Douglas: Team Unity Government “deliberately undermined and starved” the Integrity in Public Life Commission of funds

Basseterre, St Kitts, June 12, 2019 – St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris has been accused of “deliberately undermining the effectiveness of the recently established Integrity in Public Life Commission. The Commission’s chairman, attorney at law, Damian Kelsick, who was appointed in October last year submitted his resignation to Governor General His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton last month.
Dr Douglas in his first comment Tuesday on Kelsick’s sudden resignation said he is not surprised.
“The Government deliberately undermined the effectiveness of the commission. The government deliberately under-budgeted the commission. Even when the commission members complained with the paulcy amount of monies that were allocated and the fact that the government was releasing the monies in drips and drips, thus preventing the effectiveness of them carrying out their duties and responsibilities, the government nevertheless made no attempt to correct its action and thus forced, I repeat, forced the chairman of the commission to resign,” said Dr Douglas, when asked for his reaction to the resignation during his weekly radio call-in programme on Tuesday night,
“I do not believe the Team Unity Government wanted the chairman, who was very serious about his role and responsibility. They undermined him and forced him to resign because they did not want him to function in the way that he said he would have functioned with fairness and impartiality, This government does not want that,” said the former prime minister who added: “There is so much allegations of corruption in the government that they would not have wanted the commission to begin to disclose their assets.”
“Where are your assets today compared to what it was four years ago? Where would you have gotten those millions of dollars from? They do not want the commission to function because the role and responsibility of the Integrity Commission is to ensure that there is no thiefing taking place among the members of the government and likewise all members of parliament. They definitely do not want to disclose to the commission where they have gotten all this money from after being in government for four years. They drove the commission’s chairman to resign after starving him of money in order to operate effectively the Office of the Integrity Commission.”
Dr Douglas said he has not been officially informed by the Governor General of the resignation of Kelsick.
In March Kelsick complained that the Integrity in Public Life Commission was without adequate funds. Persons were interviewed for the positions of Director and Office Manager and Accountant.
He said there was also no Regulations in place fixing a prescribed date for the submission of declarations by public officials despite writing to Attorney General Hon Vincent Byron Jr. on October 12, but had received no response.
In March after sending another letter, Kelsick said he was informed orally that he should expect a written response indicating “that the government is still working on the S R & O.”
“Government commenced this legislation back in 2018 that 8 months later the government is still working on a regulation of no more than 25 words.”
Public officials are expected to complete and file declarations each year detailing their income, assets, liabilities and private interests with the Commission.
The legislation also calls for public officers to adhere to a code of conduct for the offences of abuse of office, misconduct and neglect of duty aimed at ensuring that public officers give the highest standard of service free from corruption.

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