Creating a positive name for our country
AS A BARBADIAN CITIZEN living in Canada, I am taking the opportunity to respond to the Prime Minister’s invitation for those “at home and abroad” to reflect on Barbados’ current state and its future.
Canada and Barbados share history as members of the Commonwealth. Canada is an independent country, as is Barbados, and both countries share a constitutional framework founded in British democracy. Canada is currently ranked the second best country in the world (and that’s despite the cold and snow). Point being, Barbados, like Canada, doesn’t need to reject its historic parliamentary traditions in order to be a great country.
Our countries do not need to become “republics” in order to support the values and the principles which promote prosperity and support a high quality of life for citizens. Canada is proof of that. And there are many so-called independent countries that are absolute disasters and there have been many “independent” banana republics that have come and gone.
My caution is that when a country faces serious challenges it can be tempting to look at “independence” as a panacea for its problems. This can be very convenient for politicians who wish to divert attention away from policy and process errors in their government. This strategy, however, is a major concern to the extent that political resources and attention is diverted away from addressing the country’s real problems.
Specifically, I am sad to say that I have heard of many allegations of kickbacks to Government officials on projects in the region over the years.
In countries where kickbacks to politicians and bureaucrats are allowed to exist and are not prosecuted, terrible things occur. First, citizens pay much more for projects because of added illicit fees and because procurement and competition processes are undermined. Projects are approved, not based on impartial evaluation criteria or based on priority needs, but because kickbacks are received by decision-makers.
In a culture of graft, the whole system becomes corrupted, creating waste and malinvestment on a widespread basis.
In his letter, the Prime Minister spoke about values. I think that the primary values that should be reclaimed by Barbados, and its leaders, is an absolute commitment to honesty and a complete rejection of all forms of graft. This would lead to new laws and the scrutiny and criminal prosecution for anyone and everyone who, in the future, ever accepts graft or kickbacks on any government projects, processes or initiatives.
Creating a reputation for Barbados as being the most honest and transparent government in the world would do more for the country than any other political change could ever achieve.
– DAVID MACKENZIE, Alberta, Canada