PM Wescot-Williams contacted Transparency International two weeks ago Government seeks integrity assessment

POSTED: 04/3/13 12:03 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has contacted corruption watchdog Transparency International to conduct a national integrity system assessment in St. Maarten. In a press release issued yesterday, the PM’s cabinet stated that “initial contact was made about two weeks ago” and that a follow up is expected in the course of this week.
The press release does not say anything about the Bada Bing bribery scandal and about the possible role of Independent MP Patrick Illidge and Justice Minister Roland Duncan in it. Instead, it states: During last year’s budget handling in parliament the prime minister already announced that a national integrity system assessment would be conducted as part of the government’s integrity program.
According to the press release the initial contact with Transparency International was established “about two weeks ago” – therefore, in the week starting with Monday March 18. This is eleven days after the Dutch daily the Telegraaf published the first story about the Bada Bing bribery case.

Natalie Baharav at the communications department of Transparency International’s headquarters in Berlin, Germany, was not immediately available for a comment on the contacts between the organization and the government of St. Maarten.
In April of last year the embattled Schotte-government in Curacao commissioned Transparency International with a national integrity system assessment. TI will present its preliminary findings to stakeholders for feedback this spring. Publication and an official on-island launch will follow later this year.

The Curacao-assessment more or less sets the time frame for a similar exercise in St. Maarten. From the moment of signing an agreement to the completion of the assessment will take about a year, while publication could take as much as fifteen to sixteen months.
TI figures that the Curacao assessment “will generate a set of concrete recommendations for the island’s key institutions and local actors to pursue in order to strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity,” the organization states on its web site. “It should also provide a set of good governance benchmarks for the citizens of Curacao to hold their government and elected officials to account.”
The grant agreement TI signed with Curacao last year ensured the organization’s “complete independence in all phases of the process, from initial research to final outcome and recommendations.”

The research for the study in Curacao began last summer. A local team on the island is conducting the assessment. This happens “in dialogue with key actors from across various bodies of the public and private sector and civil society,” TI stated.
The assessment is of a consultative nature and seeks to involve key stakeholders. Transparency International staff visited Curacao in September of last year. “All discussions were constructive and well attended by stakeholders who appeared to place high importance on the dialogue.”
Transparency International and the local research team are “currently moving forward with the generous input and guidance of the local stakeholders,” the organization states on its web site. “We hope that by using this participatory approach the assessment will provide a useful set of recommendations for Curacao that society can use to push for positive change.”

The assessment evaluates the ability of all principal institutions and actors to fight corruption. All branches of government but also the media, the public and private sector and civil society are included in the assessment. TI analyzes national efforts to stamp out corruption and provides a framework to analyze the country’s vulnerability to corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts.
Transparency International says that assessments may include recommendations to provide better access to information about laws, citizen participation, whistleblower protection and adherence to international conventions.

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