Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

*NEW!!! LISTEN TO BLOG POSTS FEATURE ADDED!!!*

*PLEASE READ COMMENTS POLICY--NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS, PLEASE*

*REFERENCES TO NEWSPAPER OR MEDIA REPORTS ARE USUALLY FOLLOWED BY LINKS TO ACTUAL REPORTS*

*IMAGES MAY BE ENLARGED BY CLICKING ON THEM*

*SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY E-MAIL (SEE BOX IN SIDE BAR)*


______________________________________

**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Licence for larceny: ETF2?

In Barbados many people at the official level recognize problems, but for some reason that I have not yet fathomed dealing with them takes ages. One example is the water flowing down the street from a broken pipe in a road opposite the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, that has been that way every day for the year that I have lived here. Another example that is hitting the press pages is the making of licence plates for cars. As I drive around my extended neighbourhood, the signposts I see often are for "daycare", "hair treatments", and "licence plates made here". Now, the latter is no real surprise as I live not too far from the Barbados Licensing Authority offices, but it seems that plate makers are as common as Fordes or Benns in Barbados, and here car owners provide their own plates (they are not government-issued items). No wonder then that just a few days ago, when police were trying to apprehend some robbers and were giving the number of the vehicle on the radio, the information kept on changing, perhaps as fast as the reports were made. So, there is the Chief Commissioner of Police pictured holding up bogus plates that he was able to get in a jiffy, but he says that "We have recognized for years that persons have been using cars [to commit] crimes...it seems that there needs to be greater regulation in the Ministry responsible". Last year (July 2007) we read reports of the police finding a stash of illegal plates. The year before (August 2006) there were reports of a government bill [Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2006] to the make the Barbados Licensing Authority responsible for the registration and regulation of the licence plate manufacturers. What happened? Seems, Mr. Commissioner? Complacent?

I have never lived anywhere, even in a so-called backward African country, where you can just get plates made, with no apparent government control on their authenticity, and where you can pick up a licence plate and a plate of fried flying fish in one stop. In the US, licence plates must come from the state vehicle licensing authority; they often have some form of embedded security marker and need to be related legally to the vehicle and its "vehicle identification number" (VIN) at the time of registration. In the UK, they are regulated by a government agency. This is good business for the state or national government and helps generate revenues through the sales and control of payment of road taxes. In both countries (but much easier in the state-run US system), you can buy "vanity" plates for an extra fee from these same licensing authorities to celebrate or commemorate a range of private or official events or special interest organizations (e.g. bicenntenary of independence or universities) or they offer "vanity" plates that spell something, such as "I82BL8" in the US or "THE1" in the UK.

By the way, the Commissioner also reports that latest figures show that crime in the first eight weeks of 2008 is up 5 percent over the same period in 2007. In more detail: use of firearms + 9 percent (and often in public); robberies +13 percent; burglaries + 24 percent [though the Nation reports in the same article that burglaries were higher and lower]; crimes against visitors 47 reported against 23 in 2007. The Commissioner said there would be a range of "creastive and innovative approaches" in the fight against crime. Less talk, more action needed?

Finally, it seems that every story now needs a congratulatory reference to Rihanna no matter how unrelated (to raise circulation or get more hits on the Internet?). I will not be doing that.

1 comment:

titilayo said...

Finally, it seems that every story now needs a congratulatory reference to Rihanna no matter how unrelated (to raise circulation or get more hits on the Internet?). I will not be doing that.

But -- you just... Didn't you? Oh, okay. I get it. I think... :)