Prime Minister David Thompson Fails To Have His Ministers Adopt His Promised “Ministerial Code”
On January 3, 2008, the DLP declared in writing a promise to adopt a “Ministerial Code” – that they described as a “code of ethics and procedural guidance for persons who assume ministerial office in a new DLP government. Its purpose is to clearly define the framework within which the bond of trust between the Government and the people of Barbados should be established…”
The DLP also declared in writing that “The Ministerial Code takes effect immediately after a DLP government is elected.”
“Immediately” was in contrast to some other integrity initiatives that were promised within a 100 day time frame. It is also important to note that the Ministerial Code does not have to be passed as a law, and could simply be adopted and declared by the Cabinet to say “This is what is expected of Government Ministers. We declare this code to be our standard of conduct.”
In some jurisdictions where such Ministerial Codes are in place, Government Ministers are required to sign a copy of the code to show their acknowledgment and acceptance of the standards.
Prime Minister Thompson And His DLP Goverment have failed to adopt their Ministerial Code as promised.
When There Are No Rules – Anything Is Acceptable
You can view the promised Ministerial Code at the end of this article, but one of the standards it sets concerns the important issue Government Ministers receiving gifts from persons who do business with the government…
“g. Ministers should avoid accepting any gift or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to, compromise their judgement or place them under an improper obligation;”
This standard is of vital importance as it recognizes that even the appearance of possible wrongdoing is grounds for dismissal from a Ministerial post. If adopted as the standard, never again will a corrupt politician be able to say “You lack the hard evidence to show that I took a gift in exchange for other consideration.”
If this “appearances count” standard is adopted, there will be no more government ministers borrowing a corporate jet for a shopping trip to Miami or New York.
No more land sold to politicians for a fraction of the real value. No more year-old Mercedes auto showing up in a Cabinet Minister’s driveway and the neighbours saying, “Didn’t that used to be owned by a construction company executive? Don’t they do work for the government?”
There are no integrity standards because Prime Minister David Thompson, his Cabinet and the Democratic Labour Party have not done what they said they would do.
Government Ministers Operating With No Code Of Conduct, No Standards
When David Thompson and the DLP introduced their integrity promises at the last moment of the campaign – cut and pasted from an online source only days before – we were skeptical and we said so. (See BFP’s David Thompson Reveals DLP’s Integrity and Freedom Of Information Plans – Much Cut and Pasted From The Internet Only A Few Days Ago)
Then we heard David Thompson speak and he told us that he meant what he said. We believed him, and on January 6, 2008, Barbados Free Press endorsed Thompson and the DLP by publishing our article Dear Mr. Thompson, We Believe You Will Do It…
Yet, here we are almost two months after David Thompson became Prime Minister. The government is operating at full steam. Cheques are being written and corporations are lining up to obtain government work. Contracts are being signed… And still the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and all Government Ministers are operating without the Ministerial Code and standards that they promised to adopt “immediately”.
Now that they have achieved power and hold the country’s cheque book in their hands, David Thompson and the DLP government refuse to implement standards that will prevent them from using their office for personal profit.
Prime Minister Thompson and others have also made statements indicating that the promised “100 days” deadline for integrity and freedom of information legislation may not happen and that revamping the defamation law is no longer a priority.
If Prime Minister Thompson and the DLP Government continue down this path, they will totally discredit themselves in a matter of a few weeks.
Here is the promised Ministerial Code…