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.

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