An own goal is when a sports team scores a goal for the opposing team, by sending the ball into their own goal. The BLP has scored many unnecessary own goals during their first year in Government, and are showing no signs of correcting this habit. Coincidentally, during the same time, we have been forced to pay significantly more taxes.
Outside of a destructive war, the greatest threat to a national economy is political corruption. This type of corruption is normally in the form of bribes paid to politicians when governments contract to buy products. The bribes are normally included in the inflated costs of the products.
To pay the bribe component of the cost, taxes on citizens must be increased. One way of significantly reducing the size of any bribes, and any resulting tax increases, is to allow competitive tendering (or bidding) with an impartial evaluation of the bids.
Before the General Election, the BLP assured the public that they would not be engaging in any of the gross corruption of which they were accusing the DLP. To convince us that they were serious, every single BLP candidate swore to protect us with a Contractor General, who would review government contracts, including those of State-Owned Enterprises.
No-bid contracts are not illegal, since our laws allow for them in specific circumstances. But they are, by their nature, corrupting. The allure of corrupting no-bid contracts has proven too much for many politicians of other countries to resist.
The very least that we could have reasonably hoped for, is that the promised Contractor General would be appointed before any corrupting no-bid contracts were signed. Having a Contractor General is not effective if a politically compromised person is appointed to that post. However, it is better than the nothing that we currently have.
During their first year in Government, the BLP has reportedly signed an astonishing amount of no-bid contracts, for well over $100M. Tragically, there was no oversight by the Contractor General, who each BLP politician promised, on their sacred honour, that they would provide to stop political corruption. This is definitely not in our best interests.
By refusing to allow the promised oversight of their no-bid contracts, the BLP invites unnecessary speculation. Why do the prices seem so massively inflated? Why allow only one business to tender when there was no urgency? Why were other more competent companies excluded from tendering?
The way of no-bid contracts is the proven way of political corruption. To stay on that path is to invite rigorous public scrutiny of all no-bid contracts. To stay on that path, while disallowing the promised oversight, is to attract valid suspicions of gross corruption.
The BLP administration has only itself to blame, because they can correct this mess whenever they wish. If they choose not to, then we can expect them to score more own goals. However, if we are forced to pay more taxes after each of their own goals, then we should no longer assume that it is coincidental.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com