Time to educate Barbadians
Can a minister of finance or any other minister of Government be held liable in the “CLICO affair”?
Did the public pronouncements by three ministers that embattled contractor Al Barrack will be paid his $60 million-plus be construed as binding on the Cabinet, in the process creating a public debt against the Crown?
Does the fact that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Opposition Leader Mia Mottley are friends, with the former making decisions that could impact the future of the multi-million Four Seasons project, while the latter is its attorney raise any questions relating to public administration?
These are some of the questions which attorney at law Douglas Trotman said he will raise and try to answer as he embarks on a mission to educate Barbadians and improve the process of public administration.
His platform — for as long as he has breath, he said — will be Independence Square at the feet of the statue of “father or Independence”, National Hero Errol Barrow, and it will be in the form of a series of lecture discussions.
“This is not rabble-rousing…,” Trotman said. “I am not interested in that. I am interested in education, something that can be a game changer in terms of how Barbadians understand the laws and how they are applied and how public figures can be held accountable.”
Barbadians who are interested in the path he has taken, he said, should visit Independence Square the Saturday after Sinckler delivers his Budget to learn more about laws relating to public accountability.
For example, he said, he would be looking to see how the Budget addresses the issue of the $150 million owed to the University of the West Indies and how the minister’s presentation addresses the “private” financing arrangement which the university entered into recently.
If the Budget fails to address this directly, he asked, are there laws that would allow Barbadians to hold the minister liable, and if he can be held liable are there “penal clauses” that allow for him to be sanctioned.
“I am genuinely interested in educating Barbadians,” Trotman said. “Also I have a very strong social conscience and I have children and I would like to leave them a better Barbados — a more stable Barbados — and education is key to that…
“I am not in Parliament, but that does not mean that I cannot speak and I cannot work for the people… People will complain and do no more, but if they are educated they will understand, for instance, how the decision of policy makers can impact their cost of living, and will understand where the law allows them to bring action for redress — and know that they don’t have to be lawyers to do it.”
Trotman explained too that Barbadians should recognise that across Europe and other sections of the globe jurisdictions are moving toward greater accountability of those who serve by enacting legislation that holds then liable for their decisions and actions.
“These sessions will be for everyone,” he added. “I am not looking for huge crowds… I will book the venue for about four hours, but I propose to talk for about 45 minutes to an hour, interact with people, give tips and answer questions, then have another session on a different topic for another hour of so.” (RRM)