Proposed reporting threshold increase finds favour with public sector union
More than 10,000 public sector workers could be removed from the list of persons who are required to file statutory declarations of assets and liabilities to the Corruption Prevention Commission (CPC) if a proposal before Parliament is accepted to increase the reporting threshold from $2 million to $3.5 million.
Under the Corruption Prevention Act, public sector workers earning $2 million or more per annum are obliged to file their statutory declarations with the corruption oversight body.
A joint-select committee of Parliament, which examined the Integrity Commission Act, 2014, recommended that the reporting threshold for public servants be increased by $1.5 million. However, it pointed out that regulations could be made to require public officials who occupy prescribed posts to file a declaration.
President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) O'Neil Grant said that persons charged with the responsibility of monitoring public servants under the law were facing an administrative nightmare.
"What they complained about is that persons who were not intended to be captured when the initial legislation was drafted were now being asked to file, and the numbers have swelled beyond what they administratively could manage," said Grant.
"That is why in many instances they were basically just going through to check for compliance rather than detailed investigation of all the reports that they received," he added.
The JCSA head said that the intent of the law in relation to mandatory reporting for public servants earning a certain level of income was to ensure that the assets owned by these workers had not been achieved by corrupt means.
He argued that the current threshold of $2 million captured some public sector workers with a basic salary of $1.6 million in addition to a travelling allowance of $500,000.
Grant said that persons earning $3.5 million or more would fall in the category of decision makers and could influence decisions within government, and as such, should be held to a certain level of scrutiny.
He said that the proposed increase in the reporting threshold would result in an estimated 11,000 persons not being required to file annual declarations. Grant said, however, that public sector workers in agencies that are prone to inducements from persons who are seeking favours through corrupt means would still be obliged to file annual declarations.
The CPC's 2013-2014 annual report tabled in the House of Representatives last year indicates that of the 34,579 declarations that should have been filed in the period under review, less than half were filed. In fact, 18,361 declarations were not filed, bringing the total delinquency since 2003 to 108,254, or 40 per cent of the 268,623 declarations due over the period.