The Mia Mottley administration is being asked to come clean with Barbadian voters on a number of high profile firings and departures from statutory corporations since taking office following the May 24 general election.
While insisting his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) colleagues “are not naturally disposed to that type of victimization”, Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley said Government needed to assure the public it was not on a witch-hunt against public servants believed to be partial to the ousted Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
“I think that an explanation is owed to the public because there is always public perception and this is very important when it comes to confidence in one’s elected officials,” Atherley told Barbados TODAY.
“Persons could believe that Government has embarked on yet another campaign of victimization just as the other guys would have done. So in that case an explanation is really needed because part of transparency is explaining to the public what you are doing and keeping them up to speed,” he added in reference to the BLP’s campaign promise to be transparent.
Since the BLP was swept to power in a crushing victory over the DLP in which it secured all 30 seats and 73 per cent of the votes cast, National Housing Corporation General Manager Lanette Napoleon-Young was sacked, along with Human Resource Manager Sheona Kellman and attorney Toni Jones-Patterson.
Just yesterday, it also emerged that Transport Board General Manager Sandra Forde, who led the state-owned public transportation agency for the past eight years, had accepted a separation package, while two consultants, including Trinidadian David Bartholomew, had their contracts terminated with immediate effect.
There have also been reports that Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) General Manager Doug Hoyte, who was also appointed under the DLP in April 2016, had been stripped of legal and financial responsibility related to the statutory corporation. In addition, all CBC freelancers and contract workers were told they would be terminated by the end of last month, while other contracts close to expiration would not be renewed.
However, the administration has yet to give the reasons behind the sackings, and repeated efforts by Barbados TODAY to get explanations from the ministers and senior officers in charge have proved futile.
Atherley acknowledged the need for ministers to choose staff to carry out their vision, but he insisted termination of staff must be justified.
“I wait further to hear what is behind all of this. I won’t jump to conclusions about victimization but if it turns out to be the case then we will have to deal with it. I would really like to see us have a political culture in Barbados which experiences transformation to the extent that there would not be any type of victimization.
“I think sometimes the political realities suggest that certain changes have to be made, especially in cases where persons are politically appointed. Such persons run the risk of being terminated when the administration is changed. However, when it comes to the public service, once persons behave in a disciplined and dutiful way they should not be touched,” he stressed, while advocating for a mechanism to dismiss underperforming civil servants.
Notwithstanding, Atherley, who is yet to resign from the BLP despite crossing the floor a week after the polls, was emphatic in his defence of his current parliamentary colleagues.
“I have heard one or two things, but I do insist that the guys that I know on that side, for the most part are not naturally disposed to that type of victimization. My knowledge of these guys who now form the administration is that they are not given to vindictiveness,” the Opposition Leader stressed.