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Govt’s accountability challenge

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Accountability is one of the bedrocks of representative government. Its absence may indeed lead to long-term instability.

An accountable political system is one in which the government is responsible to the voters to the highest degree possible. Voters should be able to influence the shape of the government, either by altering the coalition of parties in power or by throwing out of office a single party which has failed to deliver.

Suitably designed electoral systems facilitate this objective.

The recent presentation by the Government of the Mid-term Budget Review has brought this expectation into sharper view. It gave the Government the opportunity to account for the stewardship of the economy while the debate provided the kind of challenge that we expect in our parliamentary democracy. It is this kind of cut and thrust that is part of the healthy debate that the voters expect if they are to decide who will best run the country’s affairs.

The sense that the Government was looking ahead to the next general election cannot be missed, since every signal from the Finance Minister indicated that he was painting a picture of recovery and a projection of a better future. But there remains a cautionary note in all of this, as many people remain unconvinced of the progress being made since they can point to several instances where they have not been able to benefit from the progress. Several sectors of our society can still show that nothing has trickled down to them and that is Government’s remaining challenge.

Value of Ombudsman’s Office

The appointment of the new Ombudsman, Patrick Mark Wellington, serves to remind us of the real value of the office and the public’s need to use this facility to address many of the concerns they raise from time to time about the performance of government institutions.

Too often we hear of instances where members of the public are grossly dissatisfied and the failure of government officials to provide some kind of remedy.

In general, an ombudsman is a state official appointed to provide a check on government activity in the interests of the citizen and to oversee the investigation of complaints of improper government activity against the citizen. If the ombudsman finds a complaint to be substantiated, the problem may get rectified, or an ombudsman’s report is published making recommendations for change.

It is our hope that the new leadership will be able to live up to these expectations in satisfying the public interest.


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