Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Anti-corruption oversight lacking - Lawmaker decries scarcity of investigative reports from Integrity Commission

Published:Saturday | February 8, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Leader of Opposition business in the Senate Donna Scott-Mottley is questioning why there was only one investigative report from the Integrity Commission since its establishment 24 months ago.

In her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House on Thursday, Scott-Mottley said that the dearth in the submission of investigative reports from the Government’s anti-corruption oversight body represented a significant fall-off from its predecessor agency, the Office of the Contractor General. “What accounts for this?” she asked.

She said that the high turnover of commissioners at the key government oversight body was a cause for concern.

Since its establishment in February 2018, the commission lost Karl Harrison, the first chairman who resigned last year. In early January, another commissioner, Derrick McKoy, quit his job on the oversight body. In 2019, the commission had seen the departure of acting director of corruption prosecutions Dirk Harrison who proceeded on retirement. The positions have since been filled with Seymour Panton elevated to chairman.

Scott-Mottley also raised questions about the absence of current information regarding quarterly contract award (QCA) reports by public bodies. She said that the QCA, which had been posted on the contractor general’s website from 2006 was not up to date. The last update was August 2018, said the leader of Opposition business, noting that “it clearly indicates that the Integrity Commission has not continued this best practice”.

Under the previous dispensation, the Office of the Contractor General (now defunct) reported in 2012 a 100 per cent compliance rate in the submission of QCA reports.

On the question of the parliamentary oversight committee to review the operations of the Integrity Commission, Scott-Mottley said that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had given directives on January 28 in Gordon House for the members to be named. However, she argued that it took calls from civil society and the media for the prime minister to deliver on a crucial legislative requirement. This, she said, raised the question of the Government’s commitment to battling corruption, which Holness described as a tier level one threat to Jamaica.