United Progressive Party (UPP) leader Lynette Eastmond believes corruption is at the root of every problem Barbados faces, and has vowed that if her team is given the mandate to lead the country in the next elections, constitutionally due next year, it will stamp out the scourge.
Speaking at the launch of her party’s candidate for the Christ Church South constituency, Nadja Willis, Eastmond said while the economic issues of taxation and the deficit were on the tips of everyone’s tongues, the associated problems of bribery and other forms of corruption were not being addressed.
“The one item you will not find in the Budget is bribery, and bribery causes the deficit to increase. If you cut out the bribery and the corruption, the deficit will decrease almost immediately.
“The money that you talk about that you call Government money is money that belongs to us. Those of us who pay our taxes, that’s your money, it does not belong to any nebulous entity called a government; every cent is yours and when you have corrupt practices like bribery, it is an additional cost to you,” Eastmond argued before declaring that the UPP was prepared to cut out corruption.
“Give the United Progressive Party an opportunity. Give us some seats in Parliament. Give us Christ Church South so that we can start creating a change in Barbados,” she added as she introduced Willis, who will be attempting to unseat John Boyce of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Eastmond sought to assure that none of the UPP’s candidates was associated with anything in the Auditor General’s reports that would cause them not to treat seriously the Public Accounts Committee, which is tasked with undertaking the review and follow-up of the Auditor General’s submitted reports on Government’s accounts.
The UPP leader contended that the reason people could get away with corruption in Barbados at every level was because decent people – whom she believed to be in the majority – were not prepared to raise their voices.
In her address, Eastmond also spoke about the issue of legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use – a move which UPP candidate Hudson Griffith previously said the party would pursue if it were successful at the polls.
“There is great travesty in Barbados when the only people you ever see before the courts for personal use [of marijuana] are poor people and tourists; nobody else. All of us know very well that there are people who are not poor who smoke it, but they are never in court,” she said.
“That is not justice; it can’t be justice. And as far as I am concerned, if we are not going to arrest and lock up everybody then we should not be arresting and locking up anybody for personal use of marijuana.”
Meantime, Willis said the process of the Barbados Government changing hands from the DLP to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and back again since Independence 50 years ago had become “tired”.
Saying that the BLP supported the elite while the DLP supported the “labouring man”, she charged: “So every several terms we either have the elite being looked after or the labouring man being looked after and this process only promotes the socioeconomic divide in Barbados.”
Willis said the UPP could serve both sets of people.
“So, for me, the UPP represents a new independence, a break away from chains that bind us to the old habits.”
Willis further offered the constituents of Christ Church South a more powerful voice through community building.
“The strength of a country lies within its community, and my aim is to create a happier and healthier community with community centres that have a strong voice; a voice that becomes the pulse of the nation so that it becomes easy for the Government to engage with the needs of the people,” the UPP candidate said.
Willis added that it was unfortunate Barbados was still not where it should be and that in 2017, the country was still “battling with garbage issues, potholes, health issues, transport problems, debt, transparency and an alarming upswing in gun violence”.