Daily Archives: February 20, 2006

Barbados Eye Care in Cuba: What About Lion’s Eyecare Centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital?

A reader of our post “If Barbados Needs Cuban Medical Help, Then We Are Really In Trouble” reminds us that the Lion’s Eyecare Centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital was supposed to be the premier eyecare facility in the Caribbean. After a 4 million dollar donation by Lions, the facility was supposed to look after not only Bajans, but much of the Caribbean.

What happened? Can anyone out there provide an insider’s perspective?

Here is the letter from our reader…

We, like the rest of the Caribbean, are being offered free eye care by Cuba, but whatever happened to the free gift of the Lion’s Eyecare Centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital?

I recollect when I was in Lions that this was intended to supply eyecare to Barbados and the Caribbean. Pass the QEH and look at the size of the building donated by Lions International for regional eyecare in the times of Brandford Taitt. I believe back then the sum was $4.0 Million for construction and outfitting (but I may be wrong). It is a whole wing of many storeys.

I remember it was a bit of an embarassment for Lions as the Government, having been offered and accepted the gift for free, could not come up with the budget to run it!!

It is used for various other purposes including blood collection and orthopaedic surgery so it does serve a purpose, …. but ….. why are we in a position to need free eyecare from Cuba?

Good point, Sir. Why should Bajans go begging hat-in-hand for health care from another country? Perhaps if some Government Ministers engaged in fewer Thursday afternoon liquid luncheons at the Hilton, they might find a way to provide the type of health care facilities that Barbados should have.

Cuba indeed! What a joke.

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Filed under Barbados, Island Life, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur: His Secret Bank Accounts, Stock Portfolios

Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur has bank accounts and shares in public companies and private business ventures that he keeps secret from the electorate and the Legislature.

Owen and his companions are able to do this because Barbados has no requirement for Government Ministers, elected members or their immediate families to file financial statements with a Conflict of Interest Committee or other body of public oversight.

This is hardly a surprise as the Arthur Owen Government won’t even post a copy of the Auditor General’s report on the internet for all citizens to see.

In any democracy, and especially a small democracy like Barbados, public oversight of potential conflicts of interest should be a high priority. Otherwise, the governing elites seem unable to avoid the temptation of feathering their nests. If we wanted to list all the examples in Barbados, we could start with the GEMS fiasco in the morning and still be writing at the end of the day.

So how about it, Mr. Prime Minister? Wouldn’t this recent cabinet shuffle be an ideal time to show openness and accountability by introducing a policy of full financial disclosure for those Bajans who can award multi-million dollar contracts with the stroke of a pen?

Hmmmm? How about it?

And while you are at it, Mr. Prime Minister, please have yourself and each of your new Ministers publish answers to the following questions:

1/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members maintained a bank account or stock portfolio outside of Barbados?

2/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members had shares or options to purchase shares in any corporation that has received any public funds from Barbados at any time?

3/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members received monies or any other assets from any corporation that has received any public funds from Barbados at any time?

4/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members owned lands that were either purchased by the Government of Barbados, or owned at any time by the Government of Barbados?

That will do for a start, Mr. Prime Minister. Oh, and please ask some of your Ministers to publish their responses as soon as possible – as we wish to check the veracity of their answers against information that we already know.

(And to our readers, keep those tips coming!)

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Cabinet Shuffle? Ho Hum, but…

From an article by Donna Sealy in The Nation News

A “NON-EVENT” was how Opposition Leader David Thompson described the Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Owen Arthur on Saturday.

“Surely, his retagging of chairs in the Cabinet room cannot be the major overhaul that he promised and which the country expected,” Thompson said.

There will be no changes in priorities, no re-ordering of focus and the shuffle would have absolutely no impact on the social and economic fortunes of Barbadians…

“We (Democratic Labour Party) contend that the changes made were abstract and inconsequential to the challenges that confront Barbados today….”

We at the Barbados Free Press must respectfully disagree in part with Mr. Thompson. Although this cabinet reshuffle was largely a “ho hum” affair designed to make Prime Minister Arthur look less like an all-powerful dictator in time for the upcoming election, it will produce what could be a very significant change…

The removal of the Ministry of Housing from the portfolio of Environment Minister Liz Thompson will allow her to focus on Energy and Environment: two key areas where sub-standard government performance presents the most significant long-term threat to the economy and health of Barbados and it’s citizens.

While we agree with Opposition Housing Critic Michael Lashley that Liz Thompson is in way over her head and totally failed to perform on housing & environment, we are very disappointed with Mr. Lashley’s comments that the Ministry of Energy and Environment is a “two-day-a-week job”.

Unless the Opposition party publicly corrects Mr. Lashley’s comments on the importance of the Energy and Environment portfolio, the DLP will have trouble convincing Bajans that they are any different from the ruling Government.

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption