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EDITORIAL: Greater need for transparency

marciadottin, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Greater  need for  transparency

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THESE DAYS WHEN any major foreign direct investment project is undertaken in Barbados, it should be welcomed. Against a backdrop of recent international financial downgrades, any such investment should be seen as a vote of confidence in this country and the projects being executed.
The country has been exposed to a flow of negative publicity with the drop in its ratings from Standard & Poor’s as well as Moody’s, along with the constant reports of various difficulties being encountered with the economy. So, naturally when any significant foreign investment has been secured, there ought to be fanfare.
But the public must question whether the Democratic Labour Party administration supports the position of universal disclosure of such good news. This seems a fair and reasonable query given what can only be described as a veil of silence which surrounded the signing agreement last Saturday of a US$240 million agreement.
Thanks to the overseas partner in the deal, Cahill Energy, the public of Barbados got to know days later of the agreement which covers the financing, building and operating of a waste-to-energy plant. While all Barbadians will welcome the jobs this project should generate, the positive environmental impact, the use of alternate energy and savings of foreign exchange, the signing should have been done with similar fanfare and oppenness accorded previous major deals.
It has left any thinking individual to conclude that this Government is sending mixed messages. Sandals Resorts International was welcomed to Barbados before the full glare of the news media, while a big deal was made over the announcement of the proposed Sugar Point Cruise facility. Yet, there is a hush-hush surrounding this waste-to-energy facility.
No justifiable argument can be advanced for how things were done.
That the event was held on a Saturday or that it was arranged in a rush and moments before putting the ink on the paper is no defence. The news media provide coverage for such events with little notification every day of the week, public holidays included.
The way this event was undertaken is also a clear snub to the Barbados Government Information Service to which many ministers of this Government have resorted to get out their messages. Last Saturday, this arm of the state, viewed by some as their trusted ally, was rebuffed.
Government, by its actions, ensured there was no significant record of the event for the archives. Barring what the news release from the beneficiary company has highlighted, the country has been left in the dark. Hopefully, the minister responsible for information will take note.
At a time when there is a demand for greater transparency and accountability, what took place last Saturday was totally unacceptable.