The shameful contents of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) 2013–2018 Report came up for debate for the second straight week as Parliament convened today.
The contributions were much of the same, with several legislators expressing outrage, dismay, horror, even, at the appalling findings which have highlighted controversial deals, inappropriate approvals on some contracts, major costs overruns and other vexing issues surrounding the management of the public purse under the stewardship of the Democratic Labour Party administration (DLP).
The cry for justice reverberated in the heart of the capital.
Said Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde, “ I want justice to prevail. I am not going to rest in this Barbados Labour Party or this country unless I get that kind of response,” she said.
Her colleague, Minister of Creative Economy, Youth Culture and Sports John King echoed the sentiments when he suggested, “no one should get off scot-free. “If it is with my last breath it can’t go down so. The country did not deserve it.”
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Wilfred Abraham, who cried shame at the findings, lamented an image of Barbados on the international stage that has been “damaged badly”.
Allegations of corruption are not unchartered waters in Barbados, but it is clear that Barbadians are demanding more accountability and rightfully so.
The question is, are we serious about putting a cap on corruption?
Over the years, a number of scandals have surfaced, often raising eyebrows, much ire and, of course, the threat of exposure which usually end in naught.
This would explain why Barbadians, though supportive, are not bowled over by the Government’s touted plan to weed out corruption.
Quite frankly, citizens are tired of the repeated revelations about authorities who have abused their office at the expense of taxpayers despite taking an oath to represent our interests.
Corruption is a cancer that has invaded our national fibre from time immemorial and Barbadians are weary of no action being taken against those who, after being entrusted with the public purse, seek to make off with it.
Corruption has affected this country at all levels – national security, economic growth, infrastructural development, social services, and more.
Valuable resources, which should have been allocated to putting more buses on the road, additional garbage trucks to keep the streets clean, more ambulances, more road repairs and improvements to the delivery of health care, are often recklessly misused.
Hardly could one disagree that this administration should pursue this matter firmly and vigorously. Grandstanding won’t fix it.
It is time we tackle this long-standing issue and bring those who seek to engage in such practices to justice, bar none.
We abhor the idea of any witchhunt, but we look to Government with expectation to take a firm and decisive stand against the several reports of corruption occurring in various departments and agencies.
Admittedly, Prime Minister Mottley, back in July signalled she was prepared to give those who knew they were guilty of such corrupt behaviour a “come to Jesus moment”.
To the best of our knowledge we are still awaiting that second coming.
But with every passing day, the revelations appear to be worsening. Some of the allegations being made are very strong and direct. They point to specific people as being culpable.
The Prime Minister may have very little choice but to call these individuals to account and to verify if any of the strong accusations being made against them are true.
No one should get away with flouting the law. Government cannot afford to yield on this matter lest it loses its moral authority in the eyes of its electors.]
Prime Minister Mottley must again assure Barbadians that if any of the various allegations of wrongdoing are proven true that justice will be served. Barbadians who are feeling the pain of sacrifice in an ailing economy deserve no less.