Archive | August, 2010

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.