(BarbadosToday)Special Envoy to the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for reparations and economic enfranchisement Trevor Prescod is not happy that a recent $18 million reparations initiative is proceeding without any input from his office.
Prescod, who was appointed to the position in 2020, expressed disappointment that there was no discussion with him prior to UK-based charity United Society Partners in Gospel (USPG) pledging the money for reparations activities in the parish of St John, to make amends for the slave ownership of its predecessor, the Society of Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, at Codrington Estates.
“We have no authority to see if they will execute the project. They did not pass money into the hands of any state agency. The governments have set up task forces across the Caribbean to play a specific role . . . . They don’t have any respect for the task force or my Office of Reparation and Economic Enfranchisement,” Prescod said at the meeting of the St Michael East branch of the Barbados Labour Party at the St Giles Primary School on Sunday night.
“We need to begin to examine our institutions . . . . We need to be able to respect the power that is vested in the hands of ministers, and ministers must also respect that the people vested it in them, and they must demonstrate they know they are the servants of the people.”
His comments came two days after General Secretary of the USPG Reverend Duncan Dormor apologised for the organisation’s historical involvement in slave ownership and announced that the charity will invest the $18 million over a ten to 15-year period under the Renewal and Reconciliation – Codrington Reparations Project, to help with several reparatory activities identified by the Codrington Trust.
Meanwhile, Prescod, who told his constituents that he has no intention of walking away from politics unless they say it is time to go or he is no longer physically or mentally able, declared that he would not be silenced on issues affecting poor, black working-class Barbadians.
“This country does not have an opposition [in Parliament] and I have committed myself to speak in a very objective and honest way to you,” he said.
“When I am seeing these things that seem to be targeting poor people, you don’t give me any label and push me in a corner, and [think] that I must function under that label. My concern is to represent the interest of the people who are voiceless and cannot speak for themselves; the poor and the powerless.”
Prescod expressed concern that there were too many instances of injustices being met out to poor Barbadians.
He made reference to the two recent incidents involving stall owners in Oistins Bay Garden, Christ Church and Six Roads, St Philip, saying, “When I have all the material facts available to me . . . I will speak on it”.
The St Michael East MP also highlighted the ongoing dispute between the Government and the operator of Savvy on the Bay on Bay Street, St Michael, charging that those in authority did not seem to have “the courage to do what they should do”.
On the issue of crime, he made a direct plea to Minister with Responsibility for Crime Prevention Corey Lane, who was also at the meeting, to “examine what these so-called big fish are doing in this country and how sometimes they use poor people to give legality to the illegitimate things they are doing”.
Prescod also called for a closer look at the homelessness situation in Barbados and the policies of governing institutions set up to provide assistance.