First time ever: All MPs file statutory declarations with Integrity Commission
Chairman of the Integrity Commission Justice (retired) Seymour Panton

KINGSTON, Jamaica — For the first time in Jamaica’s history, all sitting Members of Parliament have filed their statutory declarations with the Integrity Commission as required by law during the period under review.

This was revealed by Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Retired Justice Seymour Panton, in the Commission’s Annual Report for 2021-2022 which was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 5).

In his remarks, Panton noted that the Commission has been giving serious attention to the statutory declarations of assets and liabilities of public officials.

The release of the annual report with his disclosure of unanimous filings by Members of Parliament comes on the same day that the former MP for Clarendon Northern, Horace Dalley, was fined $80,000 for failing to file his statutory declarations under the Integrity Commission Act.

The senior People’s National Party politician was accused of failing to file his statutory declaration for the period 2020-2021.

Commenting on the fact that all MPs had completed their filings during the required time frame, Panton said the Commission was very pleased with this development as in this regard Parliament is setting a good example for other public officials to follow.

“The Commission is also pleased that there has been a significant increase in the number of public officials who have been complying with the requirement to file. Those who are delinquent are urged to comply as delinquents can expect prosecution,” the chairman remarked.

“All declarants are expected to make full and truthful declarations and should take note that the Information and Complaints and Investigation Divisions of the Commission are committed to a careful and probing examination of declarations. The Commission expects full declarations of bank accounts, and declarants are reminded that the law provides for significant fines and imprisonment,” Panton added.

Meanwhile, he expressed that he was very concerned that Parliament has so far not addressed the Commission’s repeated requests for amendments to be made to sections 53 and 56 of the Integrity Commission Act which dictate that the Commission must not communicate to the public even the mere fact that an investigation is, or is not, taking place.

“The Commission is firmly of the view that this is a serious impediment to good governance,” he stated.

The chairman argued that given the mandate of the Commission, the right to communicate ought to be concomitant.

Said Panton: “It is clearly ridiculous that whereas the police, quite rightly, can say that they are investigating a criminal matter, the Integrity Commission is not allowed to say it is, or is not, investigating a matter that does not involve criminality.

“The Commission will therefore continue to impress on Parliament the need to make the necessary amendments. And I wish at the same time to assure the public that every allegation or complaint made to the Commission is treated seriously and dealt with in confidence. I encourage public officials and members of the public to continue to inform the Commission of any act or transaction that they think may indicate corrupt behaviour by a public official, wherever such official may be located, at home or abroad”.

Panton said it is to be noted that the term “public official” means “any person holding an executive, an administrative or a judicial office, or a parliamentarian, whether appointed or elected, whether permanent or temporary, or whether paid or unpaid; any other person who is employed to a public body; and any member of the security forces.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy