Dr. Douglas says monthly stipend for Sir Kennedy never came to Parliament, wants end to double standards
By: Contributing Editor
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (February 22nd 2017) – Leader of the Opposition the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has called for transparency when it comes to the spending of public funds and the blatant practise of double standards.
Responding to a concern by a caller Dr. Douglas said he was not aware that former Prime Minister and the only living National Hero, the Rt. Excellent and the Right Hon. Sir Kennedy Simmonds was getting a monthly stipend for being a National Hero from the Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM Government in addition to other pensions.
Informed that Prime Minister Harris had confirmed the monthly payment to Dr. Simmonds, after a caller on WINNFM’s Voices programme had posed the question and appealed to him to be transparent and truthful in his answer, Dr. Douglas said:
“I have nothing personal against him (Sir Kennedy), nothing against our national hero getting a stipend, but what about others who are in similar situations who have served publicly and cannot be given the same treatment,” said Dr. Douglas, who during his tenure as Prime Minister had recommended to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, that Dr. Simmonds be awarded a knighthood.
It is said the monthly payment range from EC$8,000 to EC$10,000 monthly but this has not been confirmed, neither when the payments began.
“If that is the policy of the government that a national hero be given a stipend, that is the policy, but it cannot be applied just like that,” said Dr. Douglas, who noted it was not rooted in law as no legislation was brought to the National Assembly.
Dr. Douglas said his administration while in office had adopted a policy with regard to the treatment of heads of state, heads of government and former ministers.
“When Sir Cuthbert Sebastian retired from the post of Governor General, he was given everything based on that established policy.
“Dr. Harris came into office (as Prime Minister) and met that policy in place and adhered to it in relation to Sir Cuthbert and ensued that Sir Cuthbert continued to receive the support based on that same policy we had in place.”
“I am glad that he did,” said Dr. Douglas, but quickly pointed out that that policy was shredded by Prime Minister Harris and not applied to Sir Edmund Lawrence when Dr. Harris unceremoniously booted out of office. Dr. Harris immediately pulled Sir Edmund’s security after he was relieved of his position.
“How can we expect good governance when he applied some policies, rules, regulations and conventions. It is going to lead to strife and confusion and it should not be so. This should not be and cannot work in a developing democracy,” said Dr. Douglas.
“The Prime Minister (Dr. Harris) himself said it was not a policy for Sir Edmund to get security, even though when we left office, there was a policy in place. The Prime Minister on leaving office would have a security office for at least two years. Diplomatic passports would have been given, but the Prime Minister of today, Dr. Timothy Harris said it is not law. It is only policy and he will not do it.
It is the lack of transparency and the practise of double standards why there are problems in this country today. You cannot treat public money in that way. It cannot be applied by your own whims and fancy as a prime minister,” Dr. Douglas told listeners, pointing out that Dr. Harris indicated he is not respecting the existing policy.
During the programme it was disclosed that the new St. Lucia Government had taken to Parliament legislation to provide Lady Janice Compton a monthly pension.
We have since learnt that a non-taxable monthly stipend of EC$5,000 was included in the Lady Janice Compton Benefits Bill but it was removed from the Order Paper for the February 6thSitting as Lady Compton had no idea about it and was never consulted. After it came to her attention she suggested that her name be removed from the Bill and that it include all the wives of other former prime ministers.
Photo 1 – The Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas
Photo 2 – The Rt. Excellent and the Rt. Hon. Sir Kennedy Simmonds
Photo 3 – Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris
Photo 4 – His Excellency Sir Edmund Lawrence
Photo 5 – His Excellency Sir Cuthbert Sebastian