Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Holness urges PNP: Leave Integrity Commission out of politics

Published:Monday | October 14, 2019 | 12:31 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, addressing an Area Council One meeting at the Girl Guide Association of Jamaica headquarters in St Andrew yesterday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, addressing an Area Council One meeting at the Girl Guide Association of Jamaica headquarters in St Andrew yesterday.

After weeks of remaining silent as the Integrity Commission took body blows from the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday came out swinging in its defence.

Holness, who was addressing a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area Council One meeting, argued that the Integrity Commission was an independent body that should never be challenged, except in Parliament through the commissions set up to examine it.

“We have noticed a very disturbing trend, that the Opposition wants to place the Integrity Commission – publicly – under political pressure, and it is my view that that is contrary to how the legislation was crafted,” Holness, who is also leader of the JLP, said.

He argued that if there are concerns about the operations of the Integrity Commission, they should be brought to the commission of Parliament that has responsibility for such matters.

“When you start to place pressure on them and they act, what will the people believe? People will start to think, ‘Oh, they only acting because the Opposition brought pressure’. And others will think their actions are politically biased because the Opposition brought pressure. It’s a dangerous road on which we are treading, and that is why I have said to my colleagues, ‘We must never publicly criticise the independent authorities in carrying out their jobs’,” Holness further reasoned.

There have been a number of instances in which the Opposition has hit hard at the Integrity Commission since it was established.

In August, PNP President Phillips threatened to go to court for it to compel the Integrity Commission to make public Holness’ statutory declarations.

There was a subsequent call for a review of the commission.

Phillips has also called for the removal of Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis as one of the body’s commissioners.

The Opposition leader said that a crisis was surrounding the Integrity Commission as he pushed for a review.

But Holness urged that processes be followed and that the Integrity Commission be left out of politics.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com