Once again, I just don’t know how to take an editorial in the Barbados Advocate. When the writer says that the BLP has “has remained at the forefront of efforts for (integrity legislation) implementation” and offers as proof the BLP’s 1976 manifesto, I don’t know if the Barbados Advocate is mocking the Prime Minister or not.
They are a very confused bunch over there at the Barbados Advocate.
Check it out for yourself…
Turnaround On Integrity
IT IS ironic that talk-radio is pushing the subject of integrity legislation without acknowledging that the organisation which constitutes the present Administration initiated and has remained at the forefront of efforts for its implementation.
In fact, even before the Constitution Review Commission under Sir Henry Forde’s chairmanship made the appropriate recommendation in its Report to Parliament in 1998, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) had been pressing the issue. The General Election manifestos of 1976 and 1981 confirm this. As Prime Minister, the late J.M.G.M. Tom Adams had argued for its enactment, but it ran into stiff opposition, not least from the late Errol Barrow who contended that there was no need for such law, since anti-corruption legislation was already on the Statute Books.
The proposal was just as vigorously resisted in the Senate where Independent Members protested mainly on grounds that the legislation would adversely affect wives, chairmen of statutory boards, Senators, senior public servants and others.
Sir Henry’s response
The response by Henry Forde, Q.C. to Barrow’s objection was that although anti-corruption legislation existed it was archaic, and was therefore being updated to include new prevention provisions in the Integrity Bill.
As Senator Nigel Barrow explained in the Upper Chamber, a select committee could address the objectors’ concerns. No parliamentarian would sit on that committee. However, Parliament was dissolved before that meeting could take place and the matter did not come up again in the next Session after the Democratic Labour Party regained power. Fortunately, it was given renewed prominence in the Forde Commission’s Report and there seems to be another switch in the Opposition’s position (Errol Barrow had also refused to introduce an Aliens Landholding Bill, but now the DLP is calling for one).
The original Integrity Bill, drafted by Mr. Justice Errol Chase, put Barbados ahead of other Caribbean countries in terms of preparation to introduce Integrity Legislation. Barbados was setting the standard, but even when the BLP spoke about it on public platforms there was trenchant political opposition to the concept. Either ignored or misunderstood was provision for lawmakers to use a blind trust, a feature of legislation in Canada, the United States and other jurisdictions.
How the system works
An MP hands over his or her assets to a trust company or person with power of attorney, who manages them during the MPs tenure in Parliament. The trustee provides an agreed amount of income without divulging profits from investments, etc., and makes returns for tax purposes.
All assets are then turned over to the beneficiary when the individual ceases to be an MP. This is a commonsense way to avoid possible conflict of interest where, for example, an MP may be able to determine who gets contracts for goods or services. There is integrity legislation throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad & Tobago, but that country has widened its provisions to include Judges, senior public servants, chief technical officers, counsellors, etc. Sadly, its implementation has not always been met with approval because it has not been applied in a non-partisan manner.
Given the stout resistance previously mounted against integrity legislation, one is entitled to ask whether the scales are now coming off some people’s eyes, like Saul on the road to Damascus.
… read the original article here.