Government must engage the citizenry in solving the critical problems facing the country. Unless the citizens accept an issue as a problem requiring attention, it will remain insoluble. The collective brain trust of the citizens far exceeds the intellectual capacity or problem-solving ability of any Executive. Therefore, it is sensible and logical for Government to seek to involve its citizens in tackling the vexing issues confronting the society.
Effective Functioning of Parliament
Parliament should provide effective oversight of the operations of the Cabinet. The Public Accounts Committee should meet regularly to review the financial management of the government and ensure that the monies that were allocated to the respective ministries were spent in accordance with the mandate given to these ministries. Also, Parliamentary Committees should be established to allow parliament to review government policy and provide greater scrutiny of proposed legislation.
Civil Society Consultation on Proposed New Legislation
The practice of taking a bill through all its readings in one sitting of Parliament should be discontinued. Following the tabling of a bill and its first reading in Parliament, a minimum period should be established for public consultation on the provisions of this bill. The draft bill should be posted on the government's web site, with links to it on the government's social media pages so that members of the public and in particular, the groups that will be most affected by the contents of the bill, may have an opportunity to provide feedback on the bill. This feedback should be channeled back to Parliament through the respective Members of Parliament and the Minister under whose name the bill is being laid in Parliament.
Government should establish a multipartite Policy Oversight Committee that meets quarterly to review and report on government performance against established critical macroeconomic and social indicators. This committee should comprise representatives of the public sector, private sector, labour unions, civil society organisations and youth.
Establishment of Elected Local Government
Government should move speedily toward the establishment of full, elected Local Government Authorities that will work together with the respective Members of Parliament to empower citizens to address more of their development needs at the constituency level.
Freedom of Information Legislation
Government should move speedily to enact the Freedom of Information Bill, which will make it possible for the public to obtain information about the operations of public authorities and ensure that "the rules and practices affecting members of the public in their dealings with public authorities are readily available to the persons affected by those rules and practices".
Free Online Access to Laws and the Records of Parliamentary Proceedings
The official record of the proceedings of Parliament, Hansard, should be digitized and placed on the Government Web Portal so that every citizen can research and be informed of the positions taken and statements made by Members of Parliament over the years.
The Laws of Saint Lucia govern the manner in which our society operates. Therefore, they should be freely available and accessible to every citizen via the Government Web Portal.
The Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue, otherwise known as the Government's Budget, together with the Annual Economic and Social Review that is tabled in the Parliament during the debate on the Estimates, should be accessible to the public on the Government's web site immediately these documents are presented in the House of Assembly.
The Voters' List should be thoroughly reviewed and revised so that it becomes a more accurate representation of the number of persons eligible to vote in elections in Saint Lucia.
During the campaign for a general election, it should be made mandatory for the political leaders of the major political parties to participate in at least one major nationally televised debate, moderated by an independent panel, on the issues of importance to the electorate.
All candidates and political parties participating in an election (local government, by-election or general election) should be made to sign and adhere to an agreed code of conduct.
Campaign finance legislation should be enacted to (1) prevent private individuals or interest groups from using large financial donations to control the candidates they finance when they are elected to office; (2) prevent the use of illegally obtained funds or 'dirty' money to finance election campaigns and undermine the rule of law; (3) ensure equal access to political office by all candidates, irrespective of their financial means; and (4) eliminate the risk that access to extraordinarily large sums of money can give an unfair advantage to some candidates and remove fairness and competition in the electoral contest.
All political parties must be provided access on all national radio, television and public telecommunications service providers to promote and explain their policies to the public.