Teixeira says delay ‘unfortunate’ in reconstituting Integrity Commission

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One year after the Board of the Integrity Commission expired, the government is yet to finalise its reconstitution although the board’s absence in no way obstructs the filing of declarations by public officials.

On Thursday, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira told the News Room that it is “unfortunate” that the delay has been “this long.”

She said the government was still working on finalising the names.

“We have to find people who would like to take on the job…we have not concluded the names,” the minister said via telephone.

The last board expired on February 21, 2021, with Teixeira indicating since March 2021 that the process for appointing a new Board had commenced.

The Integrity Commission Act speaks about consultation between the government (President) the political opposition (Opposition Leader) on these appointments but that has not manifested.

Teixeira said on Thursday that the external process was not mandatory and promised that a Board will be in place soon.

Notwithstanding, Teixeira said public officials are still mandated to ensure that they file their declarations with the secretariat for which funding has been approved in both the 2021 and 2022 national budget.

When contacted by phone, Secretary of the Commission Dr. Amanda Jaisingh would not immediately say whether public officials have been filing.

What is known, however, is that there has been a pattern in recent years where hundreds of declarations are not filed on an annual basis.

For the period July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, only 569 out of an expected 1, 523 declarations were filed. At the time of reporting, some 954 remained outstanding.

“In the absence of the board, the Secretariat will continue to do what it does and people are expected to file their declarations. It is only when the declarations are problematic that it goes to the Board for review. The Secretariat does the job,” Teixeira said.

The former board was chaired by former Magistrate and retired Land Court Judge Kumar Doraisami who published the names of those public officials that failed to submit their declarations.

The Integrity Commission is empowered to examine the assets of public officers based on the declarations submitted in a bid to ensure transparency and accountability.

According to the Act, the Chairman must be a current and retired Judge or any other person who is a fit and proper person.

The other members shall be appointed from among persons appearing to the President to be qualified with experience and capacity in law, administration of justice, public administration, social service, finance or accountancy or any other discipline.

The Act mandates that the Commission discharge its functions without the interference of any person or authority. It mandates every person in public life to submit a declaration of their finances on or before June 30 every year.

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