Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Give anti corruption body resources to monitor parliamentarians - Knight

Published:Monday | July 10, 2017 | 7:00 AMEdmond Campbell
KD Knight

Opposition Senator K.D. Knight has expressed reservations about placing both parliamentarians and public-sector workers under a single anti-corruption body, indicating that the searchlight on lawmakers may be dimmed with another 50,000 public servants to monitor.

He suggested in the Senate on Friday that the current Integrity Commission should be provided with adequate resources to allow it to effectively monitor and investigate parliamentarians alone to ensure that they are not participating in corrupt activities.

The Corruption Prevention Commission is the oversight body for the more than 50,000 public-sector workers which fall under its jurisdiction.

Knight argued that Jamaicans view the 84 lawmakers in the bi-cameral legislature as the leaders of the country and as such, they should have confidence that their parliamentarians are not collectively or singularly corrupt.

"My thinking is, the day we are able to demonstrate that, that would not only be demonstrated through our personal style of living but also through also through the institution that monitors our behaviour."

Discouraging the merger

According to Knight, when the Corruption Prevention Act was being passed in the 1990s, there was a school of thought that the Integrity Commission should be merged with the new commission that was being formed. As a policymaker at the time, Knight said he discouraged that approach and the recommendation was not accepted.

He contended that until Jamaicans are of the clear view that the 84 legislators in the Jamaican Parliament are beyond reproach, there is not going to be a complete buy-in in the fight against corruption.

"When you put 84 of us with 50,000, we basically don't stand out, we just in this whole big cauldron.

"Let's have a properly staffed commission to focus on those in the society who the people look at and look to be the example," Knight reasoned.

Knight was making his contribution to the debate on the Integrity Commission Act, which is intended to consolidate the laws relating to the prevention of corruption, and the award and monitoring of government contracts by establishing a single commission to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption.