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The nation of Barbados is 21 miles long and up to 14 miles wide, with an area of 166 sq miles. It is in the western area of the North Atlantic and 62 miles east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea. Closest nations are St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Hurricanes usually miss Barbados.

The British moved in and took over in 1624, and more or less moved out in 1966. Barbados remains a country as a British colony. Which means they play cricket.

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#BTEditorial – Pic-O-De-Crop must recapture public interest

We are a couple of months away from the start of the Crop Over Festival - the “Sweetest Summer Festival” - and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has announced radical changes to the event as we know it.

We are told that some events are no longer financially viable owing to a considerable reduction in attendance over the years.

The primary change is to the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, long considered calypso’s flagship event. Since the early 1990s fewer and few audiences have been attending the semifinals, which in those days were held at the National Stadium.

A number of initiatives were tried, including a move to the East Coast Road in 1995 where it was combined with the all-new Party Monarch Finals, but when the latter eclipsed the Pic-O-De-Crop semis in popularity, the semis headed for the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, where other formats were tried in the early 2000s.

In 2001 and 2002 the 18 semifinalists performed their songs back to back; then, in 2003, the number of participants was increased from 18 to 25, with each performer singing just one song. That experiment failed, and in 2004 the event reverted to 18 performers doing two songs.

This year, the organisers are doing away with the semifinals entirely and having 18 finalists perform only one song. But this is not new; this was first mooted just over two years ago under the then-Democratic Labour Party administration, the argument being that since Party Monarch and Sweet Soca Monarch contestants win a car by only singing one song there is no reason the same can’t apply to the Pic-O-De-Crop.

Back then, the calypsonians disagreed with that proposal. We are curious; is it possible that it has now found favour now since Trinidad used a similar format this year?

But the mere fact that previous changes have been less than successful suggests a deeper issue. Social commentary has long ceased to capture the imagination of younger generations, namely the current 18-30 age group, and those who were in that age range in the mid-1990s when Edwin Yearwood, Alison Hinds, Lil Rick and other performers revolutionised the art form with a heavy accent on party music, which the organisers and other stakeholders then pushed extensively because it offered greater financial returns.

Prior to the introduction of the Party Monarch contest, Pic-O-De-Crop was the only game in town in a festival music competition, so most calypsonians performed songs with serious themes, even the uptempo ones.

And back then, there were more calypso tents, and tent recordings on radio and television that served to create a fan base for some calypsonians, notable examples being Observer with his Cat Attack in 1991 and Bongo with his Like it or Lump It in 1992. Both songs were uptempo social commentaries that also placed in the Road March contests.

Since then the number of tents has plummeted, social commentaries enjoy even less radio airplay than before, and since 1996, we have had Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso Monarchs usually pulled from the same basic group of nine competitors. In fact, between 1996 and 2010, the crown rotated between just four kaisomen - Kid Site, Red Plastic Bag, Gabby and Adrian Clarke. Not a sign of growth, whereas there have been several Party Monarch and Sweet Soca winners since those contests came on stream.

On the subject of Party Monarch, we are concerned that the move to just one competition may not be in the best interest of those who have specialised in ragga soca since the Sweet Soca contest started a decade ago. Prior to that event, ragga soca performers traditionally did not fare well at Party Monarch, as the judges and audiences seemed to favour the faster material. But since the genre has become so popular that ideally a special prize should be given to the best ragga soca song in the new competition.

As for prizes, calypsonians have complained about having a car as the first prize for many years, claiming that it does not help them meet the expenses they incur in preparing for the festival. Surely, it is not the role of the organisers to pay a performer’s bills by giving them a reward commensurate with their expenses. What of those who do not win? Won’t they have to find the money to pay their creditors on their own?

Pan Pun De Sand has become one of the more popular events, and while the new Bay Street location at Pirate’s Cove is used frequently for shows and fetes, parking in that area is always a major challenge, unlike Brandons with a huge playing field just opposite the beach. People may also express reservations about paying for an event that was previously free of charge. We also ask what environmental impact assessment been done at the National Botanical Gardens - a virtually unknown spot for visitors - to see whether there will be any fallout from holding a major calypso event there?

Nevertheless, since the sponsors and performers are on board with the changes, we will just have to wait and see how the new formats go. The true measure of success will be how many people actually turn out to these events and if the quality of the product improves.

Perhaps now, it would be a good idea to actually seek feedback from patrons and participants alike before making any further amendments instead of just looking at the bottom line.

The post #BTEditorial – Pic-O-De-Crop must recapture public interest appeared first on Barbados Today.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 05:15:15 +0000

No price change since NSRL removal says Gibbs-Taitt

Close to a year after Government abolished the contentious National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which saw the price of goods go up by ten per cent, one consumer rights advocate is concerned that retail prices are yet to go back down.

According to the Director General of the Barbados Consumers Research Organization (BARCRO), Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, there is no evidence that prices in supermarkets and other retail stores have gone down to reflect the removal of the tax.

“It seems that some people think that although Government put a stop to the tax, they can keep the prices in the stores and supermarkets the same and no one will notice. The prices have never come down to show that the tax was removed,” Gibbs-Taitt complained.

Since Prime Minister Mia Mottley removed the levy in June during her mini Budget, businesses have maintained that it would take some time before it is reflected in the prices on the shelf, as old stock had to be first sold. However, the BARCRO head is adamant that more than enough time has passed for merchants to make the adjustment. He also charged that this was typical behaviour of many within the business sector.

“It is similar to what obtains when the price of fuel on the world market goes up. They tell you that they have to increase the price of their food items because the cost of transportation has gone up.  However, when the price of fuel decreases far below what it was before, you never see those prices on food items reduced. These merchants can’t have their cake and eat it too because sooner or later there will be no cake,” he warned.

Gibbs-Taitt also argued that the ban on single use plastics should also result in some savings for the consumer, especially at the supermarket. He pointed out that supermarkets factor in the price of plastic bags in the cost of the groceries. The consumer rights advocate further noted that even though some have already stopped using plastic bags in their stores, there has been no reduction in prices.

“Come April 1, we are told that there would be no plastic bags issued and there are some stores who already stopped the issuing of plastic bags. To my knowledge these supermarkets put the price of those plastic bags in the price of their groceries. I am yet to see prices reduced on those items in those stores that have already stopped using plastic bags. Again, the merchants believe that they can get away with this,” he lamented.

The post No price change since NSRL removal says Gibbs-Taitt appeared first on Barbados Today.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 05:04:50 +0000

Charles, Camilla in historic visit

Pomp, pageantry and a packed schedule, marked the one-day visit here of the future King of this Commonwealth realm, almost 50 years after his first trip to Barbados.

Today’s official visit of Their Royal Highnesses Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, kicked off with the Prince meeting Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and Prime Minister Mia Mottley at Government House.

[caption id="attachment_292032" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Prince Charles (centre) engaging in a conversation with Governor General Dame Sandra Mason (left), as they along with his wife Camilla (right), make their way from Heroes Square over to Parliament. Prince Charles (centre) engaging in a conversation with Governor General Dame Sandra Mason (left), as they along with his wife Camilla (right), make their way from Heroes Square over to Parliament.[/caption]

The dignitaries then headed to Heroes Square, where hundreds of Barbadians and visitors gathered to witness a wreath-laying ceremony at the nation’s war memorial, the presentation of colours, a meet and greet session with members of the public, all preceeded by a 21-gun salute.

Prince Charles told those gathered of his delight in presenting to the Coast Guard its ceremonial colours 38 years after his mother, Her Majesty the Queen approved the white ensign under which the Coast Guard’s vessels sail.

It was on February 27 1981 that Queen Elizabeth approved the ensign, the red George Cross emblazoned on a white background with the Broken Trident in miniature in the top left corner.

Prince Charles said: “As you young men and women march off the square today, with your new colours, I express my confidence in the Barbados Coast Guard and the Cadet Corps, that you will carry these newly presented colours with pride, and this confidence is more than justified.

“For 40 years, you have demonstrated with honour, your commitment, professionalism and dedication to service both locally and regionally, during your period of service to Her Majesty the Queen. In receiving your new colours, you would not only be honoring your country, but also the men and women you now so proudly follow.”

Some onlookers had the opportunity to greet the Royal visitors before they walked to Parliament for a courtesy call on Prime Minister Mottley as Head of Government.

[caption id="attachment_292029" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Prime Minister Mia Mottley (left) and the royal guests stand at ease as the National Anthem was played. Prime Minister Mia Mottley (left) and the royal guests stand at ease as the National Anthem was played.[/caption]

Again Prince Charles shook hands and had brief conversations with onlookers who lined the street as he made his way to the Nidhe Synagogue, historically known as one of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to 1654.

[caption id="attachment_292030" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Prince of Wales, Charles and Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla greet well wishers on the Chamberlain Bridge. Prince of Wales, Charles and Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla greet well wishers on the Chamberlain Bridge.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_292031" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Prince Charles (right) laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Heroes Square, as the Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Colonel Glyne Grannum, looks on. Prince Charles (right) laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Heroes Square, as the Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Colonel Glyne Grannum, looks on.[/caption]

He was greeted at the synagogue by real estate magnate Sir Paul Altman, a prominent member of the Jewish community who led the restoration of the historic place of worship.

During her time on the island, the Duchess of Cornwall visited the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre, and the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre.

At the school, designed to support the social, academic, physical, emotional and developmental needs of adolescents and adults with developmental delays, several officials, including Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Romel Springer, greeted the Duchess.

While at Derrick Smith, the Duchess was invited to cut a Commonwealth Big Lunch celebratory cake, baked by the students of the culinary workshop. She was also presented with a gift box made by the woodwork students.

At the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre, Camilla unveiled a plaque and met with patients.

Over at the Garrison Savannah, Charles observed a field hospital and a disaster response demonstration. The prince has a special interest in disaster preparedness. He visited the Leewards Islands in the wake of hurricane devastation two years ago.

He was greeted by Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Colonel Glyne Grannum, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, and the BDF’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rene Best.

At Ilaro Court, the official residence of the nation’s first female prime minister, the Duchess of Cornwall attended a Women of the World Think-In, joined by Prime Minister Mottley and Dame Billie Miller, among other distinguished Barbadian women.

The elderly residents of the Soroptomist Village in Eden Lodge, met the Prince who got a brief insight into its work.

He also attended a reception for the Prince’s Trust charity at the Coral Reef Club in St James where he was greeted by American singer-songwriter Lionel Richie.

It was then announced that Richie, the 69-year-old, four-time Grammy award-winner is to be the Global Ambassador for the international outreach programme which develops at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 25 years, through education, employment and entrepreneurship.

The Prince, the Prime Minister and the pop star, spent some time getting to know some of the members of the programme.

The packed day ended with their Royal Highnesses attending the Governor General’s reception at Government House.

Prince Charles first came to Barbados in October 1970 to open the National Stadium, barely a year after he was formally vested with the title of Prince of Wales as heir apparent.

Should Charles become King, he would be the fourth future King to have touched down on Barbadian soil over 233 years.

Nearly 100 years ago, David, Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII for a brief period, landed at the then British colony as part of a global tour in 1920.

The beloved King George V, visited twice, on Christmas Day 1879 and January 1884, when he was Prince George Frederick.

The first visit of a Prince of Wales was by Prince William Henry, later King William IV. Prince William Henry Street was renamed as it was said to be first landmark when he landed here on November 24 1786.

The post Charles, Camilla in historic visit appeared first on Barbados Today.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 04:55:02 +0000

Fresh slate challenges NUPW top brass

Yet another team has thrown its hat into the ring for the National Union of Public Workers’ upcoming elections.

During a press conference at the NUPW’s Dalkeith headquarters this afternoon, Verrol Scott signalled his intention to challenge Akanni McDowall for the post of president when the union elects a new executive on
April 3.

The news follows a recent announcement by current first vice-president Fabian Jones of his plans to also run for president.

The rest of the executive contenders include Daria Cave, who will be running for first vice-president; David Denny who will contest the position of second vice-president; third vice-president hopeful Edsel Mayers; and Izola Waithe, who will stand for treasurer with Kenmore Dash as deputy treasurer.

Scott told the media that his team’s campaign slogan, Engine for Change, spoke to the need for new leadership.

[caption id="attachment_292026" align="aligncenter" width="600"]From left, Edsel Mayers, David Denny, Daria Cave, Verrol Scott, Izola Waithe and Kenmore Dash during today’s press conference. From left, Edsel Mayers, David Denny, Daria Cave, Verrol Scott, Izola Waithe and Kenmore Dash during today’s press conference.[/caption]

In an apparent reference to the ongoing public feud between ailing NUPW general secretary Roslyn Smith and McDowall, Scott said the tussle was bringing much pain to the union’s membership.

“The ebbs are so severe on our members that to my mind it is threatening the very existence of the union. This situation is very disturbing and this team felt like we had to do something about it.

“We decided that in order to cushion the severe impact of these austerity measures that are now facing our members, which is now and which we have good reason to believe will continue into the future, what we felt we needed to do was to create a safe space or a family space,” Scott told reporters.

Scott, who has served on the executive council for over 35 years, said that if elected, the new executive would change the union’s constitution.

Scott said this would be done to ensure union officers would not be allowed to abuse their power or the union’s financial resources.

He also campaigned to introduce a “medical and health care unit”, as well as a “professional development centre”, which would be used to increase the efficiency of its members who work in the public service.

Scott also revealed there were plans for a “human development centre” to help take care of aging members and a buying and selling club to encourage entrepreneurship.

The post Fresh slate challenges NUPW top brass appeared first on Barbados Today.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 04:46:06 +0000

No increase

Amid mounting speculation that Prime Minister Mia Mottley will announce a hike in bus fares in her administration’s first Budget, a consumer rights advocate is urging against the move, especially for privately-owned route taxis and minibuses.

According to the Director General of the Barbados Consumers Research Organization (BARCRO), Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, it would be unfair to require taxpayers to pay for a service for which they are already funding a
significant portion of its overheads, particularly bus terminals and stops.

“It is my view that bus fares should not be increased at this time. A lot of people do not seem to understand that in running a bus service, there are a number of factors that one has to look at. There are things as simple as the planting of bus stops, putting up bus sheds and more importantly having bus terminals. To the best of my knowledge, I have never known a private concessionaire to actually put down a bus stop let alone a bus terminal. Government and its agencies do those things and those things are what our tax dollars go to,” Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY.

Last month, Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid hinted that bus fares could soon double. Contending that the current fare of $2 charged by the Transport Board and public service vehicles (PSVs) is inadequate, Duguid told the House during the Estimates Debate that an increase was coming, but could not yet determine by how much.

Duguid argued that while bus fares have not moved in the last two decades, the price of doing business had increased across the board.

The news was welcomed by the two major PSV associations, who for years have pressed for a fare hike, charging that it was impractical for them to survive on a $2 per trip fare, especially since Government subsidises the state-owned Transport Board.

But Gibbs-Taitt contends that current figures do not show an ailing public service vehicle industry, which has grown from 500 minibuses and ZRs to 800 in the last five years.

Gibbs-Taitt contended: “I have never heard of many private bus concessionaires thinking of depleting their stock because it is too expensive for them to run them.  So, it tells me that they are reasonably happy with the monies that they are making.”

He also urged Government to bear in mind that it was only last year that public servants had received their first pay increase in a decade, and that the working class was in no position to bear additional burdens.

He continued: “People did not receive wages and salary increase for a full ten years. I therefore cannot bring myself to even suggest that any increase in bus fare can be a good thing at this time. I understand that the economic state of the country is not good but if you increase bus fares then poor people simply cannot afford it.”

The post No increase appeared first on Barbados Today.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 04:40:33 +0000
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Inside Game of Thrones: A Story in Prosthetics (HBO)
Game of Thrones Prosthetics Designer Barrie Gower reflects on bringing the realm to life for the final season. Game of Thrones returns April 14 for its final season on HBO.

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 17:16:43 +0000

Missing men 19 year old Kadesh Kabeem Bowen from Lee’s Gap, Passage Road St Michael, and 62 year old Neville Alonzo Stafford from Holder’s Land, Brandons, St Michael, are now located. The Royal Barbados Police Force appreciates all support from both media and the public for their quick response and assistance. Rodney Inniss – Insp. […]

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 17:08:21 +0000

Water Bills Delayed for the Month of February
The Barbados Water Authority is alerting Barbadians due to technical difficulties experienced recently with its Customer Information System, there has been a delay in the preparation of some water bills for the month of February. Customers may visit the BWA Payment Centres at the Pine Headquarters, the Pine, St. Michael or Probyn Street, Bridgetown to […]

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 09:53:16 +0000

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley appointed veteran journalist Roy R. Morris as her first Press Secretary. The former Editor-in-Chief at the Nation Publishing Co. Limited and founding Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Today will take up the appointment on Monday 11th March 2019. In announcing the appointment, Prime Minister Mottley said: “I am […]

Sun, 10 Mar 2019 18:33:00 +0000

‘Her Story: Journeys to Greatness’ Co-Sponsors? Digicel & IGT via AmCham BEC

Sun, 10 Mar 2019 18:10:09 +0000
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Six declare NUPW hand
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