The closer we get to the date of the general election, the more silly some politicians tend to behave. Perhaps that is why it is called the silly season. Last week, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur criticized our plan to improve the national economy. I wish that he had called me to discuss his concerns first, but it seemed that his only intent was to criticize it.
Our four point plan comprises lowering taxes, improving the management of government services, depoliticizing the public service, and eliminating corruption. It should be clearly stated that our plan is not some theoretical untried plan, but it is proven.
It is proven that a country takes in more revenues when it reduces its tax rates. Mr Arthur himself proved this when he was the Minister of Finance, which is why we recommended that he deserved a knighthood. Now he is rejecting his own proven plan in order to criticize us. That is silly.
A Solutions Barbados administration will do the good and responsible things that Mr Arthur did, but will reject the irresponsible things. Mr Arthur lowered tax rates and realized record amounts of revenues. Yet despite this, he kept borrowing money, taking Barbados’ debt from the safety of 30 per cent of GDP to an unsustainable and reckless 90 per cent of GDP. He is an economist and should have known better.
When asked about the unnecessary borrowing given the amount of revenues received, he claimed that he was borrowing for a “rainy day”. Given the excessive amount of borrowing, it seems that everyday was a rainy day.
It is proven that better managed public services result in less wastage and a higher level of customer satisfaction. Mr Arthur knows this and, to his credit, he did try to reform the management of the public sector, but he failed miserably because he rejected the ISO 9001 Quality Management System in 2004. I am sure that he is regretting that unfortunate decision now.
It is proven that a politicized civil service can ruin a country. When he led the country for 14 years, did he make any effort to stop the politicization of the public service? The Constitution of Barbados, Section 104, states that the Service Commission can recommend to the Governor General that the pension of any public servant be reduced or suspended due to being guilty of misbehaviour for which he has been removed from office.
In a Solutions Barbados administration, the Public Service Act will be amended to explicitly state the specific acts of partisan political behaviour that will attract immediate dismissal and suspension of the pension. The acts will include politically partisan: approving and non-approving applications, providing and denying services, and facilitating and frustrating processes. Politically partisan behaviour will be determined by audit results and/or appeal decisions.
Finally, it is proven that corruption results in severe austerity for most citizens. This is because the public ultimate pays all bribes that corrupt persons receive. The bribe is actually added to the cost of the good or service, which means that the public overpays for these things.
Let me explain how this occurs. If a contractor agreed to do some work for say $2 million, a corrupt official will tell him: “If you want this job, then you must sign a contract to do the work for $3 million, and when you get paid, then you must give me $1 million.” Alternatively, a corrupt contractor will say to the corrupt official: “If you give me this job, then I will bill the Government for $3 million, and I will give you $1 million, because I can do the job for $2 million”.
When the DLP were in opposition, they regularly accused the BLP of gross corruption. When DLP was elected to govern, then they attracted the same regular criticism. Therefore, both established parties appear to be very aware of, and very concerned about the levels of corruption in Barbados. Since they have both had multiple turns at the trough, then why are the accusations still being made? In a Solutions Barbados administration, corruption will be effectively addressed.