Sharp spike in the number of civil servants not filing statutory declarations
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THERE HAS been a 25 per cent increase in the level of delinquency among prescribed public-sector workers to file declarations with the Commission for the Investigation of Corruption.
The commission's most recent annual report, tabled in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, indicates that of the 31,132 declarations expected during the period under review, 16,216 or 52 per cent remain outstanding.
"The matter of compliance is declining, and that is evident from the numbers presented in the report," said David Grey, the secretary/manager to the commission.
To date, the commission has recorded 85,396 cases of outstanding declarations, with 28,743 of those being attributed to members of the police force.
Another 10,083 relates to members of the Jamaica Defence Force and 11,984 attributed to employers of the Ministry of Education.
The commission has commended the hierarchy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force for its efforts to increase compliance among its members, by requiring proof of adherence to the act before members are recommended for promotion and training opportunities.
Meanwhile, the commission told Parliament, in its report, that there is a tendency for many public servants to continually breach the legislation.
The commission urged the House to give consideration to its recommendation made in its 2005 report, that the Corruption (Prevention) Act, 2000 be amended to give it the power to impose a penalty for the late filing of statutory declarations.
"The way the act is (now) structured, any breach which comes under the act has to be reported to heads of agencies, and in addition to the DPP (director of public prosecutions) for action," Grey noted.
He added that every case of failure to report should be reported to the DPP for action, but adds that it will place greater strain on the already-overburdened Office of the DPP.
"The recommendation that the commission is making is about instituting an administrative penalty in the hope that instead of this huge number that has to go to them (the DPP), you could deal with it in another way, through administrative sanctions," Grey said.
He said if Parliament is amenable to the change, a trigger mechanism would be built into the legislation to allow for court action against chronically delinquent public servants.
The commission has so far reported 18,431 delinquents to the DPP, with a further list being prepared for submission.
During the 2012-2013 year, the DPP took 145 cases to court, resulting in fines totalling $788,000 being imposed on public servants for failure to submit the statutory declarations by the due date.
Since the commission's inception, the DPP has moved against 764 delinquents, resulting in the imposition of fines totalling $3,946,500.