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Integrity Commission’s Open Day generates public interest
This is the first in a series of bimonthly public service columns by the Integrity Commission.
The Integrity Commission is pleased to report that Integrity Open Day 2012 was a great success and generated considerable interest from persons in public life. This is the first year that the open day was held, as the commission sought to reduce the high error rate of submissions and to ensure that persons in public life completed and submitted declarations by the annual May 31 deadline.
Sixty-three persons who serve in public life from 42 public institutions participated in the open-day activities held at the commission’s Port-of-Spain offices on May 11. The commission is pleased to report that by the May 31 deadline, 822 persons in public life had submitted declarations.
The open day was designed to give declarants the opportunity to interface with the compliance officers who processed their declarations. The commission’s officers assisted attendees to complete and file their declarations and statements of registrable interests. During private and confidential sessions, declarants were guided through the related forms and allowed to resolve outstanding matters. The open day was highly commended by all attendees and opened the way for the commission to update its records of public officials.
Section 11 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act states:
“A person shall, within three months of becoming a person in public life, complete and file with the Commission in the prescribed form, a declaration of his income, assets and liabilities that exceed ten thousand dollars in value in respect of the previous year and, thereafter, on 31st May in each succeeding year that he is a person in public life, he shall file further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities.”
Persons in public life, as defined by the legislation include:
• Members of the House of Representatives
• Ministers of Government
• Members of the Tobago House of Assembly
• Members of municipalities
• Members of local government authorities
• Members of the boards of statutory bodies and enterprises in which the state has a controlling interest
• Permanent secretaries and chief technical officers
Where a person in public life fails to submit a completed declaration of income, assets and liabilities and a statement of registrable interests, the commission may publish this fact and subsequently make an ex parte application to the High Court to secure compliance. Failure to comply with the directive of the court is an offence and a person in public life is liable on conviction to a fine of $150,000.
Persons in need of assistance when completing declaration forms can seek an appointment for confidential help by calling the commission at telephone numbers: 623-8305, 624-4736 or 625-2392, extensions 221, 227 or 293. You can also send a request via e-mail to: [email protected]
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