Thu | Jun 17, 2021

EDITORIAL - The rescue of Mr Brown?

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

PERCHANCE WE are correct, Daniel Thwaites, who writes columns for this newspaper, has spermatic and probably umbilical connections that would make Mr Arnaldo Brown, recent inductee to the fraternity of political pork, intuitively partial to Mr Thwaites' political point of view.

In which case, we commend to the young member of parliament Daniel Thwaites' rather more evolved, than his own, perceptions of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The CDF is, of course, the fund available to parliamentarians from which they ladle largesse to constituents, for which they script themselves as benefactors, while taxpayers foot the bill.

In his column on Sunday, Mr Thwaites said: "I am sceptical about the CDF, but for reasons mentioned but not developed in the editorial ... . The patronage gives incumbents a taxpayer-funded advantage over any rival and, therefore, throws a wrench into the political competitive process."

The editorial to which Mr Thwaites referred is one, a week ago, in which we commented on Mr Brown's declaration, without an iota of doubt, of his embrace of the CDF.

Unapologetic

Indeed, Mr Brown, then still less than three months as a member of parliament, went further: "I am an unapologetic advocate for more funds to be provided to the ... (CDF) so that elected representative(s) can bring meaningful change to their constituency."

Mr Thwaites has sympathy for Arnaldo Brown and the embracers of political, porcine values because of their struggle "to respond to the demands of constituents in a country with a wooden bureaucracy and without much of a social safety net".

So the CDF, as he, and they, see it is a way around, or through, public-sector inertia.

Mr Thwaites, nonetheless, appreciates that any lubrication that these rendered bits from the CDF trough seems to provide is unsustainable and is ultimately bad for democracy.

He agrees, as this newspaper argued, that when politicians transition from advocates and policymakers to being the actual deliverers of service, it erases the lines of demarcation between the public-sector bureaucracy and the political executive, and erodes accountability. Further, it opens the door to corruption.

Problem of the gap

The problem, for Thwaites, is the gap between "the legitimate expectations" of constituents and the politicians' wish to satisfy them, and - he doesn't frame it this way - doing what is right. In any event, it will take time to educate citizens and devising delivery mechanisms is complex.

We differ that, with some improvement, programmes such as the CDF should suffice until we overhaul the public bureaucracy. That is a recipe to dither and to perpetrate political incursion into bureaucratic management of the public sector. We must go on both tracks at the same time.

Mr Thwaites, though, understands the fundamental flaw of the CDF. Political farmyard aside, Mr Thwaites remains on the right side of the age spectrum for young Mr Brown not to perceive his ideas to be merely the oink of pork in search of reprieve.

Should Mr Brown, in whom we had divine promise, be perceptive, he would abandon the trough in favour of advocacy for Mr Thwaites' call for an expanded Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), which, fortuitously, is on the agenda of the tax-reform debate. As, also, is public-sector reform.

Maybe, through Daniel Thwaites, Mr Brown can be rescued from a wasteful slithering in pork.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.