Thu | Jun 1, 2023

Scores at TA face huge fines for statutory filing failure

Published:Tuesday | May 2, 2023 | 12:41 AM

SCORES OF public servants at a single public body that is responsible for policing the transport sector have found themselves in trouble with the law for failing to file statutory declarations with the Integrity Commission and could be slapped with fines amounting to half a million dollars by the courts if found guilty of the offence.

Following the ruling by the director of corruption prosecution recently that 44 employees at the Transport Authority (TA) should face charges of breaching the Integrity Commission Act after failing to submit their statutory declarations, the management of the public body is taking steps to prevent a recurrence.

Managing Director of the Transport Authority (TA), Ralston Smith, told The Gleaner late last week that the entity has encouraged employees who are facing charges of failing to file their statutory declaration with the Integrity Commission to comply with the law.

“And beyond that just to take steps come next year that they have a means of measuring, monitoring and assisting the process of ensuring that persons in our employ follow the law, especially in this regard,” Smith added.

The Gleaner understands that the majority of the 44 employees of the TA who are facing charges for breaching Section 43(1)(a) of the Integrity Commission Act are transport inspectors.

The law states that “a person who fails, without reasonable cause, to submit a statutory declaration which he is required to submit in accordance with the provisions of this part… commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction in a Parish Court to a fine not exceeding $500,000, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months…”.

Transport inspectors have the mandate of enforcing a number of provisions in the TA Act and the Road Traffic Act.

The Gleaner sought comment from Executive Director of the Integrity Commission, Greg Christie, regarding the importance of filing statutory declarations in time and in keeping with the law.

Asked if the commission was concerned about the high level of delinquency at one public body, Christie, in an emailed response, said the anti-corruption body was concerned in every case where a public official has failed to comply with the law requiring the filing of a statutory declaration.

He pointed out that the Integrity Commission carries out a continuous programme whereby public officials in the various ministries, departments and agencies are reminded of their obligations and responsibilities under the law.

Christie also highlighted that the commission has, since 2020, implemented a robust annual public education campaign, which includes educating public officials -- by using social media channels -- about their obligation under the Integrity Commission Act, to file statutory declarations.

The Integrity Commission also publishes instructional videos and materials on its official website and that of the Jamaica Information Service, during the campaign period.

Additionally, Christie said that adverts are placed in the print and electronic media and interviews are done on the need to file statutory declarations with the commission.