Veteran calypsonian and Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for St Phillip East John King has decried what he said was “a Barbadian legacy” of selling themselves short in the process of “grabbing at crumbs”.
In a wide-ranging interview with Barbados TODAY during which he accused the Democratic Labour Party government of doing a lot of talking but delivering little, King made reference to the announced sale of the Hilton Barbados Resort to press home his point.
While Government has yet to announced the details of the sale, the BLP has been quoting media reports that the administration had signed off on the sale for US$80 million, US20 million less that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had said Government would be seeking for the recently refurbished property.
King said the reported deal was a tragedy and further proof of the tendency of Barbadians to sell themselves short.
“That itself is a tragedy that we have come to,” the former calypso monarch said.
He made reference to rum and sugar, both of which he said were among the best products either invented, or produced, here, but “we sell it cheap”.
“So this continues a Barbadian legacy of not understanding their own worth and what we have to bring to the table.
“This is what you call small island mentality and until we get past that and we can get people like myself and others who understand very well . . . you sell yourself short grabbing at crumbs, not understanding what you are valued, and people will take advantage of that,” he stressed.
King said it was important to run state enterprises efficiently and profitably so there full worth can be assured if they were to go up for sale.
He suggested that he was not against the sale of such enterprises, but only after a full assessment was made of the overall benefit to the country.
“I am a firm believer that if the state continues to invest in enterprises, whatever they must be, you must run them efficiently so that they are profitable; so that we would not be at this juncture where people are afraid of selling of things. Now, if you are running something and it is not a money generator, but you have to subsidize it all the time, you have to look and weigh, is this more of a social beneficial programme or is this a more economical beneficial programme?
“When you make that decision or that determination, that should inform you of what route or what action you take to deal with it. I am not one of the persons that believes in selling off everything willy nilly. There must be something just as you were going into it, you should know what the pros and cons are and when you are getting out you should know what the pros and cons are and make the best decision possible,” he stressed.
King also addressed the south coast sewage problem, saying someone needed to accept responsibility for the continuing mess.
The BLP candidate said it appeared the maintenance plan for the plant had not been followed.
“When we built the sewage thing there were technocrats who dealt with it who would have known from early o’clock what it can hold, when it needs maintenance and what needs to be done. So if you had followed the plan that would have been put in place we would not be at this juncture. But we are at this juncture because again we have a Government who finds it difficult to act,” he said.