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Posted: Friday 5 July, 2024 at 9:54 PM

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Federal Parliament strengthens good governance framework with passage of Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill, 2024

Attorney General Wilkin
By: SKNIS, Press Release

    Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 05, 2024 (SKNIS): The Federal Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis has taken a significant step to further strengthen the nation’s good governance framework with the passage of the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill, 2024, on Friday, July 05, 2024.


    The Honourable Garth Wilkin, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, successfully moved the second reading of the Bill, which had its first reading on February 22, 2024. According to the AG, this amendment to the Ombudsman Act Cap 3.22 aligns with the spirit of other recent legislative efforts, including the Foundations (Amendment) Bill 2024, and the Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Bill 2024, which were also passed on July 05.  


    The Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill, 2024, aims to revise the remuneration and tenure of the ombudsman. The original Ombudsman Act, which came into operation in July 2008, was established to provide for the appointment and functions of the ombudsman and related matters. Minister Wilkin said that the ombudsman’s role is crucial in investigating any actions of authorities to identify maladministration and make recommendations for improving administrative practices and procedures, forming a cornerstone of the nation’s good governance infrastructure.


    Attorney General Wilkin underscored the profound importance of the amendment, highlighting its crucial role in ensuring the durability and efficacy of the nation’s governance structures.


    “The reason for the Bill Madam Speaker, even though very simple, is to make the good governance infrastructure of our country sustainable in the long term,” said AG Wilkin. “When the Ombudsman Act was passed in 2008, there were no other good governance offices in the jurisdiction. It was the ombudsman alone. That was the good governance office that had a check on the government. But now Madam Speaker, we have the Integrity Commission, the Information Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act, and the Special Prosecutor under the Anti-Corruption Act.”


    He further explained the evolution of the good governance framework, highlighting the need for the ombudsman’s office to adapt to the current landscape.


    “So, there now is a good governance anti-corruption infrastructure in the country, not just a standalone ombudsman,” he said. “So what we have sought to do with this amendment is to allow the ombudsman office to also serve as the information commissioner office because there are certain overlaps with what is done by the information commissioner who is effectively in charge of the freedom of information structure in the country, and the ombudsman who is in charge of receiving complaints about maladministration.”


    Wilkin noted the importance of regularising and preserving the resources allocated to the expanding good governance framework.


    “So while we examine it as a whole, we felt that it was important to regularise and also to preserve the amount that is expended in relation to this much larger good governance that is in place now, that is different to what it was in 2008,” said the attorney general.


    He added that this legislative step underscores the commitment of St. Kitts and Nevis to maintaining a robust and sustainable good governance infrastructure.






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