The Government And Opposition Party In Cahoots To Keep Transparency Legislation Off The Statute Book

Owen Arthur, Leader of the opposition (l) Fruendel Stuart, Prime Minister (r)

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.

0 thoughts on “The Government And Opposition Party In Cahoots To Keep Transparency Legislation Off The Statute Book

  1. David

    If integrity legislation were passed requiring MPs to declare their assets and then make annual returns of their financial circumstances, many members of parliament would resign instantly. Failing that their mothers would become instant millionairess.

    • @Caswell

      You are probably correct but the issue needs to become one where the people demand transparency from their MPs and don’t let them dictate. How do we transform the mindset?

    • St. Lucia’s Stephenson King kicked out after one term.

      Jagdeo’s party in Guyana kicked out.

      People power!

  2. And if I were their mothers I would take tthe money and run from Barbados and never come back (because I didn’t raise my son/daughter to be a blasted thief) and there is no loyalty among theives.

    And I’d get a new young boyfriend as soon as I arrive in the new place to help me lick out the theiving politician’s money.

    Aren’t you glad I ain’t yo mamma?

    • David

      If we want any significant change in Barbados it would have to be from the ground up. Those that are well off only want to protect what they have and don’t give two hoots about those that are less fortunate. We might need a “Barbados Spring” similar to the “Arab Spring”.

      Slightly of topic. In today’s Nation the Minister of Housing is ranting about the rule of law in relation to the young mother who illegally occupied a NHC house. I am not saying that she is right but where was the Minister’s righteous indignation when his party broke the law in order to get elected. They spent millions in excess of the legal limit of $10 per elector.

  3. Where was Lashley when the DEMS were putting up billboards across this country in 2007 in contravention of the rules governing elections. No servant of the people should be in a unilateral position to evict legal or illegal persons; let the people decide, it is our money and our houses.
    Anyway, if there is one message that i am sure will make the DEMS sleep uncomfortable tonight is the knowledge that 1-term governments are in existence. Beware the Ides of March. Lashley, with all due respect, today it may be that lady’s turn, but yours will surely come as night catches day. He who gives no mercy shall receive none.

  4. Integrity Legislation and an FOI act will prevent a lot of professional people from becoming politicians.

    Financially successful Lawyers,Doctors and businessmen will not want to declare their assets.

    That is why the legislation is stalled.

  5. What our generation accepted WILL NOT be acceptable to new generation. Engage them and hear what they think, we had the communication revolution and theirs will be the social revolution, it is already playing out in many parts of the world, Middle East, Britain and USA.

    They are NOT fools, we did not raise fools. Education is so powerful a thing that it cannot be controlled.

  6. Squatters all over Barbados must be thrilled that George C Brathwaite is in their corner. Why stop at one house? There are many other houses which belong to the “people”, let the Squatters move in and let the “people” decide whether they should be evicted.
    I can’t wait for the day when Squatter’s rights become official BLP policy, a platform promoting lawbreaking, now that is innovative thinking.

  7. It is clear that both the DLP and the BLP are not ready to govern in an honest and transparent manner. Barbadians will be lied to again and again for every five years when they go to the polls. Politicians have become the legal highway robbers who wait to rape and plunge the population and country of what little wealth they have.

  8. @George

    Are you saying people shold be allowed to brak the law?


    Tranparency in government is boo, hence you aint going to get transparency legislation both parties at some time will beneit from the fatted calf. The kickbacks, the houses bill for them or their wives, the overseas trips apid for by contractors etc. And by the way, do you belive that was all the wealth owen and mia have when they declared their assets? Hell no.

    I am glad that politiccians in the region are sllepy uneasy now.

  9. Before the topic is derailed by our intelligent politicos here is the scenario, again:

    The DLP likely lied to the electorate and will not* enact transparency legislation.

    The BLP Opposition, the government in waiting, has been silent on the matter and it is difficult to discern its public position.

  10. Quoting George Brathwaite ” No servant of the people should be in a unilateral position to evict legal or illegal persons”

    !. I don’t believe that the Minister intends to be unilateral. I believe that he intends to use the duly establish legal process to evict the squatter. It is his DUTY to do so.
    2. There is no such thing as an illegal person. All human beings are legal. Howver the woman is squatting. Squatting is illegal.
    3. George can I squat in your house starting today?
    4. And can I squat in your bank account as well?
    5. We need to find the father or fathers of thes children and MAKE them ay to feed, house and educate thier children.
    6. I raised my own children. I don’t want to have to pay to raise the children of some hard backed man (or men) who enjoyed his (their) sex, wiped doggie (doggies) and walked away. MAKE the bastard(s) pay.

  11. Quotind David the blog master “The DLP likely lied to the electorate and will not* enact transparency legislation…The BLP Opposition, the government in waiting, has been silent on the matter and it is difficult to discern its public position.”

    True. A lot of politicians are blasted LIARS, BOTH parties.

    It is up to us the people to be discerning and NOT believe their lies.

    They canot fcuk us up unless we believe thier lies.

  12. @random Thoughts

    Do you truly think I want to play games of semantics with you? Do you really think I was saying that a human being is an illegal entity or the action was an illegal action? You are quite smart, are you not?
    I never said the Minister should encourage the breaking of the law. I am adamant however, that under the circumstances surrounding the lady, it is wrong for a servant of the Crown who serves us in Parliament should be making this a public spectacle by way of the language of eviction. Perhaps a better way would have been to chide and/or chastise; and at the same time, offer a reasonable solution for housing the lady. She may be poor, misguided, and some may even think a burden on the state, but it is persons like myself, and Mr. Lashley that should show the caring side. You know and I know that from time to time persons have received lenient forms of punishment; they have received warnings and reprimands, but they have not always been pursued 100 % by the letter of the law. As you like the idea of squatting, and need an entry into my home, have you ever thought of the many squatters in the Belle and other places around Barbados? Do not take a holier than thou position in life, things have a way of becoming even in ways we least expect.

  13. RT

    George C Brathwaite is opposing the Minister just for the sake of opposing even when his argument is wafer thin. There is no there there.

    That’s the trouble with PHD’s sometimes it really means Piled Higher and Deeper.

  14. @Sargeant

    Thanks for the compliment. Then you nor the Minister should be worried about anything whatsoever. I hope that I am not detecting envy, and I most definitely hope you are not telling me that to see and express something different from the Minister or his supporters is something to be abhorred!

  15. Why do we play politics with every thing?

    The minister has to send a strong message that breaking of the law will not be tolerated, it does not mean however that the welfare department will not be asked to assist this lady. What if every 20 year old who has 3 children does the same?

  16. Back to transparency and integrity, I am not sure I understand why this is so focused on the declaration by Members of their assets.
    This seems to be quite a blunt instrument and also quite intrusive. I don’t believe it is one which is required (for instance) by the UK Parliament, for whatever that’s worth.
    The UK Parliament runs a register of member’s interests:
    This basically states that all Members have to declare their earnings. The question, of course, is whether a declaration of assets or a system based on earnings as in the UK is best and whether either would achieve anything. After all, if the accusation is that money is being paid off-shore in consultancy fees, for instance, I can’t imagine anyone who has done or is contemplating that would freely declare either their assets resulting from it, or their earnings.
    Having said that, I am a firm supporter of some form of declaration system but I can’t help feeling that to work, it will have to be more intrusive and active than Members would ever vote for. My best suggestion would be to give responsibility for this to the Office of the Auditor General but they would have to have a budget, staffing and a mandate to positively go out and look for wrong-doing. At the moment they are toothless, but this is because they depend on politicians responding to their own failings or the failings of their Ministries. Direct referal to the Police and Director of Public Prosecutions should be mandatory.

  17. @st. Georges Dragon

    Your preference not withstanding do you accept that the DLP promised transparency legislation? You also did not give comment to FOIA not being enacted either.

    What about the fact the BLP has been silent on this matter?

  18. @david

    Generally I take your point that the young lady has to be told that she has broken the law. Should you read my comments carefully, I in no way have chided the Minister for that except to say that his dicourse was one ejection when it should be one of chiding and then saying to the young lady that in a progressive society such as ourrs, we have since independence had many government agencies to deal with these matters. While you (the young lady) have gone about the matter in an illegal way and it cannot be condoned, this caring government through one of the agencies of the state will see to it that you are (1) relocated; and 2) that you are counselled in relation to parenting and being more responsible in your actions. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE! The Minister, because he is a political figure, encouraged persons like myself to reflect on what Barrow or Thompson would say in light of that party’s mantra of being the party for ordinary people. In the final analysis, I expect the young lady will be helped by persons who are not as quick to the draw as Lashley; and by agencies that have in the past and will in the future demonstrate the compassion that some politicians will only know on the eve of an election. I rest my case.

  19. While trying to respond to this topic I am listening to “The Latest” news on V O B. Owen Arthur tells off C B C ,based on their policy of not letting his party have free and unfettered access to the air. De same Owen Arthur that called off the series of debates we became accustomed to at election time.De very same Owen Arthur that set attack dog Barney Boy Lynch upon the folk at the Advocate News all because they did not play ball. By george,so true is the saying that “He who gives no mercy shall receive none. Now where I get dat from?

  20. @ David

    The reason that the BLP has been so silent on this matter is that they are in the same boat as the DLP, and do not want to share their assets for public review either!

    Six of one, half dozen of the next! All voting would be is to put a new set of piggies to the trough, which is nearly empty! And guess what…the farmer isn’t coming back with food anytime soon…

    Anybody here for a new party? Show of hands!

  21. @ David ….It has been made clear that this can only happen if Barbadians make it happen.I might love and support a particular party but at the end of the day,a thief is a thief whether black or white,male or female,young or old.The distinction of political affiliation becomes exempt here for in our country it seems that ” de fatted calf” and living “high on de hog” have different meanings, all de while my poor old muddah struggling to mek ends meet. Till we resolve to beat the streets,they will continue to beat the system.

  22. @ David
    Of course the DLP promised transparency legislation. This an extract from the DLP Manifesto:
    “(we will…) Immediately introduce integrity legislation requiring:
    – a declaration of assets by public officials
    – a code of conduct for Ministers
    – a new freedom of information law
    – amendments to the defamation laws…..”
    How many of these have been enacted? None.
    Interestingly, if you check the BLP manifesto you will find on page 77:
    “(We pledge to) Enact Freedom of Information legislation thereby increasing transparency and the ability to hold Government to account.”
    “Enact a new modernised Bribery & Corruption Act”
    “.. enact a modernised Integrity in Public Life Act”.
    Is the BLP pushing for this? No.

  23. I miss my two favourite females from this site for sometime now. We know that Bonny pepper somewhere submerged in vinegar(or white rum) but will resurface sometime soon just as hot,if not even more so than before. But where is Tina Roach? In de chair? Or my friend vanish in thin air? In Tina’s world selection and election mean the same thing so I hope she would be willing to accept that the same can be applied to vanish and vanquish. Hello M A M.

  24. Legislation in Barbados is laid by the government and enacted by a majority (simple or constitutional) in Parliament. The DLP is in power with a 21-9 majority. They therefore need to go pass the legislation without the support of the Opposition just as was done with the Constituency Councils bill. They have zero excuses.

    • @enuff

      Your response is typical political BS. The point of the blog is that the DLP promised something they knew probably wouldn’t be delivered and the BLP by their actions is fine with it.

  25. Again…six of one, half dozen of the next!

    And you wonder why some people are so apathetic?

    A new party with fresh, intelligent, visionary minds in it is needed, and fast!


  26. David,

    Yiu say “……and the private sector cried foul.”

    I dont recall the private sector crying foul but maybe I missed it.

  27. @David

    Why do you waste time with enuff, sorry to say he is one of the stupidest blogger on this site. I dont normally say that about people.

    Wasnt the bill presented and all the politcal granstaning was eveident and methink that it was supposed to go to a selcet committee. None of the parties wants integrity legsialtion, not lowe, not lashley, not owen, not mia and i can go on and on,

    Presently i feel pissed off with the party i vote for because i am not hearing anything from the prime minister and dont tell me he shy, if that is so he should not be in ploitics.

  28. @Hamilton

    you are correct, i missed bonny. bonny you beta comeout and let me know you are alive. u must be still at larder court. where you is?Combe back,comeback.

  29. The DLP needs to look carefully at what has happened in St.Lucia. This government must stop making promises and ACT, talking about new marina, cruise terminal, six nursery scool and new multi-million dollar hospital CANNOT help the party at this stage. Promises is what caused the voting public to kick out the BLP and most of those promises were NOT carried out, therefore, the party cannot put more promises on those not carried out. What will help the DLP at this stage is to enact the Integrety and FOI Legislation this would put the BLP on the backfoot and give the DLP a decisive lead, failing to do this may result in them follow the same fate as Stevensoin King and crew.

  30. Sometimes I think that our politicians don’t want Fredom of Informaton and Integrity legislation because our politicains believe that they are rich, and that if we the people know that they are rich than we would demand personal favours of them. But are our politicians really rich? More that one politician in my lifetime has ended up in the almshouse when he had a prolonged illness, more than one has ended up being dependent on his children’s and grandchildren’s earnings. More that one in this current crop will also end up in the almshouse (if they can manage to get a spot there) Many more would have ended up in that state if thieir final illness was not very brief, as in dropping down dead suddenly. But what if any of our politicians have a prolonged final illness? How would they manage? What if a politician has a series of strokes and lives for 10 years after becoming disabled? What if at the same time his wife gets Alzheimers and his children are overseas with spouses, jobs and small children whom they cannot leave? ? How woud they manage? Do our politicans have health insurance? Does that insurance remain valid after they retire (or are fired by the people?) What if any of our current politicans had to pay for 3 shifts per day of home nursing care, and what if the cost per week was $350 + National Insurance and what if this cost went on for say 10 years? If that happens, and it WILL happen to at least some of them, could they pay the $1 million dollars or so a final illness would cost?

    Was David THompson able to pay the cost of medical treatment for his final ilness? including the $5,000 to $10,000 USD per day that elite NOrth American hospitals cost? And if he could not pay, they who paid? The MInistry of Health (AKA us the taxpayers?) CLICO (AKA us the taxpayers?)

    Or am I not supposed to ask these questions?

  31. @ David

    Where in that Nation story was there any cry of “foul” by BPSA? Quite the opposite. It contained exhortations for the government to get moving on the matter.

    The Nation headline reads “BPSA wants redraft of anti-corruption bill” but the very first line of the Nation article reads “The Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) wants Government to move quickly to redraft the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2010 and get it back on the front burner.”

    The Nation story is a report on the statement issued by the BPSA. Is the actual statement available?

    • @Nostradamus

      You have to read between the lines. Never for one moment think that the private sector is not complicit in the murky transactions of government.

      If you are in any doubt have a read of the Auditor General’s Report and what happens at the School Meals Department for example.

      As a partner in the social partnership the Barbados Private Sector Association should have been at the forefront of calls on government to bring transparency legislation.

      Bear in mind this is where campaign financing originates.

      Who better to lobby government on this matter?

  32. David,
    You said – “As a partner in the social partnership the Barbados Private Sector Association should have been at the forefront of calls on government to bring transparency legislation. ”

    That’s exactly what the BPSA statement did. Call on Government to hurry up and “….to move quickly to redraft the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2010 and get it back on the front burner.”

    • @Nostradamus

      You are holding to a literal position and ot the point that the private sector should have been at the forefront of calling for transparency legislation.

      The point is it goes way beyond the statement made by BPSA.

  33. David,

    I absolutely agree with you that the private sector should be at the forefront of calling for transparency legislation. But so should the unions and all interest groups and citizens.

    What I took issue with was your statement “……and the private sector cried foul.”

    That headline was manufactured by the Nation. When you read the Nation article what’s quoted and reported is the opposite of the headilne. Maybe someone from the BPSA can post the statement they issued online.

  34. @ David
    No David!!
    I am being realistic and practical. You are so caught up in the it word ‘bipartisanship’ that you seem to think our parliamentary system is akin to America’s.
    Nuff ah wunna get hoodwinked by the Knight in shining armour from the East now too shame to admit his message was all fluff and no substance. Wasn’t there suppose to be some ‘new’ code of ethics to be signed by all Cabinet members too? Did that happen? Were the Bees ‘co-conspirators’ too?
    I still recall you being very critical of Mia for her early stance in the CLICO affair. That too was political in your opinion. But I got news for you..we are all POLITICAL after all Politics is not confined to political parties!!!!

    @ Seeker
    A new political party with individuals from Mars?

  35. As I have sated before, beyond the balance issues, nowadays questions related to transparency and accountability concerning the utilisation of public funds, as well as the strengthening of the fight against corruption has gone increasingly into the background. In order to restore credibility, creating a new law that serves public financial management is necessary.

    I am of the belief that, before we seek to implement the freedom of information and integrity legislation, the need to regulate public financial management by a law of new approach has emerged more and more. Prior to the creation of a new law or laws, it is necessary to review the range of public tasks, their respective role and costs in the national economy. The procedure of creating the legal regulation can be completed only in the possession of such knowledge, and before the legislative work is considered, the necessary impact analysis should be undertaken. It is also imperative to establish new institutional and information systems that are contemporary and serve to facilitate the basic functions of management, as it relates to planning, operation and implementation, and controlling of management and financial processes.

    Such a task should be undertaken by the Ministries of the Civil Service, Finance and Attorney General, in conjunction with the offices of the Auditor General, and Accountant General, with input from the permanent secretaries of key ministries, under the control of the Public Sector Reform Department.

    With the appropriate public sector management and financial regulations in place, the issue of integrity and freedom of information legislation should be immediately addressed. This would facilitate the introduction of a comprehensive management framework for the entire governmental process, which must be adhered to by both civil servants and politicians. Those who breach these regulations should suffer the consequences.

  36. @Scout

    since you would like what happen in st lucia to occur, you should not be concerned if it going down hil, that is what you would like so dont give them any advice. Advise the blp, your party. DLpers will advise the dlp.


    Off topic, but there’s no other appropriate place to post this, unless I choose to submit a treatise on the “Queen of Gimickry.” BUT WHEN, OH WHEN, will Irene Garner PUT AN END to the gimickry? The QEH is in crisis, yet she finds time to go to Grantley Adams International for photo opportunities hugging up Shaba Ranks. Her DLP plant at the Pine ….. DLP CBC TV’s REUDON EVERSLEY obliges her with a a few minutes exposure. Imagine that The Leader of the Official Opposition Hon Owen Arthur has many important messages for the people of this country, and DLP CBC gives him coverage through a 10 seconds clip, taken out of context.

    On the other hand, IRENE gets more time engaging in foolishness!

    Stephen Lashley said in Parliament that he knew for sure that Freundel would never call CBC to gives instructions about what news content is to be broadcast. THERE IS NO NEED FOR FREUNDEL TO DO THAT STEPHEN. Since early 2008, You fellows put your Pine Henchmen in place and they already know exactly what political savagery to perpetrate in terms of what George Street wants!

    Head Henchman, Reudon Eversley’s title , “Director of News” ought to be changed to Director of Political Strategy for DLP CBC TV!

  38. @ Truthman Burton | December 1, 2011 at 8:03 PM |

    Since OSA is being denied access to the DLPTV to let Bajans know what is going on why doesn’t he use the constitutionally recognised authority as Chairman of the PAC and expose the corruption with the marina redesign project? People would listen and FS would be forced to fire DB.
    Action not talk on TV is what we want from OSA!

  39. @BU.David: “What possibly could be the reason successive governments have delayed enacting Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation?

    I know this was a rhetorical question, so I won’t bother answering it.

    But I *will* point out that just about every “first world” nation has a Freedom of Information Act and/or an Access to Information Act on their books.

    – United Kingdom: Freedom of Information Act 2000 c. 36

    – United States of America: U.S. Department of State Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

    – Canada: Access to Information and Privacy Office

    …are only three (big) examples of many.

    So then the question becomes: if we truly aspire to become “first world” (beyond simple consumption), should we not be comfortable with similar transparency?

    Or do we simply talk the talk, but not walk the walk?

  40. @BU.David… When you release my post from moderation because of too many URL links, could you please fix my third? I somehow messed up the URL. It should start with “http://”, not “http://http//”…


  41. notfrom the ground up caswell but with a clean sweep of the party political system which has been uderminig proper governance for some time.i propose you join with me to rid barbados of the scourge of party political institutions which now only serve to pollute the atmosphere of good governance and serve their own interests. i suppose the lady felt she was as much entitled to a free house out of taxpayers money as was those given away ill-advisedly by the minister to people who were in rental arrears.

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