Businessmen speak of ‘disconnect’ between Govt and people

Fresh concerns have been raised about a lack of clarity and direction in relation to Government’s plans for two multi-million-dollar projects – the construction of a new sugar factory and the establishment of a power plant using waste to generate electricity.

Businessman Andy Armstrong raised the issue on Wednesday during a question and answer segment of the 55th Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) annual general meeting. The segment followed an attention-gripping presentation by Republic Bank chairman Ronald Harford, in which he called for constitutional reform in order to give Barbadians more say on national development issues.

A section of the audience at Wednesday’s meeting.

Armstrong complained that it seemed that “the people in the higher echelon of Government” controlled “so much” and showed some unwillingness to make full disclosure on some issues.

“Take, for example, we are thinking of spending [more than] $500 million as a country to build a new sugar factory, yet we haven’t got the sugar cane growers on board,” he said.

He went on: “I think they are spending [close to] $300 million on the waste-to-energy plant. From what I understand, even the Ministry of Energy doesn’t really know what the Ministry of the Environment is doing . . . . There seems to be this disconnect and unwillingness to really share what is going on because those two things are huge visions for the country and somehow we need to ventilate those more widely.”

Armstrong said he wanted to know how citizens could “persuade those who hold the levers of power or guard the gates that it is not acceptable to do things in secret, that we really need to open that up to a wider discussion for all of us in the country.”

About two years ago, Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resources Management Dr David Estwick announced that a US$270 million state-of-the-art multi-purpose sugar factory would be constructed.

Also in 2013, Minister of Environment and Drainage, Dr Denis Lowe, announced that Government was on a fast track to introduce a green energy programme that would include an ultramodern waste-to-energy plant that should be in operation in Barbados by the end of this year as long as everything goes to plan.

Since then, very little has been said in terms of an update on both projects.

Responding to Armstrong’s concern, Harford said while he did not have the answer, the lack of clarity from leaders was “a challenge around the world”.

“But I can tell you if you don’t play your part and let the people in power know that you are not standing for it and you are not happy about it, they will get away with it. It will continue and you need to stand as a people and say we don’t stand for this. We are not prepared to tolerate this situation,” he said.

Saying that politicians were the servants of the people, the Republic Bank chairman said democracy seemed to have evolved to “wrest the power from the people”.

“You have put them in there to do a specific job and you must hold them to account. You have to hold them to account and somewhere inside of there, you need to make a stand and have your voice heard and your tolerance level demonstrated that this not what we are going to tolerate,” said Harford.

Contributing to the discussion, construction magnate Sir Charles Williams questioned “how can a project be taken forward when the people that are going to produce the material for that project are not with it, are not advised, and do not know of all of the implications?”

“Yes, there are some things I see that are encouraging but it is a dangerous thing in Barbados to lift your head above the radar,” he added.

24 Responses to Businessmen speak of ‘disconnect’ between Govt and people

  1. Anthony Weekes
    Anthony Weekes May 15, 2015 at 8:39 am

    This is so true

    Reply
  2. Angela Thompson Branch
    Angela Thompson Branch May 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Got that right.

    Reply
  3. Heather Cole
    Heather Cole May 15, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Things really have to be brown. Even the white people of Barbados are raising their voices against the government. Unprecedented!

    Reply
    • Heather Cole
      Heather Cole May 15, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Seth St John you have assumed too much. Instead of looking for a racist comment I suggest you read what I wrote. My comment has nothing to do with race.

      Reply
    • Frederick Alleyne
      Frederick Alleyne May 15, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Yes Heather Cole, especially when they are the ones gaining most from the the mess that the said government created.

      Reply
    • Farrah Straker
      Farrah Straker May 15, 2015 at 11:45 am

      What rubbish are you speaking of? Gaining most? Every business in this country is in financial hell. Construction is down, no contracts, etc. How then are they gaining? Every business leader has spoken out about this government.

      Reply
    • Frederick Alleyne
      Frederick Alleyne May 15, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      All? I will agree that many are. And who are these “every business leader”? I know about some and further some of the very ones at that meeting were very loud in telling people to give the same government a chance. Now they talking about a disconnect. Construction was down long ago for the small contractors who were dismissed by this government. One large contractor has gotten nearly every job that this government has handed out including cutting grass on the h,way. The real suffering business people are not represented and no on cares.

      Reply
  4. Farrah Straker
    Farrah Straker May 15, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Heather Cole, are you serious with that comment? How ignorant can you be? We’re all Barbadians and it’s pathetic when airheads stoop to a level of classifying people when everyone is going through the same problems.

    Reply
  5. Randy Hartman
    Randy Hartman May 15, 2015 at 10:18 am

    ‘disconnect’ between Govt and reality

    Reply
  6. Heather Cole
    Heather Cole May 15, 2015 at 11:22 am

    The spinners are at work. I stand behind my comment. It was not racially motivated. There are white people who live in Barbados and this is the first time that they have said anything about incapability of this government. Again unprecedented!

    Reply
  7. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock May 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Heather, corrections the first time they have ever said it about a government, it’s truly over bearing.

    Reply
    • Wayne Dread
      Wayne Dread May 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      I wonder how idiotic i would feel if i was so easily misleaded by a group of rich business men who doesn’t look like me ,and a newspaper editor who would intentionally mislead me with propaganda.

      Reply
    • Rawle Maycock
      Rawle Maycock May 15, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Wayne it’s easy to see.

      Reply
    • Wayne Dread
      Wayne Dread May 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Rawle, i dont understand, are you agreeing that only an idiot will allow the article that was misrepresented , the writer intentionally mislead the public to promote his own agenda .

      Reply
    • Rawle Maycock
      Rawle Maycock May 15, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      No, it’s easy to see that what the business men are saying is true.

      Reply
    • Heather Cole
      Heather Cole May 15, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Yes Rawle we are on the same page!

      Reply
  8. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway May 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Suggest one to read the article.. as the picture is misleading .. Quote : ” 55th Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) annual general meeting. The segment followed an attention-gripping presentation by Republic Bank chairman Ronald Harford, in which he called for constitutional reform in order to give Barbadians more say on national development issues.: Then evolved to examples of disconnect as they see it.. not the first time somone has expressed concern

    Reply
  9. Wayne Dread
    Wayne Dread May 15, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    The connect is ” the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” i support my government for being disconnect.

    Reply
    • Robert Holloway
      Robert Holloway May 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      That applies all over the world Wayne.
      Read the article closely as to some of the questions

      Reply
    • Wayne Dread
      Wayne Dread May 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I read the article and i understand a bunch of greedy business men.who have no connect to the poor people who would rather support burger king than gloria’s fish fry.

      Reply
    • Robert Holloway
      Robert Holloway May 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Only do chefettes or fish fry

      Reply
  10. not picker May 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    What i gather from the article is that none of those present obtained contracts for the proposed projects, and they are expressing disdain about a new way of doing things, they new way is stamp out the monopoly of the 2 party 2 contract system,where a specific contractor was awarded contracts based solely on which party was elected to govern. We are seeing a new direction. ” Wealth distribution, “

    Reply

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