(SKNIS): About 150 senior public servants, as well as ministers of government and key heads of statutory corporations gathered at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Thursday, July 12, to engage in a forum on matters relating to the Integrity in Public Life Act, No. 18 of 2013 and its impact on the public offices that they hold.
The purpose of the Act is to make provision for a Code of Conduct and declarations of interest for public officials; for the offences of abuse of office, misconduct and neglect of duty; and in that connection to make provision for the establishment of the Integrity Commission, its powers and functions, and to provide for related or incidental matters.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron, said that Integrity in Public Life (IPL) Act is vital, hence the importance of moving forward with it. He added that it is very important to establish that the public service is an honourable thing and as such initiatives must be put in place to ensure that it gives the highest standard of service free from corruption.
“We are public servants and we do an honourable thing in serving our citizens. But it also requires us to act in a proper manner, to be honest, to have integrity,” he said. “Many of the functions we do have to do with handling money and assets and these, who if there are any, show undue riches. This is the bedrock of trying to make our public service one that we can be proud of to serve the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The attorney general spoke specifically to the appointment of the Integrity Commission that would be established to carry out its duties, meeting and working with others to determine the regulations needed to govern their conduct. He added that this requires a certain amount of confidentiality and everyone subject to the IPL Act is required to make declarations.
“This requires a declaration of their personal assets and liabilities of their businesses which has to be held in confidence by the Integrity Commission and that fundamentally is what the Integrity in Public Life is,” said Minister Byron.
Attorney General Byron said that the IPL Act falls in line with the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Good Governance Agenda.
“It is one of the corner stones of the good governance agenda where we want to have a transparent government…. We want to have people act in a proper and ethical way and to be accountable,” said the attorney general. “And this, along with the recently passed Freedom of Information Legislation with its companion the Data Protection Bill are what should give us a framework in our country to have our citizens have confidence in our public servants and the way in which we conduct business.”
The IPL Act came into force in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Its application includes members of the National Assembly; Ministers of Government; Speaker of the National Assembly; Heads of Diplomatic Missions of St. Kitts and Nevis; Commissioner of Police and Police High Command, Superintendent of Prisons, Heads of the Armed Forces; Parliamentary Secretaries; Assistant Secretaries; Heads of Departments in Government Ministries; and Solicitor General and Legal Officers.
Chairpersons and Board members of statutory bodies; Directors and Managers of majority state-owned or controlled banks or other financial institutions or companies; Director of Audit; Chairpersons and Executive Members of Political Parties; and Declared candidates for political parties will also have to make declarations of their assets and liabilities under the IPL Act. The Act will also apply to the spouse, agent and in certain cases children of the public officials listed above.