If you blinked last week you probably missed it - "it" being the ground-breaking exercises for the "destination that is different” in Merricks, St. Philip, Barbados. Both leading papers carried front page articles covering the event, but curiously neither of them mentioned any members of the current government of Barbados in attendance. Ok, I suppose the Prime Minister gets a pass because he is ailing and we all have him our prayers, but where was his deputy, or the Minister of Tourism, or even the Parliamentary Representative for the constituency? This is certainly a "different" ground-breaking for Barbados for a project that's supposedly worth nearly a billion dollars in construction.
A few months ago they hauled the Prime Minister off his sickbed to turn the sod at Pickerings, St. Lucy on a project where we later learned that the principals probably have no money let alone own the land upon which it is to be built. Perhaps it's the flak off Pickerings that has made Government gun-shy on Merricks. Whatever it is or was, it speaks reams about the level of trust and confidence the Government of Barbados has in the project at Merricks when reportedly the highest public official in attendance at its ground-breaking was the Minister of Tourism - not of Barbados - but of St. Vincent And The Grenadines.
This blogger who has followed the vicissitudes of The Merricks over the years became so concerned about this obvious "different" turn of events that I raised it as a question with two senior civil servants, one with over 40 years experience who boasted that it was the civil servants who build Barbados - not the politicians. To my surprise both of them pleaded ignorance of The Merricks - they didn't know what it was or anything about its existence. To be fair, neither of them were in tourism, but I find it inexcusable that a Permanent Secretary in the Government of Barbados would have no knowledge of the saga of The Merricks and Harlequin Properties in Barbados or the rest of the Caribbean regardless of his/her portfolio. This Permanent Secretary also went on to boast of (as a general rule) not reading either of the two main daily papers, so that should tell us all something about him, if not about the state of governance in this country.
Lack of government trust and confidence notwithstanding, Harlequin did "finally" break ground on The Merricks Resort last week and is already proudly proclaiming it to the rest of the world on its website. They even include links to the articles in the Advocate and the Nation even though the latter made the absence of the Government of Barbados pretty obvious. We know also that they (Harlequin) recently had a "soft opening" (re: unfinished and trouble-ridden) on their St. Vincent property, Buccament Bay Resort, and are widely promoting (re: collecting deposits on) other unstarted/unfinished resorts in St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and probably other locations. Many people (apparently now including the Government of Barbados) have been looking for what many have termed a house of cards to come tumbling down, but so far it has defied the odds.