Monday 9 December, 2019

Government Committed to Probing Secret Agreements

The Government of Saint Lucia is committed to fulfilling its responsibility and promise to the people of Saint Lucia to be transparent and accountable in its management of the State’s affairs.

Additionally, the Government believes that all public officials should give full accounts of their stewardship, and always be willing at all times to answer questions on matters related to their tenure. The Government is also committed to keeping the public informed about any investigations it might undertake in their interest.

In April 2017, the current Administration showed its commitment to holding public officials accountable when it passed the Amendment to the Crown Proceedings Act, which was a recommendation of the 2009 Ramsahoye Commission of Inquiry. The Amendment allows for the recovery of public funds not to be statute bound or statute barred. It is worth noting that during the sitting of Parliament the Opposition chose not to remain in the House to discuss this matter.

Since coming into office in June 2016, the Government has uncovered several irregularities that demand further examination. Among them were matters related to the Saint Lucia National Lottery Authority, in particular the operation of a so-called “Minister’s Account”; the costly St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project, the Grynberg agreement that involves several acres of Saint Lucia’s seabed, and the appointment and tenure of Saudi billionaire Walid Juffali as our country’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) representative. The Government has publicly announced our intentions to fully uncover the truth in relation to all of the above.

As much as some officials might prefer the matter to go away, the government feels duty-bound to uncover the details of what has become known as the Juffali Affair, in particular why Saint Lucians only learned of the Juffali appointment three years after the fact. The public is entitled to know more about the immunity granted Mr. Juffali and several of his relatives—a secretive matter that has cost Saint Lucia much embarrassment at home and abroad.

This still remains a burning issue for the populace and the Government of Saint Lucia is committed to, despite the death of Mr. Juffali, flesh out whether any improprieties occurred with Mr. Juffali’s appointment. The lack of transparency surrounding the Juffali Affair may also have implications for Saint Lucia’s diplomatic reputation.
The Government assures the public of Saint Lucia of our commitment to good governance regardless of those involved.

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