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Opposition MP St. Claire Leacock says corruption has been 'institutionalised' under the current government.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown St. Claire Leacock believes that corruption has been “institutionalised” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) under the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).

Leacock, of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), on Monday decried what he described as an “extra-cabinet function” in SVG.

“We just had an election [in December] and every single member of the ULP who lost a seat or who was unable to contest a seat is now better off having not contested, or lost his seat. … And these are people who have already got pension,” Leacock said at an NDP press conference.

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“I find in the New Democratic Party we seem to have to work overtime to get public interest issues properly explained and at times we appear to come to these conferences on the defensive,” he said.

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Leacock listed several members of the ULP who either lost the elections — which the ULP won 8 seats to the NDP’s 7 — or opted out of politics ahead of the polls and the positions they now hold within the current administration or state-owned companies.

“In essence, I am making the point that the country is now running with two cabinets.  … They are all better off having lost or not contesting elections and their salaries, for the main part, are in excess of that of Cabinet ministers,” Leacock said.

“These are the questions an effective media will ask and present or represent on behalf of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You are not hearing that,” he added.

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“The ULP, as an administration, campaigned and presented themselves to be more pious and holier-than-thou and that the NDP was the party of corruption. And what we are seeing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines now is institutionalised corruption. That’s what it is! That is what it is! And, each time it is presented, the Prime Minister ducks and says it’s not his Cabinet, it is not his government. … He promotes those who are guilty in the various departments,” Leacock said.

Leacock spoke of recent audits, which uncovered unsanctioned practices at the ministries of health and agriculture.

“You had so many matters! In fact, if you go through the audit reports, the Auditor General has identified contracts of the government and their breaches as a cause of concern,” he said.

“This country is going down the hill. There is an obligation to arrest the expense of running this country. Because what we are witnessing is bigger government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There is a simple saying: we ought to do more with less. We are establishing another record in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are doing less with more,” Leacock said.