Basseterre, Wednesday, 18th July, 2018, (MyVueNews.com) – One of the core issues voted for by many during the 2015 elections, was that of integrity in public life, especially as it relates to high government officials.
The Act, which came into effect from 11th July, 2018, as mandated by the Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Vincent Byron, makes provision for a Code of Conduct and declarations of interest for public officials.
It also speaks to the offences of abuse of office, misconduct, and neglect of duty.
Speaking on the issues recently, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the largest party in the coalition, Shawn Richards, the new Act requires public servants to display the highest ethical and moral values.
Now that the Act has been formally gazette, public servants are being urged to ensure that they are not found in breach.
He said the Bill speaks to persons who serve the public being honest, and if persons are being honest the reality is that they have nothing to be fearful of.
The Integrity Commission, when established, will have powers and functions to keep public servants in check.
The Commission will have power to examine all declarations made by public servants and may demand additional information or explanation that it deems necessary to better consider the declarations provided by those covered by the new legislation.
It may also summon persons to address issues that may arise in their submissions.
The body is to be headed by a retired judge or an attorney at law, appointed by the Governor General in his own deliberate judgment.
Both the country’s prime minister and Leader of the Opposition will equally have the opportunity to nominate one person each.
While the PAM leader expressed the view that the new legislation will not end public corruption, such malpractices would only materialize through honesty being exercised by those covered by the law.
He believes however that government “must protect those innocent persons out there.”
He added, “We must protect the young children who must have a future in this country and a future in which, not only in terms of the financial resources we are able to do things for them, but a future in which they can point to the members of parliament, they can point to the persons working for government and feel comfortable that proper examples are being set for them in terms of what we are called upon to do as stewards.”
The deputy prime minister noted that prior to taking up office, good governance and transparency were at the forefront of his administration’s campaign and it was important to ensure that this was upheld.
Efforts, sated Richards, are being made to ensure that civil servants are educated about the requirements of the law.