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Government considers anti-corruption agency
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the People’s Partnership Government will fully support the creation of an anti-corruption agency in T&T and promises related legislation will be forthcoming. Her disclosure was made by acting Prime Minister Errol McLeod during an anti-corruption seminar hosted by the T&T Transparency Institute (TTTI) at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
McLeod read the PM’s speech, as she was attending the funeral for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The promise of the Government’s support for an anti-corruption agency came in response to a call from Transparency International deputy chairman Bertrand de Speville. During an earlier presentation, De Speville, former adviser to the Council of Europe’s Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption, made a case for the formation of an anti-corruption commission in T&T.
“I am most anxious to read the case made by de Speville for an anti-corruption agency,” the PM said in the speech. “Clearly, we will have to study the proposals very carefully and ensure that whatever is developed is suited to our circumstances. The principle, however, is agreed. We give a commitment to review and introduce legislation in this regard and expect that a joint select committee of Parliament will be appointed to refine the proposed legislation, pursuant to consensus and the laying of a bill.”
The PM said the establishment of such a commission will have to be thoughtfully developed in consultation with other relevant state agencies, including the Integrity Commission and the Commissioner of Police. “But we recognise the value of such an agency, which will have as its principal mandate the deterrence of corruption,” she said. “Indeed, it may be suggested that a review of the Integrity Commission legislation can be done in the context of the wider anti-corruption legacy.”
The PM said the Government is very conscious the current Integrity in Public Life Act, which governs the Integrity Commission, needs to be fully reviewed, updated and reformed to give the commission more teeth. “We accept that the act needs to be strengthened if its purpose is to effectively combat corruption,” she said.
“One particular area, in my view, on which we must place attention, is the question of failure to make the statutory declarations by persons so deemed under the act. “I have already indicated to the Honourable Attorney General that this review and strengthening must be a priority of our Government.”
The PM, in her address, also promised that the procurement bill should be before Parliament by April this year. She said the Government also needs to consider the issue of campaign financing.
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