New Integrity Commission Board soon but Coalition must improve track-record of submissions – Teixeira
Having expired on February 21, 2021, a new board of the Integrity Commission is to be appointed in a short time, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, told the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The disclosure was made as the Committee of Supply considered the 2021 budget estimates where a total of $62.9M has been allocated for the Commission. Teixeira said the monies allocated in the absence of a Board is to allow for the staff to be paid and the continued functioning of the Commission.
“It has expanded staff and investigators and they continue to function with reports received last year until the new board comes in… I don’t anticipate that this will be a long time,” she said.
Teixeira said President Irfaan Ali has already commenced the process of ensuring the Commission’s Board is reconstituted in the shortest possible time. She said the Integrity Commission Act allows for the President to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon.
That consultation she explained will likely see the Opposition Leader submitting his recommendations but she noted that should the President fail to find favour in the recommendations, he can go ahead and constitute a Board of persons he reposes confidence in.
The minister said the Act also outlines that although the prerogative resides with the President, he is also guided on the calibre of persons to be chosen.
“The Act advises on the selection of persons. So that you can’t just select persons higgly piggly… it has to be persons of high integrity because the records of all of us are kept there and reviewed,” the minister said in response to questions from Opposition Parliamentarian, Jermaine Figueira.
Meanwhile, the minister said she hopes the members of the APNU+AFC Coalition will take steps to improve their track record of the last 25 years of not submitting integrity commission reports.
She urged that even with a Board not in place, MPs can still submit their declarations and reports which will be held by the Commission until a Board is constituted to review the submissions.
For 2020 (July 2019 – June 2020), a total of 1369 declarations were to be submitted by public officials, however, only 606 declarations were actually submitted. That means that there is a total of 763 declarations outstanding.
The Integrity Commission was put in place to improve public confidence in the integrity of persons in public life by administering and enforcing the Integrity Commission Act which comprises of the Code of Conduct, and Declarations of income, assets and liabilities.