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EDITORIAL: Expecting substance from Senate

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Expecting substance from Senate

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Debate of the 2013-2014 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure continues today; this time it will be the turn of the Senate.
The interest in what the nominated members have to say will be of no less importance than what we heard last week in the House of Assembly. Perhaps, because we should have less politicking we should get more substance.
The debate of the Estimates ought to be one of those annual occasions when our ministers of Government should be giving an account of the strategic vision of their portfolios; and the Opposition highlighting areas of weakness while offering their own ideas.
Unfortunately, under both Democratic Labour Party and Barbados Labour Party administrations, the guillotine has come down before most of the ministries can be discussed. This is a rather unfortunate situation, because our parliamentary system, democratic as it is, does not demand that the performance of every ministry be discussed in detail at intervening periods.
So last week, the Minister of Education did not get the chance to let the public know of the way forward for his area of responsibility given its importance to the country. The public would have been interested in knowing what changes have been implemented in the said ministry following the Waterman Commission’s report last year into the Alexandra School. The findings were not only about the school itself, but had wider implications.
Now that the attention turns to the Senate, Government has a chance to address what has been happening in some critical areas. We are looking to the Leader of Government Business, Senator Maxine McClean, to lead the way. The public would hardly want to hear a repetition of what was laid out last week, but rather that she delves into the portfolio she leads.
The public needs to be enlightened about the successes and failures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. We need to know whether there is satisfaction with the performance of our diplomats, particularly those non-career officers. Indeed, the public wants to know whether all the political appointees are staying on.
We can only urge the Minister of Labour, Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo, to also use the occasion to speak in some detail in particular about the National Insurance Scheme, while Senator Darcy Boyce must address not only alternative energy plans by Government itself, but why nothing seems to have happened with our offshore oil drilling programme.