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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Timing of VIP’s good governance initiatives not a coincidence

Timing of VIP’s good governance initiatives not a coincidence

Commissioner of the now concluded Commission of Inquiry (COI), Sir Gary Hickinbottom, has found that the timing of good governance initiatives by the former Andrew Fahie-led government were not coincidental.

In the COI report issued by Sir Gary, he shared that there had already been a raft of better governance measures in the air for years, but successive elected governments had been slow to progress them.

Sir Gary stated that while the Fahie administration was elected in 2019 — after campaigning as a party of good governance — and some steps were taken that year and the following year, virtually all progress that had been made was done during the period of the COI when the government knew governance was a key issue.

Good governance initiatives largely reactive to the COI

According to Sir Gary, measures taken by the government were, to a large extent, reactive to the work of the Commission.

The Commissioner said while he was pleased that progress had been made, this did not engender confidence for the future once the COI was concluded.

He also noted that while the paper measures that were passed were very welcomed, they were not suggestive of an elected government that was enthusiastic about pressing forward with these measures in practice.

In the meantime, Sir Gary said even though the elected ministers did not find the state of governance to be in as parlous a state as he did, they at least accepted that it was below an acceptable level.

COI skeptical of Fahie administration

The Commissioner said the government had been tackling these deficiencies by progressing a number of measures — a “suite of good governance legislation” — which they said would result in improvements in decision-making and implementation so that governance would be improved to a level that is acceptable.

But Sir Gary said the evidence led him to be extremely skeptical about the government’s claims.

The commissioner found that not only did the elected ministers not identify reasons for the poor state of governance, but they shifted the blame to deficiencies within the public service which he found were not a substantial cause.

No coincidence

According to Sir Gary, “it could, therefore, only be coincidence if their efforts were to address the real reasons for the poor state of governance“.

Even as they claimed to be champions of good governance, Sir Gary found, the Fahie-led government had continued in practice to ignore the principles of good governance.

The report found that the Fahie administration proved to be no different than other governments that trumpeted good governance and purported to herald a change in their approach to governance, yet did otherwise instead.


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