Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Beresford to ensure compliance of statutory declarations submissions

Published:Wednesday | July 22, 2020 | 12:08 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

Newly installed director of Information and Complaints at the Integrity Commission Craig Beresford has said the oversight body will be using the requisite tools contained in the law to ensure full and accurate compliance in relation to the submission of statutory declarations by public-sector workers and political representatives.

Beresford told The Gleaner that overall compliance had never surpassed 80 per cent in a given year.

In its 2019 annual report, the Integrity Commission noted that parliamentarians, for the first time, made submissions of their statutory declarations on time.

“We are going to try to see how best we can advance the digital agenda to ensure that these declarations can be submitted online via portal, and that would be quite beneficial not only to the users but to us,” he told The Gleaner.

Signalling that the anti-corruption body was moving to plug any gaps in the reporting process, Beresford said the commission would be digging deep to ascertain whether the information submitted by public servants and political representatives was true and accurate.

“In order to make that declaration, you have to ensure that all of the other stakeholders that have inputs, for instance, customs, the banks, etc, that we build relationships so we can cross-reference information,” he noted.

Beresford acknowledged that the commission’s approach would have to take into consideration the things it does not know. “As you can appreciate, persons may have assets in other names that do not necessarily appear on their declarations for which they are actually benefiting from.”

Further, the seasoned anti-corruption campaigner who spent eight years at the Office of the Contractor General said the commission’s clampdown on corruption would depend heavily on intelligence and analysis, using technology in the process.

“There is an intelligence component, then we get down to the analysis component, and this is where information technology is going to help us because we intend to input some algorithms to ensure that we can automate that process to at least look at some trend analysis and bring out some other things for us to red-flag the ones that we start to have a deeper assessment of and a deeper investigation of,” he explained.

On the matter of complaints, Beresford said that the commission has to build confidence in Jamaicans, particularly those in the public sector, “so that they can provide us with the information that we need so we can properly investigate it”.

“We want to establish timelines so that we can be held to account in terms of how long it takes us to undertake and discharge our various functions, so that is going to be very important for the organisation as we go forward,” he added.