A GUY'S VIEW: Brilliant idea, but naked
The Prime Minister of Barbados announced to the world that this
country was offering a yearlong opportunity for persons to escape the
Covid-19 infested world and work remotely from Barbados.
At first, few thought this was a serious story. But then, she
appeared on television around the western world marketing the idea.
This drew some interesting reactions. Of course, there were those who
sought to poke fun at the idea of moving to beautiful Barbados for a
year in pursuit of the Prime Minister’s invitation. Even when they did
not mouth it, their barely restrained grins disclosed their feelings.
And then there were the more thoughtful analysts who feared that if it
were taken up, it would move business to this country and away from
their struggling economy. In trying to undermine the idea, these
critics actually applied some relatively useful analysis of the plan.
They spoke of how expensive it would be to live in Barbados for that
length of time. They pointed to the incidence of taxation. One
American actually said that Donald Trump still wants his tax, so the
traveller would be paying taxes in Barbados and New York. Apparently,
he had never heard of double taxation agreements.
WhatsApp messages were circulated saying that the world was now
laughing at us. But, in my view, if the idea was funny, it was only
because it may not have been properly thought through. Personally, I
believe it has great potential and would be fantastic, if it were not
a from-the-hip shot and had been carefully studied before being
released to the public.
It also gives us the opportunity to listen to its detractors and
examine their criticisms dispassionately and logically. Even if they
meant ill, we could use their information to improve what we offer
here: not only in relation to this idea, but to what we offer
generally as a service society.
Consideration should have been given to a special accommodation rate
for persons accepting the offer to live here for a year. An example
could have been taken from what former Prime Minister Arthur tried to
do when a bumper crowd was expected for the Cricket World Cup matches
here. Householders were encouraged to improve and enhance their
properties so that they could accommodate visitors. Financing
arrangements were put in place by financial institutions. All of this
was done for a cricket tournament that would have brought people here
for a few days.
Now we are inviting people to come and live here for a year and it did
not occur to us to provide accommodation for them. The reason for
this may simply be that there was never intended to be any benefit for
the ordinary Barbadian from this plan. When you cater to the rich and
famous, minute details that are needed to actually make systems work
In his ignorance of Barbados, one host asked whether this country’s
education system could support the needs of the visitor. And he was
not joking. His ignorance tells us that whatever we think of
ourselves, others ignore and the developed world has its own view of
One observation which was not made by the great minds that interviewed
the Prime Minister on this was the absence of any concern about the
quality of our telecommunications service providers. To be employed in
America or Europe and work from Barbados, demands an excellent
telecommunications network. On paper, we are on par with most of the
world. But what do we experience on a daily basis? Signals fail if one
moves from the living room to a bedroom. Cellular phone signals drop
for no apparent reason. If there is a power outage, everything goes
Before inviting persons to work here, the telecommunications service
providers should have been forced to raise their standards so that
they could properly service the world, because that is what they would
have to do. This requires excellent service delivery without the
ridiculous excuses they give us.
Did the Prime Minister expect persons coming here to all live without
becoming ill during the course of the year? What improvements in the
delivery of health care would be necessary to care for them? Would
they be expected to attend the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on falling
ill? And if it is believed that our system is already able to handle
their additional needs, how were they assured of this?
One could write a book on what would have been necessary before this
plan was rolled out, but the Prime Minister may only be as good as her
Rest assured that it will not be long before her idea will be cleaned
up and marketed by others, including some of our neighbours. And we
would have lost the advantage which I am sure she was seeking to gain
by an early roll out. This brilliant idea needed clothing. But it may
not be too late to revisit it, with better minds this time around.