Integrity law before year end

Barbadians are being assured that when the Integrity in Public Life Bill is passed, it will feature the stiff fines promised by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) while in Opposition, and not the reduced sums seen in the Bill currently available on Parliament’s website.

So says Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall.

Leading off the debate on the Bill in the Lower House yesterday morning, Marshall, pointing to the dire need for such legislation in this country, said that they have heard the complaints from the public on the revised fines and have made a decision that the originally proposed fines will be honoured.

“Over the last few weeks since we laid this Bill a number of individuals have pointed out that the levels of fines in our draft [Bill] have been reduced significantly from the draft that was examined by the public… I am suitably chastened, but I am also proud, because we put a draft before the people of Barbados that had a high level of fines –$200 000 and $500 000 – and for certain reasons the Bill that came to Parliament had a far lower level of fines and the people of Barbados quite rightly said ‘Well you know your slip is showing Barbados Labour Party, because you said one thing to us before you went into the election and you are now doing something else’,” he said.

Marshall added, “Well, as I said Sir, I am chastened and I want to assure the public of Barbados that the fines that will see themselves being inserted into this Bill when it comes for amendment, will reflect the fines that we committed to the people of Barbados.”

While not indicating exactly why the maximum fines were reduced as low as $10 000 and $20 000, he made it clear it had “nothing to do with political will”.
“…I don’t think any explanation matters, the point is the people of Barbados weighed in on the subject and that is why Sir I am proud to say, it isn’t that we were backtracking, but I am happy that people are once more feeling it is their responsibility to speak truth to power,” he stated.

His comments came as he said that ordinary Barbadians will have a say on what is included in the final Act, as he promised that there will be broad based discussion on the Bill. According to the Attorney General, Barbadians will have an opportunity over to go before a Select Committee to debate the proposed statute.

“We have promised to be inclusive in how we govern and… notwithstanding that members of the public have had the opportunity to comment on it online, we believe, and especially given the makeup of Parliament… this is an instance where we have to allow the people of Barbados the opportunity to walk into this place and say to us as parliamentarians, ‘Minister I do not agree with this’, because that is what the Opposition must do,” he maintained.

He added, “The people of Barbados I believe can be trusted with good judgment I want them to come to the Select Committee and participate fully. And if they feel that there is something in there that should not be in there, tell us; if they feel that something else should be, tell us.”

Minister Marshall revealed that the work of the Select Committee will be done over the summer, so that as soon as possible after the summer recess, they can return to Parliament and complete the debate to see the legislation passed and become the law of Barbados.

“The year 2018 will not come to an end without seeing integrity legislation not just enacted, but enforced,” he maintained. (JRT)

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