By Stacy Carmichael-James
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan in responding to recent concerns raised by the Opposition in relation to the recommendations to be included in the Integrity Commission Act clarified that the Government is looking to incorporate the Nolan principles for public officers out of Great Britain into the Integrity Commission Legislation.
There are seven Nolan Principles which include selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
Speaking today on the side of the Social Cohesion Strategic Plan Validation Workshop, Minister Ramjattan informed that a set of prohibitions for ministers, parliamentarians and those that come under the Integrity Commission would be incorporated.
Sexual harassment, being in conflict of interest positions and abusing one’s office, among other forms of misconduct would not be tolerated the Minister said.
“We want to give teeth to the Integrity Commission…the actual members that come under its jurisdiction could be investigated as to their declarations because you can have two million dollars in the bank when it is 200 million dollars but how do we get to know that,” Ramjattan noted. In this regard, an investigative team should be part of that legislation, he posited.
There was also a recommendation for a prosecution unit that should come under the legislation. As advised by the Prime Minister, Ramjattan said they are in the process of checking some prominent names, which would constitute the Commission, so that a recommendation could be given to the President.
Questioned about the concern raised by PPP General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo about too much power being vested in the State Minister, Joseph Harmon, Minister Ramjattan noted that “power should reside somewhere and we would rather it reside with the President than the former President.”
Minister Harmon, he pointed out, is the closest agent to the President. The President, Ramjattan reminded cannot do all the work and if the duty falls under the ambit of the Ministry of the Presidency, then there should be no problem.
The Minister referred to the comments made by Jagdeo as “clap trap”, noting that “he didn’t do anything, he didn’t do a Procurement Commission, he didn’t do a Bid Protest Committee, he didn’t start to incorporate all these principles and prohibitions we are incorporating, he didn’t even appoint the commissioners, so what he’s talking about?”
Ramjattan confidently said the Coalition Government would be doing all these things and if “people vex” then come 2020 “we will be thrown out.” People would then have to introspect, the Public Security Minister said, what the Coalition Government did as against the PPP Administration.
During his recent press conference, Jagdeo had stated that his party would not be supporting the new recommendations which the Coalition Government is proposing to be a part of the Integrity Commission Legislation. He was particularly concerned about the power being given the State Minister, who would be able to determine the fate of Members of Parliament.
Jagdeo suggested that there may be some level of bias towards the Opposition MPs if this is allowed.