DLP column for Friday, 20th May 2016 – 29, 400 Short!!!

 

Extract taken from the letter to be delivered to members and supporters of the
March for Justice sent
by the Principal Organiser.

the march

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Comrades,

 

First let me thank the scores who turned out for our first in a series of demonstrations. We fell way short of the 30 000 persons we were hoping to mobilise on this occasion.  The police claimed that roughly 600 persons came out for the march.  It is my intention to refute their numbers.  However, I shall convene a meeting with the planners of this activity and seek to interrogate where we fell down.

 

I accept full responsibility for the very poor turn out today as some will want to apportion blame on the perceived dismal failure of the activity. I am aware of the perception which went out surrounding this activity. Barbados was told that the activity was all about me while others believed it should have been a pure party initiative. I stressed, as I did in the first one, we need to engage the Barbadians standing on the side looking on.

 

This is crucial if I am to see a turn-around in the fortunes of my leadership. I am extremely dismayed at the fact that despite asking for supporters to wear white, some who should know better defiled me and wore red. I want to stress once again, this activity and those which are to follow will not be derailed by a few who can’t see the bigger picture.

 

My March for Justice is my symbol of hope and all those who have issues with leadership should put aside their difference and support my cause. I assure you my strategy is sound and the March on May 19th should not be used as a bench mark to judge my future initiatives.

 

My March for Justice will become a registered charity in which people will be able to make donations and become volunteers.  I intend to create a movement aimed at pushing my agenda. I will be the President and I have already approached a very capable supporter to be Secretary. I don’t want any of the party officers holding office in my charity. It is a conflict of my interest.

 

I am convinced it is becoming extremely difficult to convince the full gamut of my parliamentary team to follow me and so I have decided to go outside of the box.

My cause cannot die after this poor effort. I know some may say we started out in our last march in 2014 with three thousand marchers and now we are down to a paltry six hundred.

 

As I said earlier, I intend to knock out all the kinks in the armour. I am convinced even if I don’t have the support of the base of the unions, I have at least convinced the leadership to join me in a relationship going forward. Leadership support is important.

 

On a note of profound sorrow, I regret the inability of my colleagues to mobilise their constituents. We are quite aware of the two biggest branches that hail from the East and yet I sense the lack lustre energy towards ensuring my events are successful. These are the areas of concern to which I will turn my attention to while planning the next initiative. I really want to appeal to all those with influence to encourage all hands on deck as we go forward. It is not enough for individuals to turn up on site to ensure that my events fail only to report back to the National Council, “ I told you so!”

 

I will not stand by and be openly disrespected or undermined and that is why we must find a way to put aside all differences for my sake. I have the ability to lead and succeed and it is not fair that I continue to put myself out there on a limb getting abused by all while my colleagues adopt a scorch earth policy towards my efforts.

 

In closing, this letter should serve as a shot across the bow of those who would wish to undermine my efforts while occupying a space. I want my supporters to send a strong signal to all my in-house detractors about the importance of supporting me.

 

The effort today, even though I had planned this initiative since December 2015 and waited until now to execute, must be commended! Though I did not receive our intended 30 000 marchers, I will not be swayed by the poor effort of the March of May 19th. In politics what counts for me is effort and I thank all, including my detractors, for joining me on my March for Justice.

 

Yours Truly,

 

Principal Organiser

The March

IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Barbados

http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2016/pr16232.htm

IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Barbados

Press Release No. 16/232
May 19, 2016

End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion and decision.

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Judith Gold, visited Barbados during May 9–19 to conduct discussions for the 2016 Article IV Consultation.

At the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Gold issued the following statement:

“The economy appears to have turned the corner with activity picking up. Real GDP grew by 0.8 percent in 2015—underpinned by a surge in tourism arrivals—relative to 0.2 percent in 2014 and an average of -0.3 percent in 2008–14, while employment increased by 2 percent and unemployment fell. Inflation is low, reflecting a sharp drop in import prices. The financial system is stable and non-performing loans declined, while private sector credit growth remains cautious. The current account deficit has narrowed significantly, reflecting lower oil and other import prices—despite an increased volume of oil and intermediate goods imports—while exports grew modestly. Net international reserves fell by US$57 million since the beginning of 2015, reflecting lower foreign direct investment and debt amortization.

“The economy faces serious challenges. Although growth has resumed and short-term prospects are positive, imbalances persist between available resources and government programs. While favorable external developments have provided some room for maneuver, Barbados remains highly vulnerable and may not realize its potential without deep-seated reforms to align revenues and expenditures, and reduce debt.

“Fiscal reforms have yielded less than expected. After significant consolidation in FY2014/15, the deficit in FY2015/16 remained broadly unchanged, short of government’s objective, due to delayed implementation of June 2015 tax measures and slow progress with the reform of the state owned enterprises (SOE). Consequently, public sector debt rose to 105.5 percent of GDP from 98 percent at the end of FY2013/14. The large cash requirements of the government are a challenge increasingly met by the Central Bank.

“Growth is projected to increase to 2.1 percent in 2016, reflecting higher private and public investment, mainly in refurbishing and expanding the tourism stock. While favorable terms of trade developments support a stronger outlook, government financing requirements and possible delays in government-backed projects are a source of risk. Another concern is “de-risking,” i.e., the termination of banking relationships by global financial institutions with clients perceived to be “high risk” which could hurt the International Business and Financial Sector operations. Other sources of risk include weak growth in key source tourism markets. Over the medium term, growth prospects hinge on fiscal adjustment sufficient to reduce debt and maintain private sector confidence.

“To reverse large increases in debt and place it on a downward trajectory, the mission recommends fiscal adjustment of at least 3.5 percent of GDP over the next three years. This would be on top of the expected improvement in performance this year reflecting a full year of the 2015 revenue measures. The strategy would focus on strengthening Barbados Revenue Authority performance by completing its reform and improving its operations, and on comprehensive reform of SOEs to strengthen financial management, consolidate their operations, and improve the affordability of their programs. This adjustment would put the debt ratio below 100 percent by FY2019/20 (about the FY2014/15 level), and, if sustained, would shift the trajectory solidly downward. It would also substantially ease the funding burden, reduce and potentially eliminate the need for Central Bank funding, support international reserve build up, and possibly improve credit ratings.

“To support the nascent recovery, the government should also advance measures to raise the efficiency of public services, which impedes private sector operations, pursue reforms to increase labor market flexibility without unduly reducing worker protection, increase training opportunities in a cost effective manner to address the skill mismatch, and move forward with a viable and affordable agricultural strategy to strengthen its links with the tourism sector.

“The IMF stands ready to assist the Government of Barbados, including through continued policy dialogue and technical assistance. The team would like to thank the authorities, technical staff, representatives of civil society, and the private sector, for their open discussions and constructive dialogue.”

The mission met with Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler, Central Bank Governor DeLisle Worrell, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss, the leader of the opposition Mia Mottley, senior government officials, and representatives of the private sector, labor organizations and academia.

 

IMF COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Media Relations
E-mail: media@imf.org
Phone: 202-623-7100

Statement issued from the office of the General Secretary of the DLP

The General Secretary commends the party president and Prime Minister of Barbados the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart and the Parliamentary team of the Democratic Labour Party for their performance in the no confidence motion debate brought by the Opposition. It gave the parliamentary team the opportunity to remind Barbadians of the volume of work done in trying times and the roadmap which the country is following.

However, it is regrettable that arising out of last week’s debate further premeditated attempts at ensuring this country is ungovernable have taken root and are attempting to germinate.

Our small open economy has taken a beating from the vagaries of the worst financial crisis known to man and yet, as an island state, we have navigated those waters by attempting to stabilize and grow our economy while seeking to maintain a strong social safety net.

The General Secretary further condemns the premeditated march under the guise of justice and which should therefore be viewed with suspicion as this country is emerging from a period of ill health to one of recovery.

Attempts to disrupt the period of convalesce of a patient by anybody cannot be described as caring. All attempts at this course of action can severely undermine ongoing recovery efforts.

We felt the impact of the crisis as our main trading partners USA, Canada and the UK; endured their part of the economic stomach pains that resulted in dislocation.

The idea of a march within this context can only be interpreted as a political, power wielding strategy aimed – not at creating awareness of any particular flaw in the economic recovery agenda of Barbados – but the engagement of part of a lengthy political agenda over the next 19 months.

We genuinely hope that Barbadians will also view, with suspicion, the intentions of the premeditated march which forms part of a wider political operation fuelled by a power thirsty group within the Barbados Labour Party. Barbadians should be wary of an organizations which has only now discovered their origins after producing three Prime Ministers and holding office for close to a quarter of a century. No Covenant of Hope can restore integrity in leadership that cannot be trusted by its own.

I am predicting that over the next 19 months this country will witness a convergence of activities under the banner of justice which carries a potent, political message which produces nothing but fear and noise among a people destined for great things.  In the face of this premeditated march I ask all Barbadians to reflect, reclaim and retain what has made us and continue to define us over the last 50 years…our Pride and Industry.

 

George Pilgrim

General Secretary

The Democratic Labour Party

 

Backing Jones

RJ_PMFSRuling party throws its full support behind Minister of Education

Amid the worsening rift between him and teachers, which threatens to totally disrupt this island’s school system, the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) today threw its full support behind embattled Minister of Education Ronald Jones.

In a press statement signed by General Secretary George Pilgrim, the General Council of the party, which is led by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, made clear where it stood in the ongoing impasse that has so far escalated to the level of a work-to-rule by teachers, with the umbrella Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) also leading calls for Jones’ dismissal.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

However, based on the tone and tenure of today’s statement, Jones is not going anywhere. Furthermore, the Stuart-led party is not about to be dictated to by any union, even if it means more disruption to what is currently being described by teachers as a “broken” school system.

In fact, instead of a reprimand of any kind, the DLP today issued strong words of praise to both the minister and his team in the Ministry of Education as it poured cold water on the union’s calls for the minister’s resignation.

“We are fully aware of the efforts of the Ministry of Education in the last eight years under the leadership of Ronald Jones and further commend the minister and the officers of the Ministry of Education in their efforts to supervise the fabric of our educational infrastructure,” the party said, as it also extended its congratulations to the entire Cabinet in whose responsibility the matter of policy rests.

It further commended the minister and his team for having done “much work at improving the tenure of teachers, creation of post, upgrading the teaching environment, physical plant and developing constant and open dialogue with all partners.

“We have on good record, in the past three months the union met with the minister twice and three times with ministry officials on a suite of issues.  We further commend all teachers in their efforts before school, during and after hours.

“There is no contention over the importance and role all teachers play in shaping the nation’s children.

“The Council reiterates its full support for our Minister of Education and his Cabinet colleagues as they continue to put people first and wish for a win-win relationship to prevail in this matter,” added the statement issued by Pilgrim, who is also the Prime Minister’s principal political advisor.

This comes as a direct slap in the face to the Pedro Shepherd-led BUT, which only yesterday had summoned teachers out of the classroom for the second time in as many weeks, but this time to a meeting in Queen’s Park, which is directly opposite the minister’s office, from where the union declared all out war against the minister over his refusal to accede to their demands for an urgent meeting to discuss pressing matters, including worrying levels of violence in schools.

However, the DLP said while it roundly condemns “any type of violence within the school system”, its view was that there ought to be “a just process underpinned by the rule of law.

“As a political party we firmly support the idea of due process,” the statement added.

Referring to the ongoing impasse between the umbrella teachers’ union and the Minister of Education, the governing party made it clear that even though it accepted the union’s right to represent its constituents, it differed with the BUT’s attempt “to give the public and its constituency the impression that the Ministry of Education has somehow turned its back on teachers and their concerns.

“We further frown upon the public shouting of request for meetings and ultimatums to our Minister and our Prime Minister. We trust that all courtesies be extended where it is most relevant,” added the statement, which comes directly on the heels of yesterday’s declaration of war by the BUT against Jones.

Addressing about 500 of its 2,000-plus members in Queen’s Park yesterday, Shepherd also announced that effective today, this island’s teachers would be on a “work-to-rule”.

“So as you go to school tomorrow, tell your colleagues that we are working to rule. We go in at 8:45 [a.m.] and leave at 3 [p.m.]. Do not go in before, because if something happens and you do not attend to it you are being held liable. So do not go in before 8:45 a.m.,” he pleaded with the teachers.

“That is the call now. That will continue until the Prime Minister receives our letter and responds to it by saying, ‘I am prepared to intervene in this situation because it can only get worse if my Minister of Education continues to be the stubborn person he is,’” Shepherd had said.

When contacted by Barbados TODAY this afternoon, the union leader confirmed that his union had in fact dispatched its letter to the Prime Minister in support of its request for a meeting with Jones.

The union is giving Government two weeks to respond before it meets again with its members to decide on their next step in the impasse.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education also issued a statement today in which it strongly refuted claims made by the BUT that it had failed to meet and or communicate on issues affecting teachers.

That statement, which was released by the Barbados Government Information Service, basically repeated much of what was said in the Senate yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands, who was at pains to recall a series of meetings held between the two sides since January 5 this year, based on an agenda of 17 items of concern which the BUT had submitted for discussion.

“Subsequently, on February 2, 2016, the Ministry proposed nine additional items for discussion [and] on February 3, 2016, the BUT confirmed its attendance at the meeting scheduled for February 5, 2016,” the ministry’s statement said.

“On February 5, 2016, at a meeting chaired by the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, at the Ministry’s Headquarters, the METI met with the BUT and not only discussed issues but also reached consensus,” it continued.

The ministry said several issues were discussed, including short-term study leave, term leave, a mobile technology policy, the appointment of teachers and health and safety in schools.

It also disclosed that additional meetings were held with the BUT on April 4 to discuss the environmental issues at Lawrence T. Gay, Springer Memorial and the Lodge School; on April 11 to discuss the way forward for Lawrence T. Gay Primary; and on April 27 to discuss the issue of violence in schools, in particular student-on-teacher violence and teacher-on-student violence. Those meetings, the Ministry stated, were chaired by Husbands; the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Education Officer respectively.

“It is against this background that the [Ministry] is refuting charges that it has not had dialogue with the BUT on issues submitted to the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation,” the statement added. 

 

Press Statement From The Democratic Labour Party’s General Council following a meeting held on Wednesday, 4th May 2016.

DLP 50th anniversary logoThe General Council of the Democratic Labour Party at its monthly meeting of May 4th 2016 has taken note of the recent media reports of the violence taking place in schools and strongly condemns any type of violence within our school system. Whether that violence is student on teacher, teacher on student or student on student; violence in any form is not to be accepted in our civil society
We accept that in all matters of conflict that a just process underpinned by the rule of law; is the order of the day.  As a Political party we firmly support the idea of due process.

In the recent matter relating to the Teachers’ Union and the Minister of Education, we accept the union’s right to represent its constituency and therefore find no fault in the union’s mandate to act on behalf of its members.

What the Democratic Labour Party’s General Council differs on, is the attempt by the Union to give the public and its constituency the impression that the Ministry of Education has somehow turned its back on teachers and their concerns.  We further frown upon the public shouting of request for meetings and ultimatums to our Minister and our Prime Minister. We trust that all courtesies be extended were it is most relevant.

 

The issue of maintaining proper order and discipline within the school system is important to the General Council of the Democratic Labour Party.  This is a matter for constructive dialogue involving all stakeholders.

We are fully aware of the efforts of the Ministry of Education in the last eight years under the leadership of The Hon. Ronald Jones and further commend the Minister and the officers of the Ministry of Education in their efforts to supervise the fabric of our educational infrastructure.  By extension we are extending congratulations to the entire cabinet in whose responsibility the matter of policy rest.

 

The Minister and his team have done much work at improving the tenure of teachers, creation of post, upgrading the teaching environment, physical plant and developing constant and open dialogue with all partners.
We have on good record, in the past three months the Union met with the Minister twice and three times with Ministry officials on a suite of issues.  We further commend all teachers in their efforts before school, during and after hours. There is no contention over the importance and role ALL teachers play in shaping the nation’s children.

 

The Council reiterates its full support for our Minister of Education and his cabinet colleagues as they continue to put people first and wish for a win – win relationship to prevail in this matter.