One of the nation’s key constitutional agencies, the Integrity Commission, continues to go headless
and remains without a sense of direction under the Granger administration.
Speaking with Kaieteur News recently on why this state of affairs continues to exist, Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo said that the matter is now at the level of the President.
The First Vice President said that the law requires consultation with the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment of members to the Integrity Commission.
“I am not able to say if that has taken place. (But) That is where that is.”
Nagamootoo said, however, that he made recommendations to the Head of State regarding the names of the Chairperson and other members.
Meanwhile, Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds is of the view that it is not that the government deliberately does not want this Commission up and running. He believes that at the heart of the issue is the fact that too much of the decision making has been confined to the Cabinet.
“The Government has been quite slow in implementing a lot of these Commissions which it promised during the General and Regional elections. But I don’t think they don’t want to implement it. There is a problem regarding the division of labour. Too much of the governance is confined to the Cabinet and it seems that the Cabinet is overworked.”
Dr. Hinds said that what the Government needs to do is spread its work out a bit more. In this regard, he suggested that the Government establish subcommittees to take some of the burden off Cabinet.
“From what I know, they want things like the Integrity Commission and other commissions that have not been staffed, to be up and running, but the problem is that the decision making has been too narrow. It needs to be broadened. I think also that the parties which make up the Government need to be much more active in their advisory role.”
With this in mind, the WPA Executive Member said that what the Government needs at this stage, is an audit of what was promised during the elections and how it has delivered in this regard.
“What you need is an audit of what was promised and what has been done. And you need a committee that can look at these areas that you have not covered yet. What you need is an advisory body outside of Government. The members of the political parties can play that role.”
While the Integrity Commission remains headless, Dr. Hinds is still of the view that the Government’s slothfulness should not be interpreted as it being malicious. He insisted that the Government got into office to fight corruption. Dr. Hinds opined that the administration is quite aware that a well equipped and staffed Integrity Commission would be crucial to its anti-corruption efforts.
The principle behind the declaration of assets to the Integrity Commission by senior public officers is to ensure that they do not acquire large amounts of cash or property without proper justification to the nation. With the Commission not functioning, it is yet to fulfill this fundamental code which led to its creation.
This state of affairs was heavily criticized by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) when it served in the political opposition.
It was since last year September, that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that the Integrity Commission will soon be able to do more than just collect statements from politicians regarding their accumulated wealth.
Harmon said that the coalition government was examining the mandate of the Commission with the aim of giving it powers to investigate the truthfulness of such declarations.
The Minister asserted that the government was and still is, of the opinion that the Commission does not have enough power to enforce any of its decisions.
Harmon had said that for the time being, the Integrity Commission is functioning with a very small staff with a very limited budget.
In addition, he had said that proper investigations should be conducted to ascertain how Government Ministers and other public officials acquire their wealth.
Under the laws, public officers including the President, Permanent Secretaries, Director of Public Prosecutions, Auditor General, Commissioner of Police, the Army Chief, Heads of the Services Commissions, Foreign Affairs officials, Judges and Magistrates and Department Heads are required to declare their assets.
Also required to submit declaration forms of their earnings and gifts received are Regional Executive Officers, the Chief Elections Officer, Mayors, Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers of state companies, Registrars of Lands and the Commissioner of Guyana Revenue Authority, along with Presidential Advisors, and Heads of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Forestry Commission.
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