An opposition senator has called on all political parties to declare how much money was spent during the course of an election campaign if politicians are serious about fighting corruption.
Senator Caswell Franklyn made the call during debate on the Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime Bill 2019, in the Upper House this afternoon.
While declaring that his support for the bill, which would empower the Crown to confiscate the proceeds of crimes committed as far as 20 years, Senator Franklyn said if weeding out corruption was high on Government’s agenda it too needed to be transparent.
He told the Upper Chamber of lawmakers: “The first people that have to have an unexplained order are these political parties. They are usually poor during the five year period but find money when it comes to elections . . . and they don’t tell anybody where they get this money from.
“You are allowed to spend $10 per elector in your constituency. The parties spend far more, they spend millions.”
But the outspoken Senator went on to say that his biggest problem with the bill is that it would give the Attorney General – a Cabinet member and a “political person” – the power to institute asset recovery proceedings.
Senator Franklyn said: “Under this provision, the Attorney General makes the order, but it might be a political attorney general, a real rabid political person.
“That is one aspect that I don’t like. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act that we have now, the recovery authority was the Director of Public Prosecutions. Why are we taking this function from a person who should be above politics and putting it in the hands of a politician who may do it just before election time to embarrass an opponent?
“This function should remain in the hands of a non-political person . . . . I do not want to see an attorney general being involved in this aspect of law enforcement.”
The Senator also cautioned about the speed at which the bill was being passed, having received details of the 194-page draft at short notice.
He argued that Government was continually rushing to enact legislation and was causing more harm than good.
Senator Franklyn told fellow lawmakers: “This is not the way we should be doing business in Barbados. This bill should be circulated and give people the opportunity to check and see what is happening.
“You see those 20 bills that we rushed and passed the last time to accommodate the OECD? If we had taken our time, we would have put in a couple of clauses to accommodate the EU and we would not be blacklisted today. We are rushing and we are doing things badly.”