The Grenville Phillips Column – Fighting with Yourself
The closer we get to the date of the General Election, the more silly some politicians tend to behave. Perhaps that is why it is called the silly season. Last week, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur scathingly criticised our plan to improve the national economy. I wish that he had called me first to discuss his concerns, but it seemed that his only intent was to criticise it.
Our 4 point plan comprises: lowering taxes, improving the management of government services, depoliticising the public service, and eliminating corruption. It should be clearly stated that our plan is not some theoretical untried plan, but it is proven.
It is proven that a country takes in more revenues when it reduces its tax rates. Mr Owen Arthur himself proved this when he was the Minister of Finance, which is why we recommended that he deserved a knighthood. Now he seems to be rejecting his own proven plan in order to criticise us.
A Solutions Barbados administration will do the good and responsible things that Mr Arthur did, but will reject the irresponsible things. Mr Arthur lowered tax rates and realised record amounts of revenues. Yet despite this, he irresponsibly kept borrowing money, taking Barbados’ debt from the safety of 30% of GDP, past the 40% of GDP debt that the IMF warned us not to cross, to an unsustainable and reckless 90% of GDP debt. He is an economist and should have known better.
It is proven that better managed public services results in less wastage and a higher level of customer satisfaction. Mr Arthur knew this and to his credit, he did try to reform the management of the public sector. However, he failed miserably because he rejected the ISO 9001 Quality Management System when I presented it in 2004. I am sure that he is regretting that rash and unfortunate decision now.
It is proven that a politicised civil service can ruin a country. When he led the country for 14 years, did he make any effort to stop the politicisation of the public service? The Constitution of Barbados, Section 104, states that the Service Commission can recommend to the Governor General that the pension of any public servant be reduced or suspended due to being guilty of misbehaviour for which he has been removed from office.
In a Solutions Barbados administration, proven partisan political misbehaviour like approving and non-approving applications, providing and denying services, and frustrating processes, will attract immediate dismissal and suspension of the pension.
Finally, it is proven that corruption results in severe austerity for most citizens. This is because bribes are actually added to the cost of the good or service, which means that the public overpays for these things. Let me explain how this occurs.
If a contractor agreed to do some work for say $2M, a corrupt official will tell him: “If you want this job, then you must sign a contract to do the work for $3M, and when you get paid, then you must give me $1M.” Alternatively, a corrupt contractor will say to the official: “If you give me this job, then I will bill the Government for $3M, and I will give you $1M, because I can do the job for $2M”.
Both established parties regularly accuse each other of gross corruption. Therefore, both established parties appear to be very aware of, and very concerned about the levels of corruption in Barbados. Since they have both had multiple turns at the trough, then why are the accusations still being made? In a Solutions Barbados administration, corruption will be effectively addressed.