We need good governance, says Bizzy

Prominent businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams is calling for politicians and others responsible for bad governance in Barbados to be punished.

Williams, founder of Williams Industries Inc., made the call last night, while suggesting that bad governance, rather than the global recession, was responsible for most of the economic problems facing the country.

Speaking at the annual First Citizens Investment Services Market Outlook Panel Discussion at Frank Collymore Hall on Thursday night, Williams charged that both Government and Barbadians did not understand “the fundamentals of good economic governance”.

Ralph Bizzy Williams

“For example, every time a Bajan buys an unnecessary imported item, that Bajan assists a foreign land. We don’t seem to understand that we don’t need to import bottled water when the water in Barbados is the best in the Caribbean. We import all sorts of luxuries that are unnecessary, draining our foreign exchange,” said Williams.

“My own feeling is that once we establish a sound fundamental system of good governance that is clearly articulated to the general population and enforced without favour or prejudice, our country will prosper,” he added.

The outspoken businessman said the apparent failure by some residents to adhere to the rule of the law was also putting off many overseas investors.

“When they discover that the law courts try cases that could take years to deliver a judgment and when the judgment is delivered it is ignored, that would make any investor anywhere in the world nervous about putting their money and investing in that country. These are the things that I see are affecting the Barbados economy,” he said.

“Even Barbadians looking around and they are not believing what they are hearing simply because of the track record of those who are speaking. When you go and tell people you are going to do this and then you do something different, people lose credibility and confidence in what you are saying.

“And when your leadership is not believable and they don’t operate with the kind of integrity that you expect, you have problems and that is the thing I believe we are facing here . . . .”

Williams added: “I believe there are a few fundamentals that need putting in place in Barbados that I believe will strengthen people’s belief in this country. The first one is election campaign finance. No politician should have to come to somebody like me to ask for assistance to finance an election campaign, because I might ask him in return to do me a special favour if he gets elected. I am talking about private companies, public companies and individuals. I believe very strongly that the state should finance election campaigns for the political parties, and they should provide enough finance to articulate their plans for the future of the country very clearly to the population.”

The influential business owner is also recommending wide-ranging reforms to change the governance system in Barbados, especially in light of allegations of vote buying that dogged the last general election.

“People who break the rules should be severely punished . . . . Vote buying should be punishable by imprisonment and disqualification from holding public office in Barbados for life,” said Williams, to thunderous applause.

He suggested that individuals who sought to bribe politicians should be given prison sentences while crop and animal thieves be severely punished.

“We have to get serious about governing this country. We cannot allow a lackadaisical approach to enforcing the law,” said Williams, who went on to criticize companies that don’t pay over statutory deductions of their employees.

“Those people should be severely punished and if they don’t pay the fines they should be deprived of some of their assets. We cannot continue to allow this foolishness to go on. I hear the Minister of Finance saying there is so much money owed to the Government. Who owes them the money? Let’s see a list in the newspapers. Another thing, public servants and private people should be held responsible for their productivity and output,” added Williams.



6 Responses to We need good governance, says Bizzy

  1. Ryan Henry
    Ryan Henry June 21, 2014 at 1:19 am

    I’m finally glad to see that someone who is highly respected in the private sector has spoken out on the issues that affects is as a nation and how it affects us economically. Where useless policies and “bad governance” is rampant and to blame

  2. Edwards Swindley
    Edwards Swindley June 21, 2014 at 3:31 am

    Let’s begin with ” real” financial disclosure with teeth.

  3. Paul Linton June 21, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Finally,someone with influence and the love for Barbados has decided to speak out. It’s been a long time coming but at last. We need to wake up and respect what we have.

    Remember politicians we elect you,this country belongs to all of us. It is not right that after being elected you behave a though you are a power unto yourself. I think that it is time to examine seriously any legislation giving us the power of recall for any elected member of the Parliament who fails to deliver on what has been promised. Put it to the public through a referendum and see how we feel.

    I support the call for stricter enforcement of election campaign funding and for politicians and persons who bribe/attempt to bribe them to be held accountable. A great example of what it leads to is being played out in Trinidad and Tobago

  4. Jacqueline Alleyne June 21, 2014 at 8:37 am

    We need people who will Lead by example, our actions should mirror our words. How can we expect things to go right for us when we start off doing wrong…. eg. vote buying – it shows us what people are prepared to do disregarding the consequences of their actions… they are showing other citizens to do the same.

  5. Sabetra June 21, 2014 at 9:28 am

    It is great to hear this business man speak out, let’s hope he was heard. I find it sad that this same businessman saw the need to import beef for his franchise and then had the rate reduced to import said beef. That product should have been bought locally thus keeping the foreign currency right here.

    I thank you nonetheless as all that you said is indeed correct, especially about the bribery as in my business, I hear that a lot from overseas business persons.

  6. David Hall June 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

    In my view Mr. Williams’ comments are guarded and stop well short of calling a spade a spade. the average Barbadian does not set the rules nor enforce the rules of government nor principles of governance. The average Barbadian does not import bottle water;business like shops and distributors and buying clubs and supermarkets some of which are owned by investors like Mr Williams himself. Also on the issue of Campaign finance reform Mr Williams seems to ignore how and why big businesses globally invest in politicians and why they will continue to do so no matter how many laws are passed. All in all the gentleman needs to stop preaching to the choir and declare openly what immediate concrete steps can be taken to remedy the current malady.


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