In recent days a principal of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAB) was severely critical of the lack of support given to the Auditor General’s department by government. In a sponsored program on the Voice of Barbados titled Talking Financing the President of ICAB did not hold back venting on government’s lack of support for the Auditor General’s office, an important watchdog in our governance system. It was refreshing to listen to an independent agency in Barbados frontally address an issue untainted by political rhetoric and association.
Barbadians have been expressing concerns about incompetence and a stench of corruption to be found in decades worth of Auditor General reports which have been largely ignored by successive governments.
We will therefore strengthen governance in all of government’s affairs, ensuring that our public affairs are managed in a manner that is transparent, participatory, equitable, responsible, responsive, inclusive, and people centred.2022 Barbados Labour P arty Manifesto
There is definitely a crisis of governance in Barbados with two consecutive general elections registering ALL 30 seats in the Lower House won by the Mia Mottley Barbados Labour Party (BLP). The result has created a dysfunction in parliament how important working committees have not been working as envisaged by the framers of the original Barbados Constitution. Some may suggest even when there was an elected Opposition working committees only served to check the process and procedure box, a different conversation.
From observation since Barbados Underground was established in 2007 there is an irrefutable conclusion to be made. In the system of government practiced, we struggle mightily with holding feet to the fire when government officials contravene rules, procedures and expected standards of performance.
The Director of Finance Ian Carrington was formerly in charge of the problematic National Insurance Scheme, out of the blue he was bumped to the more prestigious role of Director of Finance. Coming out of the COVID 19 transaction, he also earned the title ‘Most Honourable’. Ian Carrington continues to function as Director of Finance.
William Duguid having been mysteriously omitted from the original Cabinet named by Prime Minister Mottley, he was belatedly included as one of four Senior Ministers in a large Cabinet that has been attracting negative public comment. What the blogmaster will remember Duguid for is the steal houses imported from China in August 2021, see Duguid Steel Houses. Senior Minister Duguid explained at the time the decision to import 150 Chinese houses was to address speed of delivery to citizens affected by a freak storm and hurricane Elsa. His explanation came against strident public comment homegrown artisans should have been given the opportunity. Especially at a time of high unemployment. Duguid continues to function as Senior Minister.
In 2021 Prime Minister Mottley admitted she had pulled the plug on a $750,000 Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) sponsored tourism campaign. To be fair, the campaign approval process from reports preceded the then Minister of Tourism Lisa Cummins. However, what has puzzled many was the statement Minister Lisa Cummins made in 2022 that “…the Democratic Labour Party administration had signed a loan contract with the Chinese government which would see them claiming ownership of the port or airport if there was a default in repayment”. The statement was refuted by former Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy who stated that “there is nothing in the agreement about any airport or seaport being [claimed] in the case of default….I do not know where that young lady got her information. I do not know if she is being misguided . . . [but it is] absolute total rubbish”. As far as the blogmaster is aware, this matter was never been satisfactorily resolved in the public space. Cummins continues to function as a minister.
Minister Ryan Struaghn who operates in the ministry of finance promised Barbadians with the introduction of the Financial Management and Audit Act many issues perennially highlighted in the Auditor General’s reports would be dissolved. The problem of “missing documents, missing schedules, lack of information, inconsistencies in reporting and failure to provide supporting documents in too many instances, he said from an accounting point of view“, continues to be a problem. Let us include timely submissions of financial statement by several statutory and quasi state owned agencies. Straughn continues to function as de facto Minister of Finance given Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s demanding international schedule.
Barbadians have not forgotten the promise by then Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw that by now the 11 plus exam was to be discontinued. Her successor Kay McConney then became embroiled in the IDB sponsored survey fiasco that was surreptitiously rolled out to 733 students. The survey offended parents because of questions believed to have been too invasive and inappropriate, especially, without parental consent. Bradshaw continues to function in Cabinet also as Deputy Prime Minister along with McConney.
There is the ongoing confusion with the Trident ID card rollout AND similar incompetence at the Barbados Licensing Authority which involve Ministers Davidson Ishmael and the ministry of finance, Mottley and Straughn. The blogmaster could have highlighted a serious breach of performance for which feet were not held to the fire or where an honest, satisfactory explanation was not forthcoming to the public.