As incredible as it may seem to some, the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2012 has passed the Lower House on its journey to being proclaimed. Hopefully this will be done before the Prime Minister rings the bell for the next general election. One suspects though that Prime Minister Stuart will deliver on this piece of legislation, this is the stuff legacy is built. Perhaps the one regret is that yet again Hansard will NOT record a contribution from the leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur.
A listen to the debate disappointed yet again. Members of parliament on both sides joined hands to paint a picture of a courageous group who has had to bear the brunt of vilification from the public. References were made to the #16 ranking which Barbados holds on Transparency International. The Prime Minister referenced the need to recognize that there is a perception that many in public life engage in questionable behaviour, therefore the need to have integrity legislation. The listener was left with the impression that the government although tabling the legislation, has done so kicking and screaming.
To state the obvious integrity legislation serves many purposes. In private enterprise rules governing code of conduct is routine. It ensures that all employees are aware of the consequences of certain actions. It helps to feed a culture of excellence. BU posits that many practices which currently fly under the radar may be discontinued or forced into the open with the advent of integrity legislation. Should we remind the Attorney General that Transparency International’s ranking is based on a perception index? It is known how PSV permits were procured by may as a good example. A read of the Auditor General reports from 2006 also helps to form positions unfavourable to politicians and others in the public sector.
Finally a word to Minister Ronald Jones who spent some time attacking Barbados Underground and Barbados Free Press. Other members of parliament made veil references to social media. BU freely admits that some commenters abuse the cloak of anonymity. We take the opportunity to remind them that to whom much is given much is expected. to One of the greatest ironies is those most culpable are members of the House and their surrogates.
Mia Mottley is on record of the need to censor the blogs and it seems Minister Jones is so minded. It is only five years ago when the blogosphere was DLP friendly and of course Jones had no such worries then. Good news maybe coming for local politicos who want the blogs monitored. The draft Communications Data Bill is currently being circulated for comment in the UK. The bill proposes that “internet providers having to retain records of all their customers’ online activity for 12 months.” Further that the authorities would have the authority to access “email and the internet. The authorities would be able to see details of who communicated with whom, and when and where, but they would not be able to see the content of the message.” BU will continue to monitor this matter closely given the implication for Barbados adopting UK legislation.
Despite the comments from the government side that this legislation is complex which explains the time taken. BU believes it is the lack of will which is responsible. The government cannot win a political debate on economic policy therefore it is forcing other pieces of legislation through parliament to shape their election platform agenda. BU could care less. Proclaim the damn legislation. All the same kudos to the government for moving the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2012 through the Lower House. We will continue monitor its progress. It is unfortunate the Freedom of Information Act is not in the frame. One would have imagined this is an easier piece of legislation to enact.