and another man, Kirk Foote, were travelling through the community with the cash to pay employees who are working on the highway, when criminals carrying high-powered weapons ambushed them.

In August, four people were gunned down in another incident in the Middleton district that sits between Bog Walk and Linstead.

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