As Barbados prepares to celebrate 50 years of national Independence, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been extolling what he considers to be the positive benefits of privatization and boasting about his privatizing of the Barbados National Bank (BNB).
Well, it is true that he was primarily responsible for beginning the process of selling off Barbados’ only indigenous bank to a Trinidadian private company, and that the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration was only too happy to follow his lead and to complete the process.
The end result is that the supposedly independent nation of Barbados does not possess even ONE indigenous bank, much less an indigenous state-owned bank! This is nothing less than a national disgrace, for there is not a single serious independent nation in this world that does not possess at least ONE indigenous bank!
Which nation that takes itself seriously is content to have the critical banking sector COMPLETELY foreign owned? But Mr Arthur didn’t stop with the BNB : he was also responsible for selling the Insurance Corporation of Barbados — one of the Barbados Government’s most successful enterprises– to a private Bermudian company!
How, pray tell, is Barbados better off by placing the ownership of the ICB in the hands of Bermudian capitalists, rather than having it owned by the Government and people of Barbados? With such a track record to his name, it is not surprising that Mr Arthur would approve of the recent move by the DLP administration to have the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) forego the repairing or purchasing of their own garbage compactor trucks and to –instead– rent eight garbage compactor trucks from private companies run by the likes of Bizzy Williams and Anderson Cherry at $411 per truck per hour, for eight hours a day and five days a week.
Thus, each truck will cost the SSA (and by extension the taxpayers of Barbados) the sum of $16,440 per week or $427,440 over a six month period, and ultimately $854,880 over a one year period — in the likely event that the arrangement is extended.
The question therefore that needs to be posed to Mr Owen Arthur is as follows: Why should the Sanitation Service Authority Board be saddling us– the taxpayers of Barbados– with payments to private businessmen of $427,440 per truck per half-year (or $854,880 per truck per year), when the Board could have purchased the said truck for a one-time cost of approximately $250,000, and end up being the owner of the truck rather than a mere renter with no ownership rights?
I now look forward with great expectancy to Mr. Arthur’s response to this question.