Extending the retirement age of two public officials pales in significance to the issues affecting Barbadian society, says Opposition Barbados Labour Party Member of Parliament Dale Marshall.
And for this reason, he served notice today that his party would not support the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that was before the House of Assembly.
The Bill, which was eventually defeated, was intended to move the retirement age of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Auditor General from 62 to 67.
“It is an amendment that comes at a time when my constituents are undergoing a level of deprivation in their personal circumstances hitherto unseen in this country, at least of post-independence Barbados,” said Marshall, the MP for St Joseph.
“[It] comes in the context of operating tables collapsing at the [Queen Elizabeth Hospital], people having to run down to pharmacies to buy medication, some days the hospital does not even have toilet paper. [It is coming] at a time when our societal fabric is falling apart and when there is virtual mayhem on our streets,” he added.
He further questioned: “How does the retirement age of two public officers rank in priority standing alongside the 3,000-plus Barbados public servants who will not get the benefit of any retirement age because they have been sent home?”
He therefore warned the Freundel Stuart administration that until it chooses to confront the people’s priorities, it would not be able to demand the support of the BLP.
“Until that happens the Barbados Labour Party will withhold its support, even if only in protest at the wrongheaded perspectives that this Cabinet has set for itself,” Marshall stressed.
In further criticizing the move by Government to adjust the retirement age for the current DPP Charles Leacock, QC, and the Auditor General Leigh Trotman, he said his constituents were more interested in last Friday’s ruling by the Employment Rights Tribunal on the National Conservation Commission (NCC) case, which he said affects them.
“They feel no better off. They don’t know still how they will pay their bills.
And to be told that they will get a year’s pay is barely a little dressing on the sore that they have been festering with for the last two years,” said Marshall of the decision by the Hal Gollop-led tribunal to award the NCC workers 52 weeks in compensation.
“My constituents still can’t get water, and I am supposed to go and tell somebody that the reward for my day’s labour in Parliament is the extending of the retirement age for two public officers,” stressed Marshall.
He further questioned: “If constitutional amendments are such a big issue then the Government should explain to the people of Barbados why it is that we have two constitutional amendments laid as far back as 2014, and in 2015, that are festering like carbuncles, not receiving the attention of this Parliament?”
Urging Government to get its priorities straight, he said, “the people of Barbados couldn’t care less about what we are in here debating today.
“Gird your loins and let’s deal with the fundamental issues that are eating away at the foundations of our society.”