Good day fellow Kittitians and Nevisians, home and abroad, and all persons who chose our Federation to be your home. Today, December 9, 2022, we join with the international community of responsible nations in celebrating International Anti-Corruption Day.
The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, and by extension the Government of St Kitts and Nevis, fully endorse and support efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in “Uniting the World Against Corruption,” the theme for this year’s celebration.
The aim of the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day and its related activities is to highlight the crucial link between anti-corruption and peace, security, and development.
At its core, corruption is the use of power for private gain. It is a greed-driven crime.
Corruption touches and concerns all of us. Just look at daily news items throughout the world, including right here at home in our recent past, and you will see how disastrous corruption is to societies.
While your Government crafts and delivers a brand new diversified economy where ALL (not just some) can truly benefit, we must move forward as a Nation by eliminating corruption and its impact on our Treasury
It is for this reason that I am pleased to announce that your Government is actively reviewing the the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to determine whether we should join the 188 other nations who have acceded to that treaty and thereby have committed to the Convention’s anti-corruption obligations and recognition of the importance of good governance, accountability, and political commitment to anti-corruption.
We can all agree that there is an immediate need for good governance and greater openness in our Federation’s government. On August 5, 2022, our people called loudly for a new day and a better way in this important tenet of democracy.
It is because of this clear mandate from the people, your Government has moved swiftly to implement the main three pillars of our Federation’s Anti-Corruption programme.
Very shortly, the Integrity Commission will finally get the teeth needed to address corruption by high-level public officers in our Federation by way of amendments and regulations to the Integrity in Public Life Act.
Our proposed Anti-Corruption Act envisions the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute criminal acts of corruption throughout the Civil Service, Statutory Boards and Government-Owned Companies.
The Freedom of Information Act will finally be operationalized to allow access to the press and public to non-confidential Government information.
Why are we doing all of this? Why are we prioritizing anti-corruption legislation?
Because Anti-corruption is built into our Country’s Motto: Country Above Self.
Our history demands not only that our leaders NOT be bought and sold but that we proudly proclaim that this is virtually impossible and that any attempts to do so will be subject to criminal sanctions imposed by law.
We must take these active steps because corruption can easily cripple small island developing states like ours due to our size and limited resources. It can have a profoundly detrimental effect on public finances as governments collect less in tax revenue and overpay for goods and services or investment projects.
Corrupt activities like government officials taking bribes drain public resources away from education, health care, social programmes, and effective infrastructure—the kinds of investments that can improve economic performance and raise living standards for ALL.
That is why tackling corruption is the right and responsibility of everyone, and only through cooperation and the involvement of each and every person and institution can we overcome the negative impact of this crime.
States, government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, the Church, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth alike all have a role to play in this.
From education to the environment, from business to sports, from gender equality to access to justice, and more – corruption undermines all areas of society’s development.
Corruption drains an economy and grows like a cancer until it destroys the system.
It is the honest taxpayer and the hardworking men and women who pay the price when Government funds which should go to provide essential services are syphoned off into the pockets of public officials and their private conspirators and cronies. We see examples across the world and unfortunately on our own shores.
However, under the leadership of our Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew, this country, our proud Federation of St Kitts and Nevis will be a success story in the fight against corruption.
We will be the beacon of hope that shines bright throughout the Caribbean and the wider world, to prove to our friends and neighbours in the international community: where there is a will, there is a way.
With the mandate of the people, and the commitment of the Government, even a small nation like ours can Unite the World Against Corruption.
I therefore implore each and every one of you to play your part in eradicating corruption from our society. May God bless you. Happy International Anti-Corruption Day.