Senate approves Integrity Commission BillFriday, July 21, 2017
BY BALFORD HENRY
THE Senate yesterday approved the Integrity Commission Bill, more than five years after an advisory committee was appointed to explore the creation of a single anti-corruption body for Jamaica's public sector.
The Bill, which had straddled the last two administrations, although it was first conceived as the Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act, 2011, was eventually passed with 103 amendments in the Senate.
It received support from both sides of the Senate, despite several concerns raised by the Opposition members led by Senator Mark Golding, leader of Opposition business. It was piloted through the Senate by Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, leader of Government business and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade.
It was approved by the House of Representatives on January 31, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness urging a speedy procedure in Parliament a week after it was reported by Transparency International that Jamaica had fallen in its Corruption Perception Index from 69 out of 168 countries in 2015, to 83 out of 176 in 2016.
Holness noted then that the effect of the new commission subsuming the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the current Integrity Commission, and the Office of the Contractor General would be a single compliance mechanism for parliamentarians, public officials, and members of the public who carry out public functions.
Another interesting feature of the Bill is that people appointed to the commission will have to be passed by a parliamentary committee.
The Bill primarily aims at consolidating the laws relating to the prevention of corruption and the award and monitoring of government contracts and prescribed licences by establishing a single commission to promote and strengthen measures for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of acts of corruption; monitor and investigate the prosecution of acts of corruption; and monitor and investigate, where necessary, the award of government contracts and prescribed licences, as well as provide for other related matters.
The Bill will have to go back to the House of Representatives, where it originated, next Tuesday for a final overview, prior to being sent to the governor general for his signature and eventually published in the Jamaica Gazette.