“DLP? Bajans Not Good Enough, Neither Can They Reach Jamaicans High Standards: Work Permits Therefore Necessary” by Henderson Bovell

You can excuse the DLP if it did not care to read the ‘National Strategic Plan 2005-2025.’ But Goal #6 of that document speaks, in part, to: “Branding Barbados Globally.” When you read it, you begin to understand why the demise of a Barbadian brand like Almond, is a national scandal. I suppose the same can be said about the DLP’s reluctance to spend a puny US$500,000 to save a $80m Rum Industry, which will result in “a-310-year-old-company” leaving Barbadian hands for the first time in its history. Of all people, the BLP, which is responsible for the “National Strategic Plan Document,” should understand that the issue of “Sandals” – is more than the quantum of concessions or what is contained in some MOU, especially since the same National Strategic Plan sought “to continue consolidating the country’s international image, particularly on account of political stability, educational quality, democratic governance and good leadership.”

I do not know that the present Barbados Cabinet and Government – are showing good leadership on tourism right now because “Almond” is a Barbadian-home-grown-international-families-brand, which was on par (in the view of many) with Sandals, which is nothing more than a Jamaican home-grown-international-families-brand. That makes Ralph Taylor, the equivalent of the Jamaican Butch Stewart.

Like Sandals, there was also global excellence about Almond, which had a marking apparatus across Europe and North America. And, it too was expanding throughout the Caribbean.

The real issue of the Sandals fiasco has very little to do with concessions or what is contained in a MOU. But that, in the month of November (Independence, nationhood, sovereignty, a Barbadian brand and identity; Barbadian pride and industry) while the country is being asked to buy local, public policy is embracing a Jamaican brand (Sandals) which is not superior to the local brands (Almond). Whether it is Sandals, the demise of the rum industry or reversed colonization in relation to the virtual "give-away" of all that land at Coverley - the DLP is always the one holding the smoking gun.

The real issue of the Sandals fiasco has very little to do with concessions or what is contained in a MOU. But that, in the month of November (Independence, nationhood, sovereignty, a Barbadian brand and identity; Barbadian pride and industry) while the country is being asked to buy local, public policy is embracing a Jamaican brand (Sandals) which is not superior to the local brands (Almond). Whether it is Sandals, the demise of the rum industry or reversed colonization in relation to the virtual “give-away” of all that land at Coverley – the DLP is always the one holding the smoking gun.

I tend to agree that a Government, which said that it is against privitisation – but sees nothing wrong with selling Barbadian passports or citizenship – would be “eager” to choose Sandals, rather than save Almond – the credible and successful Barbadian brand it allowed to wilt for over two years, while 500 found themselves on the bread-line and the foreign reserves nose-dive by over $400 million.

I mean, for his service to Barbados and contribution to Barbadian pride and a Barbadian hotel brand, we should be honouring Ralph Taylor with a Knighthood or GCM.

I mean, for his service to Barbados and contribution to Barbadian pride and a Barbadian hotel brand, we should be honouring Ralph Taylor with a Knighthood or GCM.

Only recently, the Myrie case was before the CCJ and we saw how the Jamaicans made all types or remarks about Barbados and Barbadians, whether true or false. They said that Barbadians are arrogant and cocky. That may be a debatable distraction but to now have a scenario where you are offering so many work permits for Jamaicans to come in here to work at a Sandals property, what are you saying about Barbadians: that they cannot meet Jamaican so-called high standards in the hotel sector. Where will they stay or live: at Coverley, as part of the deal?

Is it not true that our Chefs come-up against the best in the world and win gold awards? Is the same not true about our bartenders (mixologists)? Do we not train people at the Hotel School? What statement is our Government making about our Barbadian people in November?

This Government sat-back and allowed a Barbadian brand to decline. In the process, some 500 workers ended-up on the bread line. The DLP did nothing for the two years businesses in Speightstown were complaining about lost of economic activity due to the closure of Almond. Airlift fell and the foreign reserves nose-dive by some $400 mil. Yet, the government was not moved. It sat on its hands and allowed a Barbadian brand to fail and our economy to shrink and eventually, be downgraded to “JUNK.

It presided over the diminishing and near demise of a successful Barbadian brand because it fail to see its role as anything other than to "tax" and "spend." But, increasing VAT; Land Tax; Excise Tax on petroleum products; water rates and so on - highlights the DLP folly of killing the goose that lays the golden egg for the Barbados economy.

It presided over the diminishing and near demise of a successful Barbadian brand because it fail to see its role as anything other than to “tax” and “spend.” But, increasing VAT; Land Tax; Excise Tax on petroleum products; water rates and so on – highlights the DLP folly of killing the goose that lays the golden egg for the Barbados economy.

Still, it is not as simple as a half of a billion in concessions or a MOU. This issue speaks to the unpatriotic character of the DLP. Is a duty-free car too good for local hotel workers? If per chance, a bajan is fortunate to get one of those jobs, he will have to catch the bus, while the, “brand-name foreigner worker,” will roll-in to work in an air-conditioned duty-free car.

This no laughing matter! Because, the DLP’s refusal to offer timely assistance or to take timely action – in relation to a Barbadian-home-grown-international-brand – is their vote of no confidence in the Barbadian people and in a Barbadian symbol of excellence.

The DLP did not care that it phased-approached to governance and laziness - resulted in over 500 Almond Employees ending-up on the bread-line or in businesses in Speightstown crumbling and the economy downgraded to "JUNK."

The DLP did not care that it phased-approached to governance and laziness – resulted in over 500 Almond Employees ending-up on the bread-line or in businesses in Speightstown crumbling and the economy downgraded to “JUNK.”

The clear message the DLP wants to send, is “the Jamaican brand is better than Barbados!” That Barbadian hotel workers cannot meet Jamaican high standards and that to be Jamaican, is superior – requiring the DLP to have to issue such an alarming number of work permits because these Barbadians cannot meet Jamaican high-standards. So tourists are not coming because of you – the Barbadian worker. It is a very sad thing when you have a Government making these horrible statements and judgments.

The other point is because of reduced load-capacity, Virgin Atlantic may have already made some adjustments, in relation to St. Lucia, while American Airline may make adjustment come 2014. The point is, even with a Sandals (when it eventually opens for business) it MAY NOT be a case of "increased capacity" or growth but merely - recovering ground that was lost when a home-grown international brand like Almond - was allowed by the DLP, to fail.

The other point is because of reduced load-capacity, Virgin Atlantic may have already made some adjustments, in relation to St. Lucia, while American Airline may make adjustment come 2014. The point is, even with a Sandals (when it eventually opens for business) it MAY NOT be a case of “increased capacity” or growth but merely – recovering ground that was lost when a home-grown international brand like Almond – was allowed by the DLP, to fail.

On another point: local hoteliers and restaurant operators bringing a class action suite against the Government – in relation to the favoured treatment given to Sandals – should not be so easily brushed aside as nonsense because of some ill-conceived notion of making the matter of concessions sub judice because there will be a similar outcome (essentially) once Sinckler or Sealy present the MOU the Opposition is asking for. Once that is done, the issue is dead.

Henderson N. Bovell is a former Chair of the National Assistance Board; Mr Bovell is also a noted social commentator and contributor to Radio Call-In programmes

Henderson N. Bovell is a former Chair of the National Assistance Board; Mr Bovell is also a noted social commentator and contributor to Radio Call-In programmes

I thought, having only recently brought a failed vote of no confidence against Sinckler, the strategy now would be for an independent authority (the law Court) to rule on the Opposition’s view (on the question of discrimination) thereby strengthening its point, that given the conduct now in relation to Sandals – the country really cannot have confidence in the Minister. At least Moody’s seem to share the Opposition’ view on the question of favourable concessions to Sandals, but the law court would be a further victory. Even though, emphasis purely on concessions or a MOU – is to vulgarise a good rallying-point debate and admit a failure to see the real issue relating to the matter. But, what do I know! I am just, Henderson Bovell.

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