Following former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Allen Chastanet’s contribution to the hot parliamentary debate on the Public Finances Management Bill on the House of Assembly on Tuesday, I started understanding why the UWP Leader and re-elected MP for Micoud South took 100 Days Leave before returning home after the last General Elections to take his Oath of Office and start in his new job.
Overly-anxious to show just how effective he can be as Opposition Leader, the former Finance Minister committed the grave error of signaling his intention to attack the government on issues of ‘Accountability and Transparency’ in the handling of public finances, resulting in being roasted over a ton of parliamentary coals as Government MPs tore into his own performance record on the issues he raised.
Haughtily dismissing the warning by Mr Speaker Claudius Francis that he was way off-point and dealing with issues not before the House, Chastanet admonished the current administration on issues of ‘Best Practice’ that he never seemed to have heard of during his more than five years as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
As a citizen, I felt amazed and ashamed at the revelations made by the current Prime Minister regarding Direct Purchase awards made in months leading to the last General Elections amounting to way-over a hundred million dollars, which PM Pierre insisted was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
The PM quoted from official documents, revealing amounts agreed and for what purposes, but admirably restrained from mentioning any names of contractors, as they were contracts officially entered-into, most by the former Ministry of Economic Development.
As the current PM noted repeatedly, “no amount of preaching and quoting” about ‘Good Governance’ and ‘Best Practices’ in ‘Accountability and Transparency’ can change the reality of the mountain of debts his administration inherited.
Clarifications by former PM Dr Kenny Anthony regarding references to him in Chastanet’s much-ado-about-nothing presentation were fortified by the presentations of former UWP Leader and Prime Minister Stephenson King and former UWP Cabinet Minister Richard Frederick, who both served in UWP-led Cabinets of Ministers, who lost no time exposing how his statements as Opposition Leader that day clearly contradicted his actions in office as PM and Finance Minister for more than five years.
The former PM’s body-language responses to firm warnings, admonitions and directions by the Speaker to “take your seat” and Frederick’s refusal to yield to him on Points of Clarification — all before he came to realize and apologized for addressing “matters not before the House” — spoke volumes as well.
But, as was demonstrated in the lengthy exposure of contradictions between what he advocates in Opposition and what he did in office, the old proverb ‘If you live in a glass house don’t throw stones’ was again proven to be an everlasting truth, because, whether he accepts or not, That’s The Bottom Line!