The plan to buy second-hand refuse trucks for the Sanitation Service Authority appears to have been dumped by the Prime Minister at least for the time being.
She ordered a group of Government officials who were in Europe to source the vehicles to return to Barbados after they reported the mysterious, simultaneous, appearance of a private sector firm’s representatives, she told a meeting of St Michael South East constituency on Sunday.
The company may have had an inside track on the Government’s plans while still at the highest levels of Government, the Prime Minister hinted.
By convention, ministers’ deliberations are considered state secrets and only final decisions of Cabinet may be publicised.
“Pursuant to a board paper” the group from the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), the Ministry of the Environment and National Beautification went overseas to examine used garbage trucks, she said.
But “a certain car company’s representatives happen to be at every location that the group went to.“When the Attorney General and I found out we told the Minister ‘tell them to come home the next day because I need to know how a private sector group that was not a part of the Cabinet Paper could be there at every location.
“And the minister and I and the AG have agreed that is not the kind of Government we want to run,” said Mottley, who suggested it was not coincidence.
The leader of the country, who pointed out that this year marked 30 years of her involvement with the governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP), made it clear that she had been through the “hottest fires” and was prepared for her naysayers and those who wanted to corrupt her administration.
With the country’s debt said to be in the order of about $15 billion, Mottley, who has already announced an immediate suspension of debt payments, is currently seeking to enter into an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in a bid to save the economy.Insisting that there were those “whose agenda is to confuse”, the Prime Minister would have none of it, she said.
“I want to send a message to those who believe it is their business to muddy the water with lies and obfuscation because they feel that by doing so you are going to taint or stain the Government, I am accustomed, you know that already [I have] broad shoulders. I have gone through the hottest fires. I have borne abuse from all quarters and it has never caused me to take my eyes off the ball.
“Because of where I sit I am even more appreciative now of what is at stake,” said Mottley.
“I can give those that believe it is their duty to sully the reputation of this Government either through interventions like the trips to England or though distortions like who was getting a pay increase, that if that is what pleases you as to how you spend your 24-hour day, go right ahead, but it will not cause us to take our eye off the ball and create opportunities for the people of this country who want jobs, opportunities for investment, who want their children to prosper, who want their elders to be able to live our their days in dignity,” she told the St Michael Southeast constituents.
Mottley also took issue with reports which she said sought to give the impression that Ministers were getting a undeserved pay increase, insisting that any increase in the public sector was the across-the-board five per cent agreed upon and passed into law last week.
“So you don’t need to listen to a newspaper who wants to tell you about Ministers getting a pay increase. What nonsense. The people who got the pay increase are the 26,500 public servants, and as a result, ministers who are 26 of those 26,500 would have had it,” she explained.
With the Government in the process of implementing Integrity in Public Life legislation, Mottley called on critics to “talk about the thieving, then we would talk about who else we need to go for and then we need to talk about ethics.”
Mottley then questioned why former Minister of Education Ronald Jones was made a vice chancellor of a medical university mere weeks after his Democratic Labour Party was voted out of office.
“Have we no shame? That is the question that I wanted them to ask themselves last Sunday as they met in George Street,” said Mottley of the DLP’s annual party conference. She indicated that new laws would prohibit Ministers from “going and acting in certain types of businesses within three to five years after they leave holding a ministry, so that the country can have the confidence that a person is not serving their own interest while making decisions in the name of the tax payers in this country”.
Reiterating a previous call for people to come forward and “confess”, Mottley insisted that “we are going to hold people accountable. We are going to do things in a transparent way”. She continued: “I want to repeat it because there are private sector people in this country who believe the Government has not changed and I want them to understand that that behaviour will not be accepted by my Government”.
Giving the assurance that the country would “not get corrupted or infected anymore”, Mottley called on Barbadians to bear with her as she carried out the necessary restructuring, insisting that “Rome was never built in a day
. . . there is a process, there is a time and there is a season.
“Sometimes you need to pain for gain,” she told the audience, as she warned that time was now for a major “operation”.