New Wardrobes & New Cars On The Public Purse: This Is DLP Integrity Reform In Barbados
Elected and appointed government officials in Barbados are free to use their office for personal profit because successive governments have deliberately refused to pass laws or policies against the practice. Not only can government officials misuse and use information and influence to personally profit – they can actually issue fat government contracts to companies owned by themselves or their immediate family members!
The current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government led by David Thompson promised during the election campaign of 2007 to implement a Ministerial Code of Conduct immediately upon being elected. That was the first integrity promise to fall by the wayside but not the last. Upon election, the DLP priorities immediately switched from integrity and accountability to getting their little piggy snouts right into the public trough. Fine cars and fine clothes became the order of the day. Not to mention borrowing business jets from companies who profit from government contracts!
And what of the promised Integrity, Transparency and Accountability Legislation and Policies?
Well, we did have some public consultations for a Freedom of Information Act proposal that has since disappeared. No public consultations for the Integrity Legislation are planned though – we can’t have citizens spotting the deliberate holes and weaknesses in the legislation beforehand, doan ya know!
David Thompson Failed To Make The One Simple Policy Change That Could Have Stopped Much Of The Abuse
With a simple policy statement Prime Minister Thompson could have sent a message of integrity throughout the government. Without passing any laws or any consultation at all, Mr. Thompson could have declared the following…
“It is now government policy that no government contracts are to be issued to companies or other government suppliers that are owned wholly or in part by an elected or appointed government employee or official or their immediate family members.”
Thompson could have also declared the following policy without too much trouble at all…
“It is now government policy that elected or appointed government employees or officials are prohibited from directly or indirectly receiving any gift, consideration or loan from any government contractor for any reason except that the value of such gift or consideration shall not exceed BDS$50 no more than three times in twelve months.”
That “limits on gifts” policy leaves open the door for some small Christmas or birthday presents between friends but stops thousand dollar “Christmas” presents or the five-thousand dollar “loans” to government officials that are never repaid and are coincidentally given by government suppliers who just received a fat contract.
To those of you who will moan about the difficulty in enforcing such policies, you must remember that many government policies are set. Some are enforced and some are ignored but everyone knows they exist and they do establish standards and limit behaviours just by their existence.
Had Prime Minister Thompson established these two government policies it would have sent a clear message to appointed and elected government officials. The fact that Thompson didn’t set these integrity policies AND that he failed to implement his integrity promises sent another very clear message to everyone…
The feeding trough is open. Nothing changed except the name of the pig – from BLP to DLP.
An Example Of How Senior Government Officials Use Their Office And Inside Knowledge For Personal Profit
For today’s lesson about how corrupt this island of Barbados is, we turn to a September 4, 2005 Nation article that says “senior civil servants” were behind a $200 million dollar hotel development…
$200m resort plans
Published on: 9/4/05.
by JULIE WILSON
AN INTERNATIONAL hotel brand is playing a major part in transforming Harrison Point into a rich and famous paradise, possibly in time for Cricket World Cup 2007.
The SUNDAY SUN has learnt that the 240-acre site, north of the temporary prison will undergo a $200 million transformation in two phases.
Local company Harrison Resort (Barbados) Limited, made up of a number of senior civil servants will construct in the first phase, 160 two-bedroom condominiums, eight ocean-front villas, 100 lakeside townhouses and 75 residential villas…
… continue reading this article at the Nation (link here)
Which “Senior Civil Servants” Are/Were Involved With This Mega-Project?
By virtue of their insider knowledge, connections and their ability to directly and indirectly influence lawmakers, civil servants are well-positioned to profit from their office and government employment. They know which government policy changes are coming. They know which landowners are behind on taxes, which zoning change is in the works and which pieces of land will become more or less valuable as a result. Their civil servant friends have access to other information or are able to put a piece of paper to the top of the pile and so on.
For all those reasons, most modern democracies have established rules and standards limiting the business activities that government employees can engage in after hours.
But no such limits or rules apply in Barbados – where the country is so corrupt that senior civil servants don’t even have to hide their conflicts of interest and the press prints it all like the corruption is some good news story that is evidence of progress and industry.
God, I love Barbados – but I hate the corrupt cartels and elites who have been feeding off the public for so long that citizens believe this is normal and acceptable.