Addressing the People’s Assembly Thursday night, the St James MP cited instances of corruption in the public sector that are highlighted annually by the Auditor General, and Government’s failing to keep promises on which they were elected, as reasons for the people to be empowered to recall the administration and have fresh elections.
“I give you the undertaking tonight . . . that whenever next the Labour Party puts together a manifesto, there must be power of recall for the people of this country to recall a government that is guilty of flagrant mismanagement and deception of the public,” he said to applauding supporters in the auditorium of the Daryl Jordan Secondary School, St Lucy.
Throughout the People’s Assembly meetings, the BLP has accused the ruling Democratic Labour Party of misleading Barbadians into believing that there would be no layoff of public sector workers.
This issue was raised again last night prior to Symmonds’ address by defeated BLP St Lucy candidate Peter Phillips, who produced a DLP 2013 campaign newspaper advertisement claiming it would preserve public sector jobs but jobs would be lost if the BLP was elected.
“It must never be allowed to happen again in the land of our birth, that a Government can come to the people on the backs of a grand plan of deception, execute the deception flawlessly, full marks, and then get away with it scot free,” Symmonds declared, and added, “the electorate that we ask to elect us must have the power to send us packing if they are dissatisfied with us”.
Charging that under current Barbados laws, a government can be elected, “run down the economy, and go home unscathed, [and] loiter about to draw a pension”, he said, “If somebody can come to office on the basis of a deception of the public and the public has no choice but to sit down and take it for five years, then the public must have a right of recall”.
Symmonds said that corruption was widespread in the public service, and this is highlighted in the Auditor General Reports annually.
Conceding that such practices occurred under BLP administrations also, he said these reports are routinely looked at and shelved with no further action taken.
He gave a recent example of an Auditor General Report indicating that a $1 million was sent abroad to buy ball valves.
“You know I ain’t see a ball valve yet,” the MP said.
He pointed out that in this instance the public officer responsible was allowed to purportedly make the entire $1 million payment up front to the claimed overseas supplier despite regulations dictating that in such transactions a part payment is made and the remainder sent when the goods are delivered.
“All $1 million gone. Not a fella accountable. Not a question has been asked as to what part the money gone and why you ain’t see nothing for it. Your taxpayer dollars and mine,” he said.