May 28, 2019 News
Now that the Integrity Commission has begun to monitor the declarations of those persons in public life, Chartered Accountant and former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran says that it must now move to the next stages relating to its mandate if it intends to play any me
aningful role in preventing and fighting corruption in government.
In his most recent writings, the Chartered Accountant said the Commission needs to engage the services of technically and professionally competent persons to examine these declarations for completeness and accuracy, and for possible mismatch between observable lifestyles and the contents of the declarations.
He said that it has to initiate steps to prosecute those who have failed to submit financial returns as well as those who have violated the Code of Conduct; and examine the backlogged years from 1997 to 2017 to identify those persons who have failed to submit returns and take appropriate actions consistent with the requirements of the Act.
Furthermore, Goolsarran said he has noted calls for the President and the Leader of Opposition to make their declarations to the Commission public. The Chartered Accountant said he agrees with this, but would add that all Ministers of the Government and all Members of Parliament, indeed all elected officials, should do the same.
Also in agreement with Goolsarran’s perspective is Head of Transparency International Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Dr. Troy Thomas. During a previous interview with Kaieteur News, Dr. Thomas had said 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 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.”
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. Its Chairman is Kumar Doraisami.
The main purpose of the Integrity Commission is to scrutinise 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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