The news that the Barbados Rights Bill is currently being debated in parliament is good news. It is one of many bills which was in danger of being still born. Of interest to BU though is the visibility which a successful reading of the legislation will afford Dr. the Hon. Esther Byer-Suckoo, M.P who is Minister of Labour and Social Security. There is a view that St. George South, the constituency she represents, is a bellwether constituency, one which the government cannot lose if it desires to win a second term. Her fight against Dwight Sutherland, the BLP candidate is already shaping up nicely between the two with deep roots in the constituency.
It is not unfair to suggest that Minister Suckoo has not satisfied legitimate expectations about her performance in the several portfolios she has been give responsibility. Her homage to late Prime Minister David Thompson in parliament suggests she maybe disappointed with her performance as well! Many do not know what to make of her invisibility in the current national debate about the the NIS investment strategy. Besides one statement made in the recent Budget debate which was a general statement she has allowed her male colleagues Messrs Sinckler, Kellman and Sealy to defend the investment strategy of the NIS.
Of further interest has been her decision not to renew Tony Marshall’s contract to serve on the NIS Board. Let the record show that BU agrees with the decision for reasons flagged in earlier blogs. However Tony Marshall’s did issue a press release before he was rushed out of office which committed to regularizing NIS Financials up to 2009 by making the required submissions to the Auditor General by December 2011. Given the level of demand on our most important fund to bailout REDjet, Four Seasons, Almond, UWI and several others it seems a nobrainer a vigilant citizenry would want our government to make available up to date financials. It is one of the checks and balances derived from a democracy system of government where an educated public would bring an educated curiosity to bear.
Although we were reassured on March 07, 2012 by incoming Chairman Justin Robinson, that the issue of delinquent financials will be addressed soon, here is his comment on BU – “The board expects to be able to make a very positive statement to the public on that score shortly. I can say that a lot has been achieved in terms of getting the financials up to date.” this is an important matter and must be treated with dispatch given the prevailing circumstances which have placed a severe demand on the fund. Let us remember that NIS funds should be used for investment purposes to guarantee the social security needs of pensioners for years to come.
The local media in the same way it is flogging all the issues swirling with political agendas in mind so too the issue of the NIS and dated financials must be worthy. Perhaps Barbadians will have to call on Tony Best et al in the Diaspora to bring focus to this matter.