BLP Spin Machine In Overdrive – Over Land Issues
For at least the last four weeks, the Barbados Labour Party has been pulling out all the stops to head off any serious discussion of the real issues surrounding land ownership and useage in Barbados.
The BLP spin tactic is to focus upon three areas: 1/ The economic necessity and wisdom of selling land to foreign investors. 2/ That there is lots of land left for Bajans. 3/ How great a job the BLP has done, and is doing, in providing cheap (ie: subsidized with public funds) land and housing to lower-income Bajans.
We see the Prime Minister publically “kicking butt” of housing contractors who are behind schedule, other Ministers talking about how much land there is for everyone, letters to newspaper editors from government supporters – and an old Government Minister saying that all the Opposition Party concern about land is just a “political football” and hardly worth talking about.
Not mentioned at all by the BLP are the two most important and contentous factors surrounding land ownership, use and sale in Barbados:
1/ The complete lack of accountability and transparency for those public officials who make multi-million dollar land decisions in secret.
2/ The fact that Barbados has no conflict of interest laws or integrity legislation anyway – so even if public officials’ pockets benefit from their decisions, nothing can be done.
The system is corrupt, and the ruling government does not want to change it.
Don’t be fooled by all the razzle-dazzle this weekend at the BLP conference. Keep thinking about those million-dollar land deals made in secret, and the fact that neither the Prime Minister nor anyone else involved in the secret decisions has to declare their assets…
And even if they do line their own pockets, or if their family members or “special lady friends” happen to do “consulting” work for government suppliers where the payment goes into an offshore account… it is not illegal.
In 12 years of power, Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s government has failed to make such unethical behaviour illegal.
Transparency? Accountability? Integrity and Conflict of Interest Legislation?
Not on Owen Arthur’s watch.
Smoke and Mirrors from the Nation News…
THE current contentious issues of land, public transportation, housing and consumer protection matters will be high on the agenda when the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) holds its 68th annual general conference this weekend.
Additionally, all six party officers including chairman and political leader Prime Minister, Owen Arthur have been nominated unopposed, but BLP officials yesterday debunked suggestions the two day event at Harrison College was an “election conference”, and the last before General Elections are called.
The theme for this year’s conference, which is expected to attract between 500 and 600 delegates, is Continuing to Make Life Better in Barbados.
Speaking during a media briefing at BLP headquarters Roebuck Stress, conference chairman Senator Rudy Grant, said: “We have decided on the first day of the conference to focus on issues relating to land. On that first day there will be a video presentation, which will detail what as a party we have been doing to facilitate land and to facilitate providing that for Barbadians, so that the lives of Barbadians could be enriched and made better.”
He said day one would have presentations by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs and Development Mia Mottley, in her capacity as Minister responsible for the Urban Development Commission UDC. Also making presentations will be Minister of Housing and Lands Reginald Farley and Minister of Social Transformation, Trevor Prescod.
Grant, who is Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, said there would be range of issues presented in the form of resolutions to be discussed including public transport, housing, consumer protection issues.
As for the election of the party executive, which will take place on day one, Grant said apart from Arthur, General Secretary, Dr. William Duguid and Treasurer Senator Tyrone Barker would be unopposed. The same stood for Minister of Labour and the Civil Service Rawle Eastmond, first vice-chairman; Minister of Health Dr. Jerome Walcott; and Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development Senator, Lynette Eastmond.
The conference chairman said the issue of land was chosen to be discussed because it was one of the topics on the minds and lips of the public.
“There are individuals in Barbados who consider the issue of land to be important and it is an issue that we thought we would bring to the fore and we would discuss fully, and we would highlight for the public what we have been doing over the last 12 years of this administration,” he said.
Duguid said while individuals were free to speculate, the two day conference was not an election one.
“As far as I am aware the constitutionally due election will be…due in 2008. So that would mean that if nothing else the last election conference would be 2007 and not the 2006. Surely you are allowed to speculate as anybody else is allowed to speculate. You are entitled to your speculation but you are not entitled to your facts and the facts are at this present time that this is not an election conference,” according to him.
The first day of the event will opened with an entertainment prelude, and both days will have devotions by Reverend Angela Phillips and Pastor Anderson Kellman respectively.
While the expected “high point” of the second day will be an address by the Prime Minister, said this year would also feature a booth where people could have blood pressure and cholesterol checks. The Barbados Prison Service and UDC will also have booths.