This week I spent $400 on road tax and days later the car dropped into a pothole and burst the tyre. What is the recourse for that? I received my land tax bill with its discount if I pay before a certain date and its penalties if I don’t. The same applies to VAT, NIS, PAYE and Corporation Tax, yet if the Government is late in paying a refund for anything, there is no penalty for them. That is just plain wrong!
Another thing that strikes me as very wrong is for the Government to be paying out the policyholders of CLICO. I am not unsympathetic to those unfortunate people who hold policies with CLICO but since when does a government have to settle the debts of a private enterprise? Will the same people who aided and abetted the mismanagement, but who also have policies, also be paid for their policies? Where is the Government getting the money to pay the policyholders?
We can only hope that it is not coming from the funds raised through the National Social Responsibility Levy. After all the poor management of a private entity is certainly not a social responsibility of government no matter how sorry we feel for our brothers and sisters. The fact that the compensation is supposed to be coming before Christmas makes me wonder if it is to sweeten up voters for an election early in the new year. The lengths to which political parties will go to get or retain power is a source of amazement to me. Oh, that their focus would not be so short term!
I see that the Opposition is now warming up and sharing what we can expect under a BLP government. A BLP pamphlet, that someone shared in a group I’m in, mentioned that they will: stop printing money, fix the court system, pay for tertiary education for UWI Students, increase money given to welfare to buffer high taxes and restore confidence, independence and capabilities of key institutions. These plans are all very noble and would indeed transform the nation so, as expected, the solutions to implement them are obviously heavily guarded and will be revealed at the appropriate time. We desperately hope that this is not more rhetoric and that no matter what happens at the polls, the Opposition will share these solutions in the interest of the country.
I would love to see those things implemented (except for increasing welfare as I’m a believer in teaching how to fish, not giving fish every month) but I can almost guess what we can expect under any government that gets in. More of the same of what we’ve seen in the past unless the much-needed Integrity legislation is put in place. Mind you, integrity cannot be legislated; it has to come from within so our vote should take that into consideration. Perhaps what we can hope for, though, is a restoration of confidence in Barbados. That should be easy enough as long as any party, other than the ruling one, gets in.
On a more positive note, I am glad to see that Barbadians are going beyond complaining on the call in programmes and are putting things in place to hold politicians and people in key positions accountable. Integrity Group Barbados will be holding a panel discussion on October 25 at 7:00 pm at St. Gabriel’s School Auditorium entitled “Corruption: Cost, Consequences and Remedies”. The speakers will be Sir David Simmons, former member of Parliament, Attorney General and Chief Justice of Barbados and Mr Ken Gordon who is currently the Chairman of Trinidad and Tobago’s Integrity Commission. I think it is of utmost importance for the public to come out and hear from these two distinguished and knowledgeable speakers.
While we are now beginning to understand the costs and feel the consequences of corruption, this panel discussion should give us a better understanding and will hopefully motivate us to push to implement the remedies that they will share. I am certainly looking forward to hearing remedies for a change. The challenge will be to have the political will to implement them or if it is not there, put pressure on the powers that be, to act.
While the political campaigning and mud-slinging had taken a back seat to the disasters in the region for a while, I see a return to the same tired political games (how we need a fresh wind in this country!) but let us not be distracted from the fact that there are still a lot of needs to be met and let us continue to help our neighbours, knowing that it could easily have been us.