Chamber of Commerce defends Nation newspaper

President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lalu Vaswani.
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lalu Vaswani.

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has challenged the Central Bank of Barbados on its stance involving the Nation newspaper.

In a statement issued today, the BCCI insists that the Bank has not reversed its decision to ban the newspaper from its press conferences.

Here’s the statement in full:

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has noted with concern the decision of the Central Bank Governor to exclude a section of the print media from future press conferences held by the Central Bank of Barbados and hosted by the Governor.

Subsequent clarification from the Central Bank stating “The Central Bank of Barbados respects and embraces freedom of the press and the importance of the dissemination of timely and accurate information and as such has not banned the Nation Corporation” falls short of the accepted standard of press freedom in that this does not reverse the original position of the Governor. In matters of press freedom, second best is not good enough.

The Nation, a member of the BCCI, has publicly acknowledged an error was made in its headline and promptly thereafter published a correction. The Central Bank Governor has acknowledged that the content of the said article was otherwise accurate.

This should certainly be a reasonable basis for the resolution of this dispute; besides, with the further public acknowledgement by the media house that it would ensure its standard of reporting maintains a high level of integrity.

Beyond the important issue of the rights and freedom of the press, there is also the question of leadership example for the citizens of Barbados. Leaders in society, as well as institutions in positions of authority, ought to illustrate in their actions as well as their words that it is quite in order to be forgiving of one another, particularly when an appropriate apology and remorse has been demonstrated by the offending party.

Equally, media organisations would benefit from greater self-regulation, to avoid giving currency to the perception among the weary public that it is somehow acceptable to make corrections to content afterwards, rather than getting it right the first time.

The Chamber hopes that the rich and exemplary history of past Governors, as well as the current Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados in their relations with the media will be a guiding factor in achieving an early reconciliation in this matter, since banning of a media house by the Central Bank is unprecedented.

Let us collectively be mindful that local and foreign investors, as well as visitors to our island, naturally base their confidence in our enviable long-standing international reputation for good governance, by how we conduct ourselves when faced with challenges, such as this situation presented.

The international acclaim of our Social Partnership model for the past two decades is an example of Barbados as a world leader in human relations.

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