Golding defends merger of anti-corruption bodies
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding has defended the Government's decision to merge the nation's three anti-corruption bodies, even as government senator K.D. Knight pushed for support among legislators to keep the Integrity Commission in place with additional resources.
Discussing legislation to establish a single anti-corruption agency in Jamaica, Golding said this policy move by the Government would not only result in the efficient allocation of resources but facilitate the sharing of knowledge among the commissions set up to tackle corruption.
During a meeting of the joint select committee examining the Integrity Commission Act, Golding argued that the single anti-corruption agency would have the benefit of investigative resources and other audit and forensic capabilities supported by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).
However, Knight, who had previously shot down the amalgamation of the Corruption Prevention Commission, the Integrity Commission and the Office of the Contractor General, queried whether it was within the remit of the joint select committee to question government policy.
He also wanted to know if the committee felt that the policy was wrong, whether it could influence the Cabinet to reconsider its decision.
Golding said anyone who disagrees with the policy has the latitude to express that view.
According to Golding, at the end of its deliberations, the committee would produce a report which should reflect the collective views of its membership.
"If the majority of the committee felt that they disagree with the policy of the Government on this issue, that would be reflected in the report," he said, adding that the committee could suggest a change and it might be taken on board by Cabinet.
"If the report of the committee was saying we strongly disagree with the policy, as a person who is responsible for this piece of legislation, I would take that back to Cabinet," Golding told committee members last week.
"But I strongly hope that that's not going to be the outcome, because I strongly believe there are tremendous benefits to be derived from departing from the path we have been on for many years, which I think has not led to satisfactory results, and forging a new path forward which has a better chance of satisfactory results."
National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who is also a member of the committee, supported Golding on the policy shift, saying the Integrity Commission had not been particularly effective over its 41 years of existence.
"Adding one or two more investigators would not make a significant difference but, more importantly, support it with resources and provide for the sharing of information with an agency like MOCA, which already has the forensic and financial investigators and persons experienced in prosecuting financial crimes."