Ministers today pleaded to anyone who knows of corrupt practices to come forward and blow the whistle to the authorities.
As the House of Assembly resumed from its Christmas break, lawmakers made the call as they took up the Integrity in Public Life Bill.
Pointing out that relating legislation is to be introduced shortly, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan gave an assurance that the issue of corruption is being addressed “systematically” by the Mia Mottley administration.
“We are not kicking the corruption can down the road.
“We are serious about it and we remain serious about it, and we as a political institution of longstanding are prepared to put in place those mechanisms by which the general public can hold us to a standard that they have not been able to hold others previously,” Jordan declared.
But he said in order for people to be held accountable for their actions, individuals needed to come forward with information and give an official statement to law enforcement officials.
Stating that morality could not be legislated, the Labour Minister said: “Government has a responsibility to safeguard against excess, but there are other organizations in a country that have a responsibility to hold accountable those who are placed in position of public trust.
“We have had too many situations where institutions seem afraid to speak up and speak out when they see excesses.”
Jordan said he was aware of individuals who said they knew of corrupt practices but were unwilling to give a statement.
“I am calling on right-thinking people to stand up and do what is right in spite of what the consequences could be.
“You may call me idealistic but my heroes are not necessarily the people around me, some of my heroes are Biblical.
“I am hoping that we can get to the point where we can stand up and speak when we see wrong and complement when we see right, but without giving too much thought as to the consequences.”
He explained that it was when people start to think of the repercussions that they would hold back on giving information and then “allow evil to prevail”.
“We have to get to the point where we can stand for principle and this Labour Party is demonstrating that it is on that course,” said Jordan.
Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson also called on people to come forward with information, saying there were many instances of bribery in both the public and private sectors.
“We have too many instances of conflict of interest throughout. Not only in the public sector but in the private sector too.
“It is the private sector of course, that [has] also been party to corrupt practices under the last administration.
“I also want to join [Jordan] in appealing to Barbadians to come out and give evidence as to corruption in high places under the last administration.”
“We know that there are people in the private sector who have evidence of corruption by public officials, by members of the last administration.
“They said so. They spoke about six-figure bribes that they gave to Cabinet ministers,” he said.
Hinkson noted that one of the unfortunate characteristics of Barbadians was their fear of them or a family member being victimised.
From as far back as 2016, the private sector has been hinting of suspected bribery.
And as recently as last June, Attorney General Dale Marshall disclosed that a number of businesspeople had been confessing privately to having paid bribes amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars to public officials.
“Some have come forward out of a spirit of contriteness and others have come forward perhaps only to show what villains have occupied the seats of power in this country in recent times,” Marshall said then during the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast discussion.