The month of November seems appropriate to blog about transparency in government. Thirty plus years ago the Tom Adams led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) attempt to proclaim Integrity Legislation was still born. The incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government – led by the late Prime Minister David Thompson – promised Barbadians within 100 days of being elected Integrity and Freedom of Information Legislation would have been a priority. One wonders how MP Mara Thompson feels when she reflects on the promise made by her late husband to Barbadians.
In fairness to the DLP, a lukewarm attempt was made to read the anti-Corruption Bill but both political parties have cried foul. The bill when last we checked was languishing in a sub committee of parliament. BU is not sure what is the status of the proposed Freedom of Information bill.
That both parties would conspire to mamaguy Barbadians about their intention to introduce transparency legislation is instructive. The fact we are still to mature as a nation by crafting a governance system which holds politicians accountable, contradicts the billions we have invested in education post-Independence. Introducing transparency legislation does not call for any significant demand on the treasury of Barbados. What possibly could be the reason successive governments have delayed enacting Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation?
With just over a year to go before the next general election is constitutionally due – it appears Prime Minister Stuart will stretch this out – transparency legislation is unlikely to be enacted and operationalized. Matters which pertain to the economy will obviously take take priority when the bell is rung. All the same BU will remember this DLP government as the one which lied to the people about introducing transparency legislation in Barbados. Underground chatter did alert those who keep their ears to the ground that key players on both sides of the political fence will breathe easier if the status quo remains.
Most alarming in a climate ripe for opposition politics has been the silence of the BLP Opposition on this matter. Should Barbadians conclude when Owen Arthur joined with Mia Mottley in parliament and submitted documents detailing their personal financial statements that he agreed integrity legislation is a must for Barbados? Or was it a political stunt?
On the issue of the Freedom of Information Act BU is yet to be made aware of the BLP’s position. A reasonable conclusion which Barbadians can make after forty five years of Independence is that transparency legislation is not a priority of either political party.