Member of Parliament William Duguid says that he has never and will never benefit from any government contract.
The representative for Christ Church West was responding to the Barbados Free Press article Who Will Climb Aboard The Transparency Train? Dr. Duguid… How About You?
There are two points we would like to make about the Doctor’s response.
1/ The absence of laws concerning integrity and disclosure standards for public officials means exactly that – there are no laws. No public official can be held accountable for unethical behaviour because there is no definition for what constitutes unethical behaviour – and even if we agree that a public official has behaved unethically, so what? There is no law against it.
Essentially, anything goes because just about everything is legal – including awarding government contracts to family members or directly or indirectly profiting from insider knowledge or decisions made by government.
Dr. Duguid might have one standard in mind when it comes to what is ethical behaviour, or what constitutes “profiting from government contracts”, while someone else – either an elected official or a member of the public – might have another standard in mind. Perhaps Doctor Duguid profited indirectly from a government contract or from insider knowledge, but does not consider that to be unethical behaviour. Perhaps a relative or colleague profited from a government contract that Dr. Duguid arranged, but the Doctor does not consider that to be unethical.
We are not accusing Doctor Duguid of arranging such a contract for relatives, nor do we have any idea if he has ever done so, but we are sure that the Doctor sees our point, which is…
Without common integrity and disclosure standards backed up by laws – anything goes.
2/ Doctor Duguid recognizes that individual citizens have an interest and a right to examine the actions and personal finances of public officials who control their tax dollars.
While the Member for Christ Church West is probably extremely uncomfortable with talking about his private finances and income – especially in the absence of any agreed upon and legally mandated standards – he did so when we asked directly about his construction business.
You may think that the doctor’s statements count for little considering he and his party have had 13 years to implement integrity legislation and did not. Further, the BLP government could do so tomorrow with their huge majority. Heck, they changed the constitution on two days notice – so of course they could institute integrity legislation if they wanted to. Tomorrow.
But forget about that.
Doctor Duguid did not storm off in a huff like some untouchable god when asked about his personal finances.
He may not have pushed for integrity legislation in the past, but give the man credit. By respectfully answering our question he has acknowledged that individual citizens have an interest and a right to examine the actions and personal finances of public officials who control their tax dollars.
And that, my friends, is something that no other member of the BLP government has acknowledged.
Now, if the Doctor REALLY believes in integrity and transparency standards, he could declare them publicly for himself, and institute them for himself no matter what others choose to do in the absence of laws.
Subsequent to the above being written, Dr. Duguid posted comments that indicate he would be in favour of disclosure, but not for some circumstances – for instance financial information about his dental practice.
This debate should have been completed 10 years ago and we are not giving the doctor a pass or an endorsement.
As we have stated many times in the past for both the BLP and DLP – their promises are too little, too late. We don’t believe them anymore and it would take real action – not talk – for us to endorse any candidate.
But once again, at least give the doctor credit for not pulling a Noel Lynch.
We urge all our readers to examine the doctor’s comments in context of the questions and statements being made by others.
You can read all the comments and what the Member for Christ Church West had to say at Who Will Climb Aboard The Transparency Train? Dr. Duguid… How About You?