By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) — Attorney-General and minister of legal affairs, Dale Marshall, has made it clear that there will be no change to the value of Barbados’ currency when the country becomes a Republic on November 30.
Marshall emphasised this while responding to questions raised online by persons from the diaspora, who participated in a town hall meeting organised by the Embassy of Barbados in Washington D.C, United States of America, on Thursday evening.
The attorney-general stressed that the switch to being a republic would have “absolutely no bearing” on the local currency, adding that the Barbadian dollar was tied to the United States dollar, and would remain so.
He further explained that when there was a perception of political instability in the country, this lead to fluctuation in the value of the currency. However, in this case, Marshall informed the gathering that going republic was not representative of this.
“The change that we are making is in no way representative of, or signify any kind of instability, and in any event, our currency is tied to the US currency so there is no opportunity for its intrinsic value to change,” the attorney-general underlined.
Marshall acknowledged that there would be a fiscal impact domestically, by way of changes to letterheads, the crowns worn on the uniforms of gazetted officers in the Royal Barbados Police Force and those on the uniforms of the members of the Barbados Defence Force, among other things, and gave the assurance that the spend would not drain the country’s finances.
He stressed that selecting a Barbadian head of state was simply about moving away from a monarchical system. “In order to make a Barbadian a head of state, whom we will term our president, we simply move from a monarchical system, where our head of state is the Queen of England, to a state of legal being, where our head of state will be a Barbadian and that is the beginning and end of it.”
He continued: “In order for this to happen, we have to amend the Constitution so as to provide for Barbados to be a republic. Cabinet has agreed that we would not be changing our name to the Republic of Barbados.
Marshall pointed out that the president would be ceremonial, just like the Governor-General, and carry out the same functions.
He added: “The powers of the Governor-General are severely circumscribed in law. The powers of our President will be circumscribed in exactly the same way. So, for those who are thinking that we would have a president that would be able to declare war, who would be able to exercise all manner of executive powers, that is not the case. Our president continues to be ceremonial in much of the same way as the Governor-General is ceremonial.”
The attorney-general also fielded questions on citizenship rights under a republic; selecting the president by the Electoral College, as opposed to the citizens making the choice; whether the changes to the Constitution would give Barbadians living overseas the right to vote, and if the country would have to renegotiate its membership in international organisations. The meeting was convened in response to letters, telephone calls and e-mails received by Embassy officials seeking more information about the Republic.