The backbencher (backbench) in the parliamentary system of governance practiced in Barbados has an important role to play. Backbenchers are available to sit on the important working committees of parliament or add to the bench strength of the government if the prime minister is dissatisfied with the performance of members of Cabinet. In an ideal situation backbenchers are free to speak unencumbered by the convention of collective ministerial responsibility.
The quality of the backbench under a Mottley tenure has raised its head again during the just concluded Estimates Debate. The lack of elected members of parliament to form an opposition has created a farcical situation of the government having to manufacturer opportunities to question and probe policies.
The author’s name withheld at the discretion of the Blogmaster – David
Man makes plans not knowing the plans God has already made or how he will bring his plans to pass. Six things have occurred recently in Barbados that may change the path of our trajectory.
With the deadline for the Trident ID being April 1st there has been an increase in anxiety in the general population.
With a background in gun violence during the past decade, suddenly, the gangs have made a truce and all the deaths by gun fire have stopped.
Then a week ago, some of the former wards of the Girl’s Industrial School won their case and the wandering laws under which they were institutionalized were deemed unconstitutional and struck off the law books.
The very next day, the country learnt that the government had passed the Barbados Identification Act two years earlier in 2021 to restrict freedoms and the ability to vote by citizens. In essence, it appears as though the wandering laws had been replaced by a plantation pass (Trident ID card) proving that plantation slavery is alive and well in Barbados.
We boast of being the best positioned on the corruption perception index (CPI) in the Caribbean AND of being a model democracy. In fact traditional indicators reported by Transparency International and other watchdog agencies support the position. We should not be lulled into thinking that all is hunky dory because some “surveys which form the CPI … based on responses from academics, country specialists and business executives”, closes the matter. The question to be answered is what would be the results of similar surveys sent to Jane and John Citizenreveal.
The blogmaster like others is of the view we should be concerned about the level of white collar crime at the citizen AND corporate level which includes private and public sectors. Unfortunately the existing structure ‘undergirding’ our culture of doing business makes it a challenging undertaking to significantly attack corruption. There are several examples to explain.
The average man in the street is aware how licenses in the public service vehicle sector have been distributed for many years. If you know a minister or high ranking official at the ministry of transportation, for a small contribution in some form, a license can be secured. Note the interaction between citizen and public official. Often times the citizen represents wealth and high social standing standing in the society. Therefore one can understand how positions taken are supported and sustained in wider society. Every where a political system exist, politicians and public officials are inclined to corrupt behaviour because greed from time immemorial is known as one of the 7 deadly sins.
The following was received from a BU family member – Blogmaster
The Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the financial year 2023-2024 was laid in Parliament last week. Started in 2019 a new format has been used for the Estimates debate in Barbados. Senior Civil servants are now required to come before the Finance Committee of Parliament to account for each programme being funded by the tax payer and answer any questions which MPs have about programmes or projects for which they have the responsibility of executing. These hearings will begin tomorrow Monday 20th of February as the Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straugh explains in this video. The Minister further gave a preview of the administration’s spending priorities in the coming fiscal year.
After contracting sharply in 2020 by approximately 14 percent due to travel restriction brought about the the Covid 19 pandemic, Barbados’ economy recorded a fairly robust recovery in 2020 of 10.5 percent, meaning, that the economy is still about 3 percent below pre-pandemic levels. In 2022 we also saw a major increase in government revenues, some of which can be attributed to higher economic activity and greater transaction taxes due to elevated consumer prices caused by imported inflation. The projection for 2023 is that the economy might grow by between 4 and 5 percent, if this holds then Barbados could return to or slightly surpass pre-pandemic levels this year.
In yesterday’s press there was a reminder of Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham’s appointment as Chairman of the Parliamentary Reform Commission (PRC). The mandate of the PRC according to Attorney General Dale Marshall at a recent press conference is to review the structure and function of parliament.
The other news of interest was the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) calling for action from government to address “issues affecting the rights of persons in police custody…protocols governing the conduct of attorney’s confidential communication with accused persons’ (Nation newspaper 13/02/2023). The BBA was reacting to the discovery of a cellphone in recording mode found in the interview room where attorneys at law interview clients.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in its 2018 Covenant of Hope states at item number 3, ‘The Barbados Labour Party stands for good and transparent governance’. Similarly under Aims and Objects item (g) of the Guidelines of the Barbados Bar Association (Chapter 363) it states- ‘To settle questions of professional conduct, discipline and etiquette’.
The good thing about having wall flies as friends and white rum bottles as magnifying glasses is that sometimes the random story pops out. Last night under the moon in the glare of a pint was one of those nights.
Barbados woke up to the appointment of an Acting Registrar by the name of SD. Congrats SD!!!
But, does the average Bajan know the intertwinnings, interwranglings and woven webs that may have an impact on their lives and cost of living?
Let the rabbit hole begin.
SD according to LinkedIn is the substantive Chief Legal Officer in the Ministry of Housing.
Recently she was the Acting Public Counsel for the Ministry of Energy and Business Development.
In much the same way successive governments have struggled to implement a ‘fit for purpose’ economic strategy- so too have successive Attorney Generals and Commissioners of Police failed to effectively stop violent crime.
It is accepted that an important strand to defining good leadership is the ‘ability to organize in an effective and efficient manner’. It has become evident after years of a business as usual approach by the hierarchy of the police and government that the two key have surrendered to serving narrow interest.
During the last decade there was an underground buzz about questionable characters like Bounty Killer courted by ministers in government. On the 2018 campaign trail there is the dramatic video of Mia Mottley in the company of questionable characters as well.
It is no secret the blogmaster fell in love with late Prime Minister David Thompson’s sweet mouth. He seemed earnest about his public spiritedness, especially addressing the introduction of integrity and freedom of information laws. He ran a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) campaign based on a promise to attack corruption in public life. He led the DLP to victory in 2008 and although he fell sick and eventually died in 2010, there was an expectation among the electorate the DLP would have and should have delivered on the promise to enact transparency legislation. A manifesto is a social contract and should mean something to HONOURABLE men and women?
There is a lot that can be said about Barbadians and the way we manage garbage disposal. The observation is true at the household and country level. In many developed countries garbage is treated as a raw material to convert to energy and in the process contribute to protecting the environment. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has become a spokesperson since being elected to office in 2018 on environmental issues in the international arena, it is therefore ironic that in the country she leads, we continue to oversee a primitive garbage collection AND waste disposal system.
A peeve of the blogmaster is to be subjected to the perennial call from public relations persons employed by the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) – Alf Padmore is the incumbent – asking Barbadians to desist from including green waste in garbage to be collected by the SSA. Nobody ever heeds the calls, including SSA workers, who are always willing to please the many households served. The increase in built-up neighbourhoods in Barbados and concomitant lifestyle guarantee that green waste will be ‘trashed’. Isn’t a manicured lawn integral to the look and feel expected of the heights and terrace?
Christmas is one birthday party where we celebrate as if we do not like the person, but attend to eat the food and meet our friends and relatives.
A birthday party normally celebrates the current age of the person. But not Jesus’. We seem too embarrassed by what He said as an adult. So, to feel a measure of control we try to keep Him in His place – as a baby in a manger. Perhaps this Christmas, we will respect Him enough to celebrate Him as He is.
THE PATH TO LIFE.
Jesus revealed how He would judge everyone at the end of the age, and he repeatedly explained what He requires. He claimed that many were on the easier broad road that leads to destruction because the narrow road to life was more difficult. He noted that people could choose the road to life, and then decide to leave and travel on the easier path – that leads to destruction. Nope, back in the manger for you.
Jesus repeatedly explained that forgiving others is critically important to where we will spend our after-life. We get on the narrow road by asking God to forgive us for the debts we owed. God promised to forgive us – but in the same manner that we later forgive others.
Since Independence many of our public institutions have had little (if any) serious structural changes to make them fit for purpose in the new global environment. The inefficiency of governmental bureaucracy has plagued our public institutions for decades and has hampered effective service delivery to the masses. These public corporations are no longer fit for purpose and drain finances through yearly subsidies and transfers accounting for most of the shortfall in financing afflicting these institutions.
This ill-advised formula can be blamed for the structural adjustment program Barbados now faces which prescribes bitter reforms to our statutory corporations. We must now as a country focus on how these services will be rationalized, paying special emphasis on the most vulnerable and needy.
There is significant road remediation currently being undertaken in Barbados, when completed it is expected traffic congestion will ease on the highways and byways of Barbados. Add activity associated with celebrating Independence Day (Barbados National Day) and Christmas Day rapidly approaching, it explains the organized chaos on the roads every hour of the day.
If national productivity is defined as gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked i.e. the use of labour inputs better than just output per employee (www.oecd.org) one does not have to be Joseph Stiglitz to conclude there is a big national problem to be solved. Former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart once described the inconvenience caused by the poor state of local roads as a ‘transitory inconvenience’. Another one of those quotes that rival former Attorney General Maurice King’s ‘no gangs’ in Barbados. Ordinary people were thought at high school an efficient transportation system is an integral component to a performing economy.
The Blogmaster does NOT support hate speech or hate crime and abhors bigotry and prejudice wherever and whenever it shows. However, there is the obligation by democratic societies to protect the right of citizens to practice freedom of speech. How societies evolve to be inclusive will have to be managed sensibly by today’s leaders. There is no room for the usual rhetoric.
Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.
— United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, May 2019
The BU Murder Tracker confirms violent; gun crime has become endemic in our tiny society. The 40th murder occurred last Friday and it is possible with about 6 weeks to go in 2022 two more murders to surpass the 2020 number of 41 maybe reached. It is a stretch to suggest Barbados will ‘challenge’ the 48 murders recorded in 2019, the highest recorded in our history.
There is a resignation by the blogmaster that the Barbados leadership at the policy making AND non governmental level lack the nous to successfully implement effective monitoring, enforcement and social approaches to revert to a norm where a murder was big news on the island. One only has to reflect on our helplessness to stop the minibus culture that has taken root since the 80s, our inability to address concerns repeatedly raised by the Auditor General, a contentment to maintain landfills instead of executing an effective waste to management program, growing traffic congestion and lawlessness on the roads, the sloth to wean the country from fossil fuel consumption AND last but not least our burgeoning court system.
November is recognised as the month those who lost lives in the First World War are honoured. Also, it is the month Barbados celebrates its independence from England on 30 November 1966. During this month the blogmaster will welcome our usually loquacious Prime Minister to take a pause from her international schedule to include what some in this forum consider important updates in her Independence Day message.
It seems to the blogmaster that in the last four years with the country lurching from from crisis to crisis and indicator on the misery index doing poorly, we have a people who need to get the mojo back. How do our leaders both political and other in civil society work to restore the confidence of a people?
A good place to begin is to make sure project 1, project 2, project 3, policy 1, policy 2, policy 3 are well researched with relevant information gathered to guarantee efficient implementation. During the process Barbadians – all groups in civil society – must be adequately consulted and treated with respect in the process.