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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Through the eddoes!


DR FRANCES CHANDLER

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Through the eddoes!

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AS THE OLDER GENERATION WOULD SAY, “we going through the eddoes”. Only there are few eddoes anymore, mostly bush and cow itch which makes the journey even more unpalatable. Apart from our disastrous economy,  there are other worrying trends that should concern us all.

For instance, no longer can anything said or done be taken at face value; everything is shrouded in intrigue and mystery. There’s no freedom of information (seal on forensic audit report on CLICO, no report yet from the Committee of Privileges, no publicised outcome of the  alleged “gun issue” in the precincts of Parliament, unusual deposit at the Central Bank), freedom of speech is being seriously eroded, as are transparency and accountability.

The promised Freedom of Information Bill, in the works since 2008, seems to have died a natural death, and the Press appears increasingly muzzled. I suppose the recently mentioned legislation to ensure more accountability in the spending of tax dollars will also “go the way of all flesh” just as the integrity legislation did. Apparently the latest excuse on that is that it overlaps with the Prevention Of Corruption Act. The question is, is that being enforced?

It’s obvious things are going from bad to worse and yet the powers that be seem to be in denial just as previous administrations were about crime, violence and gangs.

Last year schoolchildren were allegedly filming each other engaging in sex acts, and except for the seeming punishment rather than praise of the Nation newspaper for exposing the problem, the matter appears to have gone quiet. Now we hear of a “seemingly professionally filmed video of what looks like a teenager having sex with a grown man”. Is this becoming an entrenched business? Maybe Minister Donville Inniss, under whose portfolio International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development falls, can enlighten us and ensure that these activities don’t spread their tentacles any further.

Shootings are now commonplace, weapons more prevalent in schools than pens and pencils, with the obvious result of increased violence among students and even attacks on teachers. Everywhere you turn there are worrying trends – like vote-buying/selling.

Yet when Messrs Armstrong, Bynoe and Frost make a public plea on this, instead of being congratulated, they’re lambasted. Ironically, it was the Prime Minister himself who brought this problem to the fore at the last election, but like everything else, it soon went dormant. More recently he talked of deals and brown envelopes, but woe betide anyone else who has the gall to mention these things.

There have been calls for more participation by civil society in the affairs of this country, and quite rightly so, but we must ensure that this participation is for the right reasons and without political strings attached. Shouldn’t we be concerned when one businessman is selected to be on the Board of the Central Bank, and shouldn’t we ask on what basis was this selection made? Wouldn’t it be more transparent to have had the representative of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry?

There have been laudable contributions from the business community, like the Adopt A Kilometre highway project. Of course, questions have been raised as to why this “contract” wasn’t given to displaced National Conservation Commission workers. I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that companies were funding the maintenance of the highway in exchange for advertisement, and as far as I can see, the road safety concerns relating to the signage are unfounded.

The redevelopment of Bushy Park Race Track will no doubt benefit Barbados, and its developers are to be commended. So too is the initiative to reduce the cost of cement, but I certainly don’t agree with the arrogant (Sandi-like) response of Mark Maloney to queries about the plant’s location. Instead of making statements to the effect that people don’t know what they’re talking about, educate the public – explain the process to them so there can be informed debate. And another thing which is mind-boggling is how a start date for the business can be reported although permission is apparently yet to be obtained from Town and Country Planning. That certainly arouses suspicion. Let’s stem this tide and avoid more choppy waters.

Sugar money update: cheques received but problems still to be solved.

Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email [email protected]

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