Double standards in business community
The Government minister with oversight of the country’s business community is accusing some operators of involvement in “corrupt” practices.
Minister of Industry, International Business and Commerce Donville Inniss made the accusation last evening while responding to an open letter published in another section of the media, in which some businessmen called for an end to vote buying during general elections, and stiffer penalties for those found guilty of the crime.
A visibly agitated Inniss suggested that the claim made by Andrew Bynoe, Andy Armstrong and Patrick Frost was an affront to elected representatives like himself.And he indicted there appeared to be double standards by some members of the business community.
“Look at the beam in your own eye before you look at the [mote] in other people’s eyes,” he said during a joint meeting of the Democratic Labour Party’s St Michael Central and St Michael South Central branches at the George Lamming Primary School.
“There are some people in some segments of the business community in this country who could never see the face of God for the level of corruption that they engage in . . . When it comes to a matter of talking about a young black fella on the block getting a dollar to go and vote, which is wrong, all sort of people want to write letters and say how wrong it is . . . but when [people] call ministers and ask us to go out to dinner, lunch or get a few dollars to do them a favour, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”
The minister also accused the trio of writing the letter based on rumour and anecdotal evidence, and said he could not take such claims seriously.
He agreed that buying votes could undermine Barbados’ democracy, but contended that the impression should not be given, “that this is deeply rooted in this society and you have to come with these stiff penalties to root it out”.
“You need to strongly state, not subliminally, . . . that any businessman who provides money to a politician and buys votes should also be locked up and heavily fined,” he challenged, adding that there was no other group in society that was cursed, vilified and attacked like politicians.
“It is a wicked and nasty thing when individuals who hold these lofty positions want to give the impression, not just to people in this country but those from outside, that our political system is corrupt and that votes are sold and bought in this country and that is where I draw a line in the sand,” Inniss said.
“I’ve said this to my dear friend Andrew, [it’s] nothing personal. He has taken his stance and, like him, I do not want to see votes being bought in this country.”