EDITOR, The Tribune
During the introduction of The Public Debt Management Bill and The Public Finance Management Bill in Parliament, The Prime Minister is reported to have made the following remarks:
“A core tenet of my government is the promise of accountability and transparency, particularly when it comes to the management of the people’s money.”
These comments were boldly and shamelessly uttered on the same day that the Prime Minister and his government with its super majority in parliament, was gleefully voting to block “Opposition Day”.
A day set aside for the opposition and independent members in parliament, in pursuit of “accountability and transparency in government” to put questions to the government on the management of the people affairs.
In uttering those remark in wake of his government rejection of “Opposition Day” was a bold and, in my opinion a classic display of hypocrisy and duplicity.
It was also less than two weeks since his Attorney General blasted and rebuked members of the opposition for demanding that the Competent Authority/Prime Minister give an account to Parliament on how public money was spent and, to whom these funds were spent with, for goods and services procured, while the country was subjected to an extended Emergency Orders.
The Attorney General in his characteristically unyielding loyalty to the Prime Minster, even went so far as to call for and/or suggest that the Competent Authority/Prime Minister was owed an apology. And this is what the Prime Minister regard as a model of transparency and accountability.
The Prime Minister in the same address, went on to say “that these Bills will continue to deliver on that promise. They will further upgrade and bring our fiscal governance in line with international best practices by fostering much enhanced transparency and accountability in the way we manage the public purse.”
Reading closely, the Prime Minister remarks, one will observe and can appreciate why he goes no further than to say “A core tenet of his government is the promise of accountability and transparency”, because unfortunately, he and his government have yet to match that promise. In my view, they do nothing more than evade and conceal when the truth is being sought.
Further, I doubt the passage of these pieces of legislation (Public Debt Management Bill and Public Finance Management Bill) will cause the Prime Minster and his Cabinet members to be any more transparent and accountable in the management of the country’s affairs.
The passage of legislation by itself, does not accountability and transparency make.
It is only when breach of the legislation is indiscriminately enforced and a separate space is not carved out for the well-connected. The Prime Ministers and his Ministers ought to appreciate the words of Franklyn D Roosevelt:
“The Truth is found when Men are Free to Pursue it.” This ought to be the core tenet of his Government.
CLAUDE B HANNA
February 14, 2021.