Government needs to increase its oversight of organisations that receive state funding but might not be adequately accounting for their use of these financial resources.
Minister of Education, Science Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, identified this as a necessity as he knocked Opposition Barbados Labour Party parliamentarian Trevor Prescod for benefitting from such funding, but yet criticising its existence via constituency councils.
Speaking immediately after Prescod’s contribution on the Social Investment Repeal Act 2013, during which the St. Michael East MP acknowledged that his organisation had accessed funding from the Social Investment Fund, the Christ East Central government representative accused his political opponent of being in “deep hypocrisy” on the issue.
“There needs to be a significant tightening up in all of these organisations, the NGOs, the CBOs, even if there are sports organisations, who get money from the central funds of Government,” Jones said.
“There needs to be a regime where funds from central government or any of the agencies of government must fall under good scrutiny… It is all well and good for these honorable members to get up and grandstand, they might do good work, I don’t know, but at the same time don’t try and dig out somebody’s eye when inside your eyes are covered with scab.
“Let’s get the clarity, let’s get the systems in place, let’s have the process working and I am sure that there are philanthropic organisations out there, there are organisations which might be willing to give more and more funds if you are doing effective work and I will support that level of behaviour.
“But we cannot be taking from the national treasury, from the taxpayers of Barbados, placing large amounts of funds into these organisations unaccounted for,” he added. Jones said he was not being critical of the organisations, but “the process through which they access and then there is no accountability”.
“The Social Investment Fund was another creature of trying to do that but it has outlived its usefulness,” he said.
Jones did accept, however, that poverty remained a problem in Barbados, but that Government was finding creative ways to deal with it.
“Over the years was a situation where we have been adding plaster on top of plaster without making the kind of fundamental changes that were necessary… There is no need really to grandstand but let us investigate, let us find the mechanisms which can assist … in addressing those fundamental issues,” he said. (SC)