Four Seasons Project: Public Servants Must Serve Taxpayers NOT Politicians
The Four Seasons Project – Story of Failure continues to be an example of how the public continues is short changed by public officials elected and recruited to serve us. The inability of taxpayers to solicit answers to legitimate questions regarding the quality of decisions made by successive governments is an embarrassment to the type of democracy we should be aspire. This has to be a significant contributing factor to the social dysfunction we have been reminded by the Trojan Riddims video affair – see How De Yutes Get So?. Officialdom expresses righteous indignation at a group of artistes for violating public morals of the country, however, successive governments and public servants have been unable to defend malfeasance, financial indiscipline highlighted in years of Auditor General (AG) reports. It is surprising local calypsonians hasvenever penned a title ‘politicians laughing at we’. The Paradise 88, Four Seasons, Clearwater Bay issue suggest there is opportunity for another title, ‘public servants also laughing at we’.
Some took umbrage to the call by BU that some public servants should be fired for unresolved issues highlighted in years of AG reporting- see 2020 Auditor General Report – Time to Fire Senior Public Servants. Yesterday AG Leigh Trotman was quoted in the press calling for tougher legislation to force public servants to comply with requests for information to complete audits. A decade of AG reports and not one person handed over to the justice system for processing. Not a single public servant sacked. As we prepare to convert to a Republic meant to solidify people power, it begs the question – why are senior public servants betraying the trust of the PEOPLE?
The Four Seasons matter is a classic case of the cloak of secrecy zealously guarded by politicians AND public servants. How on earth can a government incorporate Clearwater Bay Limited, appoint directors who are public servants with a fiduciary responsibility to citizens of Barbados, yet, feel comfortable guarding the interest of politicians and the money class? These public servants must be held accountable.
Although the AG is constrained to audit public sector business, it should not be forgotten the other signature on public agreements is often times a private sector player. The company Clearwater Bay Ltd had oversight over the transaction which led to the following comment by the AG:-
The treatment of the investment in Clearwater Bay needs to be further explained. The investment in this government-owned company was recorded at a value of $124 million investment in prior years. It represented an investment by Clearwater in the Four Seasons Hotel project. The value of this investment remained unchanged on the books of government for several years even though the property on which the investment was based was significantly impaired.Leigh Trotman, Auditor General
The part of the AG’s comment (highlighted) taxpayers should be concerned about is that public servants who sat on the Board of Clearwater Bay as directors have been complicit in the ‘cover-up’. Many, if not all of the directors are considered respectable citizens of Barbados and competent public servants. The meetings of Clearwater are recorded in board books and should be available to the public. Unfortunately the public does not have the avenue of Freedom of Information legislation to activate an important check and balance in our system of government, this should not be necessary if the public servants serving as directors of Clearwater protected the public’s interest they are ethically required to do.
It is never too late to right a wrong Directors.
William Decoursey Layne
Adrian Maurice King
Louis St. Elmo Wooddroff
Margaret E Sivers
Sonia Carol-Ann Foster
Nancy L Headley
Enter Clearwater to see Clearwater directors listed in the ICIJ – Offshore Leaks Database.