Barrack’s Millions

Sir, as a concerned Barbadian citizen and tax payer, I hope that you will permit me enough space in your publication to discuss Al Barrack and the $60 million owed to him by our Government.


I recall hearing about Al Barrack and the monies owed to him in the media a few years ago, as well as in recent times. According to a an online article on the Nation newspapers’ website, Prime Minister David Thompson said: “He will definitely be paid” and “There has never been an occasion when the Government of Barbados has had an obligation that it has not eventually paid.”

Rather than wade into the muddy waters surrounding the issue, or debating it from a political position, I seek instead to achieve two objectives with my letter.

The first is to attempt to put the debt owed to him into perspective by looking at what I could purchase for $60 million. The second is to determine my indirect share of the $60 million debt. Since it is owed by our Government and since governments typically uses taxation to generate revenue, it means that indirectly, I’ll be paying off a part of this debt.

I will commence by examining what I myself could get for $60 million BDS, in today’s prices, based on some of my day-to-day ‘life-style’ choices.

I drink Coca-Cola. The canteen at my workplace charges $2.00 BDS per bottle (if I remember correctly). With Barrack’s $60 mil, I could purchase 30 million bottles of Coke. I average about 2 per day, so that’s 15 million days worth of Coke, which is about 41,000 years worth of the stuff, which is about 410 lifetimes’ worth.

Whenever possible, I eat pudding and souse on Saturday’s (I like the belly kind of pudding by the way). At said canteen, a large serving costs between $8 and $10. Since I cannot recall the exact price, I’ll use the higher figure. That’s 6 million servings of pudding and souse.

At Pablo Dante’s, a liming spot on Maxwell main road, their saltfish buljol is around $12. I really like the saltfish and breadfruit, not so keen on the other ground provisions they put in. $60 mil could get me about 5 million servings of that tasty dish.

Chefette and K.F.C are also regular stops. I spend anywhere between $15 and $20 at both of them at least once per week. Using the higher figure, 60 million dollars would get me around 3 million dollars worth of meals.

As a side-note, I hope that Mr. Haloute and the franchise holder for the local K.F.C, would be willing to reward my loyalty with some frequent customer vouchers, or something similar, as a result of my $60 million worth of consumption.

Recent fuel prices have resulted in me needing a little over $100 to fill-up my fuel tank with petrol (I don’t do this often). Let’s use $100, as that will take the tank pretty close to full. With $60 million, I could fill up my tank 600,000 times.

The previous paragraphs looked at a few items which I consume on a normal basis and how much of these items I could purchase for $60 million. The following paragraphs will now look at what my share, as a tax payer, is of the monies owed to Mr. Barrack.

According to the website of the Barbados Statistical Service, the population of Barbados, in December 2008, was estimated at 275,338 persons. Divide this by $60 million (or is it the other way around?) and each of us owe around $217 BDS.

Hold strain, folks. We’re not through yet. You see, quite a few of those estimated 275,338 persons may either be children, old people or sick people.

In other words, the estimated population is not the same as the labour force. Once again referring to the Barbados Statistical Service website, in particular, their Labour Force Survey for April to June 2009, the labour force is defined as: “All persons age 15 years and over, who live in the island and were engaged in (or willing and able to be engaged in) the production of economic goods and services.”

Referring to the aforementioned BSS document, the Total Adults ‘category’ is divided into two categories: labour force and not in labour force. The former is sub-divided into employed and unemployed. The total number of persons in employed, for the period, was 129,200 persons. In the unemployed, there was 14,100 persons. This gives a total of 143,400 persons in the labour force.

Those not in the labour force amounted to 69,700. These persons are categorized by the BSS as: “kept house, at school, are retired, incapacitated, voluntary idle or other.” Take 143,400 (labour force) and add to it 69,700 (not in labour force) and you have 213,000 persons which is the figure for Total Adults. However, it is the labour force category that I am interested in, in particular, the number of persons employed (129,200).

One of the ways in which governments earn revenue is via taxes such as an income tax (taxing the income they earned as a result of producing economic goods and services). Assuming that all of those 129,200 employed persons will pay their share of income tax to the Barbados Government and that Government will use only that revenue source to pay off the $60 million bill, it means that each person will owe around $464 BDS, ceteris paribus, as the economists like to say.

In concluding my letter, I happily admit it that it is obviously a humourous, over-simplification of a very serious matter. However, the purpose of it was to put the amount of monies owed to Mr. Barrack into perspective so that the average ‘man on the steet’ could understand and appreciate the seriousness of the whole affair. I hope that I have accomplished this.

Season’s Greetings Everyone!

Yours,
Amit Uttamchandani.

Amit Uttamchandani is sometimes known for his humourous, sarcastic yet serious articles.

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