Whither the promised Integrity Legislation?

Or should that be “Wither the promised Integrity Legislation” ?

… from a reader who didn’t let us know if we could use their name

The Democratic Labour Party  in its 2008 Manifesto promised to “immediately introduce Integrity Legislation requiring a declaration of assets by public officials and a code of conduct for Ministers”. Indeed, the DLP made the absence of such legislation after thirteen years of governance by the Owen Arthur administration one of the major issues during the last general election campaign, as it sought to link some members of the Barbados Labour Party government with lack of transparency and accountability and with corrupt practices in public office.

The Prevention of Corruption Bill is however still to be  debated in Parliament after three years of DLP governance. Serious doubt now exists as to whether integrity legislation will indeed be enacted by this particular Parliament, considering the utterances by some Government Members of Parliament since the general election as to their individual willingness to declare their assets.Prevention of Corruption Commission

The Bill in its present form establishes an eight member Prevention of Corruption Commission, to be chaired by a former judge or an attorney-at-law of at least 15 years standing appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. This Commission would receive and keep all declarations and documents, make independent enquiries and carry out investigations into allegations of corruption, make any enquiries it deems necessary in order to verify the accuracy of any declaration or document before it and to investigate complaints of statutory non-compliance.

Every person in public life, including Members of Parliament, Judges, Magistrates, Board Members and Chief Executive Officers of Statutory Boards and of Government-controlled companies, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Government departments and Trade Union Presidents and CEOS would be mandated to file with the Commission a declaration setting out his assets, income and liabilities as well as those of his spouse and unmarried minor children within three months of each year end. Any gifts or series thereof exceeding $500.00 in value given to him by a person other than a relative or household member will have to be declared. Assets held by agents and in blind trusts will also be required to be declared by these officials. Additionally, Parliament  ought to ensure that indirect financial contributions made to individual election candidates through foundations and other processes are covered within this provision.

The Commission would be empowered to conduct an enquiry into the acquisition of property by a public official or person connected thereto where it is suspected that such property was obtained by corrupt means.

A provision of great significance would compel all contesting Political Parties  to file declarations stating the name and address of every financial contributor  to them in respect of contributions made within 2 years prior to and 6 months after a general election.

Persons unlawfully offering public officials inducements or rewards for them to commit a dereliction of duty or to give assistance or use their influence in relation to contracts with a public body for the performance of work, provision of services and supply of goods as well as public officials so unlawfully accepting or soliciting the same in order to undertake their duty will all be guilty of offences under this legislation.

The law will also penalize  private sector entities which unlawfully seek  to obtain concessions, exemptions or licences in order to improperly  gain an advantage in their commercial activities.

Provision is also made in the Bill as presently drafted for the seizure of property suspected of being derived from corrupt practices, for Court-ordered freezing of the property of persons convicted under the law and for the protection of whistle-blowing witnesses.

Public officials will be required to sign a code of conduct under this legislation which, if enacted, would replace the present outdated Prevention of Corruption Act passed in 1910.The new legislation would also ratify three international conventions to which Barbados is a signatory.

The general proposed penalty on conviction of offences under the Act is $500,000.00 or 5 years imprisonment or both.

We can only look forward with anticipation to the Parliamentary debate, if and when it finally takes place, on the merits of this Bill. It is generally believed that corrupt practices have added  significantly to the cost of conducting business with  the public sector and government  in a substantial number of countries. Barbados needs to ensure that the legislative framework exists to eliminate as much as possible such a notion and to enhance transparency and accountability in our country’s political and administrative governance. We must still however, as a small developing state which must maximize all its possible human resources, be mindful of the need not to make the criteria so onerous that persons with worthy contributions to make to public life are deterred from so serving.

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27 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

27 responses to “Whither the promised Integrity Legislation?

  1. TWWIFOS

    Just words on a paper.

  2. FearPlay

    New life will be breathed into this promise along with removal of 2.5 % VAT increase, T&T fishing agreement, off-shore drilling for oil, lower food prices, reopening of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and anything else that a gullible public will swallow just before election time. Oh yes, and a promise to prosecute members of the last Government if this Government is reelected.

  3. Responder

    If there is one thing that can hurt the DLP is the seemingly lack of will to have the Integrity Legislation in place. I am fed up with politicians who feel they can do anything and get away with it. You have to lead by example DLP. You can’t keep telling the public about the rule of law and morality and decency, and a whole heap, and not follow through yourselves. I hope DLP that this is not a case of fool the electorate, because I would vote BLP for at least they use to trick we blind in our faces.

  4. J. Payne

    Bump. I agree…. Soo much legislation proposed and just as much suddenly off the government’s proverbial plate all of a sudden.

  5. Beefcake

    As if the BLP would offer anything better; all of these politicians are a joke and Barbadians are powerless to change it. I don’t see Bajans rising up against the political elites as has been happening recently in the Middle East. Ordinary Bajans have too much to lose at the hands of the retribution they would face.

  6. what will they think of next

    Duguid of the BLP said that neither party is really interested in integrity legislation.

    So don’t think that the BLP will be any different.

  7. Anonymous

    At least they didn’t pretend to be lily white. They did what they did & reaped their rewards. This present government came into power with a promise to have everything above board and transparent, has anyone seen transparency yet? Think of all the money CLICO put into the dear departed Prime Minister hands , what about the money of one of the prominent motor car companies? Come on Barbados, think for yourselves, where are you going to get this legislation, from MARS! You only have to look at some of the present Ministers, money passing trough their hands like water, champagne at every function, and their overseas bank account. And another thing just think when Owen Arthur fired Rommel Marshall, because he wanted to have the insurance for all the Transport board buses in his Insurance company, and remember the lady who was working for him couldn’t get her sick benefit because he was taking it out o her pay and not putting in the N. I. S. so the DLP can have him, hope he serves the lady well . Please don’t have such short memories.

  8. J. Payne

    I’ll tell it like this. The BLP I give them good marks for handling the OECD. Owen Arthur appeared to me as capable of handling them fat cats. In terms of his tirades I feel sometimes they can do more harm than good. O.A. left Barbados, went to an International Conference and stand up and tell all the VIPs in the room that he’s not ashamed to hire illegal workers to build cabinets in the Prime Minister’s office. You know how bad that looks? To have the person representing the highest office in the land boastfully telling the world that he’s open to exploiting foreign labour?
    In terms of where Barbados going to get the requisite legislation. I was looking at some of the provisions of the new Constitution being created for the British overseas territory of Montserrat. Overall I like it. I think there are some certain aspects of Barbados legislation that could do with modernising and that could be one template to craft from.

  9. Inertia and lethargy

    J Payne,

    I think several years ago BFP referred to existing ITAL from many countries that could be downloaded and adapted quickly and efficiently without reinventing the wheel.

    There is no will so what are you and your friends going to do about it? Whine, complain or form an action group?

  10. Responder

    I hear you J Payne. I hearing you.

  11. Responder

    Sorry I meant ‘Inertia and Lethargy’ I am hearing you.

  12. J. Payne

    @Inertia and lethargy.
    I’m hardly the type to sit down and take anything. If there’s one thing to remember the Payne’s have been upsetting the status quo in Barbados for close to a century…

    http://www.gov.bb/portal/page/portal/BIG_Portal_Home_Page/Page%20Portlets/Government%20Channel%20Portlets/Government%20-%20Profiles%20Portlets/National%20Heroes%20Portlet1/Biographical%20Information2

  13. J. Payne

    @ Inertia and lethargy. I do recall BFP showcasing some Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation from elsewhere around the world… That was one big of legislation that DLP spoke big about and has amounted to nothing thus far.

  14. Micah

    The only reason and time the DLP would pass Integrity Legislation is if we are near to an election and they feel they would lose- that way they can spite the new Government coming in.

  15. Anonymous

    Please explain why every politician gets fat after becoming a minister? It appears to me that many of them were not getting as much food as they desired prior to becoming minister. I know of one minister in the previous administration who could be easily compromised by gifts of food.

  16. Anonymous

    Even worse than the minister being compromised by free food and alcohol,he had a PS who was even worse when it came to seeking out free food and alcohol. What a ministry that was?

  17. Kammie Holder

    This interpretation “Whither the promised Integrity Legislation”was done by Attorney at Law Edmund Hinkson for the group of citizens under the umbrella Bajans for Justice Accountability Transparency Equality.

  18. No-Confidence in Owen Arthur and his ‘gang of five weaklings’

    Watch out Mia Mottley! The gang of five is not finished with you yet. They have you in their crosshairs and are moving in for the kill. There are desperately trying to spread yet another rumour about you, this time that you sent Rommell Marshall to St. Joseph. But while Owen Arthur tries to convince Barbadians that all is well within the BLP since he and his ‘weakling-gang-of-five,’ launched an unprovoked and brutal assault on Mia Mottley – the departure of a former Minister in his former Cabinet, paints a completely different picture. It is a statement of no-confidence in Arthur and his gang of five, who seem to be above every rule and regulation, which governs the BLP.

    That Rommell Marshall could, somehow, be expelled from the BLP, while George Payne who Arthur knows rigs internal BLP elections, would remain, would be a sad let-down even for Robert Mugabe. This is serious because the BLP gets an annual subvention from the public’s purse. The public therefore have a right to know but unfortunately, the BLP under Owen Arthur’s rule does not want to be held accountable.

    This is why the move by Rommell Marshall is so painful for Arthur, who up to a few weeks prior, was alleging that he was holding the BLP together. Rommell’s move forces Arthur’s hand, even though it is clear that Arthur has long lost his grip. What else could you say about a three-term-prime-minister, now ‘puppet leader,’ who serves as Political Leader of the BLP and Leader of the Opposition of Barbados, at the pleasure of George Payne – a known political clown and benchwarmer and a man who barely scraped home by 49 votes at the last general election? That, however, is only a small part of the extent of the crisis within the BLP.

    But, desperate times seem to calls for desperate measures and Owen Arthur seems to have convinced himself that he has the perfect scapegoat – blame Mia! Despite angering and turning off the female vote in this country, when the BLP loses the next general election (the third time that Owen Arthur’s would have led that party to a slaughter) they will blame Mia Mottley. That’s how ridiculous and desperate Owen Arthur has become. If he drinks too much rum and goes home and beats his wife, Mia Mottley made him do it! If, as a former three-term-prime-minister, he gets such an uncontrollable urge that he gets up from next to his wife and heads to Prior Park, to meet with five men, in the dead of the night, Mia Mottley is to blame for that too.

    When he cusses the journalists and the private sector–it is Mia’s fault. When Prime Minister Stuart and Finance Minister Sinckler D’skin him in debates in the House, Mia is to blame.

    By now it should be clear to Barbadians, that if they cannot control Owen Arthur and his gang of five in Opposition, there will be slim chance of doing so, if they form the Government and wield enormous power. The BLP lacks the moral and ethical authority to discipline Rommell Marshall because of the ugliness of George Payne and the gang of five, who have set a bad precedent.

    When Owen Arthur should have been at Parliament, on the very morning that Parliament was meeting, he called a Media Conference at the University of the West Indies to cuss Mia Mottley. It was Owen Arthur who went to St. John to cuss Mara and said that as a woman, she is not acceptable and is an affront. Surely Owen Arthur also hears the loud screams of disapproval from BLP party members – that George Payne keeps engaging in the corrupt practice of rigging BLP elections and the candidate selection process but he turns a blind eye. Why? Owen is a puppet leader who presides over an indiscipline “out-fit.”

    Talk about the economy and all the alleged things the DLP is doing wrong, is just a desperate distraction tactic so people would not focus on the ugliness going on right under Owen Arthur’s nose, while he remains silent.

    Based on reports reaching us, if Mia Mottley thinks that Owen Arthur and his gang of five are finished with her, she should think again. We know of the bank account that has been set-up which is specifically to ensure that she does not win that St. Michael North East, seat. But why should we complain, except that we are not drawn to corruption and wrong doing, like this breed of BLP politicians are?

    We also find it ugly and offensive that such a group of dead-beat, weaklings could have such an inflated view of their own relevance and self importance that they would be behaving in such an arrogant manner. Much to our delight, Gline Clarke has, over time, been able to convert a virtual fortress (St. George North) into a rapidly reducing majority of a mere 745. He too is a man on a fast free fall to irrelevance.

    Dale Marshall scraped home by a mere 44 votes; George Payne by 49, Ronald Toppin by 120 and at this rate, these guys run the risk of Barbados becoming a ‘one-party-State.’ But it is this ‘group of weaklings and benchwarmers,’ who purport to be propping-up Owen Arthur. Purport because the women are saying that these lightweight will all lose their seat at the next general election.

    As Owen Arthur’s star continues to fade rapidly, Mia’s rises. Owen Arthur said that there is a “clamour” for him yet Mia is “outshining him,” effortlessly. You

    can therefore expect that Jerome Walcott and the BLP will start another nasty rumour about her soon. That is why we invite the BLP to pull back because it would not be the ideal situation or fair to us, if the people themselves, are now forced to become the opposition, given the mess; offensive corruption and electoral fraud, taking place within the BLP and right under Owen Arthur’s nose, while he blinks and looks the other way.

    Mia Mottley sounded the alarm! Rawle Eastmond alerted of billowing smoke and now Rommell Marshall is screaming of a raging fire. But the country remains silent and disinterested, while the corruption and electoral fraud continues.

  19. Responder

    Interesting reading, ‘No-Confidence in Owen Arthur and his ‘gang of five weaklings’. So who do i vote for. DLP ( who don’t want integrity legislation in place and other things) or BLP ( Bunch of t……. rats). Choices.

  20. bajandave

    Don’t hold your breath! Governments in the region are too corrupt to introduce anything that might hamper their gravy train.

  21. Beefcake

    Too bad Britain can’t intervene in Barbados do deal with corruption like it did in Turks & Caicos…

  22. what will they think of next

    Beefcake, you have to be an old white Bajan.

  23. Beefcake

    WWTTON, you are mistaken, don’t understand humour, and are likely riddled with hatred towards those you don’t understand.

  24. Integrity? doan mek me laff..

    Couldn’t want a worse corporate neighbour than Erdiston College!
    She thinks she’s a law unto herself and anyone living nearby is not her problem.
    Integrity my axx. they all suck. Security at Erdiston consists of a few old men, paid to watch TV in an office whole night.
    They couldn’t catch a cold! far less any bad boys trafficking between Carrington Vill. and Brittons Hill.
    so f-ing fed up wid dem. Take a freakin HINT.

  25. J. Payne

    Not only the Parliament needs reform, but the process in which the parties in Barbados choose successors also needs reform too. One thing I like about the political parties in Trinidad is they allow party members to vote on who should lead the party. That is a process which Barbados’ parties should emulate and have as a part of their own party constitutions.. As it stands, I personally can’t support Owen Arthur since I don’t believe in his ideology of ‘just sell-everything’ as he can’t balance the budget. In terms of the DLP, I can’t back them because some in that Cabinet are backing some of my corrupt family members in court (and I can’t support them for personal reasons).

    If the DLP had a more open process for selecting party leaders, I actually believe Chris Sinkler would have gotten the nod from the public. On the BLP side, I have no idea who would get the nod. I haven’t seen any polls done lately for the BLP side. I feel Mia wasn’t firm enough on some issues but I also don’t wish that she would simply oppose issues just for the sake of being “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. To my mind I would have wanted her to more effectively hold meetings around the country and find out what/where her party wants her to stand on issues. The parties in Barbados don’t act like parties looking after the Nation’s interest.

  26. Responder

    People this is just a case of choosing the lesser evil. In this case who is the lesser evil.