The amendments were passed last week (January 23, 2020) in the Federal Parliament without objection. It updated the Non-Governmental Organizations Act Cap 20.59 that was passed in 2008.
Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, led the debate on the amendment bill describing the changes as non-controversial.
“Simply put, what we are trying to do here is to render our country as impregnable as possible when it comes to the incursion of, and the flourishing of criminal elements,” the minister stated, adding that it is in keeping with the government’s good governance agenda and its commitment to the rule of law.
The updating of the Act was also in line with the aims of the Ministry of Finance and other agencies connected to the financial services network. These include the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Customs and Excise Department.
More importantly, the amendments ensured that the framework by which NGOs in St. Kitts and Nevis operate is in line with international best practices.
Minister Phipps added that NGOs are considered to be agencies that provide a public good and expressed that the government was protecting against NGOs being used as a tool for financing terrorist activities or money laundering.
“While we welcome business growth and enterprise development – whether they are for-profit or not for profit – we at the same time have to ensure that we are mindful to provide an environment where safe forms of investment are available for both our citizens and our residents,” Minister Phipps stated.