Tue | Oct 4, 2022

Parliamentarians file statutory declarations in record time

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2022 | 12:12 AM

Lawmakers in Jamaica’s bicameral legislature have created history by filing their statutory declarations for the period under review within the time frame set out by law.

The 84 legislators in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament received plaudits from the chairman of the Integrity Commission, retired Justice Seymour Panton, who said he was very pleased with the development.

Panton indicated that this performance will serve as a “good example for other public officials to follow”.

The commission is also pleased that there has been a significant increase in the number of public officials who have been complying with the requirement to file.

“Those who are delinquent are urged to comply as delinquents can expect prosecution,” Panton warned.

He said that the commission expects full declarations of bank accounts, and declarants are reminded that the law provides for significant fines and imprisonment.

But while praising parliamentarians for record-setting filing of statutory declarations, Panton said he was concerned that Parliament has failed to address repeated requests by the commission for amendments to be made to sections 53 and 56 of the Integrity Commission Act.

Section 53(3), dubbed the ‘gag clause’, and Section 56 dictate that the commission must not tell the public whether an investigation is taking place.

“It is clearly ridiculous that whereas the police, quite rightly, can say that they are investigating a criminal matter, the Integrity Commission is not allowed to say it is, or is not, investigating a matter that does not involve criminality,” Panton said.