Tue | Mar 26, 2019

No statutory declaration tabled from parliamentarians for four years - NIA

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Professor Trevor Munroe

The corruption watchdog group National Integrity Action (NIA) has revealed that over a four-year period, ending in 2017, no annual reports detailing the statutory declarations of parliamentarians have been tabled in the House of Representatives as required by law.

Lawmakers are required, under the Integrity Commission Act, to declare all assets, liabilities, and incomes by the last day of each calendar year.

The commission is required to examine the declarations and prepare an annual report, which is sent to the Office of the Prime Minister for tabling in the Lower House.

However, executive director of NIA, Professor Trevor Munroe, in a letter to the commission, which was made public yesterday, asserted that 2016 was the last time a report was tabled in Parliament and said that it was for calendar year 2013.

"As such, the Parliament of Jamaica and - through the Parliament - the people of Jamaica have absolutely no information on the extent of compliance with the law by parliamentarians for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017," Munroe said in his letter to chairman of the Integrity Commission Karl Harrison, a retired High Court judge.

"The public has an interest in the extent to which parliamentarians themselves are adhering to the laws passed by Parliament itself."

According to the NIA boss, the issue takes on "additional significance" because the 2013 annual report revealed that the declarations of 36 members of Parliament - 18 each from both sides of the isle at the time - "were not finalised".

"That annual report also states that 'the commission was unable to complete examination of 36 of these declarations as the additional information requested in order to properly analyse/complete these had not been presented'," Munroe wrote.

As a result, he wants Harrison to indicate whether the commission plans to continue the work to complete all outstanding annual reports.

"As you are aware, Section 63 (2) of the Integrity Commission Act empowers the commission to continue the work of previous bodies whose functions are subsumed in the commission," Munroe pointed out.