The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says it has not abandoned the call for accountability in the spending of public money.
“We have raised the issue of accountability or lack thereof by this government many times when Eustace was our party leader and, since I became leader. Our calls for accountability have been met with scorn and contempt by [Prime Minister] Dr. [Ralph] Gonsalves and his colleagues,” Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said on Sunday.
“In fact, Gonsalves actually said publicly that he has ‘no moral responsibility’ to abide by the requirements of the Constitution regarding accountability.
“In so doing, he abandoned and denied his responsibility to the nation’s Constitution and to its people. A terrible thing to do as leader of a country. He should be the chief defender of our constitution. But, alas he is not,” Friday told the NDP’s 40th convention in Greiggs on Sunday.
“But, on the issue of accountability, I will remind him and the people of our country of what I said at a press conference just over a year ago: ‘In a modern democratic society, public funds cannot be spent in the dark. The law does not allow it and we, hand in hand with the Vincentian people will not allow the government to break the law with impunity.’”
He said the government acted against accountability in Parliament in January “when they improperly blocked our motion of no confidence, saying that they could change it to say whatever they like, even to be contrary to the original motion, and that would be okay. And the Speaker of the House caved in and let them do it,” Friday said.
The opposition leader contrasted the government’s reaction to the NDP’s motion of no confidence to what happed in Spain last week, when the prime minister resigned after losing a vote of no confidence.
Spanish lawmakers on Friday voted to oust Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over a funding scandal.
Friday told NDP supporters that in stepping down, Rajoy had acted like a mature democrat rather than a despot.
“It should now be obvious to anyone who cares to look that the prime minister Gonsalves and the ULP are now confirming their complete and utter contempt for the whole business of accountability; their complete disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, and their contempt for the people of this country,” Friday said.
“ I’ll have more to say about this at another time and place, but for now, let us continue to insist on one thing: accountability is a must for any government. It is simply not negotiable.
“Fellow Vincentians, we can do great things when we work together for one another. The divide and conquer politics practiced by the ULP may help the party to stay in power a little longer but, in the process, it kills the country,” Friday said.