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Kenrick Quashie. (iWN file photo)
Kenrick Quashie. (iWN file photo)
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By Kenrick Quashie

When political parties present their manifesto to the electorate, it is understood that it is an agreement between them and the people. That once elected, it will implement the programmes and plans presented in the said manifesto. Experience has shown that when elected, they do not necessarily implement the plans. Multiple excuses (real or unreal) are given as to why it is not possible to do so.

We broadly agree though that circumstances change and so can plans. Nevertheless, as our democracy matures, there are some programmes and plans that should not be compromised. I am suggesting, therefore, that each candidate should establish a covenant with their constituents. These should be uncompromising, and present the real possibility of recall consequences by the electorate.

In order to build SVG, a serious promise is needed to:

1. establish a comprehensive code of ethics, conduct and performance for parliamentarians, bolstered by a system of sanctions;

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2. foster the principles of honesty and integrity in public life that those who seeking to represent the people or are otherwise holders of public office should be subject to the examination of their affairs by a properly constituted authority;

3. establish strong integrity legislation and the full establishment of an integrity commission within the first 50 days of being elected;

4. ensure that their obligation to submit annual and truthful reports to the integrity commission will be done;

5. enact legislation to cover ethical behaviour and the conduct of Members of Parliament, senators and senior public officials including chairs of statutory boards;

6. accept the full authority of their political leader to take decisive actions against any member who commits an act of corruption;

7. create a policy whereby members who are charged by a legal/competent authority including but not limited to the Police Force or FIU for an alleged act of corruption involving the abuse or misuse of public office will be excluded from office until the investigations are completed and the member is cleared or otherwise charged;

8. demand resignations from all government positions if convicted in a court of law for any act of corruption involving the abuse or misuse of public office;

9. provide access to free or affordable quality health care through a universal health insurance scheme;

10. establish a comprehensive land and housing programme to create wealth through widespread ownership opportunities to long term occupants, working people and young professionals, by providing special incentives and extended term mortgages;

11. ensure public disclosure of all agreements by the government and its agencies within six months of signing;

12. legislate fixed election dates and term limits for prime ministers;

13. recognise the authority of and participate in the constituency and national debates planned and hosted by the SVG election debate commission/ monitoring mechanisms;

14. establish a comprehensive and broad base system to support a strong and independent civil society. This includes but is not limited to the re-establishment of the National Youth Council, National Student Council, and grassroot community organisations, the payment of substantial annual subvention to these organisations as well as the provision of a home office for them;

15. Develop a curriculum for and reintroduce the teaching of civic education at the primary and secondary levels throughout schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

16. The update tabling of the Auditor General’s report within four months of the ending of the financial year;

17.  Establishment of an independent electoral commission;

18. Providing legislative grit for the election monitoring mechanisms to ensure that elections are truly free and fair.

We must not accept the lame excuse given by this current ULP administration against integrity legislation. This is the same political party that circulated draft integrity legislation while in opposition and promised to pass it in Parliament within the first 100 days in government. This was 2001. More than 22 years later and the plans can’t be seen Parliament. Instead, concerted effort has been made to block the current opposition from tabling such legislation. Unacceptable!

It is better we get integrity legislation that bites with one tooth than no legislation at all. It is a good start and improvements can be made over time.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].