Nothing but political hot air …

24 Aug

Hon. Michael Lashley

Mrs. Marilyn Rice-Bowen did a brave thing in questioning the relationship of the Minister with responsibility for the NHC. The response has been to attack her from the precincts of Parliament – a privilege which Mrs. Rice-Bowen does not have as an ordinary citizen. And what has happened since then? The taxpaying public has no greater insight into what occurred and no one has been called to account. unfortunately this state of affairs has become the tradition as to how democracy is to be delivered in Barbados.

It would seem that it is no longer sufficient for the Taxpayers to rely upon political parties alone to be at the forefront of safeguarding their funds. If it is no longer politically expedient to carry forward this issue, who will do it for the Taxpayers? Clearly the laws are inadequate for keeping public officials in check. It is about time that we recognise that the conventions associated with the Westminster style of government do not apply to Barbados. They just do not work to keep Ministers in line. While the public accounts committee does its job the facility for initiating prosecutions seems to be ineffective. The Public Accounts Committee now has a tradition of being completely ineffective in addressing any issues of impropriety.

Barbados needs a new vision and mission in developing its democracy. The old systems are not working. The decent people who formed the bulwark against corruption are no longer there. It is time that the laws were implemented to change the direction in which Barbados seems to be heading.

Barbados Governance in Question

9 Aug

Mrs. Marilyn Rice-Bowen

Over the past few days Barbadians have been amazed that a stalwart of the Democratic Labour Party and former Chairman of the National Housing corporation has come out in public to lambast Minister Michael Lashley for operating in breach of the law when it comes to the awarding of Government contracts. It is alleged that he has refused to take contracts to the Board that should be considered by them. According to Mrs. Rice-Bowen the Board’s responsibility was to make recommendations to the Minister.

Some have suggested that this is evidence of the unravelling of the Democratic Labour Party in the absence of the Honourable David Thompson. However it seems to go further than this and this is what Barbadians are afraid the confront. The illness of the prime minister of a country can never be a private matter. It is fundamental to good governance. The Honourable Freundel Stuart despite his best efforts does not carry the full mantle of Prime Minister to enforce discipline in a Cabinet. As far as everyone is concerned he is not really prime minister, he is just acting. So what is to be done about the Minister of Housing? Whether Mrs. Rice-Bowen’s allegations are true or not this matter was handled very badly and is an evidence of a Government losing control.

Barbados has never dealt with a matter like this before and has therefore decided that it should do nothing. However there needs to be a protocol as to how this sensitive matter should be addressed. Certainly we must do more that accuse individuals of being uncaring who seek to raise this matter as a genuine issue of good governance. The Cabinet is a part of the executive arm of government, so this is not a party issue. The admonition is to watch and pray. We can all pray and raise legitimate governance issues at the same time.

Barbados Prime Minister Unwell

21 Jul

PM David Thompson

Illness is a very sensitive subject and Barbadians are caught in no-man’s land on the subject of the ill-health of the current Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable David Thompson. To the best of our knowledge there has been no other Prime Minister that has had to take “sick leave”. It is clear that a protocol needs to be established for the future.

The current protocol seems to be that the Prime Minister need not disclose the severity or the nature of his illness to anyone. In many other jurisdictions this would not be tolerated, not because people are “malicious” but that the illness of the Prime Minister can have an impact on governance. It could lead to a certain degree of uncertainty. The only legitimate response seems to be prayer. Some Barbadians have expressed the strong view that the Prime Minister’s health is his business.

Take for example, this call for a budget. If the Prime Minister is to be back at his desk should the Acting Prime Minister seek to put a Budget in place? Yes we know that Prime Minister Thompson seems to have granted Acting Prime Minister Stuart the power to do all manner of things (It is doubtful whether this is legitimate); but this could be a matter than in the view of the Mr. Stuart could very well await his return.

Prime Minister Thompson’s projections of returning in two months have not put a stop to the speculation as to who might take over the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party. There are no clear choices except Mr. Stuart by default. Some would argue that this leads to a certain degree of uncertainty in the Government.

We know that in the United States that the Public would insist on their right to know as we saw during their last election campaign. The USA however is not the best example for many things. Their politics is often akin to an extreme sport.

There is always a view that the Public has the right to know on smaller matters. Does the Public have the right to know on this most important matter?

Manning Outsmarted

25 Jun

Well that is the only conclusion that one could come to. Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the new Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, despite all of the talk about not wanting a coalition government. It is the plight of every successful politician to read his hand badly, but maybe just like Gordon Brown his loss was inevitable. Even from Manning’s own supporters we had heard “too little too late”. Mrs. Bissessar’s win has raised discussions about women in politics and whether Barbados is ready for a female Prime Minister. This is perhaps the same question being raised by Jamaica. But was it so much about her gender as a about someone who the electorate felt embodied the qualities of a new leader? Given the political landscape at the moment Barbadians are becoming more comfortable with female candidates. They will be just as comfortable with a female Prime Minister when the time comes! Congratulations to Mrs. Bissessar.

A Fresh Look at Voting Divisions

24 May

A future PDC Government shall make sure that all CONSTITUENCIES and electoral (polling) districts are renamed in this country.

Thus, that there shall no longer be the St Michael South CONSTITUENCY, the St. George North CONSTITUENCY, the St. John CONSTITUENCY, the St. Lucy CONSTITUENCY, Christ Church East CONSTITUENCY, the St. James Central CONSTITUENCY, the St. Philip West CONSTITUENCY, etc.

Thus, there shall no longer be electoral ( polling ) districts DA 1, DA 2, DA 3, and all the others within the national CONSTITUENCY ( the total number of CONSTITUENCIES in the country).

Such a policy shall also apply to any future CONSTITUENCIES and future electoral ( polling) districts that ( in regard of CONSTITUENCIES ) are created and that are so named on the basis of the parishes in which they fall ( exclusively or substantially ), and that (in regard of electoral ( polling ) districts) are created in any of the CONSTITUENCIES and that carry such nondescript meaningless titles, in between the time now and whenever we become at the helm of government in this country

These CONSTITUENCIES and districts shall be so named after prominent Barbadians who either in the past or in the present ( at the same time ) would have done great and extraordinary service to the particular CONSTITUENCIES, or would have been outstanding in whatever fields in life and would have arisen from or resided in those particular CONSTITUENCIES and electoral districts or would have been for whatever reasons established for a good deal of time in them.

Hence, we strongly believe in the following and more –

1) that CONSTITUENCIES must as much as possible be seen by many Barbadians as being different from the entire colonial names and other colonial and post colonial human made things that are politically governmentally characteristic of the parishes in this country;

2) that CONSTITUENCIES for purely electoral political purposes must as much as possible have their own identities;

3) that such identities must center around paying homage and respect to the personalities that would have rendered – that would have been rendering outstanding meritorious service in whatever regards in those CONSTITUENCIES;

4) that those present and past personalities by being granted such recognition would bring a greater sense of local history and culture to many others of the real meaning and importance of CONSTITUENTS/CONSTITUENCIES;

5) that by granting such recognition would also entail the beginning of a substantial redefinition in the political language and behaviour associated with the theoretical CONSTITUENCY away from the primary operating variables – voting – party – Representation of the People’s Act – House of Assembly seats – to where it ( definitional language ) rightfully “modernistically” belong – CONSTITUENCY BUILDING – the CONSTITUENT – a CONSTITUENTS Bill of Rights – CONSTITUENCY ASSEMBLIES – WHERE CONSTITUENTS will initiate and debate and pass the laws of this country

6) that with the establishment of such features ( in 5 ), and other relevant features, the further development of the nation building process shall be guaranteed away from, and as a partial substitute for – the excessive party based governmental politics that is too much corrupting and dividing our country.

and

7) that electoral ( polling) districts – being themselves constituent parts of CONSTITUENCIES – must actually reflect all the above and more considerations – (1 to 6 ).

So, there you go.

VOTE PDC for real and substantial change for the better in Barbados.

PDC

Barbadian Taxpayers foot Corruption Bill

17 May

This news first emerged earlier this month, but it must be repeated. The hope is that we stop paying attention, that these matters become so “everyday” so “run of the mill” that we start to believe that things can not change. We are referring to the Auditor General’s report that highlights the depth to which corruption has reached in Barbados. The focus on corruption has traditionally been on the political leaders in the country.

The Auditor General of Barbados Mr. Leigh Trotman has turned the glare of his spotlight on some staffers of the Electrical Engineering Department who in his view claimed “exorbitant” over time rates when compared with the usual overtime rates in Government. In his 2009 report he indicated that some staffers claimed as much as $1, 800 and others $2,500 per night during the last election, bringing the total claim to some $48, 500.

Mr. Trotman said that he also wanted a thorough investigation into how several imported vehicles were able to leave the Port without paying the duties necessary. The duties amount to some half a million dollars.

Somehow Barbadians do not seem to get it that the taxpayers foot the bill for this corruption and if the Government coffers run low because of this leakage it will ultimately result in higher taxes.

The list keeps getting longer and longer of the Government agencies where it has become quite the norm for individuals to pay officials something extra for doing their job or where they allow Barbadians to escape paying the taxes that are due under the law.

Tory-LibDem LoveFest

15 May

The question on everyone’s lips must be “how long will the love fest last?”. Well the Liberal Democrats have glued themselves to the hip of the Conservatives and so far everything is fine. David Cameron is the new British Prime Minister and Nick Clegg his Deputy. The two make a very vibrant looking team and must make the British feel that they can take on the world. They have already agreed to a 5% cut in salaries.

Political reform is one of the items on the Lib-Dem agenda on which the Conservatives were prepared to make a compromise. The UK may not need very much convincing about changing to proportional representation. There certainly will not be an outcry if there is reform in the House of Lords. Well these are the easy bits, its going to be a long hard slog to get that crippling deficit down to manageable proportions.

The following sets out the proposed political reform:

May 11, 2010

The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

The parties will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. Both parties will whip their Parliamentary Parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.
The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

The parties will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of programmed business and including government business within its scope by the third year of the Parliament.

The parties agree to reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration.
We have agreed to establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.

The parties agree to the implementation of the Calman Commission proposals and the offer of a referendum on further Welsh devolution.

The parties will tackle lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We also agree to pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics.

The parties will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a full review of local government finance.

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