In a call for respect to be shown the office of Leader of the Opposition, Bishop Joseph Atherley has accused Leader of the House Edmund Hinkson of presenting him with the bill to restructure Barbados’ debt only minutes before the start of today’s session.
The former member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) who crossed the floor to become the singular occupant of the Opposition bench argued that owing to the seriousness of the Debt Holder (Approval of Debt Restructuring) Bill 2018, it was unfair that he did not get ample time to peruse it.
“It cannot be proper that I am handed a bill that we are going to be debating in this House today just as the honourable member who presented the Bill stands to his feet. That is certainly improper.
“You may not respect the honourable member from St Michael West, but you had better respect the office of the Leader of the Opposition and you need to respect the process and the process is being repeatedly disrespected. You need to respect the public’s right to fair and meaningful debate,” Atherley insisted.
“This is about the 12th or 13th sitting of this Parliament; it has happened repeatedly and I have not said a word about it and probably would not have said a word about it today except for the nature of the bill that we are discussing,” Atherley said as he stood across from the 28-seat Government benches.
“We are not talking about a community project in the Bayland or in Bayville, we are not talking about road slippage in St Andrew; we are not talking about small housing development in any part of St James; we are talking about a matter that will affect the lives of thousands of people in this country, which is an urgent and seriously important matter.”
St Michael West MP said that as a matter of principle and courtesy he should have received the bill at a much earlier date.
“After all, there are 28 on the other side and certainly that cannot be proper. I really would like to adjure the Leader of Government Business in the House to ensure that going forward this type of thing does not happen.
“I mean it is bad enough that the bill appears Monday, or Saturday, or Sunday, but that it appears the moment the honourable member stands to his feet, that is certainly not good enough,” Atherley declared.
“This administration is far better than that and is far more capable of getting its business in such order to be in a better state of preparedness and readiness than that. I understand the urgency of the matter of the issue and I understand that you have the pressure of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and that you have to respond to certain timetables and schedules, but that withstanding it cannot be good and it cannot be proper in 2018.”