A Government backbencher has made a case for ministers to receive higher pay.
Making his contribution to yesterday’s debate on the Integrity in Public Life Bill, Member of Parliament for St George North Gline Clarke argued “people at the ministerial level must be paid better so they would not be tempted to indulge in corrupt practices”.
At the same time, he said: “If an MP, senior civil servant or board member does not do the right thing, he [or she] should be brought before the courts.
“That way, we would send a clear message that we are here to protect the Treasury,” Clarke added.
The six-term parliamentarian and former Minister of Public Works in a previous Owen Arthur-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government, noted that corruption usually started small, with actions such as “sending in a sick certificate when you know you are not sick and going to work and not doing your job properly because your position is permanent”.
He also gave the example of “people receiving items such as housing or welfare [support] because of who they know, rather than because of a genuine need,” while emphasizing that “we have to stamp out corruption at all levels in our society.
“People look at politicians as an example, and once we show them we are prepared to work hard for decent pay, then the public will do the same thing,” he added.
However, the Government backbencher suggested that an independent body was needed to investigate corruption since “we have a system in which members of parliament are temporary officers, and senior civil servants like permanent secretaries, who are supposed to account for all practices within their ministries, do not always provide us with the information we need to investigate any corrupt practices we may discover”.
During the debate, Clarke also pointed out that during the BLP’s term in office under the late Tom Adams between 1976 and 1986 there was “a code of conduct” that Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and board members had to follow. He also said during the Arthur regime between 1994 and 2008 in which he served, “the Cabinet Secretary gave us a code of do’s and don’ts, and we had experienced MPs and Cabinet members who sat with young MPs and ministers to advise them.
“[However], I believe the last [Democratic Labour Party] administration did not get this kind of advice, and so they did as they liked,” he told Parliament.