Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is suggesting that a near 90-year-old piece of anti-corruption legislation that predates the 1937 riots is sufficient.
In response to calls by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley to beef up the laws in a bid to root out corruption, Stuart told a meeting last night of ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) Christ Church branches there was no need for any other such laws despite the fact that people were alleging that “corruption was rife in Barbados because the Government had not proclaimed the Prevention of Corruption Act”.
“Long before the riots happened in 1937 when people looking like us in this room were not occupying the House of Assembly and when people like us in this room were not dominating the economy of Barbados, in 1929 a Bill was passed in Parliament which is still the law of the land entitled the Prevention Corruption Act. So it is not true to say that this is not on the statute books,” Stuart said.
In her reply to the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on May 30, Mottley disclosed what she called wanton acts of corruption by the DLP administration.
Armed with documents, she tackled Government’s handling of the $700 million controversial Cahill waste-to-energy project, which was abandoned after a strong public backlash.
Mottley claimed that while Sinckler, Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, and Minister of Energy Senator Darcy Boyce had been in the spotlight as having signed the agreement with the Guernsey-based Cahill Energy for the plasma gasification plant in Vaucluse, St Thomas, Stuart was the first person to approve the agreement dating back to September 13, 2013.
“To this date, the ministers and Cabinet of Barbados will not share with the country the contracts that were signed in their names,” Mottley said then.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader had also raised eyebrows about the conduct of some Government ministers.
“There are about four or five ministers in here [Parliament] who really have to ask themselves some questions. When people ask, ‘how can you drive a jeep belonging to a company that provides services to your ministry and gets work from your ministry and believe that is okay?’” she questioned.
During her featured remarks on Saturday at the BLP 79th annual conference at Queens Park, Mottley broached the issue again, promising to appoint an integrity commission as one of her first acts should she be elected as Prime Minister.
However, Stuart insisted last night that he had nothing to hide.
“I have no difficulty with anybody in Barbados at any time discussing corruption or integrity because Freundel Stuart as far as those two things are concerned sleeps well at night. I have said over again that there is nobody in Barbados or outside of Barbados holding any secret for Freundel Stuart . . . I have never had my integrity questioned and I don’t know that you can legislate integrity. You either have it or you don’t have it,” he said.