BLP COLUMN: Freundel fumbles and BWA leaks
BLP legacy: at the QEH – spent $35 million on new equipment, including $8 million on new X-ray technology; secured $5 million from the European Development Fund to upgrade the hospital’s information technology capacity; and opened a new dialysis unit, which increased capacity from 16 to 24 units, a minor operations theatre and water treatment plant.
Along with bestowing the office of Prime Minister on him through the death of David Thompson, fate had last Sunday generously given Freundel Stuart the last major opportunity to demonstrate to the nation that he deserved the original good fortune when he gave what should have been the climax to the DLP’s 57th annual conference.
Before Stuart spoke, Barbadians, always willing to “give a person a chance”, were wondering if finally the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) head would convince them of his capacity to, on his own steam, earn the right to be Prime Minister at the coming general election.
But rather than soaring to the yearned for heights of inspiring leadership that would take the country with him, and which he had glaringly failed to do for 22 months, once again Stuart gave a presentation that never took off, thereby maintaining public disappointment, dejection and disgruntlement.
Instead of presenting a national vision and dealing meaningfully with issues adversely affecting people’s daily lives like rising prices, increasing unemployment and poverty and the political contamination of public institutions such as the Police Force, Stuart spent most of his time shrewishly attacking Opposition Leader Owen Arthur personally, and rehashing worn out, unconvincing, self-congratulatory and delusionary accounts of the DLP’s imagined success in Government.
Stuart’s speech did not even come close to matching the prevailing public perception of a failed and broken down administration
that was now being called a “let’s make a deal” one. For coming hard on the heels of disclosures of political and other deals involving the Police Force and the questionable swap of metal dump land for some at River Bay was eventual confirmation by a special audit of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) of Barbados Labour Party (BLP) charges months ago of a financial free-for-all there.
When the BLP warned long ago of the illegality of appointing an executive chairman at the BWA when the law did not provide for such a post, the Dems accused the BLP of nitpicking and “opposition for opposition sake”. Now thanks to the Auditor General’s Office, the BLP has been fully vindicated. The report is filled with instances of Government’s financial and other rules being repeatedly ignored and flouted.
These include: a company being paid $31 500 for “coordinating and facilitating” a British study tour and $10 708.03 paid to a travel agency for tickets, but no evidence provided to show “that the tour took place or that these funds were ever recovered”; and the requested written contract not being produced for inspection for a $899 171.60 water meter contract awarded a company.
While the DLP maintains its silence, the BLP will continue its dialogue with the public on Sunday at 7.p.m. at Sayes Court, Christ Church.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.