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Recommendations from Concerned Citizens.

Letter to the Editor:

I am concerned for all our collective health. In addition I am very concerned for the people that were already hurting after Irma and for how many people will lose their jobs or see their pay reduced.

I am concerned for the businesses that will not survive this crisis and will have to shut down their doors if this time around no aid is received. Remember not one cent after Irma was assigned to economic support for businesses big or small.

i sincere hope that government and its leaders are doing some of the following:

1) Negotiating receiving financial support. We all know the government cannot afford to provide support from their own funds. They don’t have it.
2) An assessment of the amounts needed is being done that includes components of payroll and businesses financial subsidies.
3) Mechanisms for a quick and efficient distributions of whatever funds are received are put in place. Businesses can handle disbursements to existing workers via their normal payroll systems. No need to reinvent the wheel they are ready to go. All they need are the rules mandated. Other not registered employees and businesses can be handled by other government entities.
4)As already said by the NL sacrifices need to be shown. Reduce government expenditures, reduce government salaries including the MP’s. Show that you are taking the same blows as the rest of the citizens.

All of the above should be happening concurrently by multiple teams. These teams should provide daily progress reports to a designated “crisis Zar” maybe the new minister of TEATT can take that role?

I sincerely hope my comments are redundant and all of the above is taking place we just don‘t know about it.

A very concerned citizen and his family.

Ricardo Perez


The Mayans already knew about 2020.

region of San Ramador recently found a Mayan tablet with inscriptions. He was able to decipher them with Google Translator. The translated text contained predictions of the future; one of them suggesting that 2020 would be the year of a tectonic shift.

I knew that I could only get your attention with this headline and introduction. Currently, there is so much reported on ‘THE’ virus that there is hardly space left for anything else. If you didn’t already figure it out, you should be aware that this article opening is fake news. If I would have continued with a completely fictitious story on the Mayan discovery, some people would have seen relation to the virus outbreak and put it on their Facebook page to characterize themselves as finders of a source of baffling information, or to make themselves look like inventors of unique bewilderment in the social media.

If the soup is salty, the last thing needed is an extra spoon of salt. So, let’s look at things from a different perspective. How often have we heard individuals say: “If I could start all over again in my life with all that I know now, I would do things different.” The time for making that change is coming.

What can be done in the Caribbean? That the region should explore diversifying its economies is long overdue. The time has come now. The most common suggestion that one hears is furthering agriculture. Isn’t it crazy to see that cans of coconut water that are sold here in the supermarket are a “Product of Thailand”, from the other side of the world? As if there are no coconut trees in the Caribbean. The problem is not about having coconuts or not, it is about having a canning or bottling facility. Agricultural development is one thing, processing and exporting another. Agriculture is a thing to think of. Another is developing unique Caribbean fashion industry. Fashion items that can be exported. How about encouraging home industry activities to produce simple products like souvenirs that don’t need to be imported anymore?

The Caribbean may run the risk of missing out on future opportunities. We do not exist in a vacuum and none of us has a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to assessing what a modern economy needs in order to thrive. Just as Task Forces are created to handle the current problematic health situation, already Task Forces should be assembled to deal with the economic situation in the aftermath, which will likely be a recession.

The activities of such a Task Force should be establishing of a roadmap for future sustainable economic success in all parts of the business environment and at all levels of human activity. Every economy is significantly driven by the dynamics of small businesses and the middle-class entrepreneurs. Startups and new products are crucial elements of growth. There may be potential for young talent and professionals who are looking for new opportunities. All economy segments should be considered. The objective must be to send out impulses, to suggest tools for improvements and better alignment, fostering the expansion of capacities for innovation and driving strategies for the challenges of the future in a changed world.

Innovation is about adding value by enhancing innovation and innovativeness. Looking for innovation does not mean that we would just be looking for a new product or just be helping one particular type of operation within an economy. It should also be leveraged to add value to the creation, development, and implementation of new ideas for processing. It may be about carefully combining existing activities that enable and encourage ideas to be generated and grow, support their diffusion, and harvest value for the whole economy.

One has to come up with solutions and new ideas that will help consumers. It is anyone’s choice to remain part of a problem or to become part of a solution. If one doesn’t, someone else will. Are you the type of person who opposes new ideas until they are established? Do you believe that you know it all already? If so, there may be serious trouble ahead of you. Are you skeptical? Typically, the path to change is paved with skeptics. No more of the same is needed. What may be needed now is to exercise some transverse thinking.

What are transverse or diagonal thinkers? They may not be liked, but they may be needed. They are considered obstructionists and sometimes seen as neurotic or egocentric eccentrics. In their way of thinking, they disturb any traditional process, provoke the established, and drive someone crazy when they question dogmas, accumulated and proven ideas, and call for alternatives. They express concerns and question matters beyond the traditional ways of thinking, patterns of actions, and existing templates. They can be rigorous, but….. they are also innovators. They are not fixed on standard thinking. The fact is that behind every innovation are unconventional ideas. One should not cling tenaciously to outdated services, processes, and attitudes, but instead, one should question the status quo and have the courage to think eccentrically and bring forth new benefits to businesses and communities. Service providers in tomorrow’s business environment need to be innovative in order to survive and flourish.

As an example, let’s look at an industry with a high rate of innovation. The positive impact of pharmaceutical innovation has been far-reaching, affecting the very core of economies, and quality of life. New medicines are protective and helping people to lead healthier more productive lives. Many of the pharmaceutical accomplishments would have been impossible without product innovation.

However, in the context of their traditional culture, for Native American Indians the words ‘Good Medicine’ have a much broader and richer meaning. And it is not about innovation. In order to have good health one must first learn to live life in complete balance with the natural laws, to have respect for nature, to possess a kind heart, and to have high moral standards. That is what they consider "Good Medicine."

Which brings me back at how I started this article about a piece of Pre-Columbian culture. Archeologist Professore Anzio de Castamilliana y Fonsata whom I mentioned in the top of this article. He has sent me a message informing me that the recently found Mayan tablet also explicitly indicated that the world would not go under, regardless of the predicted 2020 tectonic shift, but on the contrary, it would flourish thereafter.

About the author. Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean which will be June 16-18 on St.Maarten. Mr. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism.

 

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

The Mayans already knew about 2020.

region of San Ramador, recently found a Mayan tablet with inscriptions. He was able to decipher them with Google Translator. The translated text contained predictions of the future; one of them suggesting that 2020 would be the year of a tectonic shift.

I knew that I could only get your attention with this headline and introduction. Currently, there is so much reported on ‘THE’ virus that there is hardly space left for anything else. If you didn’t already figure it out, you should be aware that this article opening is fake news. If I would have continued with a complete fictitious story on the Mayan discovery, some people would have seen a relation to the virus outbreak and put it on their Facebook page to characterize themselves as finders of a source of baffling information, or to make themselves look like inventors of a unique bewilderment in the social media.

If the soup is salty, the last thing needed is an extra spoon of salt. So, let’s look at things from a different perspective. How often have we heard individuals say: “If I could start all over again in my life with all that I know now, I would do things different.” The time for making that change is coming.

What can be done in the Caribbean? That the region should explore diversifying its economies is long overdue. The time has come now. The most common suggestion that one hears is furthering agriculture. Isn’t it crazy to see that cans of coconut water that are sold here in the supermarket are a “Product of Thailand”, from the other side of the world? As if there are no coconut trees in the Caribbean. The problem is not about having coconuts or not, it is about having a canning or bottling facility. Agricultural development is one thing, processing and exporting another. Agriculture is thing to think of. Another is developing a unique Caribbean fashion industry. Fashion items that can be exported. How about encouraging home industry activities to produce simple products like souvenirs that don’t need to be imported anymore?

The Caribbean may run the risk of missing out on future opportunities. We do not exist in a vacuum and none of us has a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to assessing what a modern economy needs in order to thrive. Just as Task Forces are created to handle the current problematic health situation, already Task Forces should be assembled to deal with the economic situation in the aftermath, which will likely be a recession.

The activities of such a Task Force should be establishing of a roadmap for future sustainable economic success in all parts of the business environment and at all levels of human activity. Every economy is significantly driven by the dynamics of small businesses and the middle-class entrepreneurs. Startups and new products are crucial elements of growth. There may be a potential for young talent and professionals who are looking for new opportunities. All economy segments should be considered. The objective must be to send out impulses, to suggest tools for improvements and better alignment, fostering the expansion of capacities for innovation and driving strategies for the challenges of the future in a changed world.

Innovation is about adding value by enhancing innovation and innovativeness. Looking for innovation does not mean that we would just be looking for a new product or just be helping one particular type of operation within an economy. It should also be leveraged to add value to the creation, development, and implementation of new ideas for processing. It may be about carefully combining existing activities which enable and encourage ideas to be generated and grow, support their diffusion, and harvest a value for the whole economy.

One has to come up with solutions and new ideas that will help consumers. It is anyone’s choice to remain part of a problem or to become part of a solution. If one doesn’t, someone else will. Are you the type of person who opposes new ideas until they are established? Do you believe that you know it all already? If so, there may be serious trouble ahead of you. Are you skeptical? Typically, the path to change is paved with skeptics. No more of the same are needed. What may be needed now is to exercise some transverse thinking.

What are transverse or diagonal thinkers? They may not be liked, but they may be needed. They are considered obstructionist and sometimes seen as neurotic or egocentric eccentrics. In their way of thinking, they disturb any traditional process, provoke the established, and drive someone crazy when they question dogmas, accumulated and proven ideas, and call for alternatives. They express concerns and question matters beyond the traditional ways of thinking, patterns of actions, and existing templates. They can be rigorous, but….. they are also innovators. They are not fixed on standard thinking. The fact is that behind every innovation are unconventional ideas. One should not cling tenaciously to outdated services, processes and attitudes, but instead, one should question the status quo and have the courage to think eccentrically and bring forth new benefits to businesses and communities. Service providers in tomorrow’s business environment need to be innovative in order to survive and flourish.

As an example, let’s look at an industry with a high rate of innovation. The positive impact of pharmaceutical innovation has been far-reaching, affecting the very core of economies, and quality of life. New medicines are protective and helping people to lead healthier more productive lives. Many of the pharmaceutical accomplishments would have been impossible without product innovation.

However, in the context of their traditional culture, for Native American Indians the words ‘Good Medicine’ have a much broader and richer meaning. And it is not about innovation. In order to have good health one must first learn to live life in complete balance with the natural laws, to have respect for nature, to possess a kind heart, and to have high moral standards. That is what they consider "Good Medicine."

Which brings me back at how I started this article about a piece of Pre-Columbian culture. Archeologist Professore Anzio de Castamilliana y Fonsata whom I mentioned in the top of this article. He has sent me a message informing me that the recently found Mayan tablet also explicitly indicated that the world would not go under, regardless of the predicted 2020 tectonic shift, but on the contrary, it would flourish thereafter.

About the author. Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean which will be June 16-18 on St.Maarten. Mr. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism.

 

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

Welcome to Bassetown!

The threat was always there. We were warned, but we probably didn’t know that we didn’t know how to take heed. Then it crept in like a thief in the night. I’m not speaking about the Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus, but rather the political moonwalk that is placing many of our CARICOM and Caribbean neighbors under the spell of dictatorship, in the guise of democracy.

While we hear the D-word and think shudderingly of Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and Mugabe, we try to comfort ourselves that those guys are thousands of miles and centuries away from where we find ourselves now. But the ills of a susceptible public then have not waned in this 21st Century… there are very many people who simply want to follow, and be acknowledged; causes and morals notwithstanding.

Dictatorship in the Caribbean has had a long history. A few keys names (in no particular order) come to mind:
- Manuel Noriega, Panama (1983-1989)
- Forbes Burnham, Guyana (1964-1985)
- Augusto Pinochet, Chile (1973-1990)
- Hugo Chavez, Venezuela (1999-2012)
- Rafael Trujillo, Dominican Republic (1930-1961)
- Francois Duvalier, Haiti (1957-1971)
- Fidel Castro, Cuba (1959-2006)

In fact, the generally accepted definition of a dictatorship is “a government or social situation where one person makes all the rules and decisions without input from anyone else”.
Seven years ago, Lesroy W. Williams was the mouthpiece for the breakaway Labour faction that would eventually become Team Unity. His words then, on the topic of dictatorship, rings eerily true today, about the current administration. He wrote:
“Although Caribbean leaders would retort by saying that their leadership is a far cry from the likes of those in Africa because it is not as blatant, it is however deadly subtle. Also, we can look closer to home in the Caribbean and Latin America to find our own dictators... ...Caribbean Constitutions give too much power to prime ministers who wield this ‘wild’ power over the legislature that they sometimes begin to think and act that they, the prime ministers, are the legislature.

When a prime minister can manipulate the legislature, thereby making the Speaker a mere puppet; when Caribbean elections are won by rigging and padding voter’s lists; when the press is seriously hamstrung in doing its work... ...when politicians use money to bribe people at election time and where there is no transparency in campaign financing in the absence of legislation to regulate it; when ordinary folks are lied to about the true state of the economy... ...when people are victimized because they have opposing political views and others cowed into silence for fear of losing their means to a daily bread; when politicians support garrison politics and badmanship... ...when politicians criticize the judicial system when it does not rule in their favor... ... then we are faced with the ingredients of dictatorship.”

With what can only be described as the shameful fiasco that was the 2020 Guyana General Election, the threat of dictatorship again looms its head. An incumbent President seemingly having control over the Guyana Election Commission, to the point that the tally for the pivotal Region Four is obfuscated by tactics directly out of the Dark Ages. An Observer mission, headed by the respected former Prime Minister of Barbados, being threatened with expulsion. And a martyr, felled by police bullets. Now the courts have been drawn in, with the first bone of contention being if the national judicial system can adjudicate on national affairs.

This certainly seems the fuel to ignite budding dictatorial tendencies in the region, not least of all, our very own St Kitts and Nevis.
For those with longer than nine-day memories, the current Team Unity administration was built around change and a rejection of a Labour party governance that spanned four terms. Political fatigue, we cried. We wanted change. Change came in the form of a petulant child of the Labour movement, who seemed to be impatient to be handed the reigns of leadership, and so went on to form his own Labour party.

The sparse support Tim Harris had six years ago was influential enough for him to secure one seat… and become Prime Minister, and securing the dubious record as being the most minority leader in the history of the Western Hemisphere. The extract from Williams above was a direct attack on Douglas’ Labour movement, but re-read today, it is a perfect description of the Harris administration.

Making the Speaker a puppet, interfering with the electoral list, cash bribes, suspicious campaign financiers, victimization, nepotism, batsmanship and consorting with criminals are all shining hallmarks of Team Unity’s time in power. Maybe it would not have been too bad to have had a PAM Prime Minister, but the delicate Shawn Richards felt he was not up to the task, as his limit on leadership apparently stops at Opposition politics.

One of the first things that Harris executed at his victory was to remove the diplomatic travel allowance to the Opposition Leader, which, while not illegal, goes against the spirit of cooperation and governance, and was the first hint of vapid, vitriolic, vexatious and vindictive things to come from Harris.

Ironically, so was his term started, so does the sunset on it… with the same diplomatic passport issue. This may not be good for any superstitious TU party supporters.
An uncharacteristically docile Douglas calmly accepted the ruling against him by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, only to get on the soapbox a few hours later… to say he abides by the ruling and sees a great opportunity to refresh his mandate by the people.

This is certainly not the same old fiery Douglas, but a wiser, more chess-minded politician. On the other hand, Team Unity still seem to be stuck on the checker's board, having spent massive sums of taxpayer dollars to secure a favorable judgment, via the astronomical costs of Senior and Queen’s Counsels. It would have made much more sense if there were some awards at the end of it, which makes the entire court matter an academic exercise since Douglas’ diplomatic passport has not been valid for travel for the past couple of months.

But before Team Unity could finish patting themselves on the back, shots were fired at the Basseterre Police Station, in a sobering reminder that our entire government is beholden not to the people, but to about three dozen hardcore criminals – murderers, drug dealers and bandits. The criminal underworld is scenting an election in the air, and have decided to ask for an increase in their hush-money, otherwise known as the Poverty Alleviation Programme.

It ties back to the use intimidation tactics to control the electorate when polls are called in certain nations. Most leaders leverage on their national security forces (Venezuela, Guyana etc), while others look to the criminal element to control their Opposition rivals (Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago etc).

Harris seems hell-bent on becoming the Caribbean’s newest dictator. He’ll be the worst kind, as his initial ascension to power was not via popular vote, but by forming a coalition and forcing his way to the top. He’s partnered with the “Butcher of Tivoli” retired Major General Stewart Saunders to woo and pacify Basseterre’s killers, while lettering them keep their guns.

He’s put his sister to practically run the judiciary, while his brothers run the prison and the national bank. Cousins, nieces, and nephews rake in top dollar in make-work positions. His financiers are shady, corrupt and have no allegiance to St Kitts nor Nevis… they are total outsiders. Questions abound about the transparency of the Elections Commission, which is also the watchful eye of the Harris clan.
What about the reports of voter cards and passports being distributed as freely as post-hurricane rations? What about the Spanish criminal underworld that has taken root in Monkey Hill and environs? What of the move to change boundaries on the eve on an election – a battle he lost as a member of a sitting government previously?

Harris has an army of public servants who are being paid as Team Unity social media trolls, who are only sowing hatred and disunity and are unable to intelligently discuss basic issues.
It’s almost as if Harris is following real-time, the doctrine being written by Granger.

And now, Harris has the perfect opportunity to play the dictator master-card and use the current COVID-19 lockdown to his political advantage. Now that many commentators have anticipated such a tactic, it will be even more brazen for Harris to attempt to execute it.

It must not be forgotten that the key influencers and strategists who were responsible for Harris’ ascension to office – Condor, Astaphan et al – have walked away from him; leaving him bereft of ideas and a winning impetus for a political campaign.

Stakeholders at large are expecting the big man to implode under the mounting pressures of calling the election, breaking of the peace treaty, a global economic downturn and all the ripple effects of the Novel Coronavirus.

As the eighth smallest country in the world, St Kitts and Nevis is in the spotlight; from being the idyllic, quintessential getaway spot, the island is now a hotbed of political confusion, division, and distrust. Serious crime is on the rise once again, with government burying its head in the sand and refusing to address the skyrocketing reports of robberies, rapes, and violence towards tourists.

A lack of leadership, they say. We will change it, others say. But it may all depend on what Harris says.


Joel B. Liburd

The future economy of the Caribbean.

 budclabert08032020Many Caribbean economies find themselves already in a difficult situation with low growth, high debt, fiscal deficits, and low domestic private sector investments. Because of the current developments around the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world, economies worldwide will be dealing with an unforeseen shock. While the action is taken to contain and mitigate the outbreak, a global recession is likely, and the Caribbean will also be affected. Global recessions are known to have an impact over a two-year period. Now is the time to be prepared for what comes thereafter.

January 23, 2020 - Caribbean Travel Marketplace: “The record-breaking feats made by the Caribbean in 2019 are expected to continue into 2020, the Caribbean’s two major tourism advocacy organizations, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), have predicted,” a media report reads.

Yet, predictions don't always square with reality. Now, about two months later, one would consider these statements to be euphoric and one would tend to believe to have been in the wrong film. It is hard to believe in another boom year; on the contrary, a looming recession is more likely with all its consequences for the island economies, but especially the communities. Someone who still preaches “Don’t worry everything will be alright” is not realistic. Surrealism is an art form and not a form of socio-economic development. Whenever these kinds of comforting phrases are used, they should be placed under the sub-category “Social work in the economy”.

The greatest peril for any government, organization, business and its executives is: “Not knowing, what you don’t know!” Does that sound crazy? It isn’t! Let me explain. If you know what you don’t know, you shop for it and get the information somewhere, then update it, and act accordingly. If you don’t know what you don’t know, it means that something is developing beyond your horizon or radar screen that may have an impact on you sooner or later. You may be in danger of losing control or subject to taking fatalities into account. But, not knowing what you don’t know could also be rephrased into “You don’t know what you’re missing, or you don’t know what’s ahead!” Explore dangers as well as opportunities.

By now, we are probably agreeing that we live in a time of uncertainty. What is the problem that really may affect us? It is not the infamous virus outbreak! It causes a chain reaction and a crack in the image. What part of the chain reaction may affect us? At this time, we already need to look ahead and beyond what is happening in the next months or even next year.

Source markets and consumers will make adjustments to their situation over the coming months. Where these adjustments have worked, they’re not likely to change in the future. The ways of looking at expenditures and travel behavior may change. One must be ready to respond to the market and the best way is to offer a new concept, new products or services that differ from what was offered before the downturn situation. Patterns of consumer behavior of tourism and travel clientele abroad will change. Don’t try sidetracking by “yes, but...” or “well, oh…”. What solutions will we come up with? Are we able to respond well to changes in market behavior?

Are the Caribbean economy models aging? Yes, in a combination of probabilistic aging and proximal aging. Please don’t let me get into explaining what that means, just trust me. It does sound quite bad, doesn’t it? Rejuvenation is what is needed, and it should result in youthful vigor and appearance. Rejuvenation is a repair of damage that is associated with aging or replacement of damaged components with new components. Refreshment and innovations are needed in the economy and its prevailing industry, tourism. Actually, rejuvenation is more about how we do things throughout the industry including transportation, travel, and hospitality.

We are all somehow in the business of making money, benefits, profit, salary, etc. Did you know that the pay-off of innovation is the highest where the uncertainty is the highest? Isn’t that great to hear in a time of uncertainty? Innovation has been defined as “Change that creates a new dimension of performance.” I’ll subscribe to that. Dare to think differently about the economy and business can be changed. How things can be done smarter. Daring to think beyond the conventional way of thought is part of the recipe. Change is better than more of the same. However, the common belief is still that if something merely smells new it should be called innovation. In some cases that would imply that changing underwear is an innovation.

Here is something to think about and it is not even an innovation: The biggest market for the Caribbean might be the Caribbean itself.

 

By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert


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