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Barbados Underground

Players laughing at we 2

…sources supports the view that a number one goal for the big money ‘players’ in Barbados is to craft ways to grow overseas bank accounts.

offshore

Very recently the blogmaster overheard veteran journalist David Ellis on the airwaves imploring Barbadians to ‘up de ting’ if we are serious about wanting to hold the political directorate accountable. He asked, [paraphrased] why are we satisfied with switching from BLP to DLP every other election cycle with the same problems brought forward unsolved and getting worse.

The truth, there is a humdrum and predictability to public debate in Barbados. The result is that the establishment will never be challenged to change the way it operates. What has become clear is that people power in Barbados is virtually non existent. We bicker and complain but lack the know-how to ‘package’ our discontent to that of people power.

In recent weeks the Savvy on the Bay affair has raised more questions than answers with other concerns adding to the mix. It is clear the public is being fed stories from different sides of the matter and to date Allan Kinch seems to be winning in the court of public opinion. There was a deal and now there is no deal – why has the Planning and Development Department (PDD) ignored Kinch’s application? Why has Kinch proceeded to alter the property without PDD approval? The blogmaster is not so naive to believe Kinch of Savvy on the Bay comes to the table with clean hands. He is a player.

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‘Players’ laughing at we

We have a few rich people who are able to facilitate large local transactions and receive offset offshore requires attention from local authorities.

In recent days the blogmaster has had the irresistible urge to ‘mumble’ in words a concern. It is a concern many Barbadians are unaware. It centres around how ‘players’ in Barbados operate to influence decision making by decision makers.

In BU’s early years the late Denis Lowe featured in many blogs when evidence surfaced he was an errand boy for Peter Allard of Graeme Hall Sanctuary fame. The plan was for Allard to fund his campaign, in return he would have no choice but to be compliant. Too many are ignorant to the fact it isn’t elected politicians who call the shots, it is the faceless others that contribute to finance campaigns and hold keys to important gateways.

It is a puzzlement why the previous government – then Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler – redirected funds from the Industrial Credit Fund to ensure Mark Maloney was paid for an obviously overpriced Grotto project. It was a project that attracted unfavourable comment in the Auditor General’s 2016 Special Audit report with predictably no repercussions. This was at a time government owed too many small black business persons. To be compliant the government had to ignore a protrusion at the entrance of Coverley Gardens, a prefab construction next to the flour mill on the renamed Mighty Gryner among two that come to mind.

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Africa under attack

Too many African countries under performing. Professor Lumumba exposes the Trojan horses operating in Africa.

PLO LUMUMBA: CONFLICTS IN AFRICA IS A MULTI-BILLIONAIRE BUSINESS Credit Bentley

The blogmaster found the presentation posted by Professor Lumumba enlightening. The similarities between the struggles of many African countries and the Caribbean are striking.

A Media and Political Directorate Gripped by Silence

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 Citizen reveal.

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. 

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Donville Inniss Incarceration Exposes a Culture of Corruption

The dent to reputation suffered suffered by Barbados when former Minister Donville Inniss was jailed in the USA for money laundering should make for interesting commentary. To be expected a gullible population continues to focus on the obvious. Why was a former minister charged over a measly USD36,000.00?

What Barbadians should be more concerned about is the incarceration of Inniss should bring into focus how business gets done in Barbados. We have so many examples whether Cahill under the former administration or the Radical vaccine scam under the current administration to finger only two.

White collar corruption and malfeasance is always hard to ringfence in any country because the gatekeepers of justice are the powerful in society. Unfortunately in island states like Barbados, it becomes more difficult because of the incestuous nature of the beast resulting in incompetent watchdog agencies as a result of nepotism.

The following insightful comment was posted by Northern Observer. We need to lift our game as citizens in a democracy showing fissures.

@David I cannot comment on AT (Alex Tasker), I don’t know the person. What can be observed is the senior management at ICBL did not appreciate the finer points of what they were doing. What none of know is the inner workings.

Did BF&M have other issues with IRS/DOJ?

What was the relationship between the CEO-CFO at BF&M, and that CFO/others and ICBL personnel.

I mean, even after discovery, it did not have to be disclosed. Who actually found it? It was two relatively small amounts…somebody could have created paperwork after the fact. Yet, somebody also decided that wasn’t going to happen.

Imagine somebody at BF&M was upset they didn’t get the ICBL CEO job. Let’s face it, II (Ingrid Innes) wasn’t particularly well qualified, and an outsider at BF&M. The decision to disclose may have been to sink her. In the myopic Bajan view it was to get DI (Donville Inniss). But the intent may have been to get II fired, and it ends there. Maybe they were after AT. Sometimes when you don’t appreciate the ‘big picture’ a decision is made, which has ramifications one didn’t foresee.

Northern Observer

Red Bag Politics

Less than one month after the Phillip J. Pierre’s St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) won the government in St. Lucia from Allen Chastanet’s United Workers Party (UWP) the Deputy Governor General read the following in the Throne Speech:-

My Government in recognition of the widespread, unprecedented reports of alleged corruption during the term of the last administration will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption and Government. This appointment is expected to be completed soon. My Government will strengthen the integrity commission to return our country to a system that respects our democratic norms and the rights of the people. My Government will reactivate the bipartisan parliamentary committee to review Justice Suzie d’Auvergne Constitution report and the parliamentary recommendations, with a view to adopting final recommendations for implementation.

Extract from Throne Speech (St. Lucia)

The appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate charges of corruption by the former Chastanet government delivered on a key campaign promise by the SLP. In less than one month the SLP has started the ball rolling in a tangibly and visible manner. Time will tell if the special prosecutor will be able to discover evidence of the corruption hinted on the campaign platform.

The decision taken by the SLP government in St. Lucia contrast starkly to what occurred in Barbados post 2018 general elections. The Mia Mottley led government after three years in office has made no tangible or visible attempt to deliver on a similar promise made on 2018 general election campaign to prosecute corruption. Thousands of Barbadians were ‘mamaguyed’ into a belief that there was a mountain of evidence safely stored in the RED BAG by then Opposition Leader Mia Mottley. After three years it is safe to say Barbadians were given a ‘big rock’, the RED BAG was a prop in a well designed melodrama called – Geh Muh de Vote and Watch Muh.

Some will suggest former minister Donville Inniss suffered the ignominy of being the first minister in a Barbados Cabinet to be incarcerated, therefore the incumbent government must receive some credit? The irony is that Inniss was incarcerated in the USA because of a transaction that originated in Barbados. It was reported in the case notes local authorities cooperated with US law agencies, however, to date no charge has been made against Inniss by local authorities. The electorate geh dem de vote and watching dem like a hawk with 2023 quickly approaching.

All manner of reasons have been shared with the public by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Attorney General Dale Marshall why they have been unable to deliver on expansive promises about corruption made in 2018. One does not have to do scientific polling to deduce that the 30-0 mandate the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) received was because a large segment of the electorate bought into the promise that corrupt behaviour would have been exposed and actors held accountable by this government. Three years later it is fair to surmise we are having more of the same.

The government will proffer that it has had to grapple with an economy in unprecedented decline, followed by the pandemic made worse by ash fall from La Soufriere- the result of which the economy loss 2 million dollars in economic activity. A reasonable question must be asked and answered – why has St. Lucia been able to initiate a formal process to investigate corruption suspected of the Chastanet government in less than one month?

Donville Inniss’ File Missing from Mottley’s Red Bag

BREAKING: Alex Tasker ordered extradited https://www.nationnews.com/2021/09/08/breaking-alex-tasker-ordered-extradited/

 


It is also a different version of how the story got out than what our own Attorney-General said last Thursday after the verdict was handed down. He said: “It is significant that the conviction came about because individuals who had knowledge of the events were prepared to speak out and to give evidence about wrongdoing.” The AG added: “This is something that is required at all levels in Barbados’ society whether dealing with the scourge of corruption or the scourge of gun violence.

Donville Inniss Case Points to Endemic Corruption in Barbados

The traditional media is off and running with the big headlines about the sentence federal District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto is scheduled to deliver today in New York in the Donville Inniss matter. It is the story traditional media will have a healthy appetite for because of flagging circulation.

Mia’s Red Bag has come up empty so far

 

The concern of the blogmaster confirmed in the deliberations during the Donville Inniss trial is the strong inference there is pervasive corrupt behaviour in the way business is conducted by some PUBLIC and PRIVATE officials in Barbados. Successive governments over the years have paid lip service to unearthing and punishing corruption even in the face of obvious indications of wrong doing. The Mia Mottley government is better placed than her predecessors given the unprecedented mandate handed to her government to do something about it. It is no secret however to those in the know that Donville and Mia are bosom buddies.

The following is a blog repost from January 20, 2020 which captures key concerns by the blogmaster, the late journalist Patrick Hoyos and the BU family.


Donville Inniss Case Points to Endemic Corruption in Barbados

The blogmaster found the Patrick Hoyos article to be – without prolix – a good summary of the Donville Inniss matter. Especially as it pertains to the inference other payments were made to Donville Inniss and that bribery by elected officials was commonplace in Barbados. Although we have the Attorney General et al saying that local laws would not have permitted prosecution of Inniss this position was challenged during the Inniss trial.

The blogmaster’s wish is that we have a dispassionate debate in Barbados and a call to action by our officials regarding the honest prosecution of public officials. It is ironic former Speaker of the House MICHAEL CARRINGTON and Adriel Brathwaite, former Attorney General showed support for Inniss by attending the trial in New York. CARRINGTON’s legacy will be that a High Court judge had to issue a court order for him to release monies due his client 70+ John Griffiths, the blogmaster will remember Brathwiate for promising to report to parliament the status of Mia Mottley’s qualification (LEC) to practice before the Courts of Barbados. He never did.

The time has come to arrest the moral and ethical rot- add criminal. We have started to experience the negative fallout of pushing our heads in the sand.

Time for the authorities to do a job.

Time for the Prime Minister, Attorney General and stakeholders to lead the charge.

Importantly, time for John Citizens to hold officials accountable.

Read full text of BU blog https://barbadosunderground.net/2020/01/24/donville-inniss-case-points-to-endemic-corruption-in-barbados/

Preventing Corruption in Barbados

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grenville-phillips

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

he recently defeated Integrity in Public Life Bill (Integrity Bill) will not trouble the scores. Despite the fake Oscar-contention outrage of our senators, if the bill had passed, it would simply have made corruption legal in Barbados. That is how terrible the bill was designed.

At first, the bill specified that a person could not be investigated for corruption after they had retired from public life for 2 years. So, a person who received a bribe in January 2018 and then retired, cannot be investigated after February 2020.

A sloppy bribe may be uncovered by a financial audit, but the 2018 accounts are audited in 2019. The earliest the Auditor General will look at the 2019 audited accounts is in 2020, after the fellow has retired. How convenient. Perhaps the time has come to ask our politicians and senators, why they would champion such a farce.

After Solutions Barbados explained the farce, the final Bill increased the time where no investigations can happen, to 5 years. That is also useless in Barbados, since the Auditor General provides his annual report of many issues that are more than five years old. A short limit on investigating corruption is a glaring loophole for guilty persons.

The Integrity Bill will likely cost taxpayers $5M each year, to recover less than $50,000. It is a farce. It conveniently ignores the estimated $100M of corrupting no-bid contracts each year. The Integrity Bill is wasteful, ineffective, and practically useless for Barbados. Consider the following scenario.

CORRUPTION 101.

A company bribes a person to get a no-bid contract. The company charges the Government five times the normal value of the work, which Barbadians must pay in higher taxes (that is why most Barbadians live hand-to-mouth). The bribe may be paid in any of the following ways.

1. Paying his election advertising expenses.

2. Building a house, and transferring ownership five years after he retires.

3. Purchasing land, and transferring ownership five years after he retires.

4. Purchasing financial instruments that mature five years after he retires.

5. Funding community projects in his constituency.

6. Paying money to his friends.

7. Selling him property (eg. car, house, etc) at a significant discount.

8. Paying for the renovation of his house.

9. Paying his children’s educational costs.

10. Hiring consultants and employees whom he recommends.

11. Hiring him as a consultant five years after he retires.

12. Procuring and managing a business (eg restaurant or store), and transferring ownership to his family five years after he retires.

There are hundreds of similar ways of paying and receiving bribes. Our useless Integrity Bill is conveniently designed to avoid all of them. Worse, the Integrity bill does not address any of the common methods of political corruption.

POLITICAL CORRUPTION.

Forcing the public to make payments to consultants that only benefit one political party, is political corruption. The payments are normally made to political supporters, who may be disguised as: public relations, media, information technology, security, or financial advisors.

Solutions Barbados recommended an effective anti-corruption policy. It is based on the proven method of rewarding whistle-blowers, as an incentive to blow the whistle. We planned to reward them with the total value of the bribe. We also planned to fine both the bribe givers and the bribe takers, to pay for the policy.

The whistle-blowers already know about the corrupt activities. They include: tellers who did the bank transactions, contractors who renovated the houses, lawyers who drafted the contracts, accountants who did the audits, and vendors who sold the properties. Employees of the department that gave the no-bid contract, and the company that paid the bribe, also know.

The Government is planning to pass a whistle-blower protection bill, but there is no reward incentive. Instead, the exposed whistle-blower gets to keep working in the now toxic work environment, until it takes its foreseen emotional health toll. What a farce of an incentive.

It is time for our politicians and senators to stop giving us false hopes. If they do not plan to reward whistle-blowers, and abolish corrupting no-bid contracts, then at least be honest with Barbadians. Passing an ineffective Integrity Bill is not in the public’s best interest. However, it is good political advice, that benefits only one political party.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

How Dirty is CARICOM?

Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green

CARICOM is the oldest surviving integration movement in the developing world. It is a grouping of twenty countries: fifteen Member States and five Associate Members.

CARICOM is owned by the member countries and run by the member countries. So, if you have among those countries leaders who have elements of evil in their leadership, you will have the same aspect of evil in CARICOM.

Heads of Government have established a Quasi-Cabinet arrangement further to advance specific issues/areas within the Community. The decision to establish and develop the Quasi-Cabinet was taken at their Seventh Special Meeting (October 1999, Trinidad and Tobago), convened to deliberate on a Vision for the future of the Region. Within the Quasi-Cabinet, individual Heads of Government have responsibility for critical areas of Community Development.

All the leaders are aware of how each other attain the leadership of their countries. None of them is stupid; they know if and how vote rigging and cheating takes place, they have read about it. The problem with that is that if they sit back and do nothing about crooked elections, it must mean they condone such behaviour and are therefore more likely to do the same themselves. Making CARICOM little more than a breeding ground and nest of criminals.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has a leadership which was allegedly installed on the policy of election fraud. All kinds of anomalies took place in SVG at the last election. People were voting in more than one constituency, dead people voting, planeloads of diasporan Vincentians who have not lived in SVG for years, sometimes decades, brought in on free air junkets to vote ULP. Extra ballots were said to have been stuffed on ballot boxes. Ballot boxes specially designed to allow fraud. When caught out instead of welcoming an enquiry into what happened to clear their name, they employed the Caribbean’s most expensive legal teams to fight in the courts to frustrate the claims in every way possible. Multi millions of taxpayer dollars were paid to these legal teams of lawyers and barristers. Election petitions which are supposed to ensure a quick and rapid hearing for such petitions were so cleverly manoeuvred that instead of being heard and adjudicated upon in months, five years later through the frustration of the system they are still languishing in the system and about to be overtaken by new elections. The further problem with that is that every CARICOM leader knows that, they do nothing so are deemed to condone such behaviour and must be considering adopting the same response to stay in power forever themselves.

Before each general election in Saint Vincent, thousands if not millions of dollars in envelopes are given out to villagers. Building materials are given away to villagers in what appears to be the buying of votes. The materials are not given away at any other time except in an election year running right up to midnight before polling day. Before the past election, there was $20 million-plus given away. This procedure is so blatant that Gonsalves has even announced the giveaway has started for next polls in a news release. This time around Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has announced the Ministry of Housing is in the process of distributing Building Materials to residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Speaking on NBC Radio, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the Government purchased 4.5 million dollars’ worth of building materials to be distributed. He said an assessment is being done by Officials from the Ministry of Housing to ensure there is a fair distribution of the materials.
Dr Gonsalves said there would be cases where additional assistance for some individuals will be considered.
https://news784.com/local-news/ministry-of-housing-distributing-building-materials-to-residents-of-svg/

The giveaway does not usually stop at the purchased amount; there are untold millions of dollars’ worth of materials in government yards. Last time they gave away that as well. When they had finished, they had given away every piece of building material, perhaps 50 to a 100 million dollars. Then conveniently a fire took place at the government storage yard offices which destroyed the distribution records. People had unneeded building materials stored in their gardens, sheds, and under their houses. Cement went hard and was unusable. Some who will be receiving again this time either sold what they got last time or still have the unused last bribery donation stored and deteriorating.

After reading this if CARICOM does nothing, it means they condone election skulduggery.

Ralph Gonsalves takes the CARICOM Chair soon; the other leaders should object, and Vincentians should sign an international petition against him being chair to CARICOM.

Not that it will do any good because the rules are designed for country leaders to be appointed on a revolving basis, little to do with ability or worthiness. CARICOM is being used as a personal private club for Caribbean leaders; they enjoy every minute of it so that none will rock the boat.

Peter Binose wrote about SVG’s election fraud several times, starting in 2014:

Saint Vincent’s electoral law is very clear on the matter of bribery:

I have written about it many times:

Ralph Gonsalves has read these articles many times and has never uttered a word.
In fact, he pays people to read everything that I write.

CARICOM and its leaders have read these articles many times and have done nothing.

CARICOM may well be described as the dirtiest party in these matters because there are so many learned people involved who sit on their hands and say nothing.

Mass Corruption in Saint Vincent

Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green

Firstly, what is corruption? Often, we use expressions or terms without having a clear understanding of their meaning or implications. In most dictionaries, corruption is described as dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.

Is corruption merely the reflection of a lack of integrity? I suppose it can be described as that, but it can also be described as a breach of Christian values, theft of decency and society led by corrupt officials using corrupt means to stay in power.

So where does election corruption come into the equation? In most countries, democratic elections have been assumed to play a crucial role in curbing corruption among public officials. Normally voters, due to their general distaste for corruption, are expected to sanction politicians who misuse public office for private gains. But not in Saint Vincent where a large proportion of the voters are more than willing to accept bribes to vote in favour of the Unity Labour Party [ULP].

Integrity is another term we often use but without realizing its implications. For instance, when the 2001 elections took place in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr Vincent Beach MP, said if we do not have integrity legislation within a hundred days, I will be gone. The ULP had championed integrity legislation before it came to office in 2001, saying while in opposition that it had a draft law. But once in power, it turned out that it was the last thing they wanted because it tied their hands.

Integrity is defined as: ‘honest’, ‘uprightness’, ‘soundness’, ‘completeness’, ‘wholeness’, ‘incorruptible’. Evangelist Billy Graham, said, ‘When we speak of integrity as a moral value, it means that a person is the same on the outside as he is inside. There is no discrepancy between what he says and what he acts, between his talk and his walk.’
But this moral model cannot be found in the current government of SVG.

February 24, 2009, in a historic moment in Parliament, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves seconded a motion raised by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, bringing the motion on Integrity Legislation to the floor. That draft included the establishment of a Commission to oversee the execution of the legislation. It was recommended that this Commission include the Director of Audit and four other persons to be appointed by the Governor-General from among persons who could include retired judges, persons who have served as Director of Finance, Comptroller of Inland Revenue or in the position of Director of Audit.

Parliamentarians will declare their assets, liabilities, and income from every source to this Commission within three months of their election. They will then make a fresh submission by December 31 every year, while they serve in parliament.Eustace said that Commission must also have the power to report any illegal or suspicious findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

If a person fails to make the mandatory declaration, they should be reported to the parliamentary leaders, namely the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Persons on the staff of the Commission are also going to be held to the strictest of confidence, and if they leak any of the information declared to the Commission, they can be fined or jailed for any unauthorized breach.

Dr Gonsalves obviously did not like the legislation at all, he raised questions about the demands of such legislation, saying that it could create difficulty in attracting persons to public office, who may find it difficult to submit themselves to that.

By 2016, the integrity legislation was still not gazetted and made law; it appeared to be abandoned. Gonsalves made a statement “The question is to enlarge those things and to go particularly for the matter of declaring assets and liabilities. And the difficulties with it, are you going to do it for ministers and not doing it for permanent secretaries?” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs. He said the difficulties that arise with the various integrity legislation drafts include senior public servants wanting exemption because they must submit not only their returns but also that of their spouse and children who live with them.

“They say, ‘Listen, I am not going to take on this burden. I am a permanent secretary, and my husband is a businessman. I have to do that?’’’ Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said there is already a difficulty in getting people to serve as members of boards of directors of state companies. But we the Vincentian people know there is no difficulty in awarding such jobs to the boys, who are paid such huge fees they would have no cause to turn down such a position when offered. Legislation or no legislation they will take the jobs and take their salaries to the bank in wheelbarrows.

So, no integrity legislation, and what appears to be a licence for a free for all within the government departments to steal as much as possible as quickly as possible, just like before.

On Thursday, June 28th 2018, Gonsalves speaking in parliament said he has been in discussion both in CARICOM and OECS and would like countries to fashion integrity legislation more particular across the OECS where there are more significant similarities, and where the integration is tighter.

In July 2018 Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, leader of the ULP Government of St Vincent, told CARICOM that he wants to tackle integrity in public life from a CARICOM standpoint. “I would like us to have a model piece of legislation regionally to addresses matters in relation to quote and quote Integrity legislation”.

Most who have followed the situation in SVG will say Gonsalves spoke untruthfully when he made such statements; that he has no intention of introducing into law any integrity legislation. He dares to blame the NDP when he told parliament that the opposition is not serious on the issue and noted that an integrity commission was included in a proposed new constitution which they rejected. “The new constitution was far superior to what we have now, and there were no downsides in term of democracy and transparency. However, an opportunistic political position was taken by the opposition”.

So Gonsalves claims that because the NDP and most Vincentians rejected the new constitution, that is the reason we have no integrity legislation today.
Yet when you look at the elections, it is allegedly the ULP that is giving away before each election twenty million dollars plus in building materials in return for the recipients to vote ULP.

Corruption is a complex phenomenon, often deeply rooted in the cultural and political practices of societies. It has become so deep-rooted in Saint Vincent that it will take international help to break the cycle.

Although the precise costs of corruption are hard to quantify and vary significantly from country to country, research suggests that corruption is bad for economic and social development (e.g., Rothstein 2011). Corruption has been shown to have a detrimental effect on tax revenues (Pani 2010), investments and economic growth (Mauro 1995, Del Monte & Papagni 2001), equality and poverty (Chong & Calderon 2000, Gupta et al. 2002, You & Khagram 2005, Uslaner 2008), and overall subjective well-being and life satisfaction (Tay et al. 2014). Moreover, corruption is said to erode political trust and undermine political legitimacy in a variety of institutional settings (Della Porta 2000, Seligson 2002, Andersen & Tverdova 2003, Chang & Chu 2006).

In other words, the backwardness of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines can be directly attributed to the corruption brought not just to the ballot box but many different branches of the ULP government.

Remember all left-wing governments in the Americas and the Caribbean need to create a peasant class to keep them in power. Poor ignorant people who gladly accept bribery as the norm. But they often go hungry, no work, massive crime, murders, children with drug habits. The result will ultimately be a situation, just like Venezuela.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines already under the ULP have more people than ever before receiving money from the poor fund. The ULP is proud of that and brags that because there are more being paid from the poor fund, they must be doing a better job. But the truth is more peasants have been created under this government.

Time for a change, time for integrity and decency, time for the NDP.

Quagmire of Incestuous Behaviour by Public Officials

The following was posted to social media by Attorney at Law Douglas Trotman and tagged to Barbados Underground.

David, Blogmaster


It is with mixed feelings that I pen this missive… does relationship bias equate to corruption?

Gollop, Stuart (former AG and PM), P. Cheltenham, and Worrell (judge) are indeed not in a partnership.

They are directors of a company “Harford Holdings” and each joint signatories to a mortgage held by that company.

As it relates to their professional practice over the years, I have knowledge of being involved in a case… involving the Indians in 2006- the Cricket World Cup Kensington redevelopment project… where Hal Gollop and son, along with AG Dale Marshall appeared before Justice Worrell in a hearing related to the 14 Indian workers.

At that time I was unaware of the “relationships” which existed.

There are other matters… the most critical for me is the Sam Lords Castle matter…

Here Mr. Gollop represented a company that made an offer to purchase the assets of Grant Hotels Inc.(the company which held the lands comprising 58.1 acres- including the castle structure; and Harrismith (26 acres)).

That offer never progressed beyond the offer letter stage but was referred to in the substantive case. Justice Worrell was the judge in this case.

I am conducting an investigation into the relationship between Justice Worrell and Mr. Gollop…and have sought international help.

That Stuart was both the AG, then the PM is notable. Meetings with him were unfruitful. I can only now surmise why.

Pat Cheltenham was the attorney who acted for the NIS which brought an action against GHI that triggered it’s Insolvency process…thus forcing the subsequent closure.

On discovering the above, and being warned by friends about possible danger to life and limb for “exposing” this type of information I have been very cautious to date.

I am throwing caution to the wind and I put my life and lime squarely in the hands of my ancestors and destiny.

The question is whether “relationship bias” affects the outcome of cases before the law courts in Barbados.

If so, whether the resulting delay which affects clients and attorneys in financial ways, possibly causing them to lose their business.. is actionable against the parties creating the bias.

This is but an introduction to some of the work that I am doing and the work that needs to be done across the board if we are to right size our judicial system.

A relationship analysis with a look at cases is a start. This too may reveal reasons for the backlog of cases in the system.

It is clear to me that the government will not pursue an investigation such as this and so this comment on Facebook is meant to draw feedback from you the public.

Consider the scenario presented… ask yourself if you were the client or attorney…caught in a relationship web, totally unaware…but wondering how you could possibly have “lost” that case… only to find out afterwards that a situation like what exists may have contributed… for sure..one can only know if there is a probe.

Judges and politicians are not beyond investigation or reproach… they seem to think so.

“…………………..
I have also had a look at corruption…

The other issue lies in blatant corruption as it relates to the procurement of works, goods and services. The government bought procurement software in 2013.

That software… the data contained within needs to be audited from then up to present.

That would capture a 5 year period for the DLP led government and an 20 month period for the current BLP led government.

I am looking forward to chatting with the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to see if such an investigation falls within his remit.

Here is the link to Facebook:

Jumbling Guns, Drugs, and Corruption.

grenville-phillips

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II,

There are many pieces to our drugs, guns and corruption puzzle.  Reviewing various documentaries about the drugs trade in the wider Caribbean region, can show us what the finished puzzle may look like, and therefore, why it is not being solved.

Interviewed gang leaders admitted to bribing: customs officials, police, judges, and politicians.  Bribes were paid to guarantee the uninterrupted flow of guns and drugs, and to frustrate any investigation if someone was caught.

Gang leaders normally employed assassins to kill those who did not cooperate.  They also tended to care for the poor in their communities.  Sometimes, the US pressured the Governments to arrest gang leaders.  If those next in line were also arrested or killed, the leadership void was sometimes filled by the assassins.  When assassins became gang leaders, no one was safe.

How close to the edge are we in Barbados?  With the pieces kept conveniently jumbled, the true picture has always remained speculative.  We now have 30 years of jumbled evidence to assemble.

When the gangs were fighting for turf in Barbados during the 1987-1994 DLP administration, former Prime Minister Sandiford declared that there were no gangs in Barbados.  The following BLP administration (1994-2008) acknowledged that there were gangs, but noted that there were simply killing each other.

After some gruesome murders, legislation for illegal guns was passed.  We were told that convicted persons would receive 25-year sentences for possession of an illegal gun or bullet.  Soon after that announcement, a person was convicted of a gun offence, and received a comparable ‘slap-on-the-wrist’.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Arthur revealed that he left an FBI report, on his desk, for the new Prime Minister.  Former Prime Minister Stuart claimed that he never saw it, on his desk.

In 2008, Barbados reported to the OAS that we had 150 gangs, with 4,000 members.  For comparison, in 2010 the Jamaican police reported they had 268 gangs with 3,900 members.  That same year, the Bajan Reporter published a shocking report of how gangs recruited our school children.

In 2017, Small Arms Survey found that 1,675 guns were used by the Barbados military, and 2,000 by the police.  The number of unlawfully held guns was estimated at 7,000.

In 2017, the DLP reported that gang leaders were operating without fear of prosecution in Barbados.  They noted that kidnappings, executions, drug trafficking, and legitimate businesses were part of their normal activities.  They further noted that prominent members of Barbados society were linked to the importation of illegal guns.

In 2017, the DLP proposed anti-gang legislation, with gang members being liable for 20 years imprisonment, and gang leaders, 25 years.  In 2018, the new BLP administration decided not to pursue anti-gang legislation, noting that it will only be used as a last resort.

In 2019, former BLP politician Atherley, revealed in Parliament, that politicians had connections to gang leaders.

In 2020, the BLP passed an Integrity in Public Life bill, that contained glaring loopholes to protect persons who received bribes.  For example, section 65.4 states: “An inquiry or investigation shall not be commenced after 2 years from the date on which the person involved ceased to be a public official.”

The increasing number of unrestrained shootings in Barbados, suggests that whatever restraining influence ‘prominent members of Barbados society’ had, has faded.  If we are on a similar trend as the wider Caribbean, then bribes have already been paid, and the uncontrollable sicarios or assassins have taken control of some gangs.

For the past 20 years, after every shooting that the media gave prominence, we got the same tough political talk, and no meaningful action.  We have now come to a very familiar junction – to jumble or not to jumble.

The BLP recently announced that we are paying a UK law firm to go on a fishing expedition – to look for corruption in Barbados.  This suggests that we have chosen to jumble.

We can easily ask the FBI for a copy of their 2008 report – at no cost.  We can also ask them for an updated version.  Perhaps it is time to ask why we have not done this simple thing for the past 12 years.

We have foolishly courted disaster for the past 30 years, and they do not tolerate break-ups.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Donville Inniss Case Points to Endemic Corruption in Barbados

The blogmaster found the Patrick Hoyos article to be – without prolix – a good summary of the Donville Inniss matter. Especially as it pertains to the inference other payments were made to Donville Inniss and that bribery by elected officials was commonplace in Barbados. Although we have the Attorney General et al saying that local laws would not have permitted prosecution of Inniss this position was challenged during the Inniss trial.

The blogmaster’s wish is that we have a dispassionate debate in Barbados and a call to action by our officials regarding the honest prosecution of public officials. It is ironic former Speaker of the House MICHAEL CARRINGTON and Adriel Brathwaite, former Attorney General showed support for Inniss by attending the trial in New York. CARRINGTON’s legacy will be that a High Court judge had to issue a court order for him to release monies due his client 70+ John Griffiths, the blogmaster will remember Brathwiate for promising to report to parliament the status of Mia Mottley’s qualification (LEC) to practice before the Courts of Barbados. He never did.

The time has come to arrest the moral and ethical rot- add criminal. We have started to experience the negative fallout of pushing our heads in the sand.

Time for the authorities to do a job.

Time for the Prime Minister, Attorney General and stakeholders to lead the charge.

Importantly, time for John Citizens to hold officials accountable.

David, Blogmaster

PS. Blame the blogmaster for paragraphs highlighted blue.


patrick hoyos

Patrick Hoyos, journalist and publisher specialising in business

Four little words that spell prison

It was a four-word text that probably took only a few seconds to write and send, but the events it set in motion led to a guilty verdict on all three counts for former Minister of Industry and Commerce, Donville Inniss.

A United States jury last Thursday found Inniss guilty of two counts of money laundering stemming from two money transfers to the bank accounts of a dental office in New York, and one count of conspiracy to launder money. Prosecutors said Inniss arranged for the money to be transferred through the bank accounts to conceal the bribes. According to the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Ricco, a lawyer for Inniss, didn’t dispute the money transfers, but argued the government’s evidence didn’t support its view that there had been bribes in 2015 and 2016.

According to the Nation newspaper’s Maria Bradshaw, US Prosecutor David Gopstein, in his summation to the jury, said that Inniss was not performing consulting services for Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited, but was taking bribes and laundering money.

The prosecutor said that up to 2014, ICBL held 50 per cent of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) insurance contract, while Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance had 30 per cent and Trident Insurance 20 per cent.

When the time came for renewal in 2015, the BIDC board of directors recommended that the contract remain the same way, but on June 30, 2015, Alex Tasker, who was the senior vicepresident of ICBL, sent Inniss a text message saying: “We have to talk”.

This four-word message, the prosecutor told the jury, led to the bribery, which was arranged in a week and a half. The day after that text message, Inniss sent a letter to Sonja Trotman, chief executive officer of BIDC, inquiring about the insurance renewal.
As a result, ICBL increased its share to 70 per cent share, leaving CGI with 30 per cent, and Trident Insurance with zero.

The Wall Street Journal said that ICBL, which allegedly paid the bribes, “received a publicised letter in 2018 from the US Justice Department saying it was closing a probe into whether the company had violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

That letter said, in part, that “the Department’s investigation found that ICBL, through its employees and agents, paid approximately $36 000 in bribes to a Barbadian government official in exchange for insurance contracts resulting in approximately $686 827.50 in total premiums for the contracts and approximately $93 940.19 in net profits”. The WSJ’s Dylan Tokar wrote in Friday’s edition that “ICBL had voluntarily disclosed the bribes, enhanced its compliance program and fired the individuals involved in the misconduct, the Justice Department said.”

He added that the Justice Department had sent the letter to ICBL under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s Corporate Enforcement Policy which, he said, “offers leniency to companies that disclose potential foreign bribery violations to prosecutors”. This means that Donville, Ingrid [Innes] and Alex had their conspiracy exposed by the parent of the company on whose behalf the latter two were working to increase sales, or at least make budget.

Isn’t it ironic?

It is also a different version of how the story got out than what our own Attorney-General said last Thursday after the verdict was handed down. He said: “It is significant that the conviction came about because individuals who had knowledge of the events were prepared to speak out and to give evidence about wrongdoing.” The AG added: “This is something that is required at all levels in Barbados’ society whether dealing with the scourge of corruption or the scourge of gun violence.”

Meantime, Tokar noted that the Justice Department last year charged ICBL’s former chief executive officer, Ingrid Innes, and its former senior vice- president, Tasker, “who prosecutors said acted as Mr Inniss’ co-conspirators. The two remain at large, a spokesman for the department said.”

As far as I can see, the response in Barbados among the average citizen has been that it’s about time somebody was charged for all of the perceived corruption that went on under the last administration. I haven’t heard much, if any, sympathy for Inniss or his alleged co-conspirators.”

Patrick Hoyos is a journalist and publisher specialising in business. Email: bsjbarbados@gmail.com
Patrick Hoyos

 

Barbadians Carrying the Weight of Cahill Waste

Who is Quantum Energy and are they new beneficial owners of the Cahill Waste To Energy idea. Who owns the Garbage in Barbados? …

Kammie Holder (posted to Request to Remove CAHILL blog 2018)

At some point on Day 3 during the just concluded Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Annual Conference, Prime Minister Mia Mottley referenced that the controversial Cahill agreement may potentially cost taxpayers millions. It seems the agreement was crafted to permit the transfer of ownership to other parties who have signaled to the government there is a high expectation said agreement must be honoured.

The Cahill matter is near and dear to the BU blogmaster because Barbados Underground played a small part in the dissemination of confidential documents that exposed the less than transparent manner then Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government consummated the agreement with Clare Cowan and Cahill Energy Barbados.

Another reason: in the Upper Chamber of Parliament then leader of government business Maxine McClean and Verla De Peiza (now leader of the Democratic Labour Party) described BU blogmaster as a traitor for posting Cahill confidential documents which exposed the DLP Cabinet as less than transparent with the electorate of Barbados. Some will say the electorate is enjoying having the last word given the result of the May 2018 general election. The blogmaster respectfully disagrees.

It is long passed the time to satisfy public expectation to hold public officials accountable. If there is a whiff of evidence the stink of malfeasance permeates, we must move to a stage where elected officials pay the price. In Barbados former ministers et al routinely transition to private sector to benefit from rotten seeds planted while in government. Why should ordinary citizens be expected to tighten the belt and others be allowed to go scot free all the Rh time?

There will be a price to pay if social justice issues are not factored into the way we manage our affairs. Especially during this period of austerity we are struggling to negotiate. It is ordinary people who have seen retirement investments in government securities negatively devalued, ordinary citizens have seen fees charged rather than interest credited to savings accounts at financial institutions. In the interest of all that is good we must not allow members of the political class to conspire with the economic class to the detriment of ordinary people.

How on God’s earth the people of Barbados- taxpayers, will remain silent to the pronouncement by the prime minister of Barbados  Barbados stands to lose millions because of the Cahill “frustrated contract”?

What manner of people are we to allow a class of  people to continually rub the brown stuff in our faces and every where?

 

 

 

The Phartford Files: The Sutherland Dynasty & Bertoldian Betrayal

Submitted by Ironside

The rhetoric of the Barbados Today 29th October editorial entitled: No time for Party. Not now is as silky and as sanitized as an educated Barbadian can get. I suppose that as an “above-ground” newspaper, the Barbados Today editor has no choice. And to be fair, the editor did as good a job as he /she could…in the circumstances.

But in this country, I doubt that the sanitized rhetoric of the article, replete with biblical parallels, will get the attention of the intoxicated, money hungry faction of this country that calls itself the BLP and the government into whose hands stressed and reactionary Barbadians committed the next five years of its life back in May 2018.

So, dear BT editor, let me help you…let me take a crack at these SOBs here on BU, no holds barred!

Corruption Endemic
One of the critical issues in the last election was the matter of corruption in government. The BLP promised integrity legislation. (See:
https://www.barbadosadvocate.com/news/blp-promises-new-integrity-legislation).
As I expected, the BLP government went through the motions of passing integrity legislation knowing full well that that would not hinder corruption where it mattered most.

Corruption is endemic to Barbadian society. Translated, this means that all of us practice and tacitly support corruption…every day! You beg to differ? OK!

  • In general, how many of us ask for favours knowing well we were not qualified to receive them?
  • How many of us have asked for exceptions to be made to the entry of our children to schools where they are not qualified to enter?
  • How many of us feel no compunction in jumping the queue of people waiting in line for a service?
  • How many of us rely on friends “in high places” to bale us out of trouble rather than throw ourselves on the mercy of those in authority?
  • How many of our “business people” bribe customs officers to get reduced charges or illegal items out of the port?
  • How many of sold our vote to the first bidder during the last election…and the one before?

What do you call those practices? Still beg to differ? Go phart on yourself…in the mirror!

Corruption is so endemic in Barbados that we have a motto that expresses it all; “Boy yuh got to have a grandfarder to get by in Barbados!

We, the so called masses, are as guilty of corruption as the relatively few demagogues that we elect to rule this land from time to time. Therefore, the logical and ethical solution to the problem of corruption in Barbados lies in dealing with our own corruption FIRST.

Time to Repent

My submission is that we ordinary people need to repent of the corruption in ourselves. And I mean REPENT and in the biblical sense. Until we do so, we are in no position to wield any moral power to demand the end of corruption in government.

And make no mistake about it; the politicians know this; they know that we ourselves are as corrupt as they are. That is why the Sutherland Dynasty is laughing all its way to the bank. The Sutherlands know that sooner or later some self-despising, mentally enslaved, “corrupt” Barbadian will knock at their constituency office door and beg for the crumbs that fall from their table while they and their family, close friends and bodyguards continue to dine sumptuously and travel lavishly. On OUR blinking taxes!

BERToldian Betrayal (With Impunity)

Imagine that: we are asked to pay a 2.5% health levy on top of all the other taxes and the first thing that the BERToldian Labour Party – they can’t be Barbadians, right? – spend it on is a $200,000 plus salary a year (over $16,000 per month) for a minister’s wife – IN THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH.

Do you know that this salary is just circa $1,000 shy of a Minister’s salary? An eighteenth minister without a ministry? What a betrayal of trust! What gross disrespect for Barbadians! Did we vote you in with this understanding in mind? Or are you “overstanding” the matter as Rastafari would say?

But I wonder: how many votes is the Sutherland Dynasty worth in the next election? You know, there is a kind of arrogant “pharticidal” idiocy about nepotism and cronyism that really boggles the mind!

But look at it…there are no protestors in the street, far less rioters! Today is indeed a very funny night! And that is because too many of us are full of existential shiite!

So, where are all the new garbage trucks promised? Don’t be surprised if Jose and Jose gets a contract to “do the garbage” in Barbados! If you don’t know who really owns Jose and Jose (We are No1 in the No.2 Business) get off this frigging island!

Proportional Representation Now

Excuse the hell out of me; but this political system that we have needs to be drastically reformed or dismantled! I don’t know that there is a fundamental flaw in the concept of democracy itself but the political system – meaning the number of parties, system of representation, elections rules etc – is a bare joke.

It should never have been possible for one party to win all 30 seats! Under proportional representation this would have been virtually impossible! So there goes your first reform….if we are going that way!

It is time that Barbadians called for a referendum on the matter of the implementation of proportional representation and let’s see what this government will do with it. I think I know how the Bertoldians will react but screw them!

2023 Ah Coming!

In the meantime, let us prepare, come next election, not to forget how the Bertoldians are pharting on us now with the acrid smell of heartless corruption. Let us prepare to help MAM make more history …the first woman PM in Barbados with a one-term government!

P.S. Perhaps, I will speculate on how we can ensure this in the next edition of the Phartford Files.

A Heather Cole Column – Why Not Due Process? – Part 1

The Attorney General of Barbados continues to make some utterances that makes one raise their eyebrows. His statement that persons made confessions of having taken part in bribery during the tenure of the previous Democratic Labour Party Administration should make us all concerned.

Based on his own admission Mr. Dale Marshall, the person who serves as the Attorney General of Barbados listened to confessions of bribery which one may presumed occurred in his office. As far one is aware the Attorney General is not an ordained priest or a Catholic one at that and neither does his office hold a confessional. Placing the absurdity aside, the maker of the present Laws of Barbados should not have been entertaining any such matters in his office. Upon being informed of the purpose of the visit, he should have done either of 2 things. Picked up the phone and call the Commissioner of Police and await his arrival or advise the persons to visit the nearest police station and confess their crime. He has subsequently not informed the public what he did with the information except to gloat. It is unlikely that he has made a complaint to the police as no arrests have been made.

If persons unknown to the public ended up confessing in the Attorney General’s office, that is not mere speculation but admission to crimes of bribery. This means there are some guilty politicians out there as well, the other half of the coin.

This is now a precedent that has been set by the Attorney General; that the well to do and persons from the upper echelons of society and whoever else were bribers during the tenure of the last administration will not be faced with criminal charges. Just think about it, the persons who are partly responsible for the wastage of the funds of the taxpayers of Barbados, loss of jobs and the economic turmoil that the island currently faces will never even get a slap on the wrist.

We have a situation where crime is spiralling out of control on the island, the police are continuously asking persons to come forward with information on crimes that have been committed and yet the Attorney General has information and is not sharing it with the police. He has set a low standard to the youth by not leading by example. Due process was not followed, and the Attorney General’s lack of action has placed some persons above the confines of the Laws of Barbados and ultimately, is this not dereliction of duty?

However, in addition to the fore-mentioned, it has exposed that the Attorney General was making a political statement as a member of the Barbados Labour Party and was not speaking as an Attorney General of Barbados. He is somewhere in the grey area of the boundaries of proper conduct for an Attorney General. While we are all human and subject to error, this is becoming a pattern.

One may recall that the previous Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite of the Democratic Labour Party refused to admonish his party and his inaction while in office exacerbated social decay. Herein lies the reason why it may not be a good idea to have a member of the Cabinet or an elected person as the Attorney General but to retain an attorney who is without political allegiance to provide legal advice to government.

The Grenville Phillips Column – Power Can Corrupt Very Good People

Solutions Barbados recently held their Annual General Meeting.  All Executive positions are for one-year terms, and Grenville Phillips II was re-elected to serve another term as President.

Politicians in all of the political parties, who participated in the last general election, know that politics is not only a very dirty game, but a cesspool of some of the worst types of behaviour.  The public gets a glimpse of how vile politics truly is, by the constant accusations of gross corruption that our Members of Parliament regularly accuse each other in our House of Assembly.

All politicians constantly face two main temptations, and the public always pays a very high price if politicians surrender to them.  Solutions Barbados Candidates are also aware of the significant harm to their professional reputations and their families if they fail in this manner.  Therefore, we have taken drastic steps to protect the public and our families, by willingly restraining ourselves.

The first temptation is accepting bribes, and politicians facing severe financial challenges are most vulnerable.  Politicians who cannot afford their mortgage payments are extremely vulnerable to accepting bribes.

To address the bribery temptation, all Solutions Barbados Candidates willingly sign a binding contract, to go bankrupt if they accept bribes.  Each Candidate’s contract is terminated at the end of each election cycle if the Candidate is not elected.  Once terminated, the contract may be renewed.

Of the 28 Solutions Barbados Candidates in the 2018 General Election, 17 chose to protect the public by renewing their contracts.  Of those who chose not to, approximately half found the cesspool of politics to dirty to continue, while the remainder chose to continue their quest with other parties, but unrestrained by our contract.

The second temptation is far more sinister – and permanent.  It is the corrupting influence of power.  British politician, Lord Acton, observably wrote over a century ago, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

From our last general election experience, it appears to be the craving for power that can corrupt previously decent people very quickly and very easily.  It also corrupts them stealthily, so that persons are unaware of how far they have fallen.  It is this craving for power that led Judas to deceptively betray Jesus.  Deception and betrayal are the two obvious symptoms of persons corrupted by craving power.

To address the corrupting influence of craving power, Solutions Barbados Candidates have deliberately chosen not to become career politicians.  We offer ourselves to the public for two simple reasons.  The first is to bring relief to Barbadians who have had enough of the gross mismanagement and political corruption that both established parties regularly accuse the other.  The second is to actively help all Barbadians to prosper.

If voters have had enough of what they have been forced to tolerate from both established parties, and want prosperity for their households, then they are welcome to support Solutions Barbados candidates – for their own benefit.  Our economic growth plan, which was independently favourably assessed, and which the Prime Minister promised would be allowed to contend (a broken promise), can still be used to bring prosperity to Barbadian households without austerity.

We are committed to offering ourselves to properly manage the public affairs of Barbados, whenever the next general election is called.  Unlike the last election when voters felt that they needed to vote against the DLP, this time, they can choose to actually vote for something good.

If voters have not yet had enough of the dirty political game by then, then we will accept their decision as final for us.  To continue to offer ourselves to an unwilling public after the next general election, is for us, to crave power.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Fighting Corruption at the Port Authority and Grantley Adams Airport

Several times this blogmaster has listened to Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith share with the public his perspective that corruption at our ports of entry is a big reason illegal guns enter the island. Every time Griffith makes the statement, trade unionists feel compelled to defend the public workers fingered.  Griffith has been targeted in his criticism by naming the Bridgetown Port and Grantley Adams Airport.

It boggles the mind why Customs Officers and the Police appear not to have a close working relationship given a common national security mandate. To quote Commissioner Griffith :-

The reality is that where there is corruption, there will always be problems. And so, if the system is corrupt, then we are not going to get the information and support. You have to work together to break the back of those crimes. And so, even though the intelligence says that, you are not going to get that tip that breaks it…There is corruption. There must be some form…there must be corruption if you are going to have the number of firearms that are coming onto our shores illegally…then there has to be corruption

One has to give credit to Commissioner Griffith that his public criticism is based on credible  intelligence. After all, it is what he does. There comes a point when country must come first and those in charge must demonstrate the leadership required to get the job done.

Against the foregoing a recent court martial case against David Harewood of the Barbados Coast Guard amplified the concern shared by Commissioner Griffith.  Without rehashing the transcript of cellphone conversations between Harewood, a senior Coast Guard official had with some unsavoury characters- this blogmaster is satisfied those responsible for guarding national security interest have been compromised.

The BU household has been cautioning Barbados authorities for many years we are in a bad place and must change the way we have been managing our affairs. The same lack of leadership that has seen the growth of a sub culture in the transportation sector has propagated to every facet how we do business on the island.

The World Bank chronicled the “corrosive” impact corruption has on the ability to exercise good governance.

Most importantly, corruption breaks the trust between the citizens and the state that is critical for development to work. We know bad governance is one of the four major drivers of poverty, alongside conflict and violence; unchecked population growth; and the effects of climate change and natural disasters – Fighting corruption: the importance is crystal clear

The government and much of civil society seem to be consumed with confronting the unprecedented economic challenges of the times. We should not lose sight of the fact that a society is more than an economy.

The country waits on the operationalizing of anti corruption and freedom of information legislation promised top the electorate 50 years ago by a Tom Adams government.

 

 

Planning Unplugged

On Tuesday 22, 2019 the government continued with the review of the the Planning and Development Bill 2018. All agree that modern and relevant town planning laws are necessary to effectively and efficiently develop land space and related activity.

The average Barbadian can list any number of examples to show a lack of ‘planning’ because the system has been compromised due to political interference and corrupt practices. The blogmaster recalls the change in land use for a property in St. James under an Owen Arthur administration which benefited in the millions David Shorey and a few others. Let it be said the draft Bill addresses many other aspects of town planning.

The focus of this submission is the more visible signs that there is a lack of town planning being executed in Barbados.

Example 1

Traffic flow between the Graeme Hall and Kendall Roundabout has been effected by commercial development with the establishment of Popular Supermarket and other businesses in the area. Massy Supermarket is to be established in the area soon. The result is that on our major highway traffic is restricted to a crawl during business hours. Anyone intending to catch a flight at GAIA must avoid using that stretch of the highway if they want to be ontime.

Example 2

Traffic flow through the ‘Bussa’ roundabout is severely affected during business hours because of activity at the Sky Mall and other commercial businesses established in the area.

Example 3

Clearly the Warrens roundabout was redesigned as an afterthought given the explosion of commercial activity in the area in recent years. We know Warrens is a large residential area.

There are several other examples we could have cited to prove the point that our planners do not know what they are doing and or they are not being allowed to do the job.

If it is the latter we are perplexed why the professional associations they are members would not have voiced a public concern.

 

 

 

A Heather Cole Article – Did We Miss the Boat?

I have previously written an article about the need to have a Federal Government in the Caribbean. CARICOM is but an economic union and was never intended to resolve political and social problems of the region. The reasons to revisit this topic are varied and the single most import that strike home today is that Barbados is experiencing a crisis of gun related crime. In addition to this, there is an unprecedented level of corruption that has been increasing since independence. Despite laws, rules and regulations, there is no body with the authority for oversight and implementation of action against the previous administration in Barbados. The notion that the political class may not have the desire to out each other is also a current reality. The underlying fact is that these island states are too small; everyone knows each other or their family; our court system is in shambles, files go missing, so does evidence and the length of time that it takes to pursue action in some instances signifies that justice being denied.

So where did we go wrong?

It was our failure to implement the WI Federation. It was four long years of struggle from 1958 to 1962 that ended up with the then leaders of the Federation walking away from a project that held the best intentions for the region. That action that led to Eric William’s famous words “one from ten leaves zero,” is currently responsible for 80% of the region’s social and political problems. Short sightedness and the struggle for power way back then set us up for failure. The failure of oversight to halt the actions of corrupt politicians, the failure to address the present crisis with action on gun related crime, the failure to have laws to address unique cases like land disputes, fraud and the recall of politicians.

From around the region there are a few cases that come to mind that makes one wonder if we had a federal government if such outrage would have occurred without punishment or redress. One was the Yugee Farrell case in St Vincent, where a young woman’s quality of life was at the mercy of political action; there is a mortgage crisis in Barbados which no one seems to be addressing; Scotiabank leaving the region, having sold its mortgages to a foreign entity that does not reside in the CARICOM and only the Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne is fighting on his own; treasonous acts by the speaker of the house in Guyana; there is a politician in St Lucia whom the people wanted to recall; the callous acts of corruption of the last Administration in Barbados; businessmen who are mysteriously awarded overpriced contracts and bribery; and the allegation of land fraud which seem to have found a home on the Barbadian landscape. In addition, we have gun related crime in islands that do not manufacture or import guns, yet they are not only available on the street but are daily committing murder.

Despite holding jurisdiction local police forces are simply not equipped to combat these types of crimes. In the USA, while each state has its own government and police force, there is also a federal government for the entire country which has its own policing force known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI. The FBI steps in and takes over various types of cases where a local violation fits into a category for which it holds jurisdiction.

This is what is required for CARICOM states, a Federal government with its own police force and a Federal Court system. There would be a local court system and a federal court in each jurisdiction. Recruits from across the region would be utilized effectively by having them serve where they are not domiciled, and persons moved periodically to prevent contamination of the system.

Putting the Task Force on the streets in affected areas in Barbados will not resolve the problem. When they are gone the guns will re appear as they have year after year. Although his presence among the affected is welcomed, the Attorney General’s pictures giving golden handshakes and smiles no longer cuts it. These are just knee-jerk reactions. None of these are a short- term plans. It should have been announced by the Attorney General that he is going after the importers of the guns and the persons who let them bring the guns into the country, with the intent to prosecute them. The source of the problem is not being addressed. One must ask themselves how many times we must come back to this cross road and go away knowing that nothing will change. We are currently using the same old methods to resolve crime and expect to obtain different results.

Putting the Task Force on the streets in affected areas in Barbados will not resolve the problem.  When they are gone the guns will re appear as they have year after year.  Although his presence among the affected is welcomed, the Attorney General’s pictures giving golden handshakes and smiles no longer cuts it.  These are just knee-jerk reactions.  However, finally he has announced that he is going after the importers of the guns and by extension this should include the persons who let them bring the guns into the country.  One must ask themselves how many times we must come back to this cross road and in the pass nothing has been done to effect change. We cannot use the same old methods to resolve crime and expect to obtain different results.

We may have missed that boat fifty-seven years ago but that does not mean that a new attempt of implementing a Federal Government will not work. The region will always be constrained by its size and must work to together to overcome its challenges. Now that we know of the source of the problems and their long-term effects, the challenge is to put in place an effective institution to effect remedy. The challenge will also include the heads of Government of all the islands realizing that there are facing the same old problems but needing new solutions; and not to be focused on insularity. Just as they believe that the islands are one economic union and some utilize the Caribbean Court of Justice as their Appellate Court, they must overcome the fear of becoming a political union.

It is time to move on to a higher level of regional integration with an aim to resolve the political and social problems by creating the institutions that are meant to do this. We cannot go back to 1962 and make the then batch of leaders change their minds of putting four years to waste. We have a current crop of leaders who have new ideas about the development of this region and its people and with new ideas come opportunities.

Herein lies an opportunity. The simple requirement is to have a heavy weight champion for this cause not to resuscitate the old but to create a Federal Government for CARICOM states. A Federal Government that will as part of its mandate, maintain a police force and a court system to investigate and redress a range of violations for which it will have jurisdiction. The only person that comes to mind is our own trail blazer. Despite the fact of a 30 to 0 victory being a great achievement, the icing on the cake would be for our Prime Minister, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley to not only create and implement a Federal Government of individual States of CARICOM but to also become its first head. It would truly define her legacy, as the vision of ‘Building The Best Barbados Together’ can translate into building the best political union of the CARICOM states together.

A Reminder to Mia and Corruption Talk

This is a BU reblog from 2015 – David, blogmaster

Mia Mottley Prosecutes Government on CORRUPTION in Her Reply to 2015 Budget

Those  Democratic Labour Party (DLP) members in parliament advocated the need for Barbados to enact Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation prior to being elected in 2008. There was an expectation Barbadians would have seen movement on this issue within 100 days of the DLP government […] taking office. It is an indictment on civil society we have not been able to pressure government to treat this issue as a priority.  In fact, the DLP was re-elected in 2013 and transparency legislation did not feature as a key platform issue.

It is ironic Mia Mottley’s contribution in the 2015 Budget Debate  has positioned the issue of graft and corruption in government squarely in the public’s domain. If we are to evaluate the fervour which some members of parliament on Mottley’s side supported her on the issue there is a lot to be said about the political class closing ranks.

Here is the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s reply to the 2015 Budget (first hour clipped).

 

VAT Officer Investigating Courts Barbados Was Reassigned?

caswell_franklyn

Senator Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The problem with enforcing the VAT laws has nothing to do with the junior public officers whose duty it is to collect the tax. Often, officers are proceeding against someone who has failed to pay the VAT and the officer is taken off the case after the VAT cheat made a phone call to a Minister of Government or a senior public officer.

I remember a few years ago, an officer discovered that Courts Barbados Ltd. was not paying in the VAT. An investigation was carried out and an assessment of $25 million was made against the company. The file was taken away from the officer and she was reassigned other work. The assessment was never pursued. All this was happening while the company was giving away cars and free living for a year, presumably out of the stolen VAT.

By the way, because of that case and others like it, the officer got disgusted and retired early and is now drawing a Government pension.

Caswell Franklyn

This comment was posted to Barbados Underground on 04 November 2012 by Senator Caswell Franklyn. He has repeated the statement many times since, HOWEVER, he has never been able to elicit a response from the Democratic Labour Party then or the Barbados Labour Party today.  If what the Senator alleges is true doesn’t the situation fit nicely into the agenda the Mia Mottley campaigned on?

To the minister of government concerned – here is the question posed in three parts.

  1. Does Courts Barbados owe the taxpayers of Barbados 25 million dollars (plus interest and penalties)?
  2. If YES why is this profitable company not being moved against by our government?
  3. If NO does it make since to issue a statement of clarification to ensure the reputation of the company is protected.

We are so up to here at the sloth exhibited by successive governments as it relates to doing the people’s business.

Mia Mottley’s Government and Corruption Déjà Vu

@inthenameof#

I must ask, what has stopped the formation of a “Corruption Unit” within the relevant investigative body?

I note the appointment of several other gurus in the area of communication, finance etc etc, yet Corruption is being ducked, such that persons as yourself can offer up ‘takes time’ (delay).

And whenever the time comes, with no person or unit “in charge”, there will be no person to answer directly for the progress made/not made.

With tag lines like “The mission is too great. It is about the future of Barbadian generations not about you…..or any of us.”, the most overused line, particularly concluding line. by speech writers.

This isn’t solely about a few elected persons, the rot has spread far and wide. So let’s wait for a thorough review of Integrity Legislation (another delay), and hope full engagement takes it through to a few weeks prior to the next election?

NortherObserver

The comment above by BU commenter NorthernObserver collides with a loud thought that has been tumbling in the mind of the blogmaster in recent weeks. Real haste characterizes- compared to the former government for sure- how the Mia Mottley government has effected some decisions since winning the government in May 2018. Why have we not seen the same haste to pursue alleged wrongdoing read corruption?

The blogmaster listened intently to Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivering at a mass political meeting during the recent political campaign to launch party manifesto – BLP Manifesto Launch and IMF Buzz – when she  hinted that wrongdoing behind the CLICO fiasco will be vigorously pursued. As each day passes the idea that this government will honour its campaign promise fades to compare with similar promises made by former governments.

There are about four or five ministers in here [Parliament] who really have to ask themselves some questions. When people ask, ‘how can you drive a jeep belonging to a company that provides services to your ministry and gets work from your ministry and believe that is okay?’”

Mottley assured the House, a BLP government under her stewardship would adopt a no-nonsense approach to corruption, which would involve the passage of anti-corruption legislation

– Caribbean360

There are many other examples of Mia Mottley hinting at corrupt behaviour by members of the former government if you allow Google to be your friend!

We are waiting Prime Minister.

We watching yuh!

Barbados Credit Suisse Loan: Ex-Credit Suisse Bankers Arrested

A perennial political platform issue in Barbados has been the levelling of corruption accusations at the other by the BLP and DLP. While it makes for good theatre – the reality is that when the campaign dust settles nobody is ever held accountable. It is business as usual. The arrest by US authorities of former minister Donville Inniss on money laundering charges does not qualify.

A hotly debated issue in Barbados has been the $450 million Credit Suisse loan signed off by the former minister of finance Chris Sinckler. A contentious clause in the terms and conditions of the loan states that the interest rate will increase when there is a downgrade by international rating agencies. With the several downgrades Barbados has attracted in recent years millions of dollars has been paid by Barbados from dwindling foreign reserves to Credit Suisse. There was no appetite (is no appetite) to lend Barbados money by international lenders because of our junk status rating now selected default.

The inability to hold public officials accountable continues to be a challenge for Barbados. Read Auditor General reports since 2006 which hint at malfeasance. This blogmaster refuses to accept that local officials are so puritanical in behaviour they leave no room for malfeasance to occur.

A relates story carried in the international media reports that Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested in London while the US seeks their extradition on charges that they bribed Mozambican officials before supplying loans to state owned companies there. Should sensible Barbadians assume that the circumstances surrounding the former government’s decision to get a loan from Credit Suisse in December 2013 – at a high interest rate instead of opting for the IMF which lends at about 1 percent – is being investigated?

Read the report at the following BBC link – Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested over ‘$2bn fraud scheme’

Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested over ‘$2bn fraud scheme’

 

Image copyright Reuters Credit Suisse logo

Three former Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested over their alleged role in a $2bn (£1.5bn) fraud scheme connected to firms in Mozambique, according to US authorities.

The men have been released on bail in London while the US seeks their extradition.

The scheme allegedly involved loans to state-owned companies in Mozambique.

Two others, including the country’s former finance minister, have also been arrested.

The former employees of the Swiss investment bank were arrested in London on Thursday.

The three – Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh, and Detelina Subeva – were charged with conspiring to violate US anti-bribery law, money laundering and securities fraud in an indictment issued by a US District Court in New York.

Prosecutors say that through a series of financial transactions between approximately 2013 and 2016, they created fraudulent maritime projects and used state-owned companies in Mozambique as fronts to raise $2bn.

Some of the investors defrauded included US nationals, the indictment says.

It added that they “intentionally diverted portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200m in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others”.

The state-owned companies missed more than $700m in loan payments after defaulting in 2016 and 2017, the indictment adds.

In a statement, Credit Suisse made clear that no action had been taken against the bank itself.

“The indictment alleges that the former employees worked to defeat the bank’s internal controls, acted out of a motive of personal profit, and sought to hide these activities from the bank,” it said.

The US has agreed extradition treaties with more than 100 countries. These treaties can require “the surrender of persons who have committed crimes in foreign countries”.

 

The Mottley Saga – A Promise of Change but More of the Same

Submitted by Sunshine Sunny Shine (SSS)

mia mottley

Posted to Imgur

When the Mottley led BLP were in opposition, startling revelations by them suggested that the then DLP Stuart led government was corrupt, dishonest, and happily kept silent on important matters that should have engaged the public’s interest.

Mottley, agitated by the sequence of disturbing events unfolding under Stuart and his team, fought to have a moral basis established in Barbados politics. She pursued this basis by first tabling a move to have the then speaker of the house, Michael Carrington resign on grounds that his action in a money matter involving an elderly gentleman was unethical and immoral. So incensed was she, that several walking out of parliament became the protest action norm against this obvious condoning of inappropriate conduct.

She furthered her quest for moral politics by bringing the integrity of Freundel Stuart into the spot light. Stuart who wanted persons to believe that he was honest and upright, lied to the Barbadian people when he said he was unaware of the doings in the Cahill deal, when he had signed of on it many months before.

Fast forwarding to the Mia Amor Mottley who is now Prime Minister of Barbados, we are left to wonder what happened to that ethical and moral compass she brought to bear against Stuart and his DLP colleagues. A compass that many felt would be the change that Barbadians long for. Unfortunately, it was short lived.

For starters, there are serious accusations against two of Mottley ministers in the form of Payne and Marshall that have not once been addressed by her. If Carrington’s action was unethical, then any claims concerning inappropriateness by two ministers should have brought her moral compass to bear down on them.

Then there is the matter of her bloated cabinet versus those struggling civil servants sent home as the sacrificial few to keep the whole intact. Why only the bottom and not the top. Certainly this is ground to bring your ethical compass to forefront of things and show Barbadians that you everyone must make sacrifices including the top.

Then there is the tweaking of the constitution to accommodate two friends, but no investigations launch into the financial issues surrounding those of the Democratic Labour Party accused of corruption. Or. no quick move to have legislation put in place to deal with minister corruption, collusion, and wheel and deal.

The SSS has frequently stated that Mottley is a rogue and if she is to believed, otherwise, it certainly cannot be proven when she wants to bestow upon her father a knighthood that is not deserving at this time.

Sabotage What!

Before the crap hit the fan on the South Coast the blogmaster was haunted by a pronouncement of Dr. John Mwanza almost three years go. It was at the height of the embarrassing period the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) was unable to supply water to rural parts of the island. Mwanza reminded Barbadians that besides Barbados being a water scare country, an old mains network had continued to undermine the quality of BWA’s water distribution network.

Wise heads in this forum have often cautioned about successive governments failing to make quality decisions be it the management of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Public Transportation, Waste Management, Judicial System, Enforcing the Financial Rules to name a few. A reminder that all members of parliament should have to complete a mandatory training the Pros and Cons of Good Decision Making?

What some of us cannot process is the decision by the BWA to construct a 50 million dollar headquarters in St. Barnabas. Key decision makers would have been aware that the BWA distribution network has been compromised by a 100 year old mains network in some parts of the island.  Some commentators estimate the mains are leaking greater than 50%. The blogmaster would add that until recently all the pumping stations- many in a bad state of repair- were totally dependent on fossil power.  Despite the 60% hike in the water rate. The inability of the BWA to honour its financial committent to Innotech under a lease purchase agreement comes as no surprise to sensible observers.

While arguments can be made for housing the operations of the BWA in a modern structure – one does not need the benefit of hindsight to judge that it was a poor decision to commit millions of taxpayers dollars to construct a state of the art building while at the same time 104 water tanks needed to be installed in parts of the island- standpipe style.  We should be embarrassed.

On a related note the SSA built a modern building at Vaucluse to house the operations at a time the authority was unable to maintain a fleet of garbage trucks. Bare in mind the authority has also been unable to oversee a comprehensive waste disposal system. Up to the time of posting this blog the new SSA building estimated to have costed taxpayers 30 million dollars remains unoccupied.

The preamble is to sound a warning to the Mia Mottley government.

As a people – represented by our elected government – we cannot afford to continue making poor decisions. In this instant the supply of potable water. With the exception of a very few government and parastatal agencies the consensus is that they are poorly managed. Minister in the ministry of finance Ryan Straughn recently pronounced:-

…that Government will be taking a closer look at the process by which people are appointment to boards…Minister Straughn says a key provision of the draft law will be the introduction of the fiscal responsibility principles, which will hold government accountable for fiscal policies it implements. Sanctions will also be introduced against public entities, which rack up excessive debt, or fail to supply financial statements. An audit committee is also to be established.

As a people we have to hold elected AND public officials accountable. Whether it is Dr. John Mwanza or Prime Minister Mia Mottley crying SABOTAGE without being pressed by civil society to support with credible evidence. Whether it is civil servants not adhering to the financial rules of government. People must be held accountable.

Big up the Auditor General Office!

The Grenville Phillips Column – The Road to Hell

As a teenager visiting the Plaza cinema to watch Kung Fu movies, there was always at least one unruly person who put his feet on the chair in front of him and behaved badly. During those times, I would wonder where the adults were.

I remember promising myself that when I reached 30 years of age, I would be the adult whom I expected to intervene. Since reaching that milestone, I have tried to keep that promise in defense of others. It is one of the reasons why I entered politics, and is the main reason why I write these weekly articles.

During my career, I have witnessed much wickedness in high places. The level of corruption is so shocking that anyone reading about it could not be faulted for concluding that it was fiction.

In 1995, Transparency International (TI) published their first Corruption Perceptions Index report, which exposed the extent of corruption globally. They published their second report in 1996. The Caribbean was not included in these early reports, but it was only a matter of time before TI would focus on the Caribbean.

In an act of pure coincidence, in 1997 our parliamentarians effectively discouraged any public discussion of corruption by passing the Defamation Act. Under this act, anyone who revealed genuine cases of corruption, with incontrovertible evidence, could be found guilty of defamation and punished accordingly. However, the Act protects politicians if they talked about it in parliament.

Not long ago, I attended a committee meeting of a statutory corporation, where some members were formally discussing giving a no-bid contract to a contractor. I stated that what they were proposing was corruption. There was a very heated exchange – the fellow actually rose to his feet to fight me. They seemed completely unaware of what corruption actually was, but were highly offended at being associated with it.
The corrupt operate in the secret political economy, which is normally exclusively reserved for political supporters in exchange for bribes. The way of corruption is for Ministers to instruct that no-bid contracts should be awarded to specific companies.
Inexperienced Ministers tend to deceive themselves by their good intentions. They tend to stumble onto the path of corruption by trying to justify allowing no-bid contracts. The current BLP administration has many inexperienced Ministers just waiting to stumble, and I am trying my best to prevent them from falling.
A root cause of our economic problems is the corrupting practise of Ministers directing no-bid contracts. The DLP made themselves highly offensive with that deplorable practise over the past decade. Shockingly, the BLP appear to be carrying on where the DLP left off, but in an even more brazen manner, as if that were even possible.
Last week, many BLP parliamentarians delighted their supporters by accusing the last DLP administration of gross corruption. Ironically, during the same week, the BLP appeared to play the hypocrite by announcing several major no-bid contracts, and they had the gall to boast about it. No! No! No! No! No! and ten thousand times No! We simply cannot go down that road again. All of this austerity cannot be in vain.
Has the BLP learnt nothing from the DLP’s unconscionable behaviour? Why is the government persisting, even more brazenly, with this corrupting political economy? Why is the government intentionally disqualifying competent companies from tendering for tax-payer funded projects? Why is the government shielding politically favoured companies from competing? Are the Ministers aware that when they give no-bid contracts, the public tends to pay many times over for the resulting bad work and bad advice?
Let me write directly to the BLP’s inexperienced parliamentarians. We have been here many times before. We are sick of the ‘good intentions’ excuses that have been used to justify keeping a political economy for the exclusive use of the Party’s politically protected companies. The end never justifies the corrupting means – ever.
I implore you to reject the political economy and the way of the corrupting no-bid contracts. Those who go down that road rarely find their way back, since they sell their souls to the master corrupter who will not easily let them go. Expect some political supporters to demand their pre-paid share of the political economy from you.
They will pressure you to award them no-bid contracts with the typical excuse of urgency. Once you have been tricked into starting down that dark road, the nation will suffer. Companies who bully their way to the trough of the political economy, knowingly disqualify the most competent companies from tendering on government contracts. They should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
You will also be pressured into believing that it is specialist work that only they can do. Unless they own the patent, or have an exclusive-use contract for the technology, then that is a well-worn lie from the very pit of hell. Why not challenge their ridiculous assertion by allowing a competitive tender? What is the possible benefit to yourselves or the country of disqualifying the country’s most competent companies from tendering? I expect an answer to this question from each of you.
There is no right way to do wrong things, and giving no-bid major contracts is definitely wrong. Further, giving no-bid contracts in a depressed economy is so far beyond wrong as to qualify as satanic.

I implore you, repent of this evil and do right things. In your manifesto, every one of you promised, on your sacred honour, that you would provide a Contractor General to review government contracts and those of State Owned Enterprises. You have had enough time to establish this critical post, yet you have failed to do so. What happened? Was this another initiative that must be a sacrificed casualty of the unnecessary BERT austerity plan? Have you even read that secret plan?

Your options are simple. Either repent and terminate those corrupting no-bid contracts and allow a fair tender process, or be deceived with your ‘good intentions’ and continue down the road to hell.

 

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Grenville Phillips Column – Repent

Government Ministers can corrupt a national economy by giving no-bid (or no-tendering) contracts in exchange for bribes.  The participating businesses are normally the least competent in the country, who can only survive by paying bribes to shield them from fair competition.  Their incompetence is normally revealed in the substandard goods and services they provide.

The substandard goods normally require excessive and costly maintenance and premature replacement.  The same protected businesses are normally contracted to provide those additional services.  The public is forced to pay for the bribes, and the excessive maintenance and replacement costs, through increased taxes – craftly taken.

The advice of no-bid consultants tends to be abysmally substandard, resulting in costly consequences for the Government.  The Ministers dare not accuse the no-bid consultants of gross incompetence, since that risks exposing the no-bid contracts to scrutiny.  It is much cleaner politically to simply increase taxes on citizens to pay for the no-bid consultants’ costly mistakes.

In Barbados, both political administrations have accused the other of awarding no-bid contracts to their supporters.  However, what occurred during the last decade should never be repeated.  A first-hand typical example in one economic sub-sector should suffice.

A Consulting Engineer’s curriculum vitae (CV) currently has a functional life of 5 years.  That means that if the Engineers cannot prove that they have worked on similar projects during the past 5 years, then they are disqualified from tendering on those types of projects.

Under the last DLP administration, there were several projects in my field that I would normally have submitted a tender.  However, tendering seemed to have been abolished.  My qualifications and experience are internationally competitive, and I was able to find sufficient work around the Caribbean.  However, what was merely inconvenient for me was disastrous for others.

As the 5-year CV deadline was approaching, I was contacted by several Engineers who needed to participate in some work in order to keep their CVs alive.  I helped as many as I was able, but tragically, I could not help them all.

I literally begged three Ministers of Government to allow tendering to resume in Barbados, and was told that a ‘berry’ could be found for me.  I explained that I did not want any ‘berry’.  I just wanted all Engineers to be given the same opportunity to tender fairly.  I received no ‘berry’ and no tenders were allowed for about 7 years.

To disqualify Barbadian Engineers from tendering for 5 years is wicked.  To extend that to 7 years, thus damaging the competitiveness of Barbadian Engineers, is to cross a boundary into an evil that we have hitherto not known in Barbados.

I have been informed that members of other professions had similar complaints of the last DLP administration, with all work being given to the politically favoured through no-bid contracts.  Many good companies were severely harmed, and became significantly less competitive, due to the DLP’s unconscionable behaviour during that time.

Before DLP candidates even think about making any public comment on any issue in Barbados, they first need to repent of the wickedness and be exorcised of the evil that they embraced, to our harm, during their last time in Government.  Nothing less should do.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Grenville Phillips Column – A Special Place in Heaven

Grenville Phillips II, Leader of Solutions Barbados

It is well known that worldwide, corruption is normally associated with Government’s procurement (purchasing) of products (goods and services). In its crudest form, Ministers of Government will tell businesses (including consultants) to increase their bills, and to secretly pay them the increase if they want the job.

Businesses that participate in corruption tend to be too badly managed to successfully compete with their peers. Since Ministers shield them from competition, they tend to charge excessive profits for poor quality products. Their goods are normally substandard requiring excessive maintenance and premature replacement, and their advice normally results in unnecessary austerity for citizens.

The public must pay for all of the costs of corruption, including the excessive profits paid to businesses, the over invoiced amounts paid to Ministers, the maintenance and replacement costs of substandard goods, and the austerity costs. The Government contemptibly extracts these additional costs from the public by increasing taxes.

To get the public to willingly pay these additional taxes, and to provide enough ammunition to extreme political supporters to shame those who do not want to pay, the Government will normally tell the public that the additional amounts are required for things like health-care and education. After the additional taxes have been collected, these services normally do not improve, but get progressively worse.

To avoid accusations of corruption, many Governments allow competitive tendering. However, Ministers can still overrule a committee evaluating the tenders, and demand that their protected businesses receive the contracts. These businesses typically submit the highest prices and are the least qualified to do the work.

It is not uncommon for the public to be made to pay ten times the actual value of the work when there is no tendering, and twice the average of all other tenderers when there is tendering. The cumulative bribes that the public is made to pay is at least 10% of a developing country’s Gross Domestic Product.

It should be clarified that there are two types of tendering. When Ministers provide the oversight, corruption is almost inevitable. When an external development bank (eg CDB or IDB) is providing the oversight, then the risk of corruption is low.

The public does not normally get the opportunity to tolerate or object to corrupt practises, because of the sworn secrecy among those who give and receive bribes. The Ministers protect the corrupt businesses, the corrupt businesses protect the corrupt Ministers, the Ministers of each of the two dominant political parties protect each-other, and the corrupt businesses who belong to the same industry associations protect each-other.

Whistle-blowers are normally discredited with false accusations, imprisoned on false charges, or do not live long enough to tell the tale. Therefore, the public keeps paying the additional taxes, convinced that they are dutifully contributing to the care of their fellow citizens, but oblivious to the fact that they are actually paying the excessive profits of corrupt business persons, and the bribes of corrupt politicians.

There are two critical components that sustain a culture of Ministerial corruption in a country. The first is an agreement between the two established political parties not to prosecute any current or past politician. They are free to accuse each-other of corruption in order to excite the public and convince them that there is no such agreement, but there must be no meaningful consequences.

The second critical component is a politically compromised news media, whose main role is to silence and discredit any credible third party that plans to effectively address corruption.

Barbados is fortunate to be mostly free of corruption. For over 50 years, we have elected honourable Ministers who were fully aware that facilitating a culture of corruption would only economically ruin Barbados, and chose to reject bribes. We have received excellent advice from highly competent consultants, that Barbadians should be surrendered to the severe austerity of an IMF program.

Barbados’ unbiased news media declare that our politicians: are right and honourable, only walk the straight and narrow, and are cut from the same cloth as Jesus. They give Solutions Barbados, which is the only political party promising to effectively address corruption, the same coverage as other political parties. Surely there is a special place in Heaven reserved for those who practise such honourable and righteous acts.

 

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 7

I suppose that as a keen student of the law relating to employment and especially that of its termination, I ought to have focused today’s column on the ongoing retrenchment in the public sector, its accordance with fairness and its likely economic and social consequences for the nation. However, that discussion will have to await a future column; today I propose to complete my analysis of the Integrity in Public Life Bill currently engaging structured civic and parliamentary debate.

What is most remarkable about the Bill, in my estimation, is the stratification of requirements placed on the specified person in public life, all designed to ensure a squeaky clean existence. There must be a declaration of the financial affairs of the official and of his or her immediate household; he or she must file a statement of registrable interests if an MP; must declare any gifts valued above a stipulated amount; must not commit any acts of corruption that include the sexual or other harassment of a co-worker; and is further subject to a Code of Conduct for Persons in Public Life to be devised by the Commission. It is almost as if we have moved from a political culture of merely assuming or alleging corruption to a position of zero tolerance for the slightest whiff of any such misconduct.

If it is enacted and strictly enforced in its current form, this Bill will serve to ensure that any corruption in the public sector will be significantly reduced if not eliminated, although one possible undesired consequence might be the deterrence from public service of those individuals who might want to keep their financial affairs away from the scrutiny of any other. We shall see eventually what is the ultimate disposal of the legislation, but the populist reaction so far appears to be one of an understated cynicism that it will ever see the light of day or of parliamentary approval.

The Code of Conduct, to be established by the Commission after public consultation, will assumedly provide a charter of ethical behaviour for public officers. The Commission will also police the Code, being endowed with the power to summon an officer to appear before it and to require him or her to furnish requested information under pain of criminal penalty. According to Clause 66-

Where the Commission is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a public official contravened the Code of Conduct, the Commission may

  1. (a)  request the official in writing to furnish any further information or documents that it may require;
  2. (b)  require the official to attend an inquiry of the Commission at a specified time to be heard on any matter relating to the alleged contravention.

(2) A public official who fails, without reasonable cause, to attend an inquiry being conducted pursuant to this section or to furnish any information that the Commission requests him to furnish, or knowingly gives any false or incomplete information at such an inquiry is guilty of an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $15 000 or to imprisonment for one year or to both.

(3) The Commission shall not take any adverse decision without giving the public official an opportunity to be heard.

It bears remarking that the fine here for non-compliance compares favourably for dissuasion with some of the others, arguably of a far more serious nature, that we have considered earlier. Also meriting observation is the opinion that the drafters of the Bill appear to have elevated membership of the Commission to a near full time occupation if it is to be effective in discharging its designated functions. The question again begs asking, are we prepared to expend these substantial sums in order to combat the appearance of corruption in public life? There may very well be differing responses to this query.

Where the Commission determines that there has been a contravention of the Code, it may not only recommend the punishment or disciplinary measures that it believes ought to be taken against the public official in its report of the matter but, depending on the status of the official concerned, it must send a copy of that report to various entities. This makes for interesting reading in Clause 67 (3)-

(i)  the head of the Public Service and the Governor-General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by a public officer;

(ii)  the Speaker of the House of Assembly or President of the Senate, as the case may be, and the Governor-General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate;

(iii)  the Governor-General, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by the head of the Public Service or by the Speaker of the House of Assembly or the President of the Senate; and

(iv) the public body in relation to which the public official is a public

official, in the case of an alleged contravention of the Code of

Conduct by a public official other than a public official referred

to in sub-paragraphs (i) to (iii).

On receipt of the report, the entity that receives the report shall immediately decide what action should be taken, implement such measures and inform the Commission within thirty days –Clause 67 (4)(b)

(i)  of the follow-up actions or disciplinary measures that will be or have been taken against the public official in response to the report;

(ii)  that no further action is required to be taken against the public official in response to the report; or

(iii)  that no decision has been made as to the measures to be taken in response to the report, of the reasons for the delay, and of the date by which a decision will be made and sent to the Commission.

It should be of more than passing interest to observe the nature of the punishment that the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate or the Governor General for that matter might impose on an MP in this instance, given the autonomy of these parliamentary bodies and the nature of their governing rules.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 5

Of course the proof of the pudding will ultimately lie in the eating, but the Integrity in Public Life is not short on provisions designed to ensure the reduction of opportunities for specified persons in public life to profit from corruption.

In addition to mandating the declaration of particulars by these individuals that we treated at length in the last installment of this piece two weeks ago, the Bill also requires that every Member of Parliament must also file with the Commission a statement of registrable interests that must be kept by the Commission in a Register of Interests. The content of this statement is catalogued at Clause 38 of the Bill and appears calculated to disclose the trading and commercial interests of the member and of his or her spouse and children. Oddly enough, it also includes at sub-sub-clause g-

“…particulars of any political, trade or professional association to which the person belongs…”

Since, as has been observed before, the legislation does not attempt to engage with an eminently possible source of political corruption; that of the electoral campaign financing of political parties, this particular appears anomalous in a group comprised of existing directorships, beneficial interests in land, and investments in corporate entities, among others. Even odder still is the provision in Clause 38 (2) that appears at first blush to defeat the purpose of the inquiry itself –

Nothing in this section shall be taken to require disclosure of the actual amount or extent of any financial benefit, contribution or interests.

Thus the statement alone of the interest suffices for the purpose, although it is not immediately clear, at least to this writer, how a determination of corruption might be made in the absence of an increase in the value of a particular interest.

One possible explanation for this might be the provision in Cl. 39(2) that permits the Register to be inspected by any member of the public. The need to preserve the privacy of the member, it would appear, clearly outweighs the detection of an increase in the unexplained value commercial holdings by the MP.

As it is with the declaration of assets, the Commission is empowered to request further information on the statement, although this must be read subject to Clause 38 (2) cited above, and may conduct an inquiry to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure as stipulated.

As a matter of drafting style, the Bill introduces the notion of a prohibited interest almost by stealth in Clause 40 (2) without prior warning or definition until it does so belatedly in Clause 42.

According to the former clause,

Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), where the Commission is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate has failed to comply with the requirements for the registration of interests under this Part or that such member has acquired a prohibited interest… [Emphasis added]

Clause 42 later defines a prohibited interest as one where-

  1. (a)  the member has notified the Commission of the interest as required by this Act; and

(b)  the Commission is of the opinion that the interest

(i)  is unlikely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct; or

(ii)  is likely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct but that the member, his spouse or child, as the case may be, has divested himself of the interest or has placed it in a blind trust on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate.

The Bill additionally creates a number of offences in connection with the failure to file the statement; filing a knowingly incomplete statement or one that is materially false in any particular; a failure to comply with a request of the Commission and a failure without reasonable cause to attend an inquiry called by the Commission and to furnish any requested information or knowingly giving any false or incomplete information in response at the inquiry –Clause 43 (1).

Once again, it bears remarking that the primary monetary fine for these offences on summary conviction is a scarcely dissuasive $ 15 000; a sum worth significantly less in today’s coinage than the fine under the 1929 Prevention of Corruption Act.

However it is possible for this penalty to be enlarged upon by the flouting of the magistrate’s order to make a full disclosure of the property. By clause 43-

Where an offence referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b) involves the non- disclosure, by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate, of property which should have been disclosed in a statement of registrable interests, the magistrate shall order the member to make full disclosure of the property within a specified period.

Where a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate fails to comply with an order made pursuant to subsection (2) within the specified period, the offence referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the member shall be liable to a further fine of $3 000 for each day on which the offence continues.

Arguably, even more dissuasive still is the punishment prescribed by Clause 44-

A member of the House of Assembly or the Senate who is convicted of an offence under section 36 or 43 is liable, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction for the offence.

I propose to conclude this series next week with an examination of the treatment of gifts, the definition of acts of corruption, and analyses of the Code of Conduct and of the Bill’s protection afforded to whistleblowers.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On Preventing Corruption 3

The principal technique employed by the Bill for combating corruption is to have specified persons in public life declare their financial affairs to the Commission or, where he or she is a member or staff member of the Commission, to the Governor General under Part IV of the Bill. Immediately, two observations may be made.

First, it bears remarking that the list of specified persons in public life to be found in the Second Schedule excludes members of the senior judiciary, the judges, although it includes magistrates. This stance may have been owed in part to the decision in Trinidad & Tobago, The Integrity Commission v The AG of Trinidad & Tobago, that I adverted to in an earlier column, where the High Court ruled that to include the judiciary among these individuals would be inconsistent with the Constitutional guarantees provided for their independence from the executive.

Mme. Justice Jones, who heard the matter, thought that subjecting the judges to the provisions of the Act constituted an alteration of the terms of service of those Judges appointed before the Act came into effect; impermissibly sought to control the manner in which judges function in their office; and sought to discipline judges in their capacity as judges in a manner that was contrary to the constitutional provisions designed to ensure the independence of the judiciary. She concluded therefore-

In my view… the provisions of the Act which allow for action to be taken and punishment to be inflicted against a Judge for duties imposed in the capacity as Judge are inconsistent with …the Constitution.

As to the inclusion of the junior judiciary or the magistracy, Jones J. determined

“…not only is the provision giving the Commission some disciplinary control over the Magistrates inconsistent with the Constitution but, given the statutory provisions establishing the Commission, an exercise of disciplinary control over Magistrates by the Commission would not provide the insulation acknowledged by the Constitution to be necessary to ensure that the independence provided to Magistrates as members of the Judicial arm of the State is not eroded.

The express inclusion of these officers in the local Bill is thus likely to incur the risk of constitutional litigation.

Second, one notes the substantial role played by the Governor General in the entire machinery. Again, this raises questions of the employment of able technical staff.

For instance, section 30 provides-The Commission or the Governor-General, as the case may be, may in writing request a declarant to furnish such further particulars or other information relating to his financial affairs as may be considered necessary for the purposes of section 4(1)(b) or 29, as the case may be, and the declarant shall comply with the request within the time specified therefor by the Commission or Governor-General, as the case may be.

One does not contemplate Her Excellency fulfilling this responsibility without competent technical advice, although I do not recall the text of the Bill allowing the Governor General to avail herself of the human resources of the Commission. Does this therefore entail the appointment of such staff to the office; a query that brings into sharp focus once more the financial cost we are prepared to pay to curb corruption in local public life.

There is one further comment to be made on the list of specified persons in public life required to make disclosure of their financial affairs. Barbadians are by nature given to be very private individuals, especially where their financial status is concerned. Perhaps some historian or sociologist may trace the origin of this penchant to our past experience.

And while those who by the nature of the office they currently hold, such as Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments within the Public Service would appear to have little choice in the matter, this cultural predilection for privacy may estop some from serving in specified positions where they have the option of acceptance or refusal, such as members of the Senate, Chairpersons of Boards, Commissions, Corporations or other Entities established by statute or even as members of Cabinet.

It is easy to rejoin that the honest person should have little to fear in this regard, but at least two matters may be adverted to here. First, that reluctance to expose one’s financial affairs to the scrutiny of others might not necessarily arise from a want of probity on the part of the individual and, second, that the decision may be more than a personal one for the specified person. According to Clause 25 (5)-

A declaration shall be in such form as may be prescribed and shall give full, true and complete particulars of

  1. (a)  the person’s income, assets and liabilities;
  2. (b)  the assets of the person’s spouse and dependent children; and
  3. (c)  any gift received in the course of the performance of the person’s public functions.”

Finally, in respect of the declaration itself, there appears to be a textual inconsistency between the discretionary Clause 25 (6) that stipulates

A declaration may be accompanied, where the specified person in public life so wishes, by a statement giving details of his income, assets and liabilities which shall be certified by an accountant.

and the mandatory, though not absolute, provision in Clause 27 (1)-

A specified person in public life is required to disclose in his declaration under section 25, such details in respect of the income, assets and liabilities of himself and those of his spouse and his children, as by the exercise of reasonable care, should be known to him. [Added emphasis]

While the first clause permits the declarant a discretion to produce a certified statement, the second fastens him or her with constructive knowledge of some details, and requires their disclosure on pain of criminal penalty.

However, the specified person in public life has the option of placing his assets in a blind trust disclosed to the Commission whereby he forgoes all control of the funds there. The Clause 28 (5) defines the creation of a blind trust-

A blind trust is created when a specified person in public life enters into an agreement with a qualified trust company whereby

  1. all or any part of his assets or those of his spouse or children are conveyed to the trust company for the management, administration and control thereof, in its absolute discretion without recourse or report to the person or persons beneficially entitled to those assets;
  2. (b)  income derived from the management of the assets is [not?] to be distributed, in accordance with the agreement, to him, his spouse or his children until he ceases to be a specified person in public life; and
  3. (c)  after he ceases to be a specified person in public life, proper and full accounting is to be made to him, his spouse or children as the circumstances of the management of the trust require.

To be continued…

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 2

The current official imperative to establish machinery to modernize the statute that criminalizes corruption in matters of state has seemingly not met with universal acclaim, if I am to judge from a number of responses to my offering in this space last Sunday.

While there are those who believe that corrupt behaviour among public officials merits the harshest punishment constitutionally possible, there are those who, while grudgingly accepting the “optics” of passing such a statute, nevertheless remain cynical as to its likely success in curbing such corruption, given the ingrained local culture of the weak or non-enforcement of many of our penal laws and the natural tendency towards corruption.

Last week, we concluded our discussion by noting that the text of the Bill in its present form, had failed to distinguish adequately between the Board of the Commission as identified in the First Schedule and the executive staff of the Commission itself, using the expression “Commission” to describe both. That there is such a distinction is fortified by the provision in Clause 8 (1) that

the Commission may, acting within the funds and resources available to it employ such officers and other employees as are required for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission; and retain the services of professional persons…..

Concomitantly, this provision may raise another moot point for the more cynical as to whether our anticipated level of future corruption merits the expenditure at this stage of the hefty fees likely to be billed by forensic auditors and of the wages of the financial and legal functionaries expected to be employed on the staff of the Commission. It remains at base a policy issue, I suppose, namely, what price are we prepared to pay to counter public corruption?

The designated functions of the Commission make it the repository and examiner for veracity of the relevant documentation pertaining to those declarations, statements and reports that the Bill mandates to be submitted by those persons in public life as defined. However, it has an even more critical core function at Clause 4 (1)(d)

to receive, inquire into and investigate any complaint or report of alleged contraventions of the Act or of the Code of Conduct; the acquisition by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate of a prohibited interest; or an alleged offence under any Act that assigns responsibility for the investigation of offences to the Commission…

This police power of investigation granted to the Commission the Commission is untrammelled since in the exercise of its functions it “may not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority”, -Clause 4 (2)- except, of course, despite the absolute nature of this provision, to the canons of natural justice and it will arguably be subordinate to the courts.

Further, since by Clause 4 (1)(d), the Commission is empowered “to investigate any matter referred to in paragraph (d) [ex propio motu] on its own initiative, where the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for an investigation or inquiry”; this would preclude the need for the formal complaint that the local Force recently deemed necessary for it to initiate an investigation.

In addition, the Commission exercises a residuary regulatory function in relation to probity in public life, considering the effect of sub-sub-clauses (f) and (g) of Clause 4-

to examine the practices and procedures of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices, except where there is a statutory duty on any other person to perform that function;” and

to instruct, advise and assist the management of public bodies of any change in practices or procedures which may be necessary to reduce the occurrence of corrupt acts, except where there is a statutory duty on any other person to perform that function…”

Nor is the geographical reach of the Commission limited. Clause 6 entitles it to enter into compacts with local and foreign law enforcement agencies to assist it in carrying out its functions and the power to appoint and designate investigative officers granted by Clause 9 serves to convert it into what I would describe as an anti-corruption police force for officialdom.

The concentration of such awesome state power in the Commission should be jealously guarded and matters such as the mode of appointment of its members, their partisan political biases and their susceptibility to corrupt practices all assume prominence in this context. The mode of appointments, mainly by the Governor General after consultation with a specified authority is ostensibly reassuring, although as I noted last week, I am not immediately persuaded of the need for member of the clergy, the attorney at law or the two “partisan” advised appointments at (e) and (f) of paragraph 1of the First Schedule.

While I imagine that the nomination of a member of the clergy is a sop to religion as being the genesis of a morality that should be the antithesis of corrupt conduct, and that of the attorney at law an acknowledgement that the matter of criminalizing official corruption is essentially a matter of law, the two partisan appointments give the impression of a tawdry attempt to appear even-handed although, given the nature of the matter under discussion, it may be argued and is submitted that traditional politics ought not to play any role, either significant or at all.

It bears further remarking that the members of the Commission are afforded some security of tenure in that the removal of any of them for any of the specified causes requires the convening of a tribunal by the Governor General that shall consist of

(a) a judge of the Supreme Court;

(b) an attorney-at-law with at least 10 years’ standing whose name appears on the Roll of Attorneys-at-law pursuant to the Legal Profession Act, Cap. 370A; and

(c) one other person of high integrity and appropriate qualifications,
to inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the Governor-General…”

and recommend to him whether the member ought to be removed.

The member is, understandably, given an opportunity to be heard in his or her own defence.

Next: Declarations of financial affairs

The Grenville Phillips Column – Messy Business

grenville-phillips

Grenville Phillips II, Leader of Solutions Barbados

Corruption trials are messy affairs. If the receivers are tried, then the payers will likely be revealed and reputations can be damaged. Charging politicians with corruption can also lead to speculation that every procurement decision within that ministry had a bribe component.

Based on the experiences of other countries, simply charging and convicting people for corruption does not stop subsequent bribes from being paid and received. This is because the system that encourages corrupt practices has not been changed. The private sector can still justify paying bribes as a cost of doing business, while the receivers can still justify it as the cost for certain business to participate in the national economy.

Charging persons with corruption increases the risk that the transaction will be made public. In business, the normal consequence of an increased risk is to charge higher costs to compensate for that increased risk. Therefore, the bribe percentage will likely increase.

When government purchases have bribe components, then the public must pay this additional cost of doing business. For the benefit of any who may still be unaware, on construction projects globally, the corruption component is typically 10% to 30% of the cost of projects with no effective oversight. The bribe component is normally recovered from the public through increased taxation.

Politicians are skilled at the art of getting over-taxed populations to feel grateful for the privilege of paying additional taxes. A typical method is to identify an essential service that the public is already paying multiple times over the actual cost of a well-managed service. The public is then informed that additional taxes are required to maintain that service.

Since most people want to maintain health-care, education, sanitation, water, police and other important services, then they willingly pay what is demanded. However, this system of extracting additional taxes relies on political operatives to denigrate anyone who happens to question the necessity of the additional taxes.

Is there an effective solution to get corrupt persons to repay us the amounts they forced us to pay through increased taxes, without a messy spectacle of a trial? Fortunately there is. Solutions Barbados designed a very simple, very economical but highly effective system to achieve both objectives.

First, a 3-month amnesty allows any person who received or paid a bribe to refund taxpayers with the full value of the bribe. Thereafter, anyone with knowledge of corrupt practices can anonymously report them and be rewarded with the full value of the bribe. However, both payers and receivers must then pay a fine of 10 times the value of the bribe.

This fair method does not require the high costs to manage the highly complex Integrity in Public Life bill, with its glaring loopholes for guilty persons, unfortunate removal of protections for innocent persons, and political management that leaves it highly vulnerability to partisan political control.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

ICBL Bribe Case in Limbo

The following was posted as a comment to BU blog – The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption by Peter Lawrence Thompson – David, blogmater

ICBLFrom the INNISS indictment:-

3. Barbados Company Executive 1, an individual whose identity is known to
the Grand Jury, was a citizen of Canada and a resident of Barbados. Barbados Company
Executive 1 was the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the Barbados Company.
4. Barbados Company Executive 2, an individual whose identity is known to
the Grand Jury, was a citizen of Barbados and a resident of Barbados. Barbados Company
Executive 2 was a senior vice president of the Barbados Company.
5. Barbados Company Executive 3, an individual whose identity is known to
the Grand Jury, was a citizen of Barbados and a resident of Barbados. Barbados Company
Executive 3 was the Chief Financial Officer of the Barbados Company.

Ingrid Innes was the CEO of ICBL in 2015 and there is a reference in the 2016 ICBL Annual Report that she had “resigned from the company.”

Alex Tasker was the Senior Vice President Business Development and Marketing of ICBL in 2015 and 2016 according to the ICBL Annual Reports for those years. His LinkedIn page pointedly omits any reference to his tenure at ICBL and attempts to create the impression that he has been working at Digicel from 2006 to the present.

Kamante Millar was the CFO of ICBL in 2015 and 2016 according to the ICBL Annual Reports for those years. Her LinkedIn page shows that she left ICBL at the end of 2017.

If these are indeed the individuals mentioned in the INNISS indictment, When are they going to be charged in Barbados? The clock is ticking because the DPP has only six months to press charges from August 6th 2018, when the alleged crime came to public notice.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 1

Didn’t we all grow up understanding that bribes and payoffs – – by whatever name or rationale – – were bad? And that people were supposed to be the focal point of society, not money?” ― Ray Bourhis, Revolt: The Secession of Mill Valley

The current governing administration is persuaded that anti-corruption and transparency in public affairs merit a statute prohibiting and criminalizing any behaviour that would offend these ideals. To its credit, it has sought to engage formal public discourse on the matter, a national conversation, if you will, by convening a select committee of Parliament to entertain oral and written submissions from individual and corporate members of the public on the adequacy of the text of the proposed legislation.

Two observations need to be made in limine [from the beginning] in this context. The first is that a form of such legislation already exists in the Prevention of Corruption Act 1929, a statute that, as recent events demonstrate, already criminalizes the cruder form of corruption; bribery, even though it is cribbed, cabined and confined by the relatively minor nature of the offence; a misdemeanour, the comparatively mild, although not entirely lenient nature of its penalties on conviction (a) to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine of two thousand four hundred dollars or to both such imprisonment and fine; and

(b) To be ordered to pay to such body, and in such manner as the court directs, the amount or value of any gift, loan, fee or reward received by him or any part thereof; and

(c) to be adjudged incapable of being elected or appointed to any public office for seven years from the date of his conviction and to forfeit any such office held by him at the time of his conviction”

and the restrictive nature of the mode and time limit for its prosecution in certain cases in that first, “a prosecution for an offence under this Act shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions” and, second. that “proceedings instituted with a view to obtaining a summary conviction for an offence under this Act may be commenced at any time before the expiration of six months after the first discovery of the offence by the prosecutor”.

The second observation relates to the rather earthier point that it ought to be recognized that legislation by itself is ineffective to prevent corruption or any other form of criminal conduct. As the text of the epigraph above suggests, we, certainly those of my generation and then environment, all grew up understanding that certain things, including your good name and that of your family, were not for sale at any price. We did not need to be reminded that selling your trust for a mess of filthy lucre bordered on criminality or infringed a statute. I suppose we were too poor to know otherwise.

Given the failings of the existing legislation identified above, a new statute, the Integrity in Public Life Act, has been drafted that is more comprehensive in its formulation to prevent public corruption.

That Act, still in draft Bill form, grandly purports in its statement of Objects and Reasons its intention to establish a regime, including an integrity commission, to “promote the integrity of persons in public life and strengthen measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption”. [Emphasis added].

I propose, over the next few columns, to analyze the draft Bill for the benefit of my readers. I shall do so through (i) an examination of the nature, form and function of the Commission, (ii) the mandated declarations of financial affairs; (iii) the treatment of gifts; (iv) what constitutes an act of corruption; (v) the contents of the Code of Conduct in public life and (vi) the Act’s provision for whistleblower protection.

Clause 3 of the Bill establishes the Integrity Commission, while the First Schedule stipulates its composition and other matters. The proposed Commission comprises six individuals as listed, paying due deference to the skills that would ordinarily be associated with the forensic detection and determination of acts of corruption. Thus there is a designated position of a chartered or certified accountant, a retired judge, a senior attorney at law and two individuals in effect selected by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition respectively.

I am minded to question the stipulation that there must be a member of the Clergy on the Commission, although I suppose that this provision is a sop to the moral nature of integrity. Which leads inexorably to the issue of whether the legal and accounting functions are not more competently treated by the members of the staff of the commission rather than have the membership of the Board of the Commission itself consist of individuals skilled in these areas. On this argument, the sole qualification for membership of the Board should be a perception of personal integrity rather than possession the forensic skills necessary to root out corruption. The patent attempt to constitute a politically bipartisan Commission is to be commended.

As I similarly found to my chagrin when I chaired the Fair Trading Commission, the text of the Bill in its present form fails to make an adequate differentiation between the Board or the directors of the Commission and the staff of the Commission itself, using the omnibus expression “the Commission” to cover both.

For instance, Clause 4 (1)(c) of the Bill provides the following as a function of the Commission-

to make inquiries and carry out investigations as it considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of a declaration, statement of registrable interests or report of a gift filed under this Act…”

It is at least doubtful whether the members listed in the First Schedule will perform these duties personally. Yet, according to the definition section, these individuals are precisely the ones referred to as the Commission. I consider that there is a need for a redrafting in this regard if only for the purposes of clarity. The Commission is not solely the Board that is targeted rather to providing general oversight of the stipulated functions by the staff.

Corruption Dry Talk

The blogmaster has participated in three general elections in the decade since Barbados Underground (BU) was established. There was the memorable 2008 general election when a young David Thompson wrestled the government from a tired Owen Arthur. In 2013 Freundel Stuart was given a second chance to be his own man after taking over from David Thompson who died in office on 23 October 2010. And in 2018 Barbados recorded its first female prime minister. Mia Mottley’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won 30-0 on the 24 May 2018.

The blogmaster supported the David Thompson campaign in 2008, disliked the slothful leadership of Stuart in 2013 and by default was left with limited options after a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) vandalized the Barbados brand in 2018.

A recurring message has been peddled by the duopoly in the three general elections. That of alleged corruption by elected officials.

In 2008:-

  • VECO and the Dodds prison
  • CLICO $75,000 cheque paid to Owen Arthur
  • 3S and Operation Freeflow flyover project
  • Hardwood Housing Factory Inc
  • etc

In 2013:-

  • CLICO Forensic report
  • CAHILL Scam
  • Pierhead Marina Project
  • Cost=U-Less
  • etc

In 2018:

  • CLICO (again)
  • Corruption by Members of Parliament
  • National Housing PAC report
  • Maloney (Rock Hard Cement)
  • etc

Both political parties have been successful in bamboozling a gullible public in the three election cycles mentioned by promising that on winning the government corruptors will be ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’. The inability of the duopoly to deliver on the promise exposes the message from the duopoly for what it is, an electioneering scam.

A disappointment for many – and a significant contributor to the current state – has been the extent to which the traditional media has contributed to the hoodwinking of the public.  By usurping its role as a guardian of our democracy to deliver on its mandate to fairly and accurately report the news- the democracy we aspire to have remains elusive. As a consequence of the vacuum created, we have seen the rise of citizen journalism taking advantage of the emergence of social media platforms in a technological driven world. The blogmaster’s observation contrasts starkly with a recent Barbados Today Editorial summarized in the following extract:

The role of the media, whether print, electronic or broadcast is to educate and inform and to present factual news and balanced opinions without the suggestion of partisanship or personal bias. The media sometimes fail on this score because mortal men and women are the media, and subject to personal foibles, corporate dictates and political linkages. They can – by their deliberate spin – influence public opinion to a significant degree.

 

 

But, thankfully, in most instances and in the case of Barbados specifically, the media operate within the realm of an educated public which easily discerns where unvarnished news starts and stops and where spin begins. We hold absolutely no brief for anyone, inclusive of politicians or political parties. But as a member of the media fraternity who, too, can be accused rightfully or wrongfully of not always carrying out that which it now trumpets, we feel it incumbent upon us to call a spade a spade and to address a particularly troubling scenario.

 

 

Barbados Today 27 August 2018

Although early in tenure the Mia Mottley government has been following the corruption script albeit with greater stridency, or so it seems.  The recent arrest by US authorities of a former high profile minister has dovetailed government’s public consultation by the Committee on Integrity In Public Life Bill.  The two events have magically served to pump up the corruption talk volume in the public domain. The blogmaster remains cynical that Barbados will be able to implement a transparency framework to efficiently hold officials ‘feet to the fire’. Our inability to manage key functions in the country like public transportation, NIS fund, waste management to name three support the view.

One of the reasons first offered by the former government for not implementing Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation promised in 2008 was the cost to operationalize. It has not gone unnoticed by the blogmaster that Sir David Simmons in his recent contribution to the Committee on the Integrity in Public Life Bill matter-of-factly indicated that the Bill as proposed will be ineffective unless related laws are enacted. He cited the need for a code of conduct to manage breaches, proper regulation of campaign financing and a few others.

The blogmaster is of the view Barbadians do not have the capacity to fairly assess the mirror image late Errol Barrow prophetically shared in 1986. The fact we have sunk billions of dollars in education since he delivered the Mirror Image speech serves as an indictment on our leadership and people.

Where do we go from here amidst the chaos and the lack of a realization by the majority of citizens that we need to achieve a new normal? The jury remains out 104 days into the Mia Mottley government.

A mantra of Prime Minister Mia Mottley is that many hands make light work. Unfortunately Barbados at this critical juncture in history – despite crumbling economic and social structures – is at its most politically polarized state ever. A condition that will make the task of rebuilding all the more challenging.

We live in hope!

 

 

 

The George Brathwaite Column – Anti-corruption Mix and Fix

The worst disease in the world today is corruption. And there is a cure: transparency” – (Bono).

Over the last two years, this writer has consistently made the point that sound public administration must embrace the ideals and mechanisms that facilitate good administrative and business practices. In recent years, increased allegations of corruption and maladministration were levelled against the Barbados Government and agencies functioning under its purview. Surely, the last Barbados government would have attracted a ‘fair share’ of the accusations although claims of corruption have always lingered in the shadows of preceding administrations. It is without making any hypocritical twists, that Barbadians must ponder on the information being pedalled into popular discourse.

Prior to the last general elections, Barbadians were often critical of the Freundel Stuart-led administration’s silence on important issues. People were uneasy with non-forthcoming information, and the way contracts were entered upon while taxpayers’ monies were spent or wasted during times of belt-tightening by local workers and households. Amidst rumours and speculation of corruption, it became self-evident that the then administration was more willing to operate in silence than shower the media and the governed with information. Who would dare forget the refusal by Stuart’s administration to disclose critical aspects of the mysterious Cahill Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

The Nation Newspaper’s editorial of 18 August 2015 iterated the popular sentiment that it was “hard to fathom the deafening silence of Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the Government as a whole. It is as if they have determined that they will outlast objectors with their silence.” Withholding information from the public is a political tactic, but it does not encourage transparency. It is not conducive to reducing the risk of corruption. Indeed, lack of information or resorting to misinformation is indicative that things are not in reality what they are being made out to be. For example, a ludicrous statement made by Freundel Stuart in April 2017 asserted that Barbados remained “socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound” and is characterised by “good and transparent government.” That declaration was laughable given what was being hidden in plain sight – the shattered economy, society, and government.

It is inconceivable that going into the third decade of the 21st century, any responsible government would function stealthily when Barbados is already gripped in an age of openness. Naturally, the Government may try to control the flow of information; however, populations are demanding greater transparency and accountability. It is in this context that accurate and timely information can be the impetus for obtaining appreciative standards of good governance. Freedom of Information, Integrity in Public Life, and other legislative fixes inclusive of addressing procurement practices must be on the table. One anticipates that the Mottley-led administration will implement best practices, especially because Barbadians are vocal in their need to have corrected, the several wrongs that made daily living much harder during the final years of the last administration.

From the day to day running of government departments and statutory bodies, to the procurement of contractual services, Barbadians largely believed (and still do) that the provision of public services has been undermined by the corrupt practices of bribery and nepotism. The Auditor General identified gross discrepancies and the non-reporting of substantial sums of money. Also, and not for the first time, it was recommended that “audit issues, once presented, should be addressed in a timely manner, to ensure that such issues do not recur in subsequent years.” Generally, rumours suggested negligence or at worst, persons had a hand or two in the country’s cookie jar. Additionally, whisperings of injurious transactions costing the treasury millions appeared unrecoverable. Large sums remained untraceable without recourse to a forensic audit. Inside disclosures coupled with non-lodged leakages such as those emerging from the last Public Accounts Committee (PAC) all indicated the necessity for enhanced transparency and accountability. Barbadians were mesmerised that no public officer accepted responsibility nor was anyone sitting in ‘Dodds’ because of any misdeed.

Simple mistake, negligence, or mischiefs of the past reveal the urgency for which there must be the creation and implementation of new preventive and enforcement institutions. Anti-corruption measures inclusive of legislation, must be characterised by definitive strategies to scrutinise, prevent, expose, and prosecute those public officers involved in corruption. Barbadians are today pleading for a creature, formed with the requisite teeth, to safeguard the treasury. To put it differently, after the formal and informal reports of shenanigans through the Auditor General and the PAC, Barbadians are adamant about the need for a robust anti-corruption mix and fix, possessing the requisite teeth to safeguard the treasury.

All does not appear lost. The tenor and actions of the current Attorney General are encouraging. AG Marshall has succinctly stated that under the new administration, the authorities in carrying the fight against corruption in public office will “tear back the wall, tear back the vaults and look at the paperwork and see what was going wrong. It will take courage.” Certainly, this writer is pleased that the new administration is inclined to tear back the wall of secrecy while raising public awareness of the existence and deleterious consequences of corruption.

Surely, lingering ignorance in Barbados on corruption can easily empower the corrupt to become even more corruptible. It is to be noted that there is still the challenge of overcoming a deeply embedded culture of ‘harmless’ bribery and favour-granting niceties. Political Scientist Cynthia Barrow-Giles alluded to this phenomenon a few month ago in an article indicating that “acts of corruption perpetuated by ordinary citizens are equally mind boggling as the awarding of contracts and the many major political scandals that we read about.” Yet, in public glare, “bribery is just one form of corrupt behaviour perpetuated by ordinary citizens which is too often considered harmless.” Barrow-Giles concluded that “in one form or another most citizens can engage in ambivalent complicity in corruption.”

It is the previously concealed information about corruption and the malevolent practices that were not above board. The Attorney General has been forthright and relatively transparent in communicating prospects for implanting anti-corruption modes of operation in the rebuilding of Barbados’ reputation – economic and societal. AG Marshall insists that he intends “to strain every sinew … to the point of breaking,” while engaging “every agency of the Crown, either in Barbados or outside of Barbados … to bring the perpetrators of that dishonest activity to heel.” Chasing down corruption is necessary if the Barbados brand is to overcome the detriments and blacklisting that can occur, particularly with recent events that are

Barbados must be firm in its stance and resolute in its conviction for exposing the misdeeds of the past while formulating mechanisms that will help to prevent daily wastage, nepotism, and corruption. Therefore, the anti-corruption framework that is being shaped by the BLP, appears conducive to responding to the needs and expectations of citizens and residents in their capacities of individuals, interest groups and the society in general. Sharing accurate information, implementing whistle-blower legislation, and finding the best anti-corruption mix and fix can be effective for public administration and good governance in Barbados.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant and former lecturer in Political Science. Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com).

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Clock Striking Thirteen

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” –George Orwell -“1984”

I frequently use the phrase at caption to suggest that an event is not only extraordinary in itself but that it also calls into question the assumed objective reality of previous similar events. I mean, if a clock is going to strike thirteen when there are twelve hours only in the forenoon and the same number after noon in one day, then one is entitled to query what time was it exactly when that clock chimed eight times for instance.

I had cause to use the expression again last week when the news was reported that former Cabinet member in the recently outgone Democratic Labour Party administration, Mr Donville Inniss, had been arrested, charged and indicted in the US with the offence of money laundering the proceeds of a crime committed in Barbados. Of course, under the system of law that prevails in both of the relevant jurisdictions, an accused is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Hence my retort was not occasioned by any assumption that Mr Inniss had indeed committed the offences that led to his indictment but, rather, by the allegation itself therein that that a local private sector concern had colluded corruptly with a state official to benefit unfairly from a commercial transaction. Muted whispers apart, to what extent is this prevalent in our society and for how long has it been? Or was this merely the misinterpretation of a perfectly legitimate transaction and thus simply an aberration in contemporary Barbados politico-commercial life?

So the hall clock struck thirteen, giving cause to wonder whether all public contracts over the years have been fairly won by private concerns. And to wonder whether other state officials have ever been corruptly active in the award of these contracts and whether it will even be possible to stymie the practice, if it does exist.

Much has been made of the fact that a responsible Minister was allegedly able to play such a primary role in the selection of an insurer for an enterprise governed by a board of directors. I should disclose in his favour, for what it is worth, that Mr Inniss was my line Minister for the three years [2015-2018] I served as Chairman of the Fair Trading Commission and never once in that time did he attempt to influence or interfere with any of the decisions of our Board of Commissioners, not even when we were called upon to deliberate on the compliance with the Fair Competition Act of the proposed purchase of BNTCL by a private concern; a transaction on which the administration of which he was a part then appeared to hang so much hope for Barbados’ short term economic recovery.

The indictment accuses Mr Inniss of money laundering. Essentially, this offence entails in layman’s terms, an attempt to launder “dirty” money by concealing the criminal source of its acquisition and by pretending that it has been lawfully acquired. The strict legal definition is not so limited, at least locally, however. According to section 5 of the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention and Control) Act 2011-

(1) A person engages in money laundering where

(a) the person engages, directly or indirectly, in a transaction that involves money or other property or a benefit that is proceeds of crime; or

(b) the person receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of, or brings into or sends out of Barbados any money or other property or a benefit that is proceeds of crime.

For the purposes of this section, a person engages in money laundering where he knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that the property or benefit is derived or realised directly or indirectly from some form of unlawful activity or, where the person is

(a) an individual other than a person referred to in paragraph (b), where he fails without reasonable excuse to take reasonable steps to ascertain whether or not the property or benefit is derived or realised, directly or indirectly, from some form of unlawful activity; or

(b) a financial institution or a non-financial business entity or professional, where the financial institution or non-financial business entity or professional fails to take reasonable steps to implement or apply procedures to control or combat money laundering.

So far as local law is concerned therefore, money laundering would appear to include any type of dealing with the proceeds of crime so that the perpetrator of any predicate offence from which money or other property is alleged to have been derived may be charged with the offence of money laundering even though he or she did not attempt to conceal its source but simply used those proceeds in an otherwise lawful transaction.

It is at least ironic that the predicate offence on which the Inniss indictment is based is located in the hoary Prevention of Corruption Act 1929 that was much scoffed at earlier this year when suggested as affording adequate protection against corruption. While this in no way to argue that that statute is indeed fit for contemporary purposes, it nevertheless provides for a criminal offence that may be utilized for any proceeds emanating from it to be treated as the basis of a money laundering charge.

I have followed with interest the public discussion of some of the legal issues pertinent to this matter. For instance, some have opined that Mr Inniss was arrested and charged in the US only because he had lost his diplomatic (sic) immunity together with his membership of Parliament on May 24. In fact an MP here enjoys no diplomatic immunity in respect of criminal acts, although he or she is entitled to immunity from arrest or imprisonment on any civil process while Parliament is in session except in certain limited circumstances -see section 5 (1) of the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act.:

No member shall, during a session, be liable to arrest or imprisonment on any civil process, except for a debt the contraction of which constitutes a criminal offence.”

Another is the degree of calumny heaped, in my view unfairly, on the Commissioner of Police, Mr Tyrone Griffith, for his assertion on the matter, as reported in another section of the press, that “We only pursue matters where we have a complaint and, as far as I am aware, no report has been made to us….”

I do not need or intend to speak for the Commissioner, but I consider that his comments have been regrettably drawn out of context. The offence, on the basis of which Mr Inniss has been indicted in the US, is indeed criminal locally, but given its nature, there is no objective basis for the local constabulary reasonably to suspect that such an offence has indeed been committed here. Clearly, the indictment is based on intelligence to which the charging authorities in the US are privy. However, in the absence of this intelligence having been shared with the local authorities, itself an unlikely prospect since it would amount to an admission of criminal conspiracy from the party best able to do so, the Commissioner’s remarks are understandable. Perhaps the Commissioner could have expressed himself more clearly, but in light of the fact that the crime under the Prevention of Corruption Act is by nature victimless, the reference to a complainant was arguably legally and hopelessly misplaced.

The Grenville Phillips Column – Empty Promises

I am scheduled to be deployed to Haiti shortly to assist them in their recovery efforts.  However, the recent social unrest, which resulted in deaths, property damage and flights into Haiti being suspended, may put those plans in jeopardy.  With the Government awaiting the IMF’s directives, Haiti’s experience is relevant to Barbados at this time.

The IMF directed the Haitian government to implement severe austerity, which included an almost doubling of fuel prices.  When the fuel increases were announced, the people rioted.  It should be remembered that the IMF also directed the Guyana’s government to double the income taxes on the Guyanese.

Having had over 10 deployments to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, including during their elections, I do not think that the increase in fuel prices is the root cause of this crisis.  They know that sacrifices have to be made to improve their economy, and they have made them in the past.  However, after suffering for so long, the Haitian people hate being tricked.

Their political candidates promised to address mismanagement and corruption if they were elected.  The people expected improvements in government efficiency, and arrests of those accused of corruption, before being targeted for austerity.  However, to have austerity forced on them, without the promised efficiency and arrests, appeared to be too much for the people to bear from a Government that promised to be different.

As we canvassed during the recent elections, people wanted to know what Solutions Barbados would do about the gross corruption in which both established political parties have repeatedly accused the other of engaging.  We promised the most effective policy to address corruption.  Both payers and receivers of bribes would have to pay a fine of 10 times the value of the bribe, and whistle-blowers would be rewarded with the full value of the bribe.

Surprisingly, most people were not satisfied with this response.  They wanted the guilty politicians imprisoned.  However, our policy was not to imprison non-violent offenders, but to fine them.  So while we understood what the people wanted, and could have positioned ourselves to benefit from the 26% swing away from the DLP, we were unwilling to damage our reputations by promising what we were unwilling to deliver.

We promised Barbadians prosperity without austerity because it was possible – and it still is.  We promised to improve efficiency and reduce wastage in the public sector, by implementing the customer-focused international quality management standard, ISO 9001, because we could.  We promised to effectively address corruption in the most effective manner possible because we could.  However, the people wanted ‘blood’, and those skilled in political public relations gave them exactly what they were accustomed to receiving from politicians – empty promises.

It is very easy to simply ask people what they want, and then promise them what they have asked for with no intention of ever fulfilling those promises.  Any Solutions Barbados candidate who engaged in that sort of behaviour would likely be voted out of the party at our next meeting.

The public were led to believe that savings from the proper management of the public service would fund their expensive manifesto promises, and not increased taxes.  The public were also led to believe that the arrest and imprisonment of corrupt politicians would immediate follow the general election.  If the BLP and DLP are indeed the same political party, governed by the same prime directive to protect each other from scrutiny, then no arrests should be expected.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Time to Prosecute, Mademoiselle Prime Minister!

The biblical quote ‘to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48) best describes the position the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) finds itself having decimated the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) 30 zip in the recently held 2018 General Election. Put another way, ‘with great power comes great responsibility‘.

One of the first decisions made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley was to appoint a 26 member Cabinet, supported by 2 Ambassadors. The unprecedented size of Mottley’s Cabinet must by supported by a civil service structure that should require additional manpower, we know taxpayers will have to carry greater cost of her team to compare with her predecessor.

The Prime Minister has given the explanation that the perilous – dire is the word she used – state of the country’s affairs will justify the large Cabinet. Her message throughout her campaign was- many hands make light of the work to be done.

The blogmaster agrees the optics of Mottley’s decision to appoint a large Cabinet at a time the country is experiencing serious economic challenges is not good. However, her decision if viewed through a Machiavellian lens suggests she has had to weigh the political cost benefit of keeping her large team happy compared to spending one million tax dollars. Time will tell if her 26 member Cabinet and supporting cast will perform better than the Stuart Cabinet to justify the added expense. She starts as odds on favourite if one reads the result of the 70% of the electorate that voted for her on the 24 May 2018.

Barbadians heard the ‘deja vuan’ promise by newly installed Attorney General Dale Marshall that he will be going after members of the former DLP administration who committed wrong. Public sentiment is running high that the time has come to prosecute elected politicians and public officials of perceived wrongdoing. The blogmaster sides with the view that Barbadian politicians are not washed in the blood of the lamb. All over the world politicians are being prosecuted for crimes. Members of the local political class possess the frailties of being human and are therefore as susceptible to temptation as the other politician living elsewhere. The blogmaster has had it up to HERE, election cycle after election cycle, being on the end of promises from elected politicians to prosecute corruption that is never delivered on.

One way Prime Minister Mia Mottley will be able to justify the cost of her Cabinet and support team is to discretely list savings to taxpayers. The blogmaster goes further: there must be a concerted effort to ‘prosecute’ transactions that smell of corrupt behaviour. Let us witness a vibrant Public Accounts Committee with active followup on Auditor General Reports. Let us hold members of Boards of SOEs accountable for decisions taken and prosecute to where the trail of wrongdoing leads.

The time has come to redefine Barbados as a just society. It isn’t fair to jail Barbadians from the lower strata of society for ‘misdemeanors’ and ignore the flouting of the financial rules of government by public officials, and cases of obvious malfeasance hinted at in successive Auditor General reports.   The willingness of the Wickhams and other operatives to turn the other check must be seen for what it is- a business as usual condition to protect the cabal.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley is perched at a watershed moment in our history. The task to turnaround the economy and enact policies to assist with stitching the social fabric of Barbados will require a herculean effort from her team and Barbadians everywhere. One suspects she and team do not want to be relegated to the political  dustbin of history to follow her predecessors. The time has come for politicians to followup on accusations of corruption delivered on the platform with action.

This is a different time.

Over to you Prime Minister!

 

Make Legal (Professional) Fees Paid by Former DLP Government Public!

There is a culture of secrecy in Barbados when it comes to explaining how taxpayers dollars are spent. The blogmaster listened to retired Director of Finance William Layne in a radio interview recently when he shared a view that much of government’s business can be made public except in a few cases where security considerations apply.

The Trinidad government took a decision in 2015 to inform parliament the amount of fees paid to lawyers and other entities for professional services rendered to government. By recording the names in the people’s parliament they were published in the media for the public’s information.   Although reports confirm some attorneys and others objected for fear of concerns  of personal and family safety, the practice continues.

One of many concerns for Barbadians were the outrageous legal fees charged by a select few lawyers for services rendered to government during the last administration.  Top of mind is the 1.5 million paid to Hal Gollop to review the BWA headquarters agreement. There the payment to Richard Byer of $766,855 to review a standard agreement by order of Caves Barbados. Guyson Mayers was paid $300,000 for fifteen months work to prepare a nondescript report supported by technical tools costing $224,000. Other lawyers like Michael Yearwood and Adrian King come to mind who have risen to millionaire status as a result of sweetheart deals at the behest of the last government.

The blogmaster does not advocate practicing long-knive politics, however, if Prime Minister Mia Mottley wants to send a loud message to the bevy of ministers et al she leads- many are lawyers- here is an opportunity to share with the public all legal fees and professional fees paid to individuals and firms that rendered services to the former government. It is our money, we have the right to know how it was spent.

In the not so eloquent words of the former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister Mottley must show the country that her mice are not without balls!

 

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Anatomy of an Election Campaign

Ten days ago, on April 26, the Honourable Prime Minister of Barbados advised Her Excellency, the Governor General to issue the writs for a general election on May 24, thereby immediately bringing to an end the lamentations of all those who were devoutly wishing for this event. It also ended, at least for now, the intriguing constitutional issue of whether the Prime Minister does in our law possess the exclusive power of determining the date of the general election even after Parliament has been dissolved by effluxion of time and the related question of whether Cabinet government may constitutionally subsist for a substantial period without parliamentary oversight.

Given that there is a likelihood of the recurrence of such an eventuality, Barbadians should seek now to have an authoritative determination of these issues, but the sense of relief and euphoria felt at the fact that the proverbial bell has been rung, added to the arcane nature of that debate will probably quell any such initiative…until next time. “Que dire [Cuddear]”, I can hear Barbadians say, “the matter has been resolved, what more do we need?”

And so, for the next few weeks, the island will be consumed by events from the mundane such as the occasion of payment of the deposit into the Treasury by prospective candidates, to the much more significant nomination process on May 7, the enthusiasm, entertainment and revelry of public and spot meetings and the nail-biting tension of the night of the count.

Most remarkable about the current campaign has been the number of political groupings and independent individuals that have declared their intention of contesting the various constituency elections. Indeed, one recent Barbados Advocate editorial has not inaccurately described it “a party of parties”.

This phenomenon is understandable. While the closeness of the result in the 2013 general election might have been considered by some to be owed to a popular indecision to choose between the two major political parties, there are equally those who regarded it as a rejection of both parties (the duopoly) with the less objectionable grouping being ultimately successful. Into this presumed vacuum of popular choice, should naturally come the alternative grouping that we collectively dub a third party, no matter the number or provenance of them.

The road for these new groupings has not been all smoothly paved. Along with the potholes of an expulsion and enforced defection, one such third party has been forced to contend with the rather unfounded allegation noised abroad that its sole purpose is to ensure a negative electoral outcome for one of the traditional parties. Another, founded on the arguably simplistic premise that every local public ill might be cured by a business management application, has also sought to enforce the loyalty of its prospective candidates by having them agree to be mulct in damages for what appears to me to be an unenforceable penal sum, in the event the party should form the next governing administration and he or she should resile from any one of a list of scheduled policies, notably formulated at a time when none of its members has any experience in public office. Might this not serve as a deterrent to probable success?

Another incident of the campaign is the degree of attention being focused on the corrupt practice of bribery, already criminalized locally under section 6 of the Election Offences and Controversies Act, Cap.3. The Honourable Prime Minister himself would scarcely have assisted the national clarity on this matter when, with tongue firmly fixed in cheek, I feel sure, he counseled voters to take any money offered. Subtlety is oftentimes lost on an unwitting audience, and the advice was always liable to be taken literally. Perhaps Mr. Stuart needed to explain himself further.

Incidentally, he appears to be in good company. Last week, while researching material for my column on Clennell Wickham’s fate at the hands of the jury in the 1930 Bailey libel case, I encountered the following in Sir Hilary Beckles’ “A History of Barbados”. The setting is the 1951 general election–

“[Grantley] Adams advised workers not to corrupt their newly won franchise by accepting the bribes of money and rum from the Electors’ Association, while [Wynter] Crawford urged them:

On Election Day, vote right. If money is offered to you for your vote, TAKE I, You need it. They owe it to you!! But don’t let that prevent you from VOTING RIGHT. Remember the ballot is secret No one can know how you vote except yourself and God! [Emphasis added]

In pursuit, no doubt, of its mission to suppress the commission of crime, the Royal Barbados Police Force understandably has publicly declared its intention of vigorously preventing the commission of this offence. Nevertheless, as I have argued in this space previously, the local statutory provisions governing this offence are largely ineffective, unless one should wish selectively to prosecute solely the transaction involving money and that on election day only. It would equally be a corrupt practice under the relevant statute to transfer any form of consideration outside of that day, like now, and with the identical likelihood of compliance by the elector to boot.

Already, political scientists, both trained and uninitiated, are seeking to isolate the issues destined to form the agenda of the respective platforms. This, I suppose, ids premised on the thesis that most Barbadians remain neutral until they are apprised of the various party positions on the economy or on the prevention of corruption, let’s say, and then dispassionately compare and distil these to decide whom they will support. I doubt this very much.

The general election, [in essence, thirty [30] constituency by-elections] is not at all comparable to a high-school debate. It is more critical by far. For it involves the populace choosing first, the individual and, second, the administration that they would want to be the other party to the social contract between the state and themselves for the next quinquennium at least.

Walter Blackman’s Last Post Before the General Election About CLICO, Corruption by Politicians and the Bullseye on Ryan Straughn’s Back

The following is a response to the blogmaster’s observation posted on the  April 26, 2018 11:30 PM directed at Walter Blackman: – “What will be interesting in the days and few weeks ahead is how the various political parties craft their messages to the public”.

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

     –The Rolling Stones

David,

In my humble opinion, pragmatic though ye maybe, you are thinking “old school”.

I find it more interesting to wait and see how the various political parties craft their response to the messages that have been sent by the public.

Please forgive me for being prolix, but I will offer three low-hanging examples to give you an example of how I am thinking.

Firstly, from the standpoint of governance, Mara Thompson continued to be a natural face of the CLICO debacle. CLICO policyholders were given a deadline to confirm all of the information related to their policies which were to be transferred to the new insurance company established by the government. If I remember correctly, the very next day after that deadline, Mara Thompson announced to Gercine Carter of the Nation that her life in parliament was now coming to an end. Politically, she had “false-started” and obviously was advised to claw back the announcement.

The government of Barbados officially transferred the assets and liabilities of CLICO to a politically contrived new insurance company. If my memory serves me correctly, immediately after that event, Mara Thompson announced her retirement from politics and handpicked George Pilgrim as her “successor”. She had decided to “take the money” and not run. The deal had been sealed. No need for any clawback this time. As a former Office Manager of Thompson & Associates, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mara Thompson now saw how easy it was for the political class to callously transform the wicked actions of evildoers into a financial burden of billions of dollars, and then to deftly place that burden upon the back of docile Barbadian taxpayers.

The CLICO scandal is extremely nasty business. It represents a large crimson stain on the white table cloth of our national psyche. Not too long ago, I submitted a poem to BU entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Hopefully, discerning BU readers can now see the similarity in the roles being played by the oysters in that poem, and by CLICO policyholders in real life.

The public’s message that has been sent to the political class is that we want the wrongdoers in the CLICO scandal to be punished, and that we want our regulatory system to be tightened and strengthened so that politicians, civil servants, and the whole range of a company’s management team cannot band together and collude to raid and destroy a corporation again.

It should be easy to see, which party crafts a response to this public demand.

Secondly, the Land Registry and the Town & Country Planning Dept. have a database of all politicians and civil servants who own and have developed property in Barbados. Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has a database of the income which these people have claimed to receive over the past decades.

I am sure that Balaam’s most prized possession, his female ass, is intelligent enough to line up the public salaries of civil servants and politicians with the properties they own and have developed. If an ass can do it, why can’t we? All sensible Barbadians are now calling for those civil servants and politicians who have misappropriated public funds, or who have laundered money, to be identified and punished as criminals.

Have you heard any major political party promising to take these elementary steps to deal with the corrosive influence of corrupt public officials in Barbados? Why not?

Thirdly, Tom Adams, arguably the most brilliant (despite his recklessness) Finance Minister that Barbados has produced to date, possessed enough confidence and political maturity to seek out and attract the talented Owen Arthur, who eventually became PM of Barbados.

On the other hand, the “Cammie Tudor installed PM” Erskine Sandiford, lacking training and expertise in the areas of economics and finance, had to get rid of Dr.Richie Haynes from his cabinet because the electorate had already begun to show some confidence in the Doc’s ability. In a similar vein, David Thompson, all style and no substance when it came to matters of economics and finance, had to get rid of Clyde Mascoll.

Having joined forces with others to rob CLICO policyholders, despite being Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Finance, David Thompson then had to push Dr. David Estwick, his former shadow Minister of Finance, to the perceived outer peripheral ring of his cabinet. Through his last-minute pronouncements, it became crystal clear that all of David Thompson’s preoccupations, in life and death, had now morphed into one concentrated goal: to make sure that details of the CLICO grand robbery never reached the eyes and ears of the Barbadian public. He and his co-conspirators, not to mention the Financial Standards Commission (FSC), failed miserably in that regard. God does not like ugly. All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.

Ryan Straughn, not recognizing that he has a bull’s eye on his political back because of his training in economics, attempted to give Barbadians a comprehensive and analytical view of the various options open to us a country when it came to making a decision on the Transport Board. Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis. With an eye towards destroying Ryan’s stature in the political arena as an economist, before he even got a chance to build it, political agents and his own colleagues immediately jumped into the press and advised members of the electorate not to pay any attention to the mouthings of Ryan Straughn. “This is a subject our party has decided to hide from the public. Ryan is a political rookie, an educated fool, a naïve ‘wet-behind-the –ears’ candidate who has now broken the rules of engagement with the public which the BLP has secretly established”, they effectively declared.

Given the fact that, in the absence of “divine” intervention, the Barbadian economy is about to crash (with thousands upon thousands of resulting fatalities), the Barbadian electorate wanted every serious-minded political party to invite decent, honest-minded Barbadians with backgrounds, training, and expertise in the areas of business and finance, to run for public office. These criteria effectively disqualify 99.9% of lawyers.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Barbadians have lost their trust and confidence in lawyers, and are now clamouring to see corrupt practices eradicated from public life, the major political parties still persist in foisting lawyers upon the electorate?

We shall wait and see what excuses the major political parties are able to come up with for disregarding this public demand.

I haven’t even mentioned FATCA and the opportunity that that imposed legislation creates for us to produce a list of politicians and civil servants with hefty unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts. Such a list should be read out in parliament.

Have you heard this message being preached by our political parties?

I can go on and on……

Hopefully, we shall reconnect after the General Elections are over.

TIME TO LOCK UP VOTE BUYERS

Submitted by David Comissiong, President, Clement Payne Movement

“Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and the senior officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force should be putting together a number of motorized flying squads”

The exchange of hundred dollar bills for votes has now become a standard practice in Barbadian general elections, and if this corrupt practice is not brought to an end it will eventually totally destroy the public or civic life of our nation!

Over the past two General Elections (2008 and 2013) a distinct practice has emerged in which politicians and their henchmen descend upon working-class communities and seek to bribe electors – particularly young men and women – with hundred dollar bills.

This corrupt practice has resulted in thousands of young Barbadians forming the impression that many, if not most, politicians – including some men and women who get elected to Parliament and some of those who go on to hold ministerial office – are no more than tawdry hustlers and con-men!

In other words, the people of our country are rapidly losing respect for the men and women who are supposed to be their national leaders. And when a critical mass of a population lose respect for the men , women and institutions that are supposed to provide national leadership, the nation is lost!

Furthermore, the vile practice of vote buying is gradually and sedulously stripping many of our youth of their idealism and moral values, and is also threatening to subvert the integrity of our electoral system , and by extension, our entire system of governance.

And so, the prevention of vote buying must now be viewed as a national priority!

Barbados does have an Election Offences And Controversies Act (Chapter 3 of the Laws of Barbados), which proscribes vote buying and deems it to be a “corrupt practice”. Indeed, Section 6 of the Election Offences and Controversies Act provides as follows : –

    1) A person is guilty of a corrupt practice who is guilty of bribery.

(2) A person is guilty of bribery who, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf

(a) gives any money….. to any elector or to…any other person on behalf of any elector…in order to induce any elector to vote or refrain from voting ;

(5) Any elector is guilty of bribery who, before or during an election, directly or indirectly by himself or by any       other person on his behalf, receives, agrees to receive, or contracts for any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration…for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting

So, according to the Election Offences and Controversies Act both the buyer of the vote and the seller of the vote are guilty of having committed a “corrupt practice”.

Section 27 (1) of the Election Offences and Controversies Act then goes on to provide that ” a person guilty of a corrupt practice, other than personation, is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for six months or to a fine of five hundred dollars or both”.

Commission of the corrupt practice of “bribery” also has consequences for the election candidate who instigated and profited from it. The Act stipulates that such a candidate may have votes taken away from his tally, and – in certain circumstances – may  be deprived of a seat that he “won”.

Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and the senior officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force should be putting together a number of motorized “flying squads” in marked and unmarked Police vehicles to carry out rapid anti-vote buying surveillance missions in all relevant communities during the last week of campaigning and on Polling Day in particular.

It is time that we lock up a few of these vote buyers !

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Franchise is NOT a Commodity

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Deputy Dean of UWI, Law Faculty, Chairman of the FTC

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy – Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5

 While money can’t buy happiness,

it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery … –Groucho Marx

While the title of today’s column should be an undisputed datum, especially given the provisions of sections 6 and 7 of the Elections Offences and Controversies Act, Cap.3 of the Laws of Barbados that criminalize bribery and treating respectively as corrupt practices and the periodical fulminations against these practices by politicians of various stripe and other well-meaning citizens, I am nevertheless willing to wager that there are very few who would be willing to swear that the title accurately portrays the reality in modern day Barbados.

Now, as the blast of war rings in the ears (in the words of the Prime Minister) before the electoral battle is fully and officially joined, the relation between the statutory provisions and the cultural practice has been brought once more into sharp focus.

The law itself is clear. So far as bribery is concerned, section 6(2) provides-

A person is guilty of bribery who, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf

(a) gives any money or procures any office to or for any elector or to or for any other person on behalf of any elector or to or for any other person in order to induce any elector to vote or refrain from voting; or

(b) corruptly makes any gift or procurement as is specified in paragraph (a) on account of any elector having voted or refrained from voting; or

(c) makes any gift or procurement as is specified in paragraph (a) to or for any person in order to induce that person to procure, or endeavour to procure, the return of any person at an election or the vote of any elector, or if upon or in consequence of any such gift or procurement he procures or engages, promises or endeavours to procure the return of any person at an election or the vote of any elector.”

And, as for treating, section 7 stipulates-

“A person is guilty of a corrupt practice who is guilty of treating.

(2) A person is guilty of treating who corruptly, by himself, either before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing any food, drink, entertainment or provision to or for any person

(a) for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election; or

(b) on account of that person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting or being about to vote or refrain from voting at such election.

Every elector who corruptly accepts or takes any such food, drink, entertainment or provision is also guilty of treating.”

That the latter section criminalizes the practice seemingly endemic in the region whereby the politician buys the elector a drink and something to eat [rum and roti in Trinidad & Tobago; rum and corned beef in Barbados] should entail our recognition that as M. Jourdan in Molière’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” who one day realized that he had been speaking prose all his life “without knowing it”, this traditional treating by politicians may have been against the law all along without any complaint.

Of course, the law insists that for one to be convicted of a criminal offence, not only must such guilt be established beyond reasonable doubt but also the relevant law, in the case of doubt, must be construed in the way most favourable to the accused person. That the traditional rum and corned beef is now been rumoured to have given way to the flat screen or Curve television and the I-phone, pad, or pod does not change the law, which seeks to penalize the transaction itself rather than the nature of the consideration, one jot or tittle.

However, the effective enforcement of the relevant provisions would seem to be akin to an impracticability, given that the most cogent evidence against the politician or his or her agent is likely to come from the accomplice to the criminality, the beneficiary of the bribe or treatment, who would be incriminating himself. As quoted above – “Every elector who corruptly accepts or takes any such food, drink, entertainment or provision is also guilty of treating”. It is the same with the offence of bribery-“A person is guilty of bribery who, after an election, directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person on his behalf, receives any money or valuable consideration on account of any person having voted or refrained from voting or having induced any other person to vote or refrain from voting”.

Thus it is that despite the dissuasiveness of the penalties for those guilty of these offences, including the avoidance of the election of a candidate who is found personally or vicariously guilty of any corrupt or illegal practice (section 54) and the striking off of a candidate’s votes from those persons who were bribed or treated, the general impracticability of enforcement lends to a circumstance that the franchise may indeed be treated locally as a commodity for a long time to come.

Moreover, in our culture, generosity of some kind from the political representative or from a candidate for the constituency is expected. If that generosity is made either expressly or, more likely, impliedly conditional on its future repayment by the exercise of the franchise in that person’s favour, whence the telling evidence of a corrupt practice?

The keener reader will observe that I do not have the space today to tackle an even more insidious form of bribery where the franchise itself is not treated as the commodity but rather the politician himself… or at least his influence. Electoral campaigns are patently expensive undertakings, after all.

May you have a blessed and bountiful 2018, dear reader.

.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Government Turns a Blind Eye to Endemic Corruption in the Public Service

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

This week I planned to write about the much vaunted Public Service Act (PSA) that has failed miserably to live up to its billing about improving the operations of the Public Service. But before I do, please allow me to take a detour to address something that has affected me personally.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017 I was at home relaxing and my phones started to ring off the hook. Several callers alerted me to a debate that was going on in the House of Assembly, where some reference was made about me. Even though my name was not mentioned by the particular member of parliament, he was so explicit that several persons were able to identify me.

I will not go into specifics, other than to say that the remarks were untrue. But I will say that persons, speaking from the floor of the House of Assembly, should not use that forum to falsely attribute things to private citizens, who do not have the right to reply before the same audience.

In accordance with the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act, members of parliament cannot be sued for anything they say in the House. That privilege should not be abused. Enough said for now.

On December 31, 2007 the Public Service Act came into force. Its long title states:

An Act to revise and consolidate the law relating to the administration of the public service for the purpose of achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness in the management of that service and for matters related thereto.

I make bold to say, without fear of sensible contradiction, that the lofty goals of “achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness” have not been even slightly achieved. The Public Service is far worse than it was prior to these “legislated improvements”.

Persons who are unfamiliar with the actual legislation would most likely conclude that it only deals with appointments and promotions, since that’s all the public hears about. In that regard, it has ushered in a regime that has thwarted the legitimate expectations of promotions and appointments for deserving officers, in preference for relatives of senior public officers and politically aligned persons.

The 1978 Public Service Regulations, that were largely replaced by the PSA, were far superior to what currently obtains. Under the old regulations, an officer who was superseded had an avenue to question and reverse his supersession. No such provisions were made under the PSA. That is why so many public officers have to resort to the courts, which unfortunately move like molasses flowing uphill.

The PSA is probably the worst piece of legislation that I have encountered in the 37 years that I have been involved in the Public Service, first as an employee and then as a workers’ representative. However, I do not want to give the impression that there are no positive aspects of the legislation. I will deal with one now and over time others will be highlighted in subsequent columns.

Paragraphs 11 and 12 if the Code of Conduct and Ethics, the Second Schedule to the PSA, originally gave me hope that the the authorities were finally going to do something about the endemic corruption and other misbehaviour among many senior public officers.

Subparagraph 11.(1) instructs a public officer to report if he is being required to act in a way that is, among other things: illegal; improper; or unethical. Similarly, subparagraph 11.(2) requires an officer to report any evidence of criminal or unlawful activities by others. The officer shall report such activities to his head of department, and where the head of department is involved, the report should be made to the Head of the Public Service.

Also, it is a major offence that merits dismissal if an officer fails to report this criminal activity. And any such reports shall be done in accordance with the procedure laid down in the appropriate guidelines or rules of conduct for the officer’s ministry or department. This all sounds so nice but after 10 years no guidelines have been published, and as far as I am aware, no drafts have ever been circulated.

This alone demonstrates how serious Government is about stamping out corruption in the Public Service.

The Grenville Phillips Column – Fighting with Yourself

“… last week, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur scathingly criticised our plan...”

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.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com.

A Heather Cole Column – The New Triangular Trade?

Submitted by Heather Cole

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. -Unknown

In essence this rhyme is about a seemingly unimportant act that can lead to grave consequences. Some call it the effects of causation others the chain of causality.

In our scenario, there is no nail, no horse, no rider, or kingdom to be lost. Instead we have stolen vehicles, a check, a murder and guns and drugs. We have discovered a chain that has blown the cover of the New Triangular Trade.

Since we have established in the last article that vehicles were removed from the Bridgetown Port without the proper paperwork, we have learnt that disassembled vehicles are now part of the trade. One reader wanted a story done on what happens at Transtec. They informed that one of those luxury vehicles regularly receives service there.

Our scenario starts with the check. Payment by a check to be precise. An act so trivial but lead to a chain of events. Had the payment been in cash, an Englishman would not be dead but I am skipping ahead of myself. Checks are traceable. Checks contains names, dollar amounts, bank names, account numbers and check numbers. More than likely the Englishman who had already exchanged the vehicle for the check would have had to return to England to deposit it, if his bank did not accept deposits by taking a picture of the check with his phone. We do not know if this was done. Even if the check was deposited by phone, it still had to clear the bank unless he had deposits to cover the amount of the check. We do not know the date on the check. One wonders with the Englishman still on the island how he would get access to that amount of cash to make his payment. Did he have a local bank account? Was the check written on the day of his untimely demise? No one has borne the burden of proof that this check does NOT exist.

Cash is the “legal” tender for the underground, not checks. So, there was therefore no cash to pay for his purchase which we have not been able to confirm if it was guns or drugs or a combination of both but for the lack of cash, an Englishman was beaten to death. One wonders if the person who exchanged the check for the vehicle is aware that they had ultimately signed the death warrant for the Englishman. However, that is speculative without a known motive but a complicity still remains.

We know that a stash of guns or drugs or of both guns and drugs were already delivered to the Englishman that were not paid for. It is unknown if the police have recovered that stash or if they have already left the island. We know that the police have 5 men on remand for his murder.

There is a crisis in Venezuela that has led to a lack of food and money. There has been well documented evidence is both Guyana and Trinidad of instances where Venezuelans have been caught as they tried to sell guns in those respective territories. Guns are not manufactured in Barbados yet they now becoming increasingly available.

The mere fact that there is an abundance of guns on the local market means that the Venezuelans have already established trade here.

A triangular trade is trade between three ports or countries. When sugar was King a few centuries ago, that term was used to reference the removal of millions of peoples from West Africa to work under the conditions of slavery to produce sugar which was shipped across the Atlantic creating a class of wealthy individual who became known as sugar barons and the Plantocracy.

The story an Englishman being murdered in Barbados is therefore part of a clandestine activity that can be termed the New Triangular Trade. The guns and drugs are going elsewhere because the local demand on the market for drugs has not changed. Barbados is too small to make the gun trade within the island profitable. So most likely than not, it is being used as a trans-shipment point to Europe and North America for both guns and drugs.

What the Englishman’s murder has brought to light is a lucrative underworld trade of luxury vehicles, guns and drugs. We do not know who all the players are. The only things we know for sure is that the new trade is creating a new class of wealth owners; is bringing destruction by gun violence; and that guns are the “new sugar” coming straight outta Venezuela.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Ministerial Misfeasance

Shane Gibson, former Minister of Labour and National Insurance in the Bahamas

For those not so few souls among the populace who believe that all politicians are essentially corrupt, the Barbados Advocate photograph some weeks ago of Mr. Shane Gibson, a former Minister of Labour and National Insurance in the in the outgone Perry Christie administration in The Bahamas, being led into court to answer charges of bribery and extortion, must have provided ample corroboration of their long-held suspicions.

The general allegation is that Mr Gibson had solicited some $250 000 in bribes while in office and the specific criminal charges are one (1) count of misconduct in public office, sixteen (16) counts of bribery, two (2) counts of conspiring to commit bribery, two (2) counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and fifteen counts of extortion, interestingly enough all committed with or against a single named individual.

Unsurprisingly, the entire matter is being viewed as partisan, especially since Mr Gibson was a member of the losing party in the last general elections held earlier this year and the charges are being brought during the regime of the other party that is now in office. Logically, this should rebut any suggestion that politicians look out for each other even in the face of criminality, but allegations of a witch-hunt, the obverse of this thesis, are now being made with some force by supporters of Gibson’s party, especially since at least two other party colleagues of his, the former Minister of Environment and Housing and a former Government Senator have been charged with similar offences.

The Opposition itself has admitted that these charges are hurting the party though perhaps doing “more damage” to the country, and has announced its intention to file suit against the government over the investigations and to mobilize its supporters to “come together shortly to demonstrate our contempt for these inhumane actions”. That the issue has now assumed political proportions, at least from the Opposition’s point of view, may be further demonstrated by the presence of a crowd of supporters at Mr Gibson’s arraignment who chanted “PLP (the opposition party) all the way”.

Of course these matters still remain to be tried in court and remain mere allegations at this stage. The laying of the charges however raises the issue of the popular expectations for an administration that had campaigned successfully on a platform of anti-corruption and no tolerance for detected past misconduct.

The interposition of the people’s expectations presents a quandary for the winning party. Do nothing in the sense of not initiating any prosecutions whatsoever and either the electorate may feel a sense of fraudulent misrepresentation on your part or suspect that “all politicians are friends” and will never move against each other; launch criminal prosecutions and partisan sentiment is likely to preponderate and you thereby face the prospect of identical treatment of your members when next you assume the role of Opposition.

There is little doubt that corruption is harmful to the economic development of a jurisdiction. A 2011 publication from the anti-corruption organization, Corruption and Fraud Audit Consortium Limited Ghana [CAFAC] identifies a number of ways in which corruption may hamper economic development. These include high consumer prices as a result of an increased cost of doing business; reduced investment leading to reduced goods and services and inflation; reduced commitments from donor agencies; reduced foreign direct investment; reduced tax revenues; deficit financing because of revenue shortfalls; inferior and poorly maintained public infrastructure; uncertainty in economic transactions; an overall reduction in the growth of investment and the economy; and a concomitant reduction in the standard of living because of the inability of government to respond to legitimate economic concerns with social and economic programs.

This linear nature of the relationship between corruption and economic growth has been challenged by some thinkers who are of the view that this relationship is rather regime-specific and affirm that “in countries with relatively strong democratic institutions, corruption does damage economic growth but also that economic growth itself is a strong guarantor of reducing corruption because it means that the resource base from which rents are extracted expands over time…” [Aidt et al, 2008]

That corruption may be viewed as a wrong against the state itself is borne out to some extent by the 2010 decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice [CCJ] in Florencio Marin and Jose Coye v The Attorney General of Belize. There, the two appellants were former Ministers of Government who, it was alleged, had arranged the transfer of 56 parcels of State land to a company beneficially owned or controlled by one of them at a consideration almost $1 million below market value without lawful authority.

The Attorney General initiated a civil action on behalf of the state for the common law tort of misfeasance, the existence of which was doubted by the learned Chief Justice who accordingly dismissed the action at first instance. However, the Court of Appeal reversed this ruling, holding that the Ministers could indeed be held liable in misfeasance for the loss of public property and that the AG, as the guardian of public rights, was the person entitled to institute proceedings.

On their appeal to the CCJ, the appellants’ main contention was that the tort of misfeasance actionable at the instance of the central government did not exist at common law.

In a judgment that should repay reading, a majority of the Court disagreed with this submission. Even so, the two dissentient judges were careful to note that there were other civil causes of action available to the State here such as an equitable action for breach of fiduciary duty that, if established, “would regard all personal profits and advantages gained by any abuse of their status as public servants to be for the benefit of the state” and hence recoverable from the two.

It seems clear therefore that even in the absence of integrity legislation, the common law is well equipped to combat incidents of corruption by government Ministers and others. This may be effected either through prosecution of the criminal offences of bribery and extortion or through the common law tort of misfeasance as endorsed by the CCJ, or the suggested equitable wrong of breach of fiduciary duty.

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