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Mind the Integrity and Credibility Gap
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

By Stephen Kangal

In the current political setting the electorate has to mind the integrity and credibility gap. It is one in which both the Chairmen of the UNC and of the PNM are facing criminal charges before the High Court for infringements of the Integrity In Public Life Act 2000. It is most disturbing to hear PM Manning reneging from his position that he defended while the PNM was in Opposition and supporting the expansion of the list of persons serving in the public domain who will be granted exemptions from filing the sources of their enrichment. This is the same PNM who espouses morality in public affairs.

We now have the Judiciary, the Independent Senators and Chairmen and members of State Enterprises making a similar claim for exemption. What do they have to hide?

In the face of this deliberate strategy to reduce the net of the Integrity in Public Life Act, the Political Leader of the UNC, the Honourable Winston Dookeran on December 11 launched his own initiative for achieving Ethics, Unity, Integrity and Transparency with his brand of New Politics. He issued 24 Principles that will constitute the contract between the People and Politicians on behaviour in public office. In his view Governments are elected on the basis of a contract that embodies the political, social, economic and other legitimate expectations of the citizens.

The pillars for getting the politics right are:

* A responsible Government based on ethics and effective management
* A Caring Society that is a community of participating stakeholders with shared values
* A Good Citizen is a valued resource
* Enlightened Leadership that places the country and the welfare of its peoples first.

But we need to be remember that it was the PNM whilst in Opposition in October 2000 that called for the expansion of the integrity net to include judges, senators and members of State Enterprises. That was really intended to apply to UNC appointees- not PNM appointees. The Manning Administration must go beyond the cabal limits of the PNM and appoint citizens to serve on State Enterprises who regard integrity in public life as the litmus test of their modus operandi and public stewardship. There is no dearth of talent in citizens outside of the fold of the PNM who will have no objection to conforming to the filing requirements of the Integrity in Public Life Act.

We the electorate must say enough is enough to this duplicity- of saying one thing today and singing a different tune the next day. We have to rescue T&T from the clutches of the genre of double standard politicians and insist on standards of ethical conduct, consistency and societal morality when expressing our will to be governed.

We must insist on adherence to a system of shared values, enlightened and principled caring leadership and the use of our human and physical resources to develop priorities and achieve solutions.

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