The Cover Up
(Part 2 of 3 about the proposed constitutional amendment act of 2007)
The Illusionist, Owen Arthur, and his merry cabinet have a problem. And they have a solution: hide it. They have figured out how to hide the bad news, if not forever, at least until after the coming election. How? Secretly, before anyone can catch on, amend the Constitution by changing the way the Country’s books have been done ever since Barbados became a country.
Let’s look at this piece of skullduggery. The Constitution (Amendment) Act 2007.
They almost slipped it by us
First reading is reported to have been March 6th. No one saw it though. Now when the truth is out we are told we should have seen it in Hansard, which is to published March 12th, if it is and if you can get a copy.
But when Barbados Free Press cried foul on Friday March 9th they quickly put it up on the Parliamentary Web site. It quickly became clear that no one had even proof read this piece of legislation that is going to change the way the country does business.
Each and every one of the changes that it intends for our Constitution is flawed with bad grammar that a school child would have noticed, if only given a chance to see it. But the Illusionist was in too much of a hurry for that.
Here is an example. It shows how section 18.2 of our Constitution will read after the amendment. The new words are highlighted in italics.
“ The estimates of expenditure shall show separately the sums required to meet statutory expenditure (as defined in section 109(7)) and the sums required to meet other expenditure proposed to be charged to of the Consolidated Fund.”
This type of grammatical error is made in each of the 5 clauses of the Constitution that are to be altered.
But it might now be so bad if grammatical errors were the only problem. What is outrageous and unconscionable is what they intend this new bill to accomplish.
At this important time when finances are completely out of control and we are all gritting our teeth and waiting for the pain the Illusionist is changing the way the country reports about its money accounts. What they are about to do, change from the cash accounting method to the accrual method, is being done for one reason alone – so no one will ever know what has really happened.
To illustrate think of your own joint bank account. Your spouse has been out borrowing and then spending much more than your family can afford. But at least you will be able to know how bad it is because all money in and out goes through the account.
Then your spouse suddenly closes that account and changes the rules. No longer will you get to see an actual bank statement but rather a concocted document that is no more than a figment of the imagination.
You used to know how much you had just by looking at how much went in and went out and what is left in the bank account. Now, after the amendment, your account balance will never be accurately known because now you are going to get, instead, a trumped accounting that instead of just counting the cash figures in supposed IOU’s and hides away unpaid bills that you are not allowed to see.
From now on your spouse will conjure up the accounts that you will see.
And that is what the Constitutional Amendment will do.
The Illusionist is not going to show you the bank account any more but rather a doctored document reflecting his version of what is there. And the bafflegab will explain that we are actually better off than ever. (God help us all.)
So, we ask, why now? Why the obscene rush?
Can’t someone who knows the rules of grammar at least take a look at the draft? Nope, the Illusionist is going to ram this through the House of Parliament on Tuesday and then through the Senate on Wednesday.
And, right after that, in his self glorying and delusional speech about the economy he is going to brag about the changes that, he will tell us, give the Auditor General all sorts of new power to check things out and report to us and isn’t that just grand.
Owen Arthur will say that the Auditor General will have new powers and he will be lying
Here is what the toothless new law actually says:
(2A.) The Auditor-General may on his own initiative carry out examinations into the financial management of Ministries, Departments, Statutory Authorities, and government controlled entities including the manner in which these Ministries, Departments, Statutory authorities and government controlled entities use their resources in discharging their functions as regards the efficiency and effectiveness of the use of those resources.
Yes folks that’s it. “The Auditor General may…”
What a joke. All he is allowed to do is ask nicely. He has no power to compel, no power to subpoena, no power to censure those who, predictably, are going to ignore him.
Oh, and why is he not being given power to audit project such as GEMS where the country is on the hook for and will have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in losses? Well because, you see, all the lost money found its way into the pockets of friends of the Illusionist and it just wouldn’t do to have the Auditor General poking around and asking embarrassing questions.