Chairman of the Integrity Commission Ken Gordon, left, and commission member, Neil Rolingson, address members of the media during yesterday’s news conference at the commission’s office, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
In a move to acquire more teeth, the Integrity Commission has made 16 recommendations which it intends to take to Parliament for it to be more effective to uncover corruption, maintain oversight of people in public life and win wider public support. The recommendations were part of a draft document. The commission’s chairman, Ken Gordon, said yesterday it was seeking to have a total overhaul of declaration forms to capture network and growth in assets which would include financial or other contributors to political parties.
Other information to be sought on the declaration form would include:
• Financial or other favours granted to public officials
• Financial or other favours received by public officials
• All associated businesses
• All instances of supply of goods and services to the State
• All instances of tenancy arrangements between the State and the declarant
• More information on conflicts relating to private companies and other business relationships.
Gordon said the commission also had recommended protection for whistle-blowers, as the absence of such protection was a clear disincentive. Another recommended change in legislation, Gordon added, was ensuring more people declared their financial assets, including:
• Chairman and members of the Integrity Commission
• Chairman and members of all service commissions
• Transport commissioner
• Police commissioner
• Chief immigration officer
• Chairman of the board of inland revenue
• Comptroller of customers
• Chief executive of all state enterprises
• Chief executives of all state enterprises, statutory bodies municipal corporations and enterprises that are partially or wholly funded by the State
• Special and technical advisers to ministers
• Judges and magistrates.
Gordon was speaking during a press conference at the commission’s office, UTC’s Financial Centre, Port-of-Spain. Presenting the recommendations, commissioner Neil Rolingson said the current legislative framework for the operations of the commission was inadequate and prevented it from meeting its constitutional mandate and its own vision and mission. He added: “There is, therefore, a need for major overhaul of the legislation and for the establishment of a regime of the regulations to support the work of legislation. “Integrity legislation and anti-corruption provisions must be legally effective and enforceable.” He said the commission ought not to be limited to drawing its authority from designated legislative enactments, such as the Integrity in Public Life Act or the Prevention of Corruption Act, but should be able to use other laws to act against dishonest and corrupt conduct. “The Larceny Act, Forgery Act, Criminal Offences Act, Statutory Declarations Act and others are examples of such legislation,” Rolingson said.
Describing corruption as a cancer, Rolingson said the commission also was seeking special powers to designate people as investigators and to let it summon witnesses and subpoena people as was the practice in Hong Kong and New South Wales. He added: “We don’t want to create another Police Service so we have got to find a way for individuals to work on our behalf when we have specific investigations to be done. “The commission also recommends that systemic arrangements be made to facilitate the exchange of information between the Police Service, Customs and Immigration, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in order to avoid duplication of effort, enhance investigative capabilites and facilitate expeditious handling of investigations.” The commission also wants an increase in the minimum limit for disclosure from $10,000 to $25,000 an asset/liability and excluding investments and credit-card balances. Rolingson said a statement of network should be made mandatory instead of at the discretion of the declarant. He said the High Court also should have the power to freeze the assets of a person under investigation.
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