Prime Minister Mia Mottley has given the assurance that neither the current Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration nor any future governments will be allowed to “operate under the cover of night”.
In a fiery contribution to close off debate on the Public Finance Management Bill 2019, Mottley promised that all politicians and ministers would be held accountable for their actions in the future.
Mottley said the bill was necessary when under the former DLP administration Barbados moved from $6 billion in debt to $15 billion in debt “with nothing to show for it”.
“No Government in this country must ever be allowed to act in the manner in which the last Government acted, with impunity, hiding under the cover of night, with nothing to show for what they did to take money from innocent taxpayers and we have come here conscious of this.
“This is not about getting even with a previous Government, this piece of legislation is about the future. This is about the standards to which we bind ourselves as a Government in good faith,” the Prime Minister said, while revealing that she had taken time from preparing the 2019/2020 Estimates to make a contribution.
Describing the bill as “one of the most important pieces of legislation that will be passed in a post-Independence Barbados” Mottley said the bill would place a cap on contingencies, prevent the Central Bank of Barbados from overprinting money and would also allow for an independent audit of Government’s finances.
“ . . . This will be able to significantly increase the level of accountability of a Government to be governed,” she said.
She said the bill was consistent with the approach that Government had taken even before it was elected to office just under eight months ago.
“We all went confident in the knowledge that Barbados could no longer be governed by people who did not feel it was their solemn duty to be transparent in the management and accounting of expenditure to this country.
“At that annual conference at Foundation School back in October, 2015, we made it absolutely clear that we could not seek to come after a Government that had exhibited the highest form of banditry, wickedness, covert activity in the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money and be anything other than absolutely transparent with respect to the management of the people’s funds,” the Prime Minister said.
Mottley said the bill would demand levels of transparency which had never before been seen in the Caribbean.
“In less than nine months we have already brought to this house two major pieces of legislation with respect to the personal conduct of public officials and other pieces related to the standards to which public finances must be held and we have incorporated some of those in this piece of legislation here…that seeks in almost every respect to heighten the levels of accountability and transparency by the Government of Barbados, by ministries and departments, by ministers and public officials, by commercially-owned state enterprises and other state enterprises in this country, in other words, all entities or persons acting in the public name in this country,” Mottley said.