The APNU+AFC government is looking at the possibilities of amending the Integrity Commission Act to include the newly developed Code of Conduct.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, yesterday handed the document over to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. The simple handing over ceremony was held at the Prime Minister’s Office located within the Compound of the Ministry of the Presidency.
In May last year, Nagamootoo appointed a committee to review and strengthen the draft code of Conduct. Trotman, who at that time served as Minister of Governance, was asked to head that committee.
Members of that special committee included Simone Ramlall, Dela Britton, Tamara Khan, Carlyle Goring, Darlene Christian and Sasha Rajkumar.
The Committee took one year to complete its work with the first meeting being held on the 1st, April and the last on the 13, May. Handing over the document, Trotman still described it as a “draft.”
He said that the decision was made at the first meeting to request the assistance of the Office of the Integrity Commission in acquiring broad based public feedback. A notice was placed in the four public newspapers inviting public feedback both by physical and electronic delivery.
Trotman said that given the apparent high public interest on the matter, the committee was expecting to be flooded with hundreds of recommendations. However, he said the committee received just about 12 proposals. Nevertheless, Trotman said that all proposals were examined and considered.
He said that members of the Commission approached the task with alacrity and interest. The Minister said that members reviewed similar documents that exist in Africa, Europe and other parts of the Caribbean. He said that the experiences of those in other parts of the world were considered.
Trotman said that the Code is now ready to be used to regulate the lives of all Members of Parliament and holders of public office.
Nagamootoo reminded that Cabinet had examined the first draft. He said that it was then circulated to interested parties including the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and the Guyana Press Association. He said that recommendations were subsequently sent to Cabinet.
Nagamootoo told the media of plans to expand the Integrity legislation so as to include the Code of Conduct.
The Prime Minister noted that the Integrity Commission Act provides for declaration and justification of assets in the name of persons who hold public Office. He said that his government thinks that the Act should be broadened to include prescriptions of the Code of Conduct.
The Prime Minister said that he will be looking to send the document he received from Trotman to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for legal advice as to whether or not the draft Code can be incorporated as an amendment to the legislation.
Nagamootoo said that the purpose of this would be to have one consolidated law and give full strength to the Code.
He further stated, “If you incorporate this with the law then it must be with the intention of having it enforced.”
Nagamootoo said that there is no timeframe as to when the Code would be incorporated in the existing law. He said that expediency is not his concern; his concern lies with the “integrity of the process” of having it become enforceable law.
Asked about the use of the Code of Conduct during the period before it becomes law, Trotman told the media that any Minister who violates the Code will be sanctioned by President David Granger or Prime Minister Nagamootoo.
The media was not given copies of the code. Members of the media were told that the document will eventually be public.
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