An allergic reaction to accountability?
It is most unfortunate, displeasing, and unbecoming of some members of the political directorate of Jamaica to be seeking to undermine the work of the Integrity Commission (IC) and to diminish its work and value, as a creature of Parliament, for the good and accountable governance of Jamaica.
The ongoing impasse among legislators about what the possible amendments to the Integrity Commission Act should be is fuelled by an almost self-serving or self-preservative desire targeted at shielding parliamentarians from the IC’s piercing scrutiny.
It goes without question that among all the categories of public officials over whom the IC has jurisdiction, parliamentarians reasonably attract a higher level of scrutiny because they have been given immense power and authority to govern the affairs of the country.
The recent call by Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte for the IC to provide a rationale for the existence of such heightened scrutiny is unmeritorious in nature and is worsened by the fact that its answer is an obviosity.
It would appear that the highly probative nature of the IC is causing some politicians to have an allergic relation. However, they should be mindful that this stance will not help to reduce the public perception that politicians are among the most corrupt in our society. The call for the IC to focus more on the declaration of interest rather than the declaration of assets is ignoring the fact that both approaches are not mutually exclusive.
There is much ado about nothing as the powers of the IC are to have checks and balances in place. Therefore, if a politician does not invoke the scrutiny of the IC in the process of his/her statutory declaration, then I fail to see why he/she would be agitated.
It is most foreseeable that the recommendations to come from the joint select committee reviewing the Integrity Commission Act will have among them measures to curtail the IC. Is it then that to achieve this end certain members have made it their duty to agitate a belief among citizens that the IC is a horse off its rails that needs to be reined in? It is a popular tactic. For there to be legislative actions against the IC those actions must first seem to be valid. These members are fetching for reasons and to them I would say, “Don’t even think about it!”
Lest we forget that whilst these discussions are taking place the declarations of the prime minister of Jamaica are yet to be certified by the IC and there are still six unnamed politicians who are being investigated for illicit enrichment. Therefore, let us remain focused on the real issues at hand as there may yet be no help for these members’ allergic reactions.