Corruption places loan access at risk, BLP warns
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is contending that Barbados could lose access to favourable loans on the international market if Government refuses to enact anti-corruption legislation.
Retired Chief Justice and former Attorney General in a BLP administration Sir David Simmons declared last week that corruption at all levels of Barbadian society was more than a perception.
Sunday night, Opposition Member of Parliament Edmund Hinkson took a similar line, telling a BLP St Michael West branch meeting that hardly any business is conducted here unless money is exchanged under the table.
“One of the main problems in Barbados now is corruption. We are clouding our eyes over it . . . In a lot of cases you can’t get anything done in Barbados unless money [passes]. This is not the Barbados that we know, that we want,” the St James North MP said.
“Many people in the international community have tremendous concerns about this country of ours. They know about the level of corruption and take that they have in Barbados, and they’re keeping a very close watch on it.”
Hinkson complained that both chambers of Parliament had passed the Prevention of Corruption Act since 2012, but “the Government would not carry it to the Governor General for him to sign, assenting to it, so it does not stand as the law of Barbados”.
“Why?” he queried.
The parliamentarian cautioned that in the absence of anti-corruption legislation, there would come a time when Barbados would not be able to borrow development funds from United Nations agencies or the World Bank.
“Those institutions will not lend . . . or they will lend only at very high interest rates if you do not have systems – legislative and administrative – in place to curb or curtail corruption,” Hinkson told party supporters.
He charged that in delaying the integrity legislation, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government had broken a major election campaign promise.
The BLP legislator contended that the party came into office in 2008, “on the basis that they were going to stamp out corruption, that they were going to be transparent, that they were going to have post-Cabinet meetings every Thursday to tell the people what went on in Cabinet”.
“The Democratic Labour Party promised that they would bring in integrity legislation forthwith . . . Eight and a half years gone, no sign of integrity legislation whatsoever; excuses after excuses from both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General as to why none would come in.”
Hinkson pointed out that both Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaithe had spoken out against vote buying following the 2013 elections. Yet, he said, the Prevention of Corruption Act, which addresses that issue, was still awaiting enactment.