Privatisation will not solve the current economic malaise and it certainly will not result in any real gains for the majority of our workers.
Once an entity is privatised, the directors and owners become focused solely on profit. The first step is usually to restructure the entity and lay off workers. This will lead to higher levels of employment and cause severe pressure on the economy.
Neither the Barbados Labour Party or the Democratic Labour Party has the courage and policies, necessary to radically transform this economy. This is perhaps the reason why there is a strong lobby to privatise some state owned businesses.
The entities marked for privatisation are the Grantley Adams International Airport, the Bridgetown Port, Transport Board and the Sanitation Service Authority.
When we take a brief look at some corporate entities, we will observe that we are already a highly privatised economy: the distributive/retail trades, the hotel industry, the construction industry, and virtually all commercial entities are owned by private companies and individuals. It is obvious that our private sector has been caught napping. Recently a marketing expert told one of our most visible private sector bodies that it did not even have a proper website!
Are we now going to surrender what little sovereign dignity we have to people who have not clearly demonstrated any real commitment to our country outside of making profits. Are we going to listen to an assortment of political operatives, clothed in corporate garments whose main purpose is pave the way for politicians from both sides who they feel will serve their interest? I suggest that much of this lobbying for privatisation is connected to blatant corporate political opportunism.
The same public servants we daily berate, are considered the least corrupt in the western hemisphere. No one will deny that there are some bad apples but we find bad apples in the legal fraternity, health industry, and all manner of corporate activity.
At this moment there is a private enterprise involved in the communications industry whose service is far below any offered in the public sector. Should the Government take it over? Should the Government take over all the lemons in the private sector?
I submit that the major beneficiaries of privatisation will be the lawyers and their political buddies who will place their profits in overseas accounts. I have no doubt that should the entities be privatised, they may become leaner and the shareholders will enjoy great profits. The workers will be micromanaged, the unions will be marginalised and consumers will see mammoth price increases for services.
The average Barbadian has nowhere to hide. He can’t run from London to Germany or move from New York to Los Angeles. It is amazing that none of the proponents of privatisation is making one single case for greater worker participation and profit sharing. They are not promoting any minimum wage and they are not talking about land reform. They are talking about profits.
This is the final assault on the workers of our country. This time they will totally marginalise the poor; the workers and unions will be reduced to mere spectators in the new Barbados.
— William Skinner