Dear Dr Duguid,
Now that the proverbial dust has settled and the elections are behind us all, it is time for our Barbados Labour Party led Government to cut the optics and get down to the serious business of effectively and efficiently running our country.
With that said, we do not intend to rehash your most recent road tax ‘faux pas’, except to say that we hope that as a self-professed ‘caring Government’ you will revisit the idea of double taxing those caught between the transition from a road tax to a fuel tax levying system.
Yes, Barbadians are generally law-abiding citizens and will largely follow the rules even if they make little to no sense, but we believe that issue is worthy of a re-look even though we suspect that it is now way above your head in terms of being able to make any of the necessary changes.
Therefore, if anyone is to offer redress it would most likely have to be our goodly Prime Minister herself, and we have no doubt, given her track record in public life, that she will do what is perceived to be right, or at least in the public interest. After all, ‘Mia cares’, right?
With that said, the purpose of today’s letter is to address a matter which we believe to be well within your purview and fundamental to the day-to-day operations of your ministry.
It has to do with bringing our Licensing Department into the 21st century and removing the wasteful and counter-productive shackles that continue to enslave and entrap the Government unit.
For how can it be that in 2018 Barbados, citizens are forced to stand in line like sheep for two, three, four, five hours even just to pay for a driver’s licence.
Worse yet, if it is a case of you losing your licence, you may be required to go and fill out a police report before returning to the licensing department to complete a replacement form, before going over to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to make your payment and then returning to licensing to have your card processed. And in the event that there is no photo ID on file, it could be another hour or two – depending on demand – for processing. That’s half a working day lost, and for what?
To make matters worse, currently photo IDs for drivers’ licences are only issued at licensing in The Pine, so even if you are in Holetown, St James for instance, and decided to pay for your licence at the BRA office there, you still need to journey to The Pine, St Michael (some 15.5 kilometres, traffic permitting) to be issued with your photo ID.
Not in 2018, Dr Duguid!
Don’t get us wrong, we are not seeking to blame this situation on you. In fact, we know full well that it pre-dates you and your administration, but for the sake of national productivity and our very sanity it cannot be allowed to persist much longer.
Therefore, it makes no sense for you to call on the ghost of Errol Barrow or indeed the former Democratic Labour Party. The people of Barbados voted for change on May 24 and we expect change for the better.
Furthermore, we believe that one of the best ways your Government, which already possesses a level of technological savviness, can show us all that it cares, is to speed up the process of digitizing the decrepit licensing department.
Even the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, which previously bore all the marks of a repressive, imperial power whose operations were set in the era of the Middle Passage, has fantastically come of age. Therefore, you can go online and comfortably apply for your US visa minus any unnecessary hassle.
We suggest that Government moves immediately to implement such a computerized system, which not only saves time, but ultimately money, while ensuring that the necessary security checks are done.
And while you are at it Dr Duguid, please ensure that air conditioning is not only available on the employees’ side of the licensing building. It would make an otherwise dreaded visit to The Pine a bit more comfortable for all, and lead us to collectively believe that Dr Duguid does indeed care too.