by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Six Bills will be tabled for the first time, with two of those to be debated in a Parliamentary sitting on February 8, 2023.
The Bills – the Caribbean Community and Africa Export-Import Bank (Agreement for the Establishment of a Partnership) Bill, 2023; Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Integrity in Public Life (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Anti-Corruption Bill, 2023; Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and Official Gazette Bill, 2023.
The two bills expected to be debated on February 8 are the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Official Gazette Bill, 2023.
The other four bills are expected to be debated during a second parliamentary sitting on February 22, including the three Bills heavily featured during the 2022 election season – Integrity in Public Life (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Anti-Corruption Bill, 2023; Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The Attorney-General, Hon. Garth Wilkin, during an interview on Island Tea with Azard Gumbs on February 7, emphasised the importance of bringing forth the good governance agenda the SKNLP campaigned on within their first six months in office.
“When you’re in office, you need to show the people that you are willing to comply with rules. So it doesn’t make sense setting the rules for someone else to comply with; you set the rules for you to comply with. We are going to debate [, and] hopefully pass the legislation on the 22nd, then we’re going to do a public education campaign, particularly the civil service, because when you’re introducing rules and new criminal offences, you have to educate people first and then hopefully by [April 3] which is the first Monday in April the plan is to have them fully enforced.”
AG Wilkin continued, “These Bills are not just for today; it is a change in our culture as a country. This is long-lasting; when you pass Bills like [these], it is very difficult for any government in the future – whether it be 30 years [or] 40 years from now – to come and say we [are] removing this.”
One of the Bills to be debated, the Official Gazette Bill, 2023, will notify the public of an addition to the way Gasettes are published. Bills, Laws, Writs, etc., will now also be published online to improve accessibility.
“Gazettes are a very important constitutional mechanism. It’s the way that laws are published. So a law doesn’t actually come into force unless it is gazetted. When boards are set up, the list of boards has to be gazetted; government orders have to be gazetted; regulations have to be gazetted; dissolution of parliament has to be gazetted; the Governor-General’s Writ has to be gazetted; all of those things have to be gazetted. So the Gazette is the official way to notify the public.”
The AG said in phase two of the good governance agenda, the Parliament will tackle Campaign financing and a new or amended Procurement.