Golding: I don’t think there is a need for any close relationship
LEADER of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Mark Golding says he sees no need for consultations between the Integrity Commission and the country’s leadership regarding any concerns which may exist about the commission’s work and its relationship with successive administrations.
“The Integrity Commission must maintain its independence, and it must not in any way give rise to any suggestion to the political class. They are there to ensure transparency and accountability and to make sure that the public is made aware through proper investigation and reporting to Parliament on matters which suggest wrongdoing,” he said on Wednesday at a press conference called by the party. The conference was called against the background of a report from the commission, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, referring Prime Minister Andrew Holness to the director of corruption prosecution for “consideration with respect to breaches of the Contractor General Act” in relation to contracts awarded to Westcon Construction Limited between February 2007 and November 2009.
Holness has rejected the commission’s suggestion of conflict of interest on his part in the awarding of contracts to a company owned by a friend of his, at the time when he was education minister. The prime minister said he would do all in his power to “ensure that the truth is known”.
“I don’t think there is a need for any close relationship with the Integrity Commission, or any consultations. There is a special committee of Parliament with a mandate to deal with matters of the Integrity Commission; they’re the only commission of Parliament that has its own committee for that purpose. So if they have concerns about the law, they can bring those to the attention of Parliament, which can consider them. It’s Parliament’s duty to consider that dispassionately and objectively, and fairly and take action if necessary, so I think it’s a healthy relationship in that regard, and I don’t see a need for any cosying-up or consultations around the law,” the Opposition leader asserted.
Golding pointed out that the Integrity Commission has conducted training with members of the Cabinet, and the shadow Cabinet, on the anti-corruption laws that govern the country, and the conduct that is expected of public officials.
“Out of that came this leadership code of conduct which sets out key principles of governance and leadership in office, which they have asked the prime minister and myself to sign, and I have in fact members of my shadow Cabinet to sign — some have already signed and some are in the process of signing. The prime minister, I am advised, has not signed,” he told journalists.
— Alphea Sumner