If the political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Lynette Eastmond were prime minister, Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick and Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe would become casualties of the south coast sewage crisis.
Eastmond, who served as Minister of Commerce from September 2003 to January 2008 in the then Owen Arthur-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration, told a news conference at the UPP’s Strathclyde headquarters this morning she would have fired both Estwick and Lowe for failing to seriously tackle the problem from the outset, and allowing it to mushroom into a national disaster.
The UPP leader, who will contest The City seat against the incumbent, Jeffrey Bostic of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and Henderson Williams of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), described both ministers as undisciplined in the management of the effluent mess, which has prompted health alerts from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
“They should have gotten together and come up with a plan,” she told the news conference, called to share details of her party’s manifesto.
Eastmond promised that should her party be elected in the polls due by the middle of this year, it would introduce measures to ensure ministers and other public officials are more accountable for the spending and management of public funds.
This, she said, would include the prosecution of public officers suspected of being engaged in wrongdoing.
“There is going to be a strengthening of the auditor general’s office, and also ensuring that there is going to be a link between . . . what appears to be malfeasance and whereby on the face of it that appears to be the case, well then the particular case can be turned over to someone in the justice system to review it to see if there is anyone that the director of public prosecutions should prosecute,” Eastmond, an attorney-at-law, warned.
She said a UPP government would abolish the 30 constituency councils established by the ruling DL, and replace them with parish development committees, which will act as facilitators.
“Their success will be in producing strong NGO’s . . . .That is how you would know if they have succeeded,” the UPP leader said.
Meantime, Shadow Attorney General Maria Phillips said the party intended to fight corruption through the implementation of the Prevention of Corruption Act with suitable amendments.
Phillips, the candidate for St Michael North, told reporters the amendments would include whistleblower provisions to foster a culture of reporting and safeguard the whistleblowers from repercussions and discrimination.
“It will ensure that anticorruption commissioners have wide investigative powers as well as powers to engage sectoral experts who can assist them in unravelling highly complex public procurement contracts, as well as crimes related to illicit financial flows,” she said, adding that the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament will also be strengthened.
“We will amend the PAC Act and enhance the power of the committee so that it can effectively bring private companies that spend Government money to account,” she vowed.