Wednesday, April 17, 2024

WILD COOT: Letter to Wineback


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“HOWEVER, THE VIRTUAL RULING out of one’s level of educational attainment makes employment in Barbados a lottery.” 

I kept rereading this guest article in the WEEKEND NATION of March 18 by Mr Damien Wineback. It brought me back to December 21, 1979. Here was a man, qualified at the highest level, a recipient of the taxpayers’ money of Barbados’ system, about to transform the landscape of the banking industry here. He pens a letter to the board of the bank saying “I resign” on a Friday. The board meets on a Saturday, and his resignation is accepted on Monday. Maybe the problem was the character of the letter writer.

There is no way, were I a member of that board, regardless of past experiences, that I would not have summoned that person to a meeting to hear what was bugging him. There were no questions asked as to why such an abrupt letter; no board member inquired. Okay, so that is Barbados. He sits around for three months discreetly seeking suitable employment, but he is neither white nor from a well-known family. Nothing. So he packs his bag and successfully roams the world for the next 26 years without a day lost in overseas employment. Young man look to foreign.

The situation has become even worse with the dominance of the Barbados banking industry by the Trinidadians and the Canadians. The dominance is made worse in the industrial landscape by the dominance of the Trinidadian perception that the Barbados business scenery is up for the taking, via-à-vis, the sale of Barbados Shipping & Trading and others. The perception is that Barbadians are laid-back. One recalls what former Prime Minister Errol Barrow said, that Barbadians would be hewers of wood and bringers of water. In fact, he was moved to ask: “What is your mirror image of yourselves?”

Mr Wineback, what you are saying about the effect of the University of the West Indies regurgitating graduate after graduate, yet still seeing daily applications for work permits for non-Caribbean and even non-Barbadian for jobs is quite true. Some of the applications have strong political connections, especially from supporters of the political party. The influx of successful work permit persons is really an insult to Barbados. Yet the political deciders are so embroiled in their own aggrandisement and future pensions that they fail to see where they are letting down the younger generation of Barbados. And you are quite right in saying that it is having a negative effect on the psyche of the youngsters with regards to being academically qualified.

Young man, with your skills, the world is an open arena. Do not be consumed by any sentimental love for your navel string attachment. The Wild Coot tells you that with your qualifications there are many fulfilling positions awaiting you abroad. So do not be disheartened.

Like the Wild Coot, you may plan your retirement days for Barbados where the climate is favourable to living and where so far there is less crime. One caveat – the way that this economy is heading and the accumulation of debt, the intransigence of responses of Government to economic advice, there may be some doubt about its serenity.

You know, I am beginning to like our Prime Minister. “Sucking on Government nipples! Seven million dollars cast in stone!”, for example. In actuality the expenditure of $7 million for a 50th anniversary celebration is chicken feed, even in our perilous position. However, the expression “cast in stone” is as resolute as the fingerprinting debacle. There is no doubt that it would be a vote-catching gimmick if elections were on the agenda, but not necessary. One cannot fault $7 million for the enjoyment of the whole population as against a tax funding of over $400 million imposed on the whole of Barbados in order to compensate “gravilicious”, greedy CLICO investors who would not have been prepared to share their booty with the ordinary population if things had gone well. The saying “caveat emptor” comes to mind.

Why should the public pay? Go look for your friends who are the real culprits. You may well ask why should we spend the disaster $35 million of savings before there is a disaster. Convoluted reasoning.

I was trying to bite into bitcoins the other night, but I am still hungry.

• Harry Russell is a banker. Email


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