Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for Christ Church South and attorney-at-law Ralph Thorne, QC, Wednesday urged Barbadians to dismiss as “ministerial frolic” recent calls by Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley for Barbadians to contribute $10 towards the renovation of the National Stadium.
Appealing to Barbadians to demonstrate their nationalism, Lashley revealed earlier this month that a fundraising drive would soon be launched, and once citizens got on board the authorities could raise as much as $20 million to kick start the redevelopment process.
Thorne has however poked holes in the idea, pointing out that the minister had erred by treating the decision as an issue of “personal morality”, since those who fail to contribute were being portrayed as unpatriotic.
He stressed that “the morality of the citizenry was not on trial, but the trust of the Government will be on trial”.
Thorne suggested Lashley first had to answer a number of questions before the public could buy into the idea.
“Who will be the collector of these monies? Will the collection go into the Consolidated Fund into the mix of Government’s other funds? Will these monies go into a bank account owned by the National Sports Council? What is the legal authority for this collection of monies by Government?”
Stressing that Government funds were sacred and subjected to very strict legal and accounting rules, Thorne also questioned whether Cabinet had discussed and approved the proposal.
“Is it being conveyed to the public that Government can whimsically collect monies through ministerial edict? Is it a tax? Is it intended to take the proposal to Parliament?” he further queried.
Government has been seeking to raise $50 million to fund the redevelopment of the sporting facility, which is more than four decades old.
Thorne again stressed that the issue had nothing to with whether or not Barbadians were willing to contribute $10 to the reconstruction of a “neglected” stadium
“Let us ignore this ministerial frolic and return to the serious matter of the loss of public trust in this Government, until such time as we can change it.
“The issue is that the people do not trust this Government, and with good reason,” he argued.