President confident in the ability of new Integrity Commission
President Irfaan Ali Tuesday said he was confident in the ability of the five new members appointed to the Board of the Integrity Commission.
Delivering remarks at the end of a swearing-in ceremony at his Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown office, Dr. Ali said the appointments were in tandem with his ‘One Guyana’ vision.
“I said before that in charting this course of ‘One Guyana’, we will seek out from among us those who have credentials and are willing and ready to serve… it cannot be based on any other principle but that of fairness, justice, integrity and most of all confidence.
“As President, I have the confidence that the Guyanese appointed here not only have skills but the character to execute the duties they are called on to do,” the President said.
The five new members of the Integrity Commission are Dr Jocelin Kim Kyte-Thomas; Mrs Chandra Gajraj, Mohamed Ispahani Haniff, Hardesh Tewari and Wayne Bowman.
Chandra Gajraj will Chair the Commission for the next three years. President Irfaan Ali witnessed the swearing-in of these members.
Gajraj has 28 years as a Corporate Secretary at Demerara Bank and 50 years as a Managing Director at the Guyana Trust Company Limited. She is also the General Secretary of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.
Kyte-Thomas, according to the President, is an outstanding Guyanese in the legal profession. She is the current Head of the Law Department at the University of Guyana, former Solicitor General and former Magistrate.
Haniff is a former school teacher and engineering technician; he is also an Imam at the New Amsterdam Mosque since the 1980s.
Tiwari, a chartered accountant, is listed as an entrepreneur, social activist and religious leader while Bowman is the former Chairman of the General Assembly of God Church and current Associate Pastor at the Church of God in Plaisance, East Coast Demerara.
“A leader among young people, social activist and religious personality,” Dr. Ali said of Bowman.
Speaking to the media shortly after the swearing-in, Gajraj said it was an honour to be asked to serve in this capacity.
She said the Commission will execute its function with the highest integrity as the name implies.
“I will do my best to fulfil the requirements of my office.”
The last commission expired on February 21, 2021.
The Integrity Commission Act allows for the President to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton before these appointments were made.
Those consultations commenced on May 13; the Act requires the Opposition Leader to submit his recommendations but 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 Act also outlines that the prerogative resides with the President and advises that those selected are to be of high integrity and able to keep the records of high office holders safe and confidential.
Already, a total of $62.9M has been allocated for the Commission in the 2022 budget.
Even without a Board for just over one year, the Commission continued to function with its expanded staff and investigators, receiving reports until the new Board is in place.
For 2020 (July 2019 – June 2020), a total of 1,369 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 the Code of Conduct, and Declarations of income, assets and liabilities.