A Grenville Phillips Column – Loopholes for the Guilty

My perspective of the Integrity in Public Life bill is informed from my unique experiences since entering this political trench three years ago. My situation is different from other politicians because I am outside of the BLP/DLP protective umbrella, and the tip of the spear protecting all Solutions Barbados candidates from harm to their reputations. From this perspective, the weaknesses of this Bill are glaring.

In my opinion, the Integrity in Public Life bill appears to facilitate Barbados being turned into an unaccountable police state. I know that this seems ludicrous. However, it seems to be the most likely explanation for the inclusion of loopholes for the guilty and the removal of established protections for the innocent. I will list a few of them below.

Section 4.1 a) & b): This section identifies the functions of the Commission. One of the stated functions is to record and examine gifts forwarded or given by persons in public life. There appears to be no mention of gifts received by such persons in this section. For the avoidance of doubt, it should be included.

Section 6.2: The Commission shall be treated as a law enforcement agency. However, it appears to have more power than the police and judiciary, which is concerning if it is used in a politically partisan manner. Whoever controls the Commission can clear their guilty friends and punish their innocent perceived enemies with impunity.

Section 9.1: The Commission employs an Investigative Office, who must not be a member of the Police force. According to section 15.1, he can arrest persons, deliver them to the custody of the Police, and seize and retain any documents or materials that he thinks is relevant.

A person can make a complaint about the Investigative Officer’s behaviour, and the complaint is directed to a 3-member panel appointed by the Governor General (section 20). Two members of the panel are persons who were previously politically appointed to their positions.

The panel can dismiss the complaint, regardless of the evidence, if they think that it was made in bad faith (section 21 a). They can also dismiss it if they think that an investigation or further investigation is not necessary or reasonably practicable (section 21 b). These can easily be used as loopholes to facilitate the politically partisan behaviour of a rogue Investigative Officer.

Section 10.1: The Commission has the powers of a judge of the Supreme Court to summon and examine witnesses and demand documents. In section 10.3, the Commission is not restrained by the rules of the Evidence Act which were designed to protect all of us. The Commission can take into account opinion evidence, which the Evidence Act restricts.

While it is reasonable that opinion evidence may be relied upon during the investigation phase of the process, the Bill should clearly state that the Commission must not rely on any “opinion evidence” to determine someone’s guilt.

Section 11.1 b): This section appears to entitle a summoned person to be compensated for expenses as if he had been summoned to attend the Supreme Court on a criminal trial. However, the person can only be paid whenever and however the Minister of Finance decides. The Commission can also decide to simply not allow the summoned person to claim any expenses.

The common trend when persecuting political competitors is to attempt to bankrupt them, which can automatically disqualify them from being candidates. To have a person continually attend hearings for weeks can accomplish this aim, which is why the Evidence Act entitles innocent summoned persons to be reimbursed for both their time and expenses. This is natural justice since a person cannot refuse to appear when summoned without consequences.

The Evidence Act appears to be carefully designed to protect innocent persons from political abuse. Why is the Commission being directed to deviate from this established practise of natural justice?

Section 11.4 d): If a person insults a member of the Commission, then he is liable to be fined $10,000 and imprisoned for 6 months. A person who is subjected to obvious unfair treatment for as long as a politically compromised Commission decides, knowing that he will not be reimbursed for his time, is vulnerable to objecting improperly.

Section 11.5 a): A person shall not be compelled to incriminate himself. However, according to section 11.4, he is liable to be fined $10,000 and imprisoned for 6 months, if he does not turn over documents. It should be clarified whether he can be compelled to turn over documents that can incriminate others, who in-turn will likely incriminate him.

Section 14 d): The Commissioner of Police must provide constables to do whatever the Commission directs. This can provide a politically compromised Commission and Inspector with an appearance of legitimacy.

Section 32.5: Once a person has retired from public life for 2 years, then he cannot be investigated. If it is a member of the Commission, then he cannot be investigated once he has retired for 5 years. These are glaring loopholes for persons who have already retired. Also, persons can easily walk over this low hurdle by directing that bribes be paid to them 2 years after their retirement.

Section 33.1: If a member of the Commission is to be investigated, then the Governor General, after consulting with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, shall appoint a single person tribunal to investigate. If the person is declared to be innocent, then their expenses must be paid from the consolidated fund within 3 months (33.5 b). Why must the tribunal only comprise one politically appointed person, and why the double standard regarding compensation?

Section 40.2: Where a Member of Parliament of the Senate has acquired a prohibited interest, which would be a violation of the Act, then the Commission shall not issue a determination if the Politician or Senator confesses, and the Commission believes that if they kept the prohibited interest will not affect the person meeting his obligations. This is another glaring loophole for a politically controlled Commission.

Section 45.7 a) ii: If a person receives a substantial (over $1,000) gift, then they can keep it if the Commission decides that the gift was not intended to provide favourable treatment. What likely reason would someone give a substantial gift if not for in exchange for favourable treatment?

Section 48: No prosecutions of persons in relation to restricted gifts shall be pursued after 5 years of a person’s retirement from public life. This allows the guilty to go free with no consequences whatsoever, they simply need to be patient.

Section 56 a): A person charged with corruption can be found innocent if he can claim that he had no knowledge of the circumstances giving rise to the act of corruption. This is a weak but allowable defence in this bill.

The section for whistle-blowers is extremely weak to the point of being almost ineffective. There is no confidential reporting and no financial incentive for whistle-blowers – the proven main ingredients of an effective whistle blower program. In the US, their highly successful Securities Exchange Commission’s program allows whistle-blowers to report anonymously, and rewards them with up to 30% of the amounts recovered. Why are we designing an almost ineffective system when there are highly effective systems available?

First Schedule

The Commission shall comprise 4 political appointees, plus one lawyer and one clergyman. This has the appearance of a political commission. The main reasons for political commissions is to protect the politically favoured from scrutiny and persecute those not politically favoured.

A less partisan Commission and disciplinary panel should have a majority of persons who were never politically appointed, and who treasure their professional reputations too much to be corruptible or intimidated. Fellows of Chartered professional institutions would have spent an adequate amount of time complying with their institution’s code of ethics, so they should be less likely to be corruptible.

The Bill is written in a manner that it can easily be misused. That is not how our laws should be written. There are no meaningful protections for the innocent to avoid political persecution, and glaring loopholes to protect those with provable evidence of corruption and bribery.

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

Broken Trident and Broken Promises–What Next!

Independence - the broken trident symbolizes a symbolic break from its status as a colony

Independence – the broken trident symbolizes a symbolic break from its status as a colony

One of the biggest disappointments for BU in the post Independence era has been our inability to capitalise on the investment of billions sunk into education to create a sustainable economic model by developing the human resource of Barbados. We boast we are a literate country compared to others but the true measure of success must be in the quality of our decision making, processes and quality of intuitions.   The goal of educating a nation’s people has to be about equipping the citizens to make relevant decisions based on the challenges – always changing – being confronted. In 2014 – after 48 years of Independence – can we say we are happy with the state of affairs?

Critiquing a system where the stakes are high if there is failure must be embraced as a constructive exercise. In this case criticism should not be defined within the narrow confines of a political lens. The challenge is for the leadership and people of Barbados to welcome and filter all feedback and criticism by citizens with a conciliatory and collaborative mindset. We have slowly surrendered to a political system which encourages divisiveness.

In the same way the adage ‘no man is an island’ is generally accepted read no human being is a repository for all information, the same can be stated for government and political party.  BU is convinced the success of Barbados must rise on the backs of the collective wisdom of all citizens and other actors in civil society.

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Integrity Legislation:Lord I Can’t Take It No More

Submitted by Benny
Fruendel Stuart (r) Arthur (l) won the Integrity race last general election

Fruendel Stuart (r) Arthur (l) won the Integrity race last general election

I will urge the people to vote out this government as soon as possible if they fail to bring integrity laws. This situation is really ridiculous. This government knew full well why its campaign message was centred around bringing such legislation.

I have always held Prime Minister  Stuart as an honest man and do not believe he is involved in corruption but the upholder is as good as the thief if he continues to sit and allow this situation to continue he must be painted with the same brush. There is no plausible explanation why going into their seventh year of mis- governing this country that integrity laws should not have been enacted.

This situation makes the Attorney General and his department look impotent. My lord there is Viagra on the market i.e. the backing of the populace demanding such legislation. The only conclusion there can be is that both parties are cut from the same cloth. I have supported this party for all my life but I am rapidly loosing faith

The House Of David

Late Prime Minister David Thompson, sixth prime minister of Barbados

There has been some comment about the decision of the government to  construct a tomb like monument in memory of late Prime Minister. What is the hullabaloo? The late David Thompson – whether  you agreed with his politics or not – was the sixth Prime Minister of  Barbados, a historical fact. He died in office and all the trappings  of the office of Prime Minister he even in death, and his family should benefit.

BU suspects what some on the other side maybe questioning is the  timing of the project which is scheduled to be completed to coincide  with the first anniversary of the death of Thompson on October 23. When the Tomb  Project is assessed along with the announcement of The David Thompson  Memorial Football Tournament to be played this month, it gives wings to  the view that there is some political motive at play. While it can  be rationalized that each project has merit, the timing of the two projects makes it difficult to deny  a political  undercurrent to the decision.

With a less visible role for Hartley Henry, one can’t be sure if  political strategy is being seriously practiced by the Fruendel Stuart  administration. What should be obvious, even to to the least  discerning of politicos, it is unlikely the government can run on its  track record given the harsh economic times it has had to operate. This is understandable  and the government will have to build advantage over the opposition in the minds of the electorate in the weeks and  months leading to the next general election.

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The Legacy Of David Thompson, The Calling Of The Next General Election And The Enactment Of The Prevention of Corruption Bill 2010 – Your Move Prime Minister Stuart!

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart

It was interesting to hear  Brian Clarke reveal in his eulogy that the Late Prime Minister David Thompson was not passionate about the legal profession. In contrast we understand Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart has a great love for the profession. It will be left to Prime Minister Stuart to champion the  Prevention of Corruption Bill 2010 commonly referred to as Integrity Legislation (IL) which had its first reading in parliament recently. Time will tell if Stuart is motivated to enthusiastically chart the efficient implementation and application of Integrity Legislation.

The current debate in Barbados is when will Prime Minister Stuart ring the bell to call a general election constitutionally due in 2013, a state of affairs brought about by the death of David Thompson. In the opinion of BU the proclamation of IL and Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation will be critical to the decision to determining the date of the next general election. Although Stuart has been catapulted into the current role based on the unfortunate circumstance of Thompson’s death, as a member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) opposition campaign platform he would have endorsed the promise to deliver IL and FOI legislation as tools to fight soft corruption in Barbados on winning the government. Three years have past and the people are still waiting. If the two pieces of legislation are not rolled out before the next general election the opposition will have the making of a platform agenda.

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The Auditor General Exposes An Inefficient Customs And Excise Department

Auditor General Leigh Trotman

BU read with interest in the media an update on the status of the eagerly awaited Integrity Legislation (IL) by Prime Minister Freundel Staurt (Ag).  He indicated the IL could be introduced very soon. Of interest to BU was his explanation the IL would be fairly wide in scope to include key partners in the private sector. The need to implement IL which is relevant has always been advocated by BU. It is against this background the stunt by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur to declare their assets has exposed itself to be a forgettable political gimmick.

An example of how a relevant and effective IL can help to expose corruption in a public or private sector scenario is easily illustrated if we read the Auditor General’s (AG) Report 2009. On page 63 of his report, the AG refers to a few suppliers to the School Meals Department who are allowed duty free status to import for that department only.  Here is the AG’s audit note.However, there is no system in place to monitor the amounts imported by suppliers and ensure that goods allowed duty free status are imported for Government Departments only. As a result various suppliers imported goods in excess of what had been delivered to the School Meals Department. What a sweet deal!

The first question which comes to mind, why has the AG not mentioned the names of the suppliers in his report? Perhaps the one time the understaffed and hardworking AG Department has opened itself to criticism. There is little doubt after reading the AG’s report that some Custom Officers, School Meal management or both have benefited from the sweet deal. Are we being harsh in our conclusion? Here is the AG’s audit note. …Some suppliers were using both original and duplicate copies of authorization from the School Meals Department in order to obtain goods duty free. Only the original authorisation is intended to be used by suppliers as a waiver for imported goods, and the duplicate copy should be kept as a personal record. However, these duplicates were used by the suppliers to obtain goods free of duties to which they were not entitled.

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Submitted by Royal Rumble

IntegrityIt is with some trepidation that I write you on a matter of grave national importance – a threat to our global reputation and an embarrassment to Barbadians throughout the Diaspora.

Barbadians at home and abroad have always held their country and its leadership in high regard so much so that anything remotely done or said by its leader that can sully the country’s good name invokes their anger and ultimately the withdrawal of their support.

I have no doubt that a large part of the Barbados Labour Party’s failure to recapture the Government in the last general election had to do with the smear campaign of the Democratic Labour Party. Throughout that campaign Barbadians were told that the BLP was corrupt and that they had stolen money from the treasury and had stashed it in foreign bank accounts. The DLP has been in office for almost two years now and not a single thread of evidence has been produced to support this wild and malicious charge.

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Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts

Allen Stanford

Allen Stanford

Recent reports in the international press that former Chief Financial Officer James Davis has blown the whistle on former boss and Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, may have implication for how Barbados and other small Caribbean islands welcome foreigners in the future with deep pockets. The revelation by Davis that Stanford entered a pack with his inner circle of employees and prominent others to keep regulators at bay maybe the final nail in the coffin which sees the Knight donning prison garb very soon.

Until Allen Stanford’s free fall from the pinnacle of his financial empire based in Antigua, he was the man.  Nothing of any consequence seemed to have occurred in Antigua unless it was branded Stanford. His last business venture the 20/20 tournament was hugely popular and demonstrated that he was ahead of the WIBC in trying to popularize the shorten version of the cricket game. He owned financial entities, real estate and of note many important people in Antigua.

Sanford has not been found guilty yet but there is a lesson to be learned from what has unravelled so far. One man with money carry great influence in our small islands. Often times the lack of financial resources at a national and individual level creates the opportunity for our politicians and government officials to explore shortcuts when dealing with those with deep pockets.

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On A Point Of Order Regarding The 3S Barbados ABC Highway Matter Mr. Speaker

From left: President of 3S Barbados SRL, Jonathan Danos, Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Gline Clarke, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Clyde Mascoll, Businessman Hallam Nichols

From left: President of 3S Barbados SRL, Jonathan Danos, Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Gline Clarke, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Clyde Mascoll, Businessman Hallam Nichols

Last week the House of Assembly met to debate a resolution to approve the borrowing of $165 million by the Government of Barbados from the Barbados National Bank to finance the ABC Highway project. It should come as no surprise BU continues to follow the issue of the ABC Highway Project with a keen interest. BU was the first in the blogosphere with the help of our reliable source to suggest that there was a fishy smell which had developed around the ABC Highway /3S Barbados Project.

It is unfortunate former Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke was thrown to the wolves in parliament last week when the debate in the House centred on the ABC Highway Project. Neither former Prime Minister Owen Arthur or current leader of the Barbados Labour Party Mia Mottley were present to support Member of Parliament Gline Clarke as he passionately defended decisions taken during his tenure under the former Barbados Labour Party government.

Former Junior Minister Clyde Mascoll who had the enviable job of defending GEMS after attacking the government while in Opposition on the same matter was not present either.  He was unsuccessful in regaining his St. Michael North East seat. We all remember Mascoll as Arthur’s pit bull who was unleashed to defend the former government’s decision-making on the ABC Highway/3S project.

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Is A Moral Renaissance Or Integrity Legislation Required in Barbados Politics?

Submitted by Yardbroom

Events in recent years have led to the belief among some Barbadians, that all politicians are corrupt, dishonest and cannot be trusted. There are many, particularly the young who say quite openly, that Barbadian politicians have no regard for ordinary citizens, and are only interested in politics as a means to acquire great wealth. That some Barbadians feel this way is sad, but of particular concern is the number of young people who have this entrenched opinion.

To be fair, I have no evidence that the majority of Barbados politicians are dishonest and corrupt. However, in a small island supposedly secret transactions are not so for long, people do talk, and their friends have friends, what started off as a secret is soon common knowledge. The other problem is the display of ostentatious wealth. One can easily ask, how is it that someone who was recently so poor is now a man/woman of immense wealth. This does not mean the individual is dishonest or corrupt, but people think – sometimes without reasonable justification – even if they do not ask questions. The disappointing aspect of this scenario is the popular belief, that all people are corrupt and dishonest, politicians are only an extension of general society.

It is only the lack of opportunity which prevents these character traits from becoming manifest in all of us. Perhaps I am like a lone dog barking on the top of Cherry Tree Hill, but I do not subscribe to the popular view that all politicians are either dishonest or corrupt, and by extension the general public. Over time a climate has developed, in which previously honest people have been corrupted by a system that operates in Barbados. You might ask what is this system? Some people make it their business to surreptitiously corrupt politicians, who have control of the levers of power. They prey on a weakness for wealth and the desire for supposedly higher class social interaction. In a small society where all the main players are known to each other, and often have to interact on a professional basis outside politics. Continue reading

Forensic Audit Required At Chief Licensing Department In The Pine

gclarke.jpgOne issue which has overshadowed this election is the specter of mounting corruption in government. David Thompson and his party have attempted to illustrate in their campaign the many instances e.g. ABC Highway contract and the unwillingness of government to follow the procurement policy, Hardwoods Factory Housing, etc. These are the high profile examples and have for obvious reasons gained national prominence. It is known that Barbados is a small place and little can happen in secrecy before it leaks into the public domain.

Over the years and under successive governments, we have all heard the whispers about how some people were able to acquire Public Service Vehicles (PSV) permits. We have also wondered why successive governments would have resisted implementing the long proposed Transport Authority or some other watchdog agency which would remove certain decisions from the ambit of the Minister of Transport and high ranking Civil Servants. As observers, we have seen the chaos which our public transportation system has descended. Barbadians have reached the point where only those at the low end of the social ladder access public transportation as a first option. The objective for all Barbadians is now to own a car as quickly as possible to avoid the public transportation system. We reject Prime Minister Arthur’s claim that the increase in the number of cars is solely as a result of the economic prosperity of Barbados. The lack of a discernible traffic management policy has now led to the situation where PSV’s operate disproportionately on several routes across Barbados, i.e. a crazy high number of PSV licenses have been issued on routes like Silver Sands and the Pine. The end result is the ‘mini-bus hustle’ which has led to a negative sub-culture in our society.

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David Thompson Gives Prime Minister Owen Arthur 30 Days To Start An Investigation Into Hardwood Housing Factory Incorporated Or Clyde Mascoll Will Face No Confidence Motion

cmascoll.jpgDavid J. H Thompson MPuntitled.JPG

The opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) launched a scathing attack on the credibility and integrity of Clyde Mascoll at a political meeting in Deacons Road last night. All the speakers: Derek Alleyne, Richard Sealy, Michael Lashley, David Estwick, Chris Sinckler, culminating with Leader of the Opposition David Thompson spoke with a single purpose, that is, to destroy the credibility of Clyde Mascoll. The attentive crowd, including yours truly, listened with interest to the different speakers who recollected many positions that Clyde Mascoll once held when he was a member of the DLP. Now, he has sought to distance himself in a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government. The speakers spoke with great emotion at the betrayal that Clyde Mascoll has crossed the floor. Many of them recounted episodes how DLP members including David Thompson recruited Mascoll from his job at the Central Bank where he was very unhappy and they worked to elevate him up the rungs of the party.

The contribution of the night was delivered by David Thompson with the assistance of video aids. Thompson dissected many events which surrounds the creation of a company called Hardwood Factory Housing Incorporated. Thompson in a hard hitting delivery highlighted several wrong doings since the establishment of Hardwood, a company registered in November 2006.

Here are some of the observations made my Thompson to a large Deacons Road crowd:

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STARCOM Network Disappoints The PEOPLE Of Barbados

Minister Lynch Awarded $60 000
Published on: 10/7/07.

MINISTER OF TOURISM Noel Lynch is today $60 000 richer following his libel settlement with Starcom Network Inc. The suit stemmed from the content of an email read by the moderator of Voice of Barbados’ Brass Tacks on a Sunday programme last March. The email raised questions about Lynch’s alleged current life status. Lynch objected to the question and walked out of the live broadcast. On Friday, Starcom’s chief executive officer Vic Fernandes confirmed the settlement. Fernandes revealed the minister was paid $60 000 while his attorney’s costs were $10 000. The CEO said the station settled the matter as it was advised it had no strong defense. (RG)

Source: Nation Newspaper

nlynch.jpgBU broke the story about the payment of $65,000.00 which STARCOM Network paid to a well-known politician in Barbados to stave-off a lawsuit. The Barbados Free Press has headlined the news, which was reported in the Nation this morning that the amounts of $60,000.00 and $10,000.00 were paid to Minister Barney Lynch and his lawyer respectively. BU wishes to apologize to the STARCOM Network for getting the payout wrong!

We agree with many of the points that have been written on the BFP blog on this matter, and want to add our ‘tuhpence’ to this important discussion. Visitors to the Barbados Underground blog would have realized by now that we value the contribution of a vibrant Fourth Estate of the Realm which is important to protecting our democracy. As Barbadians and a predominantly black nation, we have become rightly proud of the freedoms which others continually have to shed blood to experience. Current examples are Burma and Darfur. It is against this background that as Barbadians and West Indians, we must all recognize that a democracy is not something which governments are solely responsible. Many other entities in our societies must deliver on their mandates and that includes media houses.

The unwillingness of media houses in Barbados to challenge politicians who are willing to sue for libel at the ‘drop of a hat’ must be challenged. We cannot recollect an occasion when a media house in Barbados went to the law courts to resolve claims submitted by these politicians. We have deliberately singled-out politicians because our source within the media houses has confirmed that they (politicians) have been the main beneficiaries from the ‘slush fund’. This willingness by media houses to settle claims has started to threaten our democracy, and in one recent instance it has been responsible, in our opinion, for destroying the career of Roy Morris. It is well known on Fontebelle about the $30,000.00 payment paid to a young lady who preferred money over the trauma of processing a matter in our court system.

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The Barbados Labour Party Fails To Deliver On The Important Question Of A Republican System Of Government

The Republic of Barbados – or not?
Last night I blogged about the public opinion battle on the island of Barbados becoming a republic. There are really two arguments in this contest.

1. The head of State should be Bajan. The queen is a relic of a brutal and exploitative past and should be consigned to the garbage bin of history.

2. We’ve done very well under the present arrangement. The British Tourists like to come to a Commonwealth State (?) The queen is mostly symbolic.   Anyway, there are the rest of us who wonder if all this fuss is really necessary. What will this changeover cost? And what do we get for the trouble.

Of course, the passions run high on this one (among the proponents of the the two camps).  Either you are the hothead or you are the reactionary; and the discussion gets more and more heated with each go around.
Here’s what I propose:
Full Article

The one thing any reader can glean from notesfromthemargin blog is the concise way in which the message is always delivered.

No lotta long talk!

We find the Referendum topic to be interesting, simply because we have focused so much on the corruption within the government; the leadership struggle within the Democratic Labour Party, and the crossing of the floor by Clyde Mascoll. There appears to be a legitimate concern of the Barbados public — the brazen way Arthur lead Barbados Labour Party, it has failed to deliver on the issue of a Referendum to determine whether the country should go the way of a Republican system of government.

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Barbados Public Accounts Committee Is A "Toothless Tiger"

Regular BU readers must be picking-up a recurring theme when we write about governance in Barbados. We have had a system of government which has served us well over the years__BUT. Many of the activities within the system can be described as nothing more than norms, conventions and traditions. Given the changing demographics in Barbados influenced by immigration and the need to connect in a free world, which has_rightly or wrongly_embraced globalization, such is the problem we must confront with conviction. Here is the punch line, one does not have to be a reputed constitutional lawyer and BLP lackey to understand the point.

Yes indeed Ezra Alleyne, please duck!

Barbados Tourism Minister – “Let’s Pour More Tax Money Down This GEMS Hole. NO… You Can’t See The Financial Statements You Stupid Bajans”

Theft In Progress – Somebody Call The Police! (oh, ya… nevermind)

Every body knows that the best predictor of future performance – is past performance. That’s why a store owner doesn’t hire a paroled thief just out of jail for the position of head cashier. The Government of Barbados has poured millions and millions into the GEMS hotels and refuses to provide an accounting even though it is required by law. They can’t even say how much they have lost. Nor will they provide any explanation for government purchases of run-down hotels that belong to “special friends” of the government.

Read Full BarbadosFree Press Article


When BU read the story above on BFP this week we confess that a feeling of hopelessness overcame the household. It also triggered a heavy debate on how a democracy which is held up as a model to the world would allow a government to display such wanton waste of tax payers’ dollars. The fact that we live in a developing country with a paucity of resources made the current state of affairs all the more unpalatable. If we thought that the squandermania was the issue it then dawned on us that here was a government which has broken the financial rules of the country without any fear of receiving reprisals from within the system of government which BU must admit has served us well to date.

This ongoing embarrassment__branded “JAWS” by the former leader of the opposition and currently the junior Minister of Finance Clyde Mascoll__ energized BU to quietly examine what workable options or recourse the Barbados public has in forcing accountability and transparency in matters in the ongoing “JAW” affair. The piece is not about GEMS but a critique of that government oversight body responsible for guarding the financial behavior of the Crown__the Public Accounts Committee.

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