USp board member Fernando Clark about Transparency International report: “Waste of time and a big waste of money”POSTED: 08/6/15 7:05 PM
St. Maarten –“Imagine your house gets robbed and you hire somebody to investigate it and after the investigation, the investigators tell you, you were robbed.” Thus Fernando Clark, a board member of the United St. Maarten Party (USp) reacted to the Transparency International Integrity System Assessment for St. Maarten the organization presented on July 28.
Clark says the company came on the island and did an investigation and the report did confirm that there is corruption in St. Maarten. “We know that, any child knows that, three similar reports say the same thing but who, when, where is the corruption taking place? The report is empty, I hired you to find out and you telling me there is a problem. We need to get past that and tell me who and what, so that we can make the needed changes to get out of corruption taking place.
Transparency International report on St. Maarten contains three core recommendations, of which the third one is the most concrete. Transparency recommends that political parties must disclose accurate and timely information about their income and expenditures. This information should include the dates of donations, the exact amounts and the names of the donors. “Transparency of political party finance is crucial to ensure that oversight institutions and citizens can find out whether politicians are acting in the interest of the public or only of the selected few.
“Some people are saying, well you can’t call people’s name just like that, but if you are hired to do an investigation there are ways to point the relevant authorities in the right direction. The report is too vague and I expect for the company to come with direct accusations, not stay on the surface” the USp board member said. There are four reports done on St. Maarten, the Baseline Study Institutional Integrity from the General Audit Chamber, the integrity-reports from the Bob Wit-committee and PricewaterhouseCoopers and the transparency assessment.
The Transparency International team – consisting of Max Heywood, Natalie Baharav and Zoë Reiter – visited St. Maarten in December of last year. St. Maarten contacted Transparency International in March 2013. It took until December of that year before the government signed the contract with the international anti-corruption watchdog, but by that time all hell had already broken loose over the kingdom instruction to Governor Holiday to order an integrity investigation.
Clark said that integrity is not something that can be regulated by law. “This is something that our trusted officials should have, they have it or they don’t. The whole report was a waste of money, a waste of information, a big waste. If these people are not in a position to call names or point fingers then they should not have accepted the job. I mean they are called Transparency International and they are not transparent.”
Transparency International recommends in its assessment that the government dedicate more resources to the implementation of existing transparency and accountability regulations in the public sector. The objective is to ensure their enforcement in practice the report states.
Overall Clark wants the company to come with clear and factual information concerning the integrity breaches. “The people deserve it because their tax money paid for the assessment and they have a right to answers.”