Charities in Barbados could soon come under greater scrutiny as Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss suggested that many of them were not being properly administered.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday during debate on the Land Tax Amendment Act, which makes provision for exemptions to be granted to some sporting organizations, charities, and places of worship, Inniss said it was perhaps time for a charities commission to oversee the regulation of the sector.
“My ministry has commenced a look at the Charities Act, and I believe that Barbados, leaping into the 21st century, must revisit such. Our Charities Act, as far as I am concerned, has served its purpose to date, but we need to have a relook at it. Part of it is that we must march towards having a charities commission in Barbados,” Inniss told the House of Assembly.
“Mr Speaker, as you look around Barbados today we have all sorts of civil organizations being created for all kinds of purposes – to help the homeless, to help the vagrants, to help the animals, to help the ladies, to help the gentlemen, to help those who are not sure of what they are – all sorts of organizations are being created in Barbados to assist,” he said, adding that “the truth is that majority of them do mean well, but we have, on the other hand, in the enthusiasm to grow out these variety of organizations, you find that they are grasping at the same resource base for financial and other support”.
He also pointed out that “not all [charities were] well administered, adding that “we must be careful because when such goes unattended, you run the risk of creating damage, irreparable damage in some instances, to the civil organization grouping”.
While stressing the need for greater regulation, Inniss said his ministry would be seeking to address any weaknesses “without doing any injustice to those who mean well in Barbados”.
“I really hope that as we revisit the Charities Act, and perhaps move towards a charities commission, you have a structure that would eliminate a lot of those challenges that are currently being administered, where one sometimes has to write to Government departments and wait for months to get a response, where there is perhaps inconsistency in terms of applications, where there is ambiguity sometimes in terms of policy perspectives, where there are these challenges that create a lot of confusion and then frustration reigns among those who are well intended in assisting us in Barbados in addressing the myriad of challenges that we may face,” he said.