Bill 2011 (Private Members Bill) was sent to the Speaker’s Office for tabling for consideration in the Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis. This Bill was drafted and presented by the Opposition in Parliament as is permissible under the relevant rules of Parliament.
The members of the Opposition are deeply concerned that some 28 years after
St. Kitts and Nevis became an independent country the necessary statutory mechanisms to prevent Government corruption are still wholly absent. Our country has no Integrity in Public Life legislation, no Freedom of Information legislation and no provisions which could provide a check on governmental corruption. This situation is not in keeping with modern democratic traditions and St. Kitts and Nevis lags badly behind most of its Caribbean neighbours in this regard.
It was therefore with grave concern and considerable suspicion that we discovered that the Integrity in Public Life Bill would not be tabled at all in Parliament due to parliamentary maneuverings by the sitting Government led by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas. On the 29th of April, 2011 the Speaker of the Parliament, the Honourable Curtis Martin, refused to allow the Bill to be placed on the Order Paper for reasons that are valiantly to get this matter to the floor of Parliament for debate.
Various letters written to the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, the Honourable Sam Condor, seeking to move this matter forward have not even been acknowledged. The Opposition wrote to the Honourable Sam Condor on the 25th August, 2011 and on the 17th October 2011 with copies to the Speaker of the Assembly and the other members of Parliament. Both letters raised the issue of Integrity in Public Life and the tabling of this critical piece of legislation in the National Assembly for debate. The letter of 17th October, 2011 also raised the issue of the continued unacceptable vacancy of the position of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. Neither letter has to date been acknowledged and several verbal conversations before and since these letters have yielded nothing from the Government side.
To buttress these local efforts, the Opposition also wrote to all the accredited Ambassadors and Consuls to St. Kitts and Nevis on the 29th day of November, 2011 beseeching them to apply the necessary pressure on the Dr. Denzil Douglas led Government to table Integrity in Public Life legislation and permit this critical debate in our country to proceed.
Despite the public and private efforts of the Opposition, it has become pellucid that the Dr. Denzil Douglas led Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will not permit this Bill to be debated in the National Assembly as he and his Government continue to deny our country the necessary mechanisms to fight governmental corruption. This is a matter of tremendous concern for us in Opposition. Our Public continues to be restless at the constant allegations of naked corruption, self dealing and cronyism afflicting the Dr. Denzil Douglas led Government. The recent public alarm concerning our Social Security Fund and the Beacon Heights development is a prime example why this country desperately needs the necessary legislative framework to prevent corruption in all public institutions.
The Opposition in this country has a sacred duty to assist and promote the cause of good governance, transparency and democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis by applying the necessary pressure to Dr. Douglas and his Government to table Integrity in Public Life legislation immediately and demonstrate that we as a Nation recognize the need to police our Government as much as we seek to police our citizenry. The people of St. Kitts and Nevis should not be denied the tools to fight governmental corruption by the sitting Labour/NRP Government.
The members of the Opposition cannot continue to stand by and permit the affairs of the country to be run in the manner in which the Labour/NRP Government has run them. The lack of transparency and accountability and the refusal of the Government to take sensible steps to instill confidence in the governmental processes demands from the Opposition a firm and unequivocal response.
In all the circumstances therefore, the unanimous decision of the members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis is to boycott the Budget debates in the National Assembly commencing at 10:00am on Tuesday the 13th day of December, 2011.
The citizens and residents of this country to whom we are accountable must know that we did not arrive at this decision easily. However, we feel that as the country deteriorates in terms of its economy, security and social order, we must sound the clarion call that all is not well in St. Kitts and Nevis and the Dr. Denzil Douglas led Government both by its actions and inaction is forcing our beloved Nation over the precipice.
The Opposition accordingly asks the people of this country to stand with us as we categorically and comprehensively reject the efforts by the Dr. Denzil Douglas led Government to deny our Nation the necessary legislative tools to fight corruption in public life. The Opposition also issues the clear warning that it cannot and will not be business as usual going forward. Our Nation can no longer afford to be held hostage to the naked ambitions and self serving manipulations of a privileged few. It is time that all persons of goodwill exhibit the necessary courage to stand together and in one voice proclaim “Enough is Enough”.
The Honourable Mark Brantley
The Honourable Vance Amory
The Honourable Shawn Richards
The Honourable Eugene Hamilton
The Honourable Vincent Byron Jr