Speaker rules: ‘No apology needed’ Tells Opposition Leader he must be responsible and transparent

Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Curtis Martin speaks to the Hon. Leader of the Opposition

BASSETERRE, ST.KITTS, APRIL 26TH 2012 (CUOPM) – Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, the Hon. Curtis Martin ruled Thursday there was no need for Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas to apologise for comments made about the monies approved by the lawmaking body for an office for the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Mark Brantley and a monies being paid to a secretary for the holder of that office.

Mr. Brantley had complained that based on radio reports attributed to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, he had written to the Speaker and the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister demanding an apology.

Prime Minister Douglas said he had no reason to impute improper motives towards the Hon. Leader of the Opposition and there was no need for an apology as the questions raised were legitimate ones being asked by the public.

Prime Minister Douglas repeated verbatim what he said at the March 29th sitting of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

“Mr. Speaker, every single year since he (Hon. Mark Brantley) has been the Leader of the Opposition, thousands of dollars are being passed in this Parliament for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. The question that people must ask him, “Is there any office? And what happened to the money?” That’s what should be asked of him. Is there any office for the Leader of the Opposition where money has been voted for every single year in this Parliament and what happened to the money? Where is the money going? Oh. There is also Mr. Speaker, an office to be paid for, a secretary to be paid for, where is the secretary? And I can tell you the money goes out of the Treasury every single month.

“There is no secretary. There’s no office. But every single month money goes out of the Treasury for that office. But where is the secretary? And then they talk about corruption and talk about cutting back on people’s salary? Eh? He is responsible for the secretary. Where is the secretary working? Where is the money that is being collected from the Treasury for the Secretary?” Dr. Douglas repeated.

Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mark Brantley listens to Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Curtis Martin

He told the House on Thursday: “That’s what I said and today I stand with those questions being asked. I think an opportune time has been provided for the Hon. Leader of the Opposition to answer the questions that I posed.”

The Speaker told Mr. Brantley that he himself translated the remarks of the Prime Minister from the official records of the House on March 29 and they are identical to his response.

“As far as I see it, taking word for word, you have listened to it and I have not in my view see the point where you said that he is actually saying that monies are paid to you. He has put it in the form of questions, which I think should be answered because in the same light that the public demands from a government, an administration to be transparent and to be responsible and professional, it is the same way it is in my view, the view of the Chair, that the Opposition and the Office of Leader of Opposition must also be responsible and transparent.”

“I am speaking of the principle. Monies are in fact voted for and approved for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, which under my understanding is represented jointly by the People’s Action Movement and the Concern Citizens Movement based on the outcome of the last election with two seats each. I would assume that it was a negotiated arrangement with a Senator from the People’s Action Movement. The principle in general is that if there is provided monies for a national office for the Leader of the Opposition that should have been taken care of,” said Speaker Martin.

He told the Leader of the Opposition that the fact that that monies are being paid for a secretary, who does not occupy an official office, creates some doubt.

“For example, the question is where is that secretary working? It is a relevant question and to avoid issues and avoid problems, you must deal with the principle. The very same way the public is asking the government to be transparent likewise the public can ask the opposition to provide proof as to what work the secretary is doing and what is happening in the realm of the Office of the Opposition,” said the Hon. Speaker.

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