A waste of money.
That’s how the Opposition Barbados Labour Party views the $600,000, more-than-30-day Commission of Enquiry into the Alexandra School.
And, said the party in a statement issued today after the report was laid in Parliament this morning by the Leader of Government Business, John Boyce, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has passed the buck on the matter instead of facing the issues head on.
Deputy Opposition Leader Dale Marshall told Barbados TODAY that the entire matter “has been misconceived”.
“To have sent the matter to a commission of enquiry, [given that] Government can’t act on its recommendations, nor can the commission itself, is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The Public Service Commission, even if they wanted to act, they still have to go ahead and do their own investigation and their own hearing,” he said.
Saying that the enquiry “will always be a symbol of the inability of the current DLP administration to grapple with the issues affecting Barbados” and “be representative of a government that has lost its way!” he noted that in January when some of the teachers of the St. Peter school went on strike, they were persuaded to return to school in a much heralded “Phase 1” of prime ministerial action.
“Instead of triggering the appropriate steps under the Civil Service Act, the Prime Minister who has ministerial responsibility for the Public Service, passed the proverbial buck and led Barbadians to believe that after the work of the commission, swift action would be taken to resolve the burning issues at the Alexandra School.
“We must assume that the minister with responsibility for the Civil Service, Prime Minister Stuart, knows the provisions of the Public Service Act. We must also assume that that minister knows that in order to discipline any member of the Public Service, the Public Service Commission has to conduct its own hearing and investigation of the charges before it can act.
“Moreover, that minister must also be aware that no matter the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry at the cost of over $600,000, the Public Service Commission cannot act upon any findings of Mr. Justice Waterman!
“The BLP must re-affirm that whatever the findings and recommendations of Mr. Justice Waterman, the Public Service Commission must still conduct its own investigation and hearings before it can take any action!” Marshall said.
The St. Joseph MP said that two months after the report was completed, handed over and discussed at “a special meeting of Cabinet”, “this Government’s only action has been to lay the report in Parliament this morning, with no indication whatsoever on whether this report will be debated or, more importantly, what measures this Government has in mind to deal with the protracted issues that are still blighting the school.
“The BLP therefore must ask: Will it now refer the matters to the Public Service Commission? Will it act on the inspection report? What phase is the Prime Minister now in?
“In the view of the BLP, what we can be sure of is that there continues to be tension at Alexandra School, especially after individuals giving evidence before the commissions expressed themselves freely and in some very strong and unflattering terms! To expect individuals to continue to successfully learn and work in that hostile environment is absurd, and the first term of school of the new school year is rapidly drawing to a close!
“We can also be sure that after multiple phases of action by a Prime Minister, expenditure of over $600,000 in a difficult economy, and a special and dedicated Cabinet meeting, there has been no positive action taken to solve the problem at Alexandra School! Barbados has gone absolutely nowhere and the Alexandra School is no better off, a state of affairs the BLP roundly condemns.
“In the memorable words of the Prime Minister, the next step is for the Alexandra report to be sent to the Government Archives,” Marshall said. (DS)