The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Dr Peter Grimes
“To curb corruption, one must be courageous to confront and complain against the corrupt.” – Amit Kalantri
I have followed with interest Barbados government’s moving with speed to change governance structure to that of a republic. This desire to move Barbados to a republic was announced in the Throne Speech in September 2020 and our Prime Minister Mia Mottley has recently announced that this transition will occur on the 30th November this year on the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence.
I am a supporter of republicanism and I have no argument with our country becoming a republic. I however, like many commentators, am of the opinion that such a monumental change to our system of governance should be put to the citizenry in the form of a referendum.
I am definitely not a constitutional lawyer or scholar but it appears to me that our government making fundamental decisions about this change and then giving the public a chance to have a say on necessary changes to the constitution is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.
I, however, find it very disconcerting that three years after running on a platform of stamping out corruption, and
I quote from the BLP manifesto 2018, “Introduce comprehensive legislation immediately upon forming the Government, to fight and punish corruption and hold Ministers and Board Chairpersons accountable for their actions”, that our current government has not passed any legislation to make this a reality.
The government within one year of announcing its decision to transition Barbados to a republic, set up a commission
to look into this matter and decided when and how Barbados would become a republic.
Yet with 29 seats in parliament the government has procrastinated on enacting anticorruption legislation to protect Barbadians from being exploited by corrupt people in our public sphere.
The absence of such legislation in Barbados leaves this author wondering if this government with its ever-increasing number of consultants and advisors really intend to enact such legislation. This author also wonders if the official Opposition and the DLP are actually motivated to have anticorruption legislation passed.
Their deafening silence on this matter to my mind gives credence to the quote by Christopher Hitchens, “The whole point about corruption in politics is that it can’t be done, or done properly, without a bipartisan consensus.”
The BLP Manifesto 2018 states: “Corruption is a stain on our society, a drain on our economy and reduces Government revenues.”
To my mind, corruption in our government and public institutions besmirches the reputation of Barbados and by extension damages our economy; by deterring external investment, while encouraging mismanagement of Barbados’ resources.
Unfortunately as stated by Pope Francis, “Corruption is paid by the poor.”Very importantly, corruption leads to the judicial system being unable to hold all citizens equal before the law.
To my mind, comprehensive anticorruption legislation is the main instrument which will improve governance in Barbados, for in reality a corrupt parliamentary republic is no better than a corrupt constitutional monarchy.
The Barbados public deserves far better from its elected representatives and in fact the Barbados public (led by
those who it has paid to educate) should demand better from its government.
This column was offered as a Letter to the Editor.