By Kiana Wilburg
Head of Transparency International Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Dr. Troy Thomas, is of the firm conviction that the Integrity Commission Act needs to be amended to allow for the declarations of the President and the Opposition Leader to be made public.
During an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News yesterday Dr. Thomas said, “The existing legislation does not require that this information be made public. If you ask for it, depending on who the Chairman is, you may or may not get that information.”
He added, “I am also advocating for changes to the information law to require certain things get published before people ask…Sometimes you don’t know what question you want to ask when the information is not public.
“And I am suggesting that the declarations of the President and the Leader of the Opposition be made public.”
Furthermore, the TIGI Head noted that this provision is catered for in the laws of Jamaica, one of Guyana’s CARICOM sisters.
“This would be a good step for us. I believe that if you are running for public office at that level, I would say publish but I know that would be a difficult pill to swallow, you know, saying in one sweep, let us publish everyone’s information. But we need eyes on the political class.”
It was on Friday that Kaieteur News asked Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Kumar Doraisami, to say if President David Granger has filed his declaration records. But the Chairman declined to confirm same, even as the Commission has been in the habit of publishing names of other officers who have been delinquent.
Asked to say if he is prevented from making this known, he said, “No, but it would not be appropriate from the Chairman to release that type of information to the public.”
Kaieteur News then probed about the capacity of the Commission to properly investigate issues that may arise during the scrutiny of the declaration forms. Doraisami noted that at this point in time, the Commission is without the needed funds to hire personnel for this job.
Be that as it may, the Chairman of the Integrity Commission said that that the body has enough resources to scrutinize all documents submitted with a fine-tooth comb. He said that the Commission has a legal and compliance officer to help in this regard.
The members of the Integrity Commission took their oath of office at the Ministry of the Presidency on February 22, last. The members are Attorneys-at-law Kumar Doraisami, Thandi McAllister and Rosemary Benjamin-Noble. Pandit Rabindranauth Persaud is also part of the Commission.
The main purpose of the Integrity Commission is to scrutinize public officers to ensure that they do not use their offices for financial gain.
Under the law, public officers, including the President, Permanent Secretaries, Director of Public Prosecutions, Auditor General, Commissioner of Police, the Army Chief, Heads of the Service Commissions, Foreign Affairs officials, Judges and Magistrates and Department Heads are required to declare their assets to the commission.
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-General 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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