Government still committed to Integrity in Public Life Legislation

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Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis The Hon. Timothy Harris

By Loshaun Dixon

 Basseterre, St. Kitts-The government stands committed to Integrity in Public Life legislation according to Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris.

Dr. Harris in responding to a question from The Observer at his most recent press conference stated that they are currently aiming to engage the people of what it is about and what is involved.

“Sometimes when you hear some of the armchair radio persons speak about this they would create confusion in the public’s mind,” he said, adding that the public is unfamiliar with practices in other jurisdictions. He said there is need for an integrity committee to provide access to the confidential information.

“The integrity committee is so comprised of people of high integrity themselves, that they are able to make certain connections, determine whether there have been full disclosure but the commission for its own integrity cannot be engaged in party political politics with people’s private information,” he said.

He added that a step the government will take is to bring someone with actually involvement in the practice to share information so the public expectation is reasonable as it relates to standard practices elsewhere.

“Legislation alone will not do it so we are saying let us help the public to understand let us give them the opportunity to have an input into what we will propose and we will bring that what as it were reflex the will of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” he declared.

He said they have not abandoned plans to pass such legislation since it is too important of a matter to ignore.

“We will deliver on it not in a hasty way as a play for votes but we will do it in a dispassionate way and come to the right out comes from the consultation,” he stated.

The Prime Minister was also asked how the current Integrity in Public Life Legislation passed by the last administration would fair with any passed by the current government.

“It will reflect a combination of provisions that some maybe in the existing one, some maybe in the one proposed by Mark Brantley years ago some may reflect some may reflect what is in Trinidad legislation but we don’t know yet because we can’t prejudge what will come out from the national consultation as to how far and wide,” he said.

Dr. Harris stated that it is a broad matter and there needs to be a determination of how high up and how low will fall under the ambit of this legislation

“Should it just be politicians? The heads of departments who are making decisions for example regarding the bids and we spoke earlier about evaluating committee they too maybe vulnerable so they should be brought under the rubric of the act,” he said.

“The members of the police force they are in critical services so where they are vulnerabilities the question is how far you will go. Would it be just the commissioner, would it be don’t to ACP so who have to have the kinds of discussions so that people are aware and they are not caught off guard in relation to these matters.”

He added that the aim is to find a consensus and frame the legislation to suit it.

“Passing the legislation is critical and if there is no public ownership for it. What then becomes of it? Where is the incentive for these kinds of issues? The best known areas maybe Trinidad perhaps Jamaica…and we want to model the best practices,” he said.