Full disclosure - NIA wants lawmakers to make Integrity Commission
Head of the National Integrity Action (NIA), Trevor Munroe, has praised member of parliament (MP) for St Andrew South Eastern, Julian Robinson, for publicly disclosing his statutory declarations, calling the move "an important step towards enhancing transparency and accountability in our governance arrangements".
The executive director of the NIA urged MPs on both sides of the political divide to make similar disclosures, particularly Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who had pledged to make public his own financials by March 30.
He encouraged members of the public to make their voices heard in calling for MPs to voluntarily release their financials as Robinson has done.
Munroe also wants the current administration to fulfil its campaign promise to make mandatory the publication of financials of the prime minister, the minister of finance, and the leader of the opposition.
The NIA executive director's comments follow the disclosure to The Sunday Gleaner of Robinson's 2011 and 2015 reports of his income and assets to the Integrity Commission.
The Integrity Commission was established to receive and keep on record statutory declarations furnished by parliamentarians.
Munroe argued that confidence in parliamentarians and other public officials has been falling and is now at an all-time low.
He said special measures are required to begin to restore trust.
He said that, in the short run, voluntary disclosure by MPs should be pursued and, ultimately, an amendment of the law to institute obligatory disclosure.
"The situation becomes even more urgent in the context of unacceptably low levels of full and timely compliance with existing regulations under the law concerning the statutory declarations now being filed confidentially," he added.
Munroe pointed out that in the 2013 annual report of the Integrity Commission it was revealed that of 84 MPs, the commission "was unable to complete examination of 36 of these declarations as the additional information requested in order to properly complete these had not been presented".
Of 36 MPs named in the report, 18 were from the then PNP government side (including seven ministers/ministers of state) and 18 from then JLP opposition side, including then Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness.
The NIA head said he has written to the Integrity Commission asking when the annual reports for 2014 and 2015 will be sent to the Office of the Prime Minister and subsequently laid in Parliament as required by law.