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Letter of the Day: Conflict of interest for Senate president

Published:Monday | April 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Senator Tom Tavares-Finson now holds two important offices. He has recently been appointed president of the Senate, even while he remains one of the Jamaica Labour Party's two representatives on the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).

This situation is a matter of great national concern as it constitutes a blatant and untenable conflict of interest. The president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives share a special role in relation to the various commissions of Jamaica's Parliament, being required to review and provide oversight in relation to important issues concerning those commissions. The ECJ is one such commission.

It is inappropriate and potentially dangerous for the holder of the important constitutional office of president of the Senate to be a politically nominated member of the ECJ. The president of the Senate may be required to make significant interventions relating to the governance of the ECJ, as one of the commissions of Parliament, from time to time. Tom Tavares-Finson cannot credibly make such interventions against himself. These two hats cannot sit on the same head.

The situation in which the current president of the Senate finds himself, therefore, warrants serious reconsideration. The standing and reputation of the high office of the president of the Senate are at stake.

Modern principles of good governance in a constitutional democracy require that Mr Tavares-Finson cannot hold both these positions.

The prime minister should insist that he choose one or the other, and the leader of government business in the Senate should act accordingly.


Highgate PO, St Mary