Yabsta News

Police seize guns, ammo and drugs in Christ Church area

Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force Southern Division confiscated three guns and 18 rounds of ammunition among other items when they conducted an operation in the Montrose, Silver Hill, Christ Church area known as the Twelve Gauge Block on Sunday January 20. Police spokesman Station Sergeant Michael Blackman revealed that the firearms were all revolvers carrying six rounds of ammunition each. He said lawmen also found knives, scissors, lighters, wrappings, and containers containing vegetable matter suspected to be cannabis when they searched some 40 persons at the location. Two men, 33-year-old Jerry Jamal Seifert, of Pasture Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael and 29-year-old Shawn Ricardo Weekes, of Lot 120 Kingsland Terrace, Christ Church, were also arrested and charged. Seifert is charged with possession, possession with intent to supply and possession with intent to traffic cannabis while Weekes is charged with possession of cannabis. The post Police seize guns, ammo and drugs in Christ Church area appeared first on Barbados Today.

23rd, January 2019, 11:48pm

Halal tourism in Barbados

The 'Barbados brand' is certainly a well sought after tourism product. Barbados has earned the reputation of being a 'must-see' place on earth and is on most persons' bucket list of places in the world to experience. Over the years, Barbados' reputation has resulted in many repeat visitors especially from the United Kingdom. This has helped our economy significantly, and it's a reputation of which all Barbadians can be proud. As with any other 'brand', there is always a need for refreshing, re-branding and looking for new strategies. In recent years that has been the call of many in the tourism industry. What is the more or different that Barbados can do to ensure continued attraction to world travellers? Additionally, there is a growing trend where several destinations are working aggressively at attracting niche markets. These niche markets are not unknown to us. We have successfully created activities outside of the traditional attractions of sea, sand and sun that drive tourists to us. The Crop-Over Festival has grown over the years to be an event that many have journeyed to our shores to witness and be a part of. Sports tourism, which in the past was mainly cricket, now includes a variety of other sports that attract people as participants and spectators. Horse-racing, motor-racing, marathons, bicycle-races, among several other traditional and non-traditional sports, are all playing their part in the tourism industry. Music festivals, food festivals and gospel events of late are adding activities to our tourism product. Heritage tourism is now a growing trend worldwide and with Bridgetown and its Garrison attaining UNESCO's World Heritage designation, that is another niche Barbados can work harder to build on. Barbados has a long history with many interesting events, places and characters that persons with creativity and the means can certainly capitalize on to boost our tourism offerings. And I am sure that talent to conceptualize and execute is available right here amongst our own. I believe the potential is limitless and the ideas are abundant. It requires, as with anything else, hard work and commitment to see it through to a successful conclusion. Five years ago I recognized a growing trend across the world and Barbados' potential to attract another niche market. Since then I have been working assiduously to create the awareness and maximize the potential of Barbados becoming a viable player in this fast-growing market segment. In some cases it has been met with careful optimism and in others there is a reluctance to get involved for several reasons. Nevertheless, persistence and patience will inevitably win out once one is determined to make it work. That niche market is “halal tourism”. The word 'halal' is an Arabic word which basically means 'permissible'. For those who are aware, it is often associated with food that Muslims are allowed to eat. Similar to the word 'kosher' for the Jews, 'halal' refers to anything, food or other activity that is permissible for a Muslim to participate in. 'Halal tourism' is a subcategory of tourism which is geared towards Muslims who abide by the rules of Islam. Several leading destinations across the world, especially in the Middle East and the Far East, have capitalized on this category and have successfully created the necessary conditions to attract thousands of such tourists annually. A New York Times story last week titled, “The Rise of Halal Tourism” pointed out this global phenomena engaging the world's travel industry: “Muslims now make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the global travel industry. In response, hotels and tour operators are increasingly trying to meet their dietary and religious needs... Since 2016, the number of Muslim travellers has grown nearly 30 per cent, and a recent joint study by Mastercard and Crescent Rating, a research group that tracks halal-friendly travel, projects that over the next decade that sector's contribution to the global economy will jump to $300 billion from $180 billion. With a population that is disproportionately young, educated and upwardly mobile, they are one of the fastest-growing demographics on the global tourism scene.” Traditionally, we would think that such a market may only come from the Middle East, North Africa or countries like Pakistan, India or Indonesia. The reality is that this market is increasingly found in North America and Europe. As the Times article highlighted: “In Europe, the Muslim community is now in its third or fourth generation. They are educated and have good paying jobs,” said Ufuk Secgin, Chief Marketing Officer for Halal Booking, a Muslim-focused vacation search engine. “For the first generation, their idea of a holiday was visiting the family in the home country. This has changed. My experience has been very similar. Most of the queries for halal tourism offerings in Barbados are coming from the USA, Canada and the UK. These are young, upwardly mobile professionals and families who like to travel, have experienced halal tourism in the Middle East or Far East and would like new destinations to try out. As Ms Hamdi of Halal Travel Guide (who I hosted here in 2017) pointed out in the Times piece: “We encourage Muslims to seek culturally immersive travel experiences outside of the traditional Muslim-friendly destinations such as Dubai and Morocco... 'Muslims are looking for added value to their trips, trips that offer the Muslim traveller the chance to experience something completely different.'” And Barbados, unlike other Caribbean destinations, has several of the necessary ingredients already in place to attract this niche market successfully. Barbados is a mature tourism destination which can easily adapt to any requirements needed to bring such a discerning tourist to our shores. And it has been tried, tested and proven. Quietly, Muslim tourists who know, have been coming to the island and experiencing for themselves what we can offer as a possible halal tourist destination. We have a Muslim community that has been here for over 100 years. We have the necessary institutions and amenities that cater to these Muslim tourists. What is required is a concerted effort and the focus to make it achievable and sustainable. My efforts have included working with the Barbados Tourism Product Authority in training staff of the various tourism entities as well as sensitizing the key stakeholders in the industry to what needs attention in order to attract more of these tourists. In my experience, I have recognized that there is a huge untapped market for Barbados in halal tourism, and the main reason is that many of these types of tourists simply do not know that this is all possible in Barbados. So the task at hand is to sensitize and market Barbados to this tremendously profitable niche market. It is a task I have started and I hope it can help in building the 'Barbados brand' in a way that can add to our economic growth. (Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace, Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI. Email: suleimanbulbulia@hotmail.com) The post Halal tourism in Barbados appeared first on Barbados Today.

23rd, January 2019, 11:30pm

Under siege

[caption id="attachment_282279" align="alignleft" width="250"]  [/caption] “You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”  - Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary The coping classes - formerly known as the middle classes - are under siege like never before: solid, responsible citizens beaten down by the rising costs of living and creative taxation in a hyper austere economy. Many believe things will get much worse before they improve, and there is a fear they might not survive the transition as their broad backs have always been identified as the chief target for Government cuts. There's this myth that this group is made up of latte-drinking, well-heeled, RAV4 driving yuppies, when actually the middle class encompasses a huge number of families who are far from comfortably off, some living from pay cheque to pay cheque and who were already really struggling. The coping class in this country is easily the most economically aggrieved group, and the economic anxiety that they feel is real and potent. This group wanted a change in the administration and rightfully so, to ease what they believed was an egregious onslaught against them in particular. There were critical areas of angst that resonated with this group: the NSRL which essentially raised the prices on every commodity available; the University of the West Indies co-pay which, because it was delivered with very little time to prepare, caused shock and undue financial strain, as well as consternation felt by many as their children's career dreams appeared to be destroyed; and finally, the general disenchantment that came with limited engagement as to what direction the country was going in. Aggrieved, disenchanted, disillusioned and angry. Then comes post-administration change and we have an emotional groundswell of euphoria in anticipation of a new form of ease. The UWI co-pay has been reversed; dreams restored. Some concerns linger and others have been amplified. Let's have a look at them. National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) The repeal of this menacing tax was widely cheered. However, there has been ongoing complaint from consumers that there has been no downward movement in retail prices. One businessman made the 'joke' that Barbadians obviously were not eating enough to burn through the NSRL taxed inventory that had to be causing the seeming lack of price change since its removal. In a recent tour of the Sol Warrens service station, when questioned about the NSRL, Minister Sutherland noted that the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, in doing its work, had realized that freight cost had increased. He said, “The reality too is that there were some goods which did not attract the actual duties that the Ministry would like to see. We are not saying that there is unfair pricing, but we are asking every single one to share the burden”. In providing Sol's perspective, General Manager Ezra Prescod said the government “removed the NSRL, but there were additional tax measures that went into how you build up a cost. One of the things that actually increased above everything else, in a survey that I did recently, was the inventory cost of each item... There are some that have come down, but not everything has come down. And then what we have tried to do is add on a margin to that. We buy it at a price and add on a margin and that margin has not changed with the removal of the NSRL. So, essentially what we have seen... is your input pricing on some of the items have still remained up in the air, which is an issue.” What does this gobbledygook even mean? If I am to interpret this Government Information Service (GIS) report correctly, the government realized after removing the NSRL that it could make more tax dollars by increasing the duty rates and keep the prices as they are. To sum up the catchphrase of the Minister, “every single one has to share the burden”. The coping class voted to have this tax removed because they were carrying too much of the burden. The economic anxiety of no relief from higher consumer good prices continues. Savings under siege Commercial banks have compounded the issue of savings anxiety for the coping class. With interest rates contracting to an emaciated and cash consuming rather than appreciating 0.25 per cent, the coping class has looked hopelessly for safe haven and higher interest rates for their hard-earned cash. But at each turn, things appear to be getting worse. From CLICO and BAICO, after having ResLife established and the sale of British American to Sagicor almost complete, policyholders and investors who breathed a collective sigh of relief after their long and hard-fought wait started to receive payments. This group has once again been thrown into uncertainty about their policy payments and investments. ResLife now seems doomed to be a footnote of the previous administration and the payment to investors and policyholders remains a question mark. The last iteration of this nightmare was a cryptic message to the stakeholders that the future of ResLife and the continuation of payments were caught up in the BERT plan which had to be underwritten by the Government. Since the government is unable to underwrite any debt for the next four years under the austerity plan, the uncertainty about the future of this little-discussed matter remains. In an environment where every insignificant minutia is discussed, this particular item remains little discussed. A smear that spreads across the past two administrations continues to be dragged across the balance sheet of this one. With no clarity, no process and no end in sight, it remains a painful stake in the chest of the coping class. Government Bonds Once held as the sacrosanct and touted by no less an authority than the Central Bank of Barbados, government bonds have now become an instrument of death for some and excruciating pain for others, having been caught up in the “everyone must take their share” debt restructuring process. This is a much talked about event, so no need to expand on it. But again, it makes one feel as if they are under siege. New taxation A coping class that feels it can be taxed no more, in whatever forms it takes, and survive is having ever more taxation heaped upon it. Taxation has been applied to petrol in an environment where the percentage of electric vehicles on the streets is growing exponentially, so those who cannot afford to change to electric will continue to be taxed. That is until the administration discovers its error by not taxing electric vehicles and that opportunity will soon disappear. Water and Sewerage tax and Income Tax This is now double what was normally paid and there is a 40 per cent tax on wages above $75,001 per annum. Now, this one may not get a lot of sympathy from those at the bottom of the ladder, but this one has caused major pain. Middle management and senior executives now have further adjustments to make. Let me put it in context for some who may not understand. Mortgages no longer attract tax rebates; all allowances have been rescinded; travel allowance has to be justified by odometer readings and schedules and reclaimed in annual tax filings. Now, a middle/senior manager who makes more than $6,500 per month pays significantly more in tax. Earning $16,000 per month, one executive was taking home $9,600 - now the net take home is reduced to $8,560. Under siege, aggrieved, disenchanted, disillusioned and angry. In an era where corporation tax is reduced to 5.5 per cent which seems to be the rich receiving more help, in hope of trickle-down economics, no one will rail against the right of “the rich” to receive help, nor the obligation of the state to support “the poor”. Between these two poles, however, there's the nebulous mass of the “better off”; although from the standpoint of the economic advisors they could just as accurately be referred to as the “worse off”. They are those without the means to game the system by having their employers pay their legal tax requirement, and who are too proud to 'beg for assistance'. The former middle classes, now clearly defined as the coping classes (some add the prefix 'barely') are still desperately seeking a pathway to incremental prosperity. George Connolly is a Finance and Technology professional. The post Under siege appeared first on Barbados Today.

23rd, January 2019, 11:20pm
Popular Articles