Approximately 30 years ago I experienced my first rejection. I had provided one of the firm’s clients with engineering advice that could have saved him significant maintenance costs. I was still visibly disappointed when I returned home, and after listening to my reason, my father gave me some excellent guidance.
He said that my job as a professional was to simply give my best advice. My clients were not obligated to accept my advice, but were free to accept or reject any advice they received. Therefore, I should never get emotionally attached to any advice that I give.
This guidance has kept me emotionally stable during my engineering career. If my best advice is rejected by my client, then I have learned to simply offer my next best advice without feeling the least bit distressed or disappointed.
The formation of Solutions Barbados meant that our clients became the residents of Barbados. We offered them our best advice, which was economic prosperity without austerity. Others offered the most severe austerity as the price for removing the DLP from Government. The DLP administration had become so offensive to most of the public that the voters rejected them, and selected the BLP to replace them.
It is an understandable decision by the voting public. With Barbados on the brink of economic ruin, it is natural that they would want to trust a political party that had experience in governing. However, with most of our candidates planning to continue to the next general election, the people of Barbados remain our clients.
What do our clients want from us now that the general election is over? From the consistent feedback we have received, they want us to keep giving our best advice, both to the public and to those whom they have selected to manage Barbados’ economy. That is exactly what we plan to do.
Our best pre-election advice was that austerity was not required to improve Barbados’ economy. We published our plan three years ago for the public to review, and it was independently verified as workable.
Our best advice at this time, especially when Government is negotiating the terms of our surrender to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) directed austerity, is that our plan remains relevant today. This is because our plan assumed that the Treasury would be empty on election day. This was a reasonable assumption to have made, because politicians have claimed in the past that they found the Treasury empty when they assumed office.
The IMF is now back in Barbados and we will soon learn how bitter the medicine will be. Since the Government seems intent on forcing us onto an unnecessary austerity path, then our best advice is to prepare our clients to cope with the bitter pills we will have to take, and the sour bills we will have to pay.
The first order of business is for everyone to reduce their vulnerability to foreseen threats. Since the BLP have chosen to continue with the DLP’s economic strategy of high taxation, but this time with a smile and the support of the unions and private sector, then then one foreseen threat is poverty.
Most have exhausted their savings over the past decade of high-taxation, and are now one pay cheque away from poverty. Therefore, everyone needs to try to earn foreign currency. Few are likely to be successful on their first try, but humans learn by failure. Therefore, if they keep trying, and follow good advice, then success is guaranteed.
Concurrently, everyone neds to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards. We have entered the hurricane season, and most houses remain vulnerable to hurricane-force winds. All houses can be economically strengthened, and homeowners should do so with dispatch. However, we are always in the earthquake season.
It is important that our vulnerable schools, offices and public buildings be strengthened against earthquakes. All buildings in Barbados with reinforced concrete roofs, that were built before 2012, were almost certainly significantly under-designed for earthquakes to the extent that they will likely collapse in an earthquake.
Fortuitously, our students will soon be out of school, and many persons take vacation during the summer holiday. Therefore, we strongly recommend that Government makes the economical strengthening of our schools a national priority this summer, for all of our sakes.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at [email protected]