An Opposition Member of Parliament is hoping that in its 50th year of political independence Barbados will develop into a more “participatory democracy”.
In this regard, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative for St George North Gline Clarke has suggested that the annual Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue, otherwise known as the National Budget, be posted online and made available to the general public.
“In the 50th year of our independence, do you not think that we should really be encouraging participatory democracy, do you not think that we should be encouraging people to be involved in this Estimates?” asked Clarke.
Speaking during debate on the 2016/2017 Estimates in Parliament yesterday, the Opposition MP complained that “every year for the last 22 years, we [MPs] receive a book or two books, but I am of the view that the time has come for these Estimates to be printed, or I believe should be online.
“Why are we having two big books written in fine print and the public sometimes do not know what is happening?” he asked, while insisting that there was no need for the process to remain a mystery.
“If we want to encourage participatory democracy in our 50th year, then more and more people should be involved in this process.”
Clarke argued that for too long the Estimates were not available to the majority of Barbadians, who had to be satisfied with getting information second hand through the media.
However, he argued that for a greater public education component to the annual exercise.
“I am of the view that in today’s society, the schools [and] universities should be more involved in the process. It should not be a mystery.
“The Estimates contain everything that the public ought to know. These documents are public documents. They are not the DLP documents or the BLP documents. The public has a right to know what is in here,” he added. (RB)