A Country Marking Time
BU was under the impression that the 2013-2014 Estimates debated last week in the Lower House – and which will be rubber stamped in the Upper House this week – was set to be one of the most important parliamentary debates in a post-Independence period. BU makes no apology by stating that many of the contributions from both sides can easily be described as arrant nonsense.
Of great interest is the fact the Estimates debate (Appropriations Bill) revealed that several heads do not have enough money allocated to cover the annualized expenditure needed based on historical data. In fact it is patently obvious that the government expects it will have to return to parliament, soon, to seek approval for additional monies from the Consolidated Fund in the form of a supplementary. The bottomline is that the Appropriations Bill is meant to be government’s budget, and how is a budget defined? An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
One therefore has the question what was the purpose of the five day debate in the Lower Chamber. How can one debate the Appropriations Bill if the Heads are not realistically budgeted for? Given the current state of the global economy this is not the time to be playing the donkey with public finances. The general election is done and we need our government to come clean and tell us what is the plan. There is no time for a preamble, please cut to the chase. How about an across the board slash in salaries of 15%? It is obvious we cannot continue to use the NIS monies to fund government’s day to day expenses. This is folly of an indescribable kind. The revelations by the Auditor General which both political sides love to quote but also ignore adds to the negative outlook.
Perhaps it is appropriate that the Lower House ended its week long session by the Speaker announcing that the People’s Republic of China had donated 60 laptops to all the sitting members of parliament. Barbados, a once proud little nation which the late Dipper Barrow promised to be friends of all and satellites of none. Only a poorakey parliament would embrace such mendicancy by compromising on its sovereignty.
On the subject of the NIS, BU eagerly looked for to the maiden speech of former talk show host and Chairman of the NIS Senator Tony Marshall. If ever there was an opportunity to hit it out the park…Instead he followed the same old predictable path to all those who spoke before and after him. Sir Roy raised the issue of the spectre of vote buying which seems to be on the rise in Barbados and which can lead to the hijacking of a democracy. His concern lacked sincerity when he failed to call for full transparency in how political campaigns are funded. Why focus on the tip of the problem when successive government have long been corporatized?
There is a sense that Barbados is marching time, yes the global environment is tough but we need our leaders to fire our nation’s people. We need Barbadians to understand what is the real state of the countries finances and social landscape. We need both of the political parties to stop lying to the people for the sake of creating political division. It is time for all Barbadians to unite against the challenge which confronts our small country.