The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says that the integrity legislation it will bring to Parliament, if elected in the Dec.9 general election would be geared at ensuring that parliamentarians do not enrich themselves off state resources.
Responding to a question this week at the launch of the NDP’s manifesto, leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, said that the NDP submitted draft integrity legislation to Parliament some years ago.
“I can’t recall every single detail of every aspect of it. It will concentrate mainly on public servants and ministers,” he said.
Eustace was asked how an NDP administration will respond to the experience of other countries where persons were concerned that they will have to declare their assets and liabilities if they serve on the boards of state companies, but received very little compensation for their service.
“I can’t recall at this moment in relation to a person who is on a board of a statutory corporation. I will have to check that back. I just can’t remember at this moment,” Eustace said.
But NDP chairman, Linton Lewis, a lawyer, said at the same event that the draft contained no provision for board members to disclose assets and liabilities.
“For the most part, the politicians, the parliamentarians would be required to do that. The public servants already have legislation under our Criminal Code dealing with that. And there will also be a code of ethics introduced into St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the time we take government in this country,” Lewis said.
“The integrity legislation is all about ensuring that persons do not enrich themselves unconscionably, unlawfully in a very corrupt manner as a means of participating in the governance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“And we want to have a transparent, a very accountable and a clean administration and, therefore, we want to make sure that when you get into office we know what you have and when you leave office, we know that you have not been involved in any sort of corrupt activity at all,” said Lewis, who is also the NDP’s candidate for East St. George.
And we need legislation for this? I guess our history has shown that personal greed trumps honesty and personal integrity. What a country! I love SVG.
A country that does not provide the resources or strong determination to collect income and other taxes from its citizens, has never jailed anyone for tax evasion, has appropriated the “proceeds of crime” of only a couple of drug dealers and few or no marijuana growers/sellers, allows thousands of petty retailers to evade paying VAT, wilfully ignores the requirement of employees and employers to pay into the NIS, and turns a blind eye to the transfer of huge amounts of money to overseas accounts, is a country where paper “integrity legislation” will never result in integrity.
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