A contributing factor to a high level of cynicism by citizens directed at government is the lack of transparency attached to selecting national awardees. The exercise is regarded as an opportunity for the sitting government to reward party faithful. The same with appointments to SOEs. The 2021 National Independence Awards was no different although some deserving Barbadians received recognition.
A few of the awardees caught the eye of the blogmaster.
Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic and the COVID 19 team received the Order of Freedom of Barbados award. On the face of it one would have opined well deserved, BUT a question must be asked. Minister Bostic admitted he was unaware the role his ministry played in the mysterious attempt to purchase AstraZeneca Covid 19 vaccine through a third party at an outrageous price – see Mark Maloney Scammed!. The signature of his [Bostic] Permanent Secretary Janet Phillips is affixed on a ministry letterhead authorizing the transaction – see US Court document . Janet Phillips is also listed as receiving the national award as a member of the COVID 19 team. Should the two have received such high national recognition in the circumstances? The blogmaster’s position is if we are serious about changing trajectory to build a quality society as the newest republic, these are opportunities our leadership must seize to send the right message to the citizens. It is the only way to rebuild trust between actors in civil society.
Barbadians have not received a satisfactory explanation from the government regarding the Mark Maloney Scammed matter. Why a local businessman whose substantive profession is construction, importing cement and racing cars was involved in brokering a deal with a Miami based entertainment company to procure vaccine is beyond the pale. It is unfortunate our government continues to ignore calls from citizens for a satisfactory explanation. Fortunately for Bostic he is one of several Barbados Labour Party (BLP) sitting members of parliament who have decided to quit elective politics and will not have to subject himself to defending the indefensible on the campaign trail.
Another name of interest is Juanita Thorington-Powlett. She is one of those public servants appointed to the board of directors of Clearwater Bay company – See Four Seasons Project: Public Servants Must Serve Taxpayers NOT Politicians. In light of the unfavourable comment contained in the Auditor General report about a ‘write off’ of $124 million, it begs another question. How do you award someone who has fiduciary responsibility for a company that attracted such a negative note from a key oversight agency?
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
Finally there is Peter Odle, a BLP faithful. Our national awards will not garner respect if the body of work of awardees is open to question marks – see Foreign Investor Unable to Have Case Heard Against Hotelier Peter Odle.
There are many names on the list that would have failed the smell test if proper due diligence was done. The Mark Maloney Scammed matter reminds us due diligence by government is not a prerequisite for informing quality decisions. Good luck to Walter Blackman who is on-air trying to highlight the bigger issue of a failure of our governance system and lack of integrity of players involved. Instead of being unanimously congratulated, he has been attacked daily by the politically motivated and ignorant.