Transparency and accountability equal blah, blah, blah

Last week at the ascension of Dr Hubert Minnis to the seat of power in the Bahamas, the new prime minister promised those two words that have virtually become a catch phrase for regional politicians – transparency and accountability. He promised his people that his would be a government where those tenets would be at the centre of his administration. Noble indeed!

We have heard them repeatedly throughout the region from virtually every new post-colonial Government. There have been instances where some governments have tried to adhere to their promise of promoting and ensuring transparency and accountability. But more often than not, occurrences across the Caribbean indicate that “transparency” and “accountability” are simply words used to suggest that the evils of the administration left behind will not be repeated by the replacement.

Former Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos islands, Michael Misick, on assuming office in 2003, spoke of the need for transparency and accountability in the handling of the people’s affairs. Nine years later he was being arrested on counts of conspiracy to receive bribes, conspiracy to defraud the government and money laundering. 

The popular Said Musa assumed leadership of the reins of Government in Belize in 1998 and 2003. Before becoming that countries political leader he spoke passionately about accountability and transparency. Yet by 2008 he was appearing before the law courts for the theft of US$10 million.
Politicians such as leader of the Progressive National Party in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Clayton Greene, have been arrested on allegations of corruption in office; so too Cayman Islands’ premier McKeeva Bush. Trinidad and Tobago’s Basdeo Panday has also found himself on the wrong side of that same political promise. 

Theirs is a story repeated across the Caribbean, often through generations. And we the people believe and trust the promises. We naturally want to believe in the goodness of our leaders. Of course, there are good, gracious and great political leaders to be found in and outside the Caribbean. But they should not be identified by rhetoric but by deeds.

In Barbados, we too have been touched by promises of transparency and accountability. Both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party from their inception and across political leadership have promised to engender transparency and accountability in political life. The promises are usually made while either is in Opposition. Their respective rule over the decades has not been without allegations and confirmation of dubious financial and political practices. After all, Barbados is the country of the Duffus Commission, the Malone Commission, the St Joseph Hospital Commission, Carsicot, Gems, Hardwood Housing Project, CLICO, Crab Hill Police Station, 3S Steel Solutions, Greenland, et al. The list is virtually endless.

Attorney-at-law and rookie politician contesting the Christ Church East constituency in the next general election, Wilfred Abrahams, recently touched on a sore subject that – perhaps unwitting to him – has been a source of consternation under both the BLP and DLP. Mr Abrahams raised the question of integrity legislation. The Opposition senator called on the Freundel Stuart Government to enact integrity legislation that would force people in public life to declare their assets. While accusing the Government of “corruption and moral decay”, he said the current administration had failed to deliver on its 2007 election campaign of – those two words again – transparency and accountability.

Mr Abrahams noted: “If this Government wanted integrity legislation it would be there already. If this Government wanted to have control over election spending it would be there. If they wanted to have oversight over campaign financing it would be there but there is no political will to do that and you have to ask yourself why. Why is this Government shying away from its promises when those promises are related to accountability, transparency and integrity?”

Mr Abrahams said members of his BLP were ready to declare their assets.

“We are prepared to declare our incomes, we are prepared to not pay lip service and actually implement the integrity legislation promised by this current government . . . I believe that those in this current government need to backtrack, check their tax filings, if they have them, and confess to the people what they had nine years ago in 2007 and what they have now,” he said.

For older, wiser heads Mr Abrahams’ rant resonated like a case of déjà vu; Opposition déjà vu. It had previously been bellowed by the DLP while they were in Opposition. But the goodly lawyer failed to recognize that both parties have had opportunity to enact integrity legislation and both have shied away from it.

There is not much joy in Opposition politics and with general elections due in Barbados in fewer than 10 months, voters can expect political rhetoric to increase ten-fold as politicians seek to sit on the preferred side of the Lower House. They are many who will be swayed and many who will consider the history of the rhetoric. And our politicians will feel quite at home with their eloquent verbosity. After all, it has long been made transparent that we hardly ever hold our politicians accountable.



8 Responses to Transparency and accountability equal blah, blah, blah

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Barbados Today, thank you very much for highlighting the facts of these two pernicious parties. To say the least that both are deceitful would not be a far cry from the truth because the reality that presents itself concerning their operations are indeed acts and speeches to deceive and not necessarily to do, at least not in the long wrong. That is why I am not going to ease up on Mottley to do the right thing, when she knows her party have done so much rich endeavouring wrongs during their 14 years as the government. The DLP, as the other shoe, have proven themselves to be deceitfully persuasive beyond measure and now that they are in their last laps, they are not even bothered to conceal their inarticulate deceit, ramblings and dribbles. They will be looked upon as the party that wreak havoc on the land, but forged meaningful relationships with a Maloney who give them much for many in return and, who might still give them again after they are kicked to the curb, a whole lot of waiting baloney, MARK MY WORDS. The BLP are basically following the same script, which is to articulate the facts of the DLPs failures, lies, deceit, and quest to get as much as they can in the little time that they can get it, by highlighting what all Barbadians have come to know about them and that is, that they are not exactly in the business to introduce integrity, trasparency, accountability, whistle blower legislation and anticorruption legislation. Then again, neither is the BLP. We might be able to say that Winfred Abrahams might be well intended but other members in his party are familiar with the promise of making, only to show their true colours when they start to do the breaking. It would be only a matter of time before they show Barbadians why the other shoe always fits them perfectly or they might in the first few months try a thing or two. What I know is that MOTTLEY WILL NOT PUSH FOR ITAL, ANTICORRUPTION AND WHISTLE BLOWER LEGISLATION. However, I am willing to be proven wrong and pleasantly surprise. After all, she has a lot to prove, upon the eve of being Barbados’ first female Prime Minister.

  2. tsquires May 18, 2017 at 8:50 am

    As the Honourable Skipper said years ago. Barbadians have short memories. And are only interested in personal survival. The two party politricians know this and continue to exploit it to the max.

    • Jennifer May 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      @tsquires – I keep saying it all the time. And this is actually keeping the masses physical and mental slaves, by the enemy within.
      SSS well said, the brain washing is great.

  3. BaJan boy May 19, 2017 at 12:05 am

    @sunshine sunny shine sometime you write so intelligently and when you sit or stand and write such a cowardly reply by trying to imply that both parties are the same when you do not want to creiticize the inept DLP it is shameful. There is a huge difference between the two parties and Mia was part of the most successful government in our country in the past 50 years . She has shown her character as a leader espesially in the prison riots. She is a leader and a revolutionary who make the difference in our country at the time she is needed most. She will return confidence and respectability to the governance of our country and significant changes positively to our economy and our youth.

  4. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 19, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Bajan boy

    I have said repeatedly that in Mottley is the ability to be one of Barbados’ best leaders but in her is also the indifference to be the worst. You want me to jump up and give praise to a BLP whose shyte doings in the latter part of their 14 years was a performance filled with crass and arrogance. The voice of the electorate spoke loudly that they were fed up with their open show of arrogance and corruption rumblings? Was not Mottley part of the controversial band wagon riding on a number of allege financial mismanagement matters? That is the reason I am pushing and advocating for the woman that we know can, but a woman that just might not, to start her stint as leader by making transparency, accountability, integrity, whistle blower legislation, anticorruption laws andi increasing the powers of the auditor general, her first order of business. Which side Mottley choose to lean towards will determine her fate down a positive or negative road.
    As to the DLP, lord have mercy, the writing is already on the wall and their shyte is all over the place. They are in the has been lounge while Mottley is sitting waitin to take off. Who do you think I should target, the has been or waiting to take off? I have not spared the DLP arrogant nitwitss in no uncertain terms when it comes to the rubbish they are perpetuating as good sound financial management facts. What more you want me to say concerning the dumb, dumber and dumbess?
    They might be a big difference between the BLP and DLP but the financial and economic postion Barbados now finds itself in is not just of the DLP making but the doings of the BLP as well, who during the days of the plenty made it so through nuff borrow and spend. That is why I describe them both as two of the same shoes and instead of saying- in the long run- I choose to say- in the long wrong- because both always end up doing wrong. Is that clear enough for you!!!

    • margaretp May 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Keep the pressure on SSS. I agree with you.
      No point talking bout this messy, corrupt lot that gine get boot out soon.
      I want to talk about how Miss Mottley intends to change the way things are done within her party, the government and wider Barbados;
      how her government, collectively and individually, will lead by example and respect and observe rules, regulations and best practices.
      how her party, under her leadership WILL PUT BARBADOS FIRST and not just see their appointments as membership to a VIP club where you get to do as you like for 5-10 years and then collect a lifelong pension.
      The mere fact that she has not yet acknowledged her party’s role in this present mess is discouraging (and the thing is, she could blame it all on OA and remove that thorn from her side!!!).
      All of them talking like if these situations fell on Barbados last year. You can’t be sincere about making a change if you are not prepared to admit your wrongdoings!

      • Sunshine Sunny Shine May 20, 2017 at 2:02 am


        Once I was a blind bat, I think like a blind bat, I spoke like a blind bat, but now I am not a blind bat anymore. What will it take to get these loyal blind bats to open their eyes to the real truth about these two crooked for themselves parties. All I am talking about in every comment I make is for accountability and transparency. Yet, loyalist are ignoring this important fact to push their agendas for love of party, Mottley or Stuey. When will they see that it is the policies of both that are responsible for bringing Barbados to its knees?

  5. Sunshine Sunny Shine May 19, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Bajan Boy

    Have you read Solutions Party revleations on why a third party? You need to read it because this Granville Phillip is certainly putting forward some very sound arguments that if workable, makes a whole lot of sense. Take note to what he says are the blp’s and dlp’s criteria for listening to alternative proposals. SICKENING


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