Symmonds: What of promises?
OPPOSITION SENATOR KERRIE SYMMONDS has challenged Government to extend its move toward greater institutional transparency to its own political promises.
This urging came during his contribution to debate on the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2011, in the Senate yesterday, where he indicated that the Opposition fully supported the legislation but had a number of queries.
Symmonds said there was a need for a broader culture of transparency in Barbados. He noted that over the past few weeks and in the weeks to come, Government had, and would be bringing or amending legislation, with a view to promoting transparency in various sectors, as evidenced by the Companies (Amendment) Bill.
However, the former St James Central MP said that having promoted the idea that there would be legislation governing the disclosure of assets of public officials as an electioneering tool, the Government had done nothing about it since coming to office in 2008. He added he was not suggesting that anyone in the present Cabinet was guilty of anything improper.
But Symmonds noted a ploy had been used cleverly to imply that there was a spectre of corruption to be found in the previous Barbados Labour Party administration, and having succeeded in winning the Government, the Democratic Labour Party had not done anything to suggest that such suggestions were nothing more than campaign tactics.
He said Government had to demonstrate a clarity of purpose and consistency of policy.
However, Leader of Government Business Maxine McClean subsequently rose on a point of order and indicated to the Upper House that legislation with respect to the disclosure of assets by public officials was indeed at an advanced stage of preparation.
Turning to the international business sector, Symmonds said it was common knowledge where Barbados stood with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Britain.
He added it was also well known that the island’s double taxation treaties were under assault and that Barbados was struggling “to catch up”. He said under those circumstances, Government needed to make its strategic response to these situations clear to Barbadians.
He reiterated that 65 per cent of Barbados’ corporation tax receipts came from the sector and if that revenue was placed in jeopardy, Barbados’ economy was also placed in substantial danger.
Symmonds added that by extension the wages and salaries capacity of the Government, social security, the welfare system, education and health care would be compromised if Government did not bring clarity and precision to its plans for the future.