Gov’t seeking to strengthen Integrity Commission –Minister Harmon

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, March 17, 2017

Cabinet has instructed that the Integrity Commission lay a report to President David Granger as government seeks to make the commission which ‘lacks the capacity to be able to enforce things’, stronger.

Responding to questions posed by members of the media at a post-Cabinet media briefing today, Minister Harmon explained that this government, even in opposition, had discussed the issue extensively.  He added that when government came into office in 2015, steps were taken that, “we felt were right.” The first had to do with the enforceability of the decisions of the Commission.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon

A revision of the act will cover, Harmon said, “a code of conduct of ministers and Members of Parliament, to give it some amount of teeth in the enforcement of what it is supposed to do. It does not transfer any power; in fact it denudes some of the power.” He added that these amendments seek to enable the functioning of the Integrity Commission through the appointment of a chairperson.

Minister Harmon pointed out that if the opposition leader takes the time and reads the Act, proposed amendments and the code of conduct which is attached to it, he believes even the members of the media will come to a different conclusion.

Speaking at the launch of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group (G-EITI MSG) earlier this year, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had said, “I believe that the commitment that we make to upholding democratic values in Guyana must be a commitment to have a clean system of governance, and the system of governance must be clean at the level of government, at the level of the judiciary, at the level of the legislature, at all institutions of the democratic state.”

The Integrity Commission Act, which makes provision for the establishment of an Integrity Commission, orders that public officers disclose their financial assets and liabilities on or before June 30, each year. The Act was agreed to on the September, 24, 1997. The Act provides for the formation of the Integrity Commission and makes provisions for the purpose of securing the integrity of persons in public life.

By: Zanneel Williams