Independent Member of Parliament for Christ Church West, Dr. Maria Agard, would like to see the reform and the regulation of political parties and the regulation of campaign financing by political parties in this island become a reality.
Speaking in the Lower House on Thursday, she said that this is because when this does not take place, there is the very real threat that these funds could be misappropriated instead of going towards areas that need it the most such as health care, vulnerable populations and education.
“The point that I am making is that regardless of the figure, even if it is five million, even if it is 10 million, even if it is 28 million, the point that I am making is that misappropriation of funds, regardless of whether it is deliberate or it is a matter of inefficiency of management of those funds, I am saying it could have gone towards the upgrading of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, to serve the needs of the poorest of the poor. It could have gone to pay off the drug debt, it could have gone to post-secondary education, it could have gone to the return of VAT and income tax returns, it could have ensured that senior citizens receive their pensions on time, it could have gone to ensuring new mothers receive their maternity benefits. Sir, it could be used for any progressive incentives for Barbadians.”
Therefore, it is with this in mind that there is a necessity for this reform and regulation must be instituted, said Dr. Agard.
“So Sir, we need to be able to fix it. I am therefore fully supportive of the ... reform and the regulation of political parties and the regulation of political and campaign financing in Barbados. In fact, I am fully supportive of the mandate for an independent commission to be given to ... all political parties who receive state funding to be registered bodies with fully audited accounts open to scrutiny by the public who taxes support the existence of these very political parties.”
In addition to this legislation that speaks to electoral and campaign financing, she also asked for the anti-corruption laws that have been passed by both Houses, to be proclaimed.
“I am therefore asking that we bring legislation of electoral and campaign financing reform now, Secondly, in this country – as the member just said – we already have the anti-corruption laws passed by both Houses, but not yet proclaimed. We need to do that.”