OPM mum on status of Holness’ statutory declaration
There is radio silence from Jamaica House about whether Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ 2022 statutory declaration has been certified, amid indications from Opposition Leader Mark Golding that he has certification from the Integrity Commission (IC).
Gleaner questions emailed to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and copied to Holness on Tuesday morning were not answered up to press time last night.
The OPM was asked to confirm whether the prime minister’s statutory declarations for 2022 and 2021 were certified and whether he had received notifications from the IC about the status of the declarations.
The Gleaner also sought responses from the IC to confirm whether it had certified both Holness and Golding’s filings, but the body said that it is “unable to make comment regarding same, except to say that it is and has been operating in compliance with the provisions of Section 42(3) of the Integrity Commission Act”.
Section 42(3) says: “Where, upon examination of a statutory declaration, the director of information and complaints is satisfied that the statutory declaration has been duly completed, he shall so inform the commission and the commission shall – (a) cause to be issued to the public official or parliamentarian, as the case maybe, confirmation thereof in writing; (b) notwithstanding the provisions of section 56, cause to be published a summary of the statutory declaration made by the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition in the Gazette.”
The IC, in its 2022 annual report, said that the Third Schedule is its primary data collection tool which aids with the determination of a declarant’s net worth; to ensure that any growth in assets or reduction in liabilities are sufficiently supported by legitimate income.
DECLARATION MUST BE VALIDATED
The IC said that the legitimacy of the assets, liabilities and income declared by declarants must be validated by the commission’s research and third-party verification processes, in the first instance, to ensure that there is no concealment.
“ … Succinctly put, the commission must ensure that there is no illicit enrichment, prior to certifying a statutory declaration,” it said.
In May, the prime minister expressed concern that the 2021 document that reveals his income, assets and liabilities had not been published by the IC. He said then that he was in the dark as to what was preventing the commission from publishing his statutory declaration, which is a requirement under the law.
The IC maintained that it was not in a position to certify the prime minister’s declaration.
In a statement on Monday, the opposition People’s National Party indicated that Golding had received formal communication from the IC, certifying his 2022 statutory declaration.
“Mr Golding’s consistent compliance with the Integrity Commission’s processes, along with his pivotal role in signing their Leadership Code of Conduct and ensuring that his entire shadow Cabinet has done likewise, uphold the core values of our party and exemplify his commitment to high standards of integrity in public affairs,” the party’s general secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, said.
The letter to Golding, a copy of which was seen by The Gleaner, carried the signature of Craig Beresford, the IC’s director of information and complaints.
It informed Golding that his statutory declaration as at December 31, 2022 had been examined.
“Based on examination, which does not constitute an audit, it appears that the declaration has been duly completed in accordance with the provisions of the Integrity Commission Act,” said the September 29 letter.