Barbados Becoming A Society Of "Fat Cats" And Soft Corruption
After reading the interesting article penned by Albert Brandford in the Nation newspaper of April, 29 2007 it prompted me to muse on how our Barbados society has continued to allow an already corrupt system of government to become even more corrupt. It is intentional not to litter this writing with any theoretical concepts usually disseminated by many of our well known political scientists and social commentators. Brandford quoted Richie Haynes when he wore an NDP cap back in 1994 as saying:
“Most of the stealing in Government takes place where Government interfaces with the private sector of Barbados. You can’t steal salaries and you can’t steal debt payments. The next big chunk would have to be in terms of contracts, tenders … and that is where the ‘thiefing’ takes place.
– Dr Richie Haynes, leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), 1994”
Although it is not a particularly profound statement it is one which all of us who keep our ears to the ground can very well agree with. We look around and observe MP’s who enter government having come from decent jobs but not necessarily paying extravagant salaries, and after a couple of years on the government side we observe the ostentatious lifestyle which many of them embrace. In recent times we seen Rommel Marshall, an insurance agent in his former life who after spending a few years in government now owns property all over Barbados, a business in Bridgetown, drives a Mercedes and we can go on. There is Noel “Barney” Lynch and Gline “Wuk Fuh Wuk” Clarke – Barbados Free Press has written voluminously on these two. Now we see the Prime Minister driving around E50 which is a Lexus jeep which no doubt he would have acquired duty free but if paid for would be significant in price even on a PM salary.
We however tend to focus on politicians when discussing corruption but what about those judges who sit on the bench while still covertly managing their law firms and legal practices? What about those priests who accept “donations” to their personal accounts for performing the “blessings” at functions? What about those bankers who approve personal loans for prominent individuals with the unspoken expectation that the organizations they head would benefit from significant contracts. We must never forget that the government is responsible for a very significant share of the business which private sector depends on for its very survival sometimes.
My musing is not to become trap in any Willie Lynch syndrome but only to use the argument that any organ or individual in a Barbados society must logically be a microcosm of the environment. The individuals which make-up our political parties therefore will not be immune to the material lifestyle which now pervades our society. The conundrum for a cynical electorate though is that historically it does not matter which party is in power; the behaviour remains the same. What a vigilant Barbados society must do is to ensure that we advocate for the appropriate safe guards to be established and enforced so that corruption is discouraged, identified when it rears its ugly head and weeded-out with haste.