This letter is intended as a commentary on Resolution No. 13 of the First Session (2012) of the National Assembly passed on Thursday, 14th June 2012.
The abovementioned Resolution called on all Members of the National Assembly to submit their annual declarations to a duly constituted Integrity Commission in accordance with the law.
The purpose of this letter is to comment for the benefit of your readers on the structure of the Integrity Commission Act 1997 in the context of the abovementioned Resolution of the National Assembly.
The Integrity Commission Act 1997, which repealed the earlier legislation of 1991 enacted during the PNC’s administration of President Desmond Hoyte, was the occasion for extensive debate in its passage in the National Assembly with frequent references from both sides of the political divide in the Assembly to the prevalence of corrupt practices indulged in by public officials in Guyana with the result that the legislation in Guyana is much wider in its scope than corresponding legislation in other CARICOM States. Whereas, for example, the legislation of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago is restricted mainly to legislators and the Chief Executive Officers in the Public Sector, the Guyana enactment is much wider in its application.
The Integrity Commission Act 1997 is governed by the Interpretation and General Clauses Act Cap 2:01 with the result that the enactment cannot be brought into force or operation selectively. In the absence of any provision enabling the statute to be applied in parts or to be delayed in its commencement the statute is wholly in force imposing the statutory obligations to file annual returns with the Integrity Commission on all persons within the ambit of the legislation.
This comment on the ambit or extent of the application of Guyana’s legislation inevitably, in my opinion, raises for consideration the adequacy of the staff structure of the Integrity Commission to carry out effectively the statutory functions of the Commission. For example, the staffing of the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago is such that it enabled fruitful investigations to be carried out into the external bank account of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday and his wife.
The intent of this letter is to bring to the attention of the decision-makers and the public the consequences of the enactment of the Integrity Commission Act 1997 which, I assume, may not have been readily contemplated by the sponsors of the abovementioned Resolution.
The Annual Estimates for Guyana for 2012 have revealed that the administrative staff of the Integrity Commission consists essentially of a Chief Executive Officer and an administrative assistant – This provision, in my opinion, is obviously inadequate for the staff of the Commission having regard to the functions which the Commission is expected to execute pursuant to the provisions of the Integrity Commission Act 1997.
Brynmor T. I. Pollard C.C.H; S.C.
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