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Was integrity legislation used as a club just to hammer the NDP?

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010

Editor: The Unity Labor Party (ULP) listed integrity legislation as one of its main plank in its 2001 manifesto to be implemented if they gained favour with the Vincentian electorate. The ULP has been favoured twice at the polls since; and so far, the much touted integrity legislation has disappeared completely from the ULP lexicon.{{more}}

If my memory serves me correctly, the Ottley Hall fiasco, among others, was the fulcrum around which this much talked-about integrity legislation was hinged. The ULP government, primarily PM Gonsalves, must be given kudos for his relentless effort and dogged determination in seeking redress in getting the reduction in the debt that Ottley Hall posed for Vincentians born and unborn. Surely, this issue was like an albatross around the neck of the entire nation.

Whether Ottley Hall is resolved in whole or in part, it is the epitome of official corruption the likes of which has not been seen in the annals of politcs in SVG. Could we see another Ottley Hall in SVG or some other official corruption that may make Ottley Hall pale in comparison?

PM Gonsalves did a patriotic job of saving the nation millions of dollars in debt that Ottley Hall stood for. He is well positioned to put the infractuture in place to forestall future Ottley Halls and save the nation from greedy and rapacious politicians who will perpetuate the cycle of entrenced poverty that has historically plagued SVG and other island states.

Some may say why would PM Ralph Gonsalves introduce legislation that may come back to bite him? I say Gonzie has heightened the awareness of the nation as it pertains to corruption and he has fought to restore integrity to the process. We therefore look forward to him introducing integrity legislation so we can hold future politicians’ feet to the fire while at the same time keeping him honest and simultaneously preventing the nation’s coffers from being plundered when a government is in transition, among others situations.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves is a keen student of history. He is even more aware of his place in not only Vincentian politics but his role in fashioning a better Caribbean. In my view, introducing integrity legislation is a critical area where he can make a difference, particular in the light of issues involved in the recent elections in Trinidad and Tobago where his friend, Patrick Manning and the PNM, lost badly,

allegedly because of corruption and autocratic rule.

To be sure, the current unrest in Jamaica where it is alleged that the ruling party of PM Bruce Golding is in bed with the drug kingpin Christopher “Dudas” Coke, further strengthens the need for integrity legislation not just in SVG but throughout the Caribbean. Certainly, integrity legislation without proper enforcement mechanisms is toothless and a waste of time. But to not have any laws in place to hold politicians accountable for their penchant for massive corruption schemes or outright thievery is tantamount to “economic terrorism” or even being an accomplice to such ruinous and unpatriotic behaviour.

General elections in SVG can be called anytime now. PM Gonsalves asked the nation some years ago for two terms. Are we going to see a third term of another Gonsalves administration without any form of integrity legislation in place? Was the integrity legislation used as a club just to hammer the previous NDP government for what the ULP deem official corruption?

Put the legislation in place now and let us independently examine the activities of all parties, particularly when they hold the reins of government. If the ULP government is squeaky clean, it should have nothing to worry about. Vincentians must hold the ULP’s feet to the fire and vote with the promised integrity legislation of 2001 in mind.



Mulraine Richards

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