Government denies it is failing to act on the concerns of the Auditor General and defends its handling of the matter in the face of criticism from the President of the Democratic Labour Party and the launch of an online petition on the issue.
Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds, speaking in the House of Assembly responded to the fallout from the Auditor General’s report.
Mr. Symmonds admits to weaknesses in the public sector systems but also argues that both private and public sector entities have had difficulties completing financial reports on time due to staffing issues and other problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And he insists there is nothing in the auditor general’s report that indicates any wrongdoing on the part of the government. “I am yet to see a single page in this report that speaks to the necessity for there to be political accountability for wrongdoing. I see a report Mr. Speaker, sir, that points us in the direction as I said, I have a weakness and a fragility in the public administration system, but the systemic failures have been pointed out by this government from day one. And that is why this government has been deconstructing and reconstructing systems across every department in Barbados, over the course of the last four years, they’re doing it Immigration, Mr Speaker. Sir, they have had to do it at CBC Mr. Speaker, sir. They have had to do it Grantley Adams International Airport, Mr. Speaker. Sir, we’ve had to do…I can call all, virtually all and it is a work in progress.”
Mr. Symmonds was speaking as he led off the debate on proposed amendments to the Electric Light and Power Act.
He rejected claims that the amendments are aimed at limiting the public’s ability to object to the issuing of electricity licenses.
He says the changes only seek to ensure there is a clearly established process. “You’re not coming into this place, we do not come today to this place sir to stand in the way of any objectior or any proposed objector, having their voice heard or their objections heard. We come to this place today Mr. Speaker sir, to ensure that…a piece of legislation that was in fact deficient. That was in fact without the regulatory framework to enable us to facilitate the objection now is corrected to empower those people who want to object whatever type of objection to want to make.”
Voice of: Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds.