Another View on Foreign Currency Leakages

Peter Harris Barbados Foreign Currency Leakages

I have had some positive feedback on my recent blog, in which I suggested a few Solutions to Barbados’ foreign Exchange Problem. Having only recently joined the retail business myself through Honda, I received feedback that the larger buying agencies can leak foreign currency abroad by inflating the cost of imports. Unlike cars that have rigid price controls, other consumables are left to the purchaser’s discretion for the most part to declare prices. If the purchaser is technically purchasing from himself in a foreign country then it is possible to put any price on the invoice.

If prices are artificially inflated then companies have seemingly valid reasons to send more than needed sums of money abroad. This is one area then that needs to be considered urgently if this is indeed being practiced because not only the economy suffers but the consumer as well.

Why should our consumers pay up to 500% or more for an artificially inflated item? Inflated pricing practices not only drains our foreign reserves but further inflates our already high cost of living.

I had the recent experience of looking for a 5-gallon container of a wood sealant. The local Barbados price was $375.00. The US retail price with taxes was BDS$110.00. I am sure cost of shipping, local import taxes and the retailer’s markup cannot add up to almost 300% above the US retail price.

I am not advocating price control of any type. I am merely suggesting that, in the same way that under-invoicing is policed by customs, over invoicing should also be monitored.


Solutions to Barbados’ Foreign Exchange Problems

The Barbados economy is at an all-time low, at least based on what the rating agencies are saying.

Although Barbados still enjoys high ratings for its standard of living, Barbadians are more and more hanging their heads in shame at our country’s poor credit rating and our diminishing middle class. The general argument is that this problem has been created by our low foreign exchange earnings and our high government debt and expenditure.

The Guru’s will guide us on the debt restructuring of our local debt, that we simply have to do.

For me, however, Barbados does not have a problem with earning foreign exchange. What we have is a problem recording or collecting it into the banking system.

One of the ways that this could be improved is by allowing Barbadians to have US accounts like what is being done in other Caribbean territories. This has been suggested by many.

This would encourage more persons to keep their US dollars on the island instead of in foreign accounts.

There is a saying in Barbados that “too far East is West.” The government has tried to protect and prop up the tourism industry so much that it is not as viable as it should be especially in earning foreign exchange for the country.

The biggest single earner of foreign exchange in this country is the tourism sector, and too many tourism operations are allowed to collect their US dollars internationally and only generally bring what they need for their expenses to Barbados.

In my opinion, none of these companies should get any VAT, tax clearance or concessions unless they bank their US dollars or a minimum 90% of the US dollars that they earn into the Barbadian banking system.

This measure would solve the demand that we have for US dollars. I am NOT just targeting the hotels alone, but tour operators, villa rentals and all tourism industry actors that have booking systems that allow them to collect their revenue off shore.


Celebrating the new home of Platinum Motors

I was delighted to officially open the new and improved headquarters of Honda Barbados and Platinum Motors in Fontabelle. Our grand opening marked the start of all of operations from this location, and I’m extremely proud to have been able to see the vision of a significantly expanded home for Platinum Motors become a reality.

Thank you to all who came out and joined us at the event, especially Ms. Vicki Poponi, Vice President Export Sales Department at American Honda, the Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Teruhiko Shinada, the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business, the Honourable Mr. Donville Inniss, as well as Honda representatives Mr. Tim Hendershot, Sales Manager Export Sales Division, and Ms. Sanae Nuimura, Japan Coordinator and Assistant to the President of Honda Motor Company.

Peter Harris In Coversation With Japanese Ambassador, His Excellency Teruhiko Shinada.

A big thank you also goes to our Platinum Motors staff who were extremely patient during the relocation. Special mention also to FirstCaribbean International Bank for making our move possible with their financial support, as well as Town and Country Planning for a seamless approvals process.

This move has meant we now have a larger showroom and adjoining parts division, new collision and repair centre, a larger mechanical workshop, improved customer access, and a new set of executive offices. Not only that, I’m also pleased to announce Platinum Motors is now selling a range of Honda motorcycles and soon will adding Honda power products and outboard engines to our list.

I am confident these upgrades to our facilities and product selection, alongside recent improvements to our human resources capacity, will firmly maintain Honda’s reputation as the most affordable mid to luxury range vehicle in Barbados.

I am committed to growing the Honda brand in Barbados to new heights and I welcome your feedback on how we can best service our valued customers in the years to come.


A fond farewell to Lynda Lewis

Peter Harris sharing a word with retiring Lynda Lewis

It was with a great sense of sadness that we at Bayview Hospital officially announced our loyal Assistant Administrator, Lynda Lewis’ retirement as of December 31 last year. Lynda has been a long-serving employee, witnessing the Hospital’s evolution from as far back as 1986 ( that’s over 30 years of dedicated employment).

Lynda has seen Bayview go through many changes, including the recent acquisition which has led to my involvement with the Hospital. I am especially grateful to her for continued service to Bayview which, along with Mrs. Edwards and the management team, helped to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

Although we do not have statistics readily available in Barbados, the US Bureau of Labour states that the median number of years that wage and salary workers stay with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 years in January 2014. Therefore, the type of dedication shown by Lynda deserves special acknowledgment; especially given the fact that employees are now opting not to dedicate their entire career to any single employer.

Lynda competently assisted in the leadership of Bayview’s administrative and nursing teams, as well as oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Hospital. She also sat on our Infection Control Committee, Health and Safety Committee, and the now dormant Theatre Users’ Committee. In addition, she served on the Friends of Bayview group, which has made several donations and contributions to the Hospital over the years.  She also started the Bayview Facebook Page and continues to regularly contribute some of the most liked posts on the page.

Admirably, Lynda formed the ‘Little Pink Gift’ charitable organization that helps breast cancer patients and family members with financial support and counseling. She is also an extremely talented photographer and over the years, has even had a couple of her photos on display in the Hospital.

Lynda’s colleagues describe her as a woman who is supportive, dependable, honest and straight-talking; a great and practical problem solver and advice-giver, and someone who is always available to lend a hand and roll up her sleeves to get the job done. Her friendly attitude will be sorely missed here at Bayview, whilst her enthusiastic and caring community spirit will be fondly remembered.

On behalf of the Bayview Hospital Board of Directors and the entire Bayview family, I would like to wish Lynda every success in her future endeavors and in this new chapter of life.


Happy Independence Day Barbados

There is an exhilarating feeling around Barbados as a result of the approaching 50th anniversary of Independence. We can all be justly proud of how far the country has come in what is considered now a relatively short time.

Through CGI Insurance I was able to contribute to the CBC television’s guardians of our heritage flag raising project and felt a renewed sense of pride, similar to what I felt representing the country in hockey. It is indeed an honor and quite nostalgic to defend or support the country in this way.

Reaching 50 calls for a time of reflection. Dorie Clarke in Harvard Business Review gives some personal tips on how a person can reinvent themselves after 50, but how does a country do this? After reflecting on the past, what plans do we put in place to ensure our future?

My one piece of advice would be to work on the ease at which business is done on the island. We need to see business for what it truly is, the engine that runs the country. The government cannot employ the entire workforce. More importantly, it has to collect taxes to run its own affairs. If we do not create an environment for businesses to thrive, and be competitive, then we are essentially killing off our country for future generations. When jobs leave so do people.

There needs to be a mindset change. Instead of the resistance and stumbling blocks that are sometimes put in the way of business enterprise, the government of the day and the civil service has to see business as a friend and not a foe. Barbados must truly live up to the legacy that was promised during cricket world cup as being the best place to live, work and play. Currently, work is struggling and this we need to get right going into the next 50 years if we are to continue on our development path.

With that said, let me just wish all a Happy Independence Day.

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