Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
PUBLIC SERVANTS continue to run afoul of the law, ignoring the requirement of the Corruption (Prevention) Act, 2000 to file timely statutory declarations with the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.
The commission's latest annual report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives two weeks ago, indicates that the non-compliance rate among public servants has risen by 445.4 per cent since January 2003.
As at December 31, 2011, only 14,797 of the 25,040 declarations expected under the Corruption (Prevention) Act were received, moving the delinquency rate from 38 per cent in 2010 to 41 per cent.
"The commission again wishes to highlight the tendency of many public servants to continually breach the legislation. It is therefore urging that consideration be given to its recommendation made in its 2005 report that the Corruption (Prevention) Act, 2000 be amended to give powers to the commission to impose a penalty for the late filing of statutory declarations," the commission said.
The commission says that there have been 69,086 outstanding declarations since January 2003, with the major culprits being the police, who are responsible for the non-filing of 24,698 declarations.
The delinquency number for soldiers stands at 8,761, while there are 5,794 declarations to be filed by employees at Tax Administration Jamaica.
During the year under review, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) brought 64 cases before the court, resulting in fines totalling $929,000 being imposed on public servants for failure to submit the statutory declarations by the due date. Of that total brought before the court by the DPP, eight persons were admonished and discharged by the court, while matters were being pursued in relation to 11 persons.
In the meantime, of the 14,797 declarations filed in the period under review, 46 of them were examined, 43 of which were referred for detailed internal investigation. Two of those cases were closed with no further action being recommended and one case is still being assessed.
The commission said the main issues of concern were the acquisition of assets with no evidence of financing; non-declaration of assets such as motor vehicles; omission of the source of funds; the submission of insufficient information on declarations, particularly in relation to receipt of gifts; and the non-declaration of business interests.
The Justice Ferdinand Smith-chaired commission has expressed dissatisfaction at the failure of the Ministry of Finance to grant access to tax database as part of the anti-corruption fight.
The commissioners said that "despite its best efforts, it has not to date received from the Ministry of Finance a favourable response to its repeated request to have online access to relevant computerised Inland Revenue records, the request for which was made in the commission's 2003 report and followed up by numerous correspondence to government technocrats and the former minister of finance to whom the commission appealed".
The commission said the National Lands Agency and the Companies Office of Jamaica have allowed access to their databases to assist in investigations.