Basseterre, St Kitts, March 26, 2019 – Prominent St Kitts and Nevis attorney, Charles Wilkin QC, has slammed the Timothy Harris Unity Government on its failure to deliver on several of the promises made to the electorate.
In a weekend radio commentary, Wilkin identified the promises made in the areas of Electoral Reform, Integrity in Public Life, Term Limits for the Prime Minister, Freedom of Information, Motion of No Confidence and Civil Service Reform.
He pointed out that Term Limits for the Office of the Prime Minister is still a grand promise.
“This was one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in 2015 but it has fallen into abeyance with no explanation. This was the lynchpin of the Unity platform. There will be enormous suspicion if they back off on this,” said Wilkin.
He made reference to a statement by Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne as to how Government contracts are corrupted, using the price of a crane as an example.
He said adamantly that is the system. “It reminded me of the joke about the Bajan, the Jamaican and the Trinidadian who were bidding for a Government contract. The Bajan bid $3 million, the Jamaican $6 million and the Trini $9 million. The Government official said to the Trini why your bid so high. The Trini said 3 for you, 3 for me and give the Bajan the work,” recalled Wilkin, who asked: “Is that our system too?
Wilkin noted that the Freedom of Information Act was passed one year ago but it has not been brought into effect.
“What is the problem? Are Unity having second thoughts? What do they have to hide?” he asked.
On the issue of Campaign Finance reform, he asked: “Who is paying for the charters. Who is paying the election bribes to voters? We don’t know, we have never known and it seems that we will not know in the next election either. What we do know is that a Governing Party is usually better able to attract campaign finance than the Opposition so maybe Unity wants its turn in that role.”
On the campaign promise of Integrity in Public Life, Wilkin noted the Act became law on 11th July 2018 and the Integrity Commission has been appointed “but again no Regulations so we should not expect any Minister or Opposition Representative to have to declare his assets and liabilities before the next election.
And after that who knows. In the mean while we hear plenty “BS” from Unity about the Act. Unity, If you have nothing to fear bring it into full force and effect and let the chips lie where they fall.”
Queen’s Counsel Wilkin also mentioned the Motion of No Confidence.
“The Opposition recently brought a Motion. Unity brought it quickly to the National Assembly but smartly curtailed it using another technicality. Are they having second thoughts on this too? Why haven’t they legislated to force a Government to bring a Motion to Parliament speedily as happens in truly democratic countries,” he said.
Wilkin further noted that the Timothy Harris Unity Government promised civil service reform in these words ‘to void the political influence that is currently so rife.’
“Maybe they changed their minds now that they have the political influence,” he said further pointing out that Unity said they would ‘provide equal access to state owned media to all Political Parties’ “but that too is an ‘almost kept’ promise too and they seem content to have ZIZ as the Government’s exclusive mouthpiece.”
He also pointed out that the Timothy Harris Unity Government which took office in February 2015 promised sweeping changes to the electoral system which they said is corrupted, unfair and lacking in transparency and independence.
“They promised a complete voter enumeration process. They promised fixed election dates. They said that the Boundaries Commission is too partisan in its composition and they promised to reform it. They said there was unsatisfactory leadership of the Electoral Commission and they promised to reform that too. But they have done none of those things,” Wilkin stated.
“You said that you stand for open, transparent and accountable Government and you are against corruption. You promised to replace the corrupt system and you said exactly how you would do so. The electorate voted for that. But you are not doing so and at the same time you are asking for more pay’ (with the secret establishment of a Salary Review Commission and the first term is not completed)
“What impression does that leave? It leaves me with the impression that you want the best of both worlds, more salary and allowances and perks and the same old corrupt system to exploit,” concluded Wilkin.