Integrity Commission could soon be functional following Opposition leader’s approval of nominees

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After years of inactivity, the Integrity Commission could soon be constituted following Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo’s approval of President David Granger nominees for the Integrity Commission.

The nominees were identified as Kurmar Doraisami, Thandi McAllister, Rabindranauth Persaud and Rosemary Benjamin-Nobel.

Doraisami, Benjamin-Nobel and McAllister are attorneys-at-law while Persaud serves as a pandit.

McAllister was also a former executive of the People’s National Congress’ Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM).

It was on Wednesday that Jagdeo sent a missive to the President wherein he noted his approval of the appointment of members of the Integrity Commission.

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“I offer no objection to the four (4) persons whom you have identified for appointment to the Integrity Commission, in accordance with section 3 (4) of the Integrity Commission Act Cap. 19:12, Laws of Guyana. “I consider the totality of our engagement on this issue to be in satisfaction of the requirements of “consultation” as contemplated by the letter and spirit of section 3 (4)…” an excerpt of the letter pointed out.

Under the Integrity Commission Act, the President is to appoint a chairperson and other commissioners. The extended delay in the reconstituting of the body has long been criticsed as a move against transparency so much so that the governing coalition’s partner, the Alliance For Change (AFC) called for its re-establishment at the conclusion of the National Executive Council (NEC) in November 2017.

The party had called for the Integrity Commission to be treated as a matter of national priority. In 1999, the previous Government had sworn in members to the Commission. But since the 2006 resignation of the Commission’s Chairman, Bishop Randolph George, the body has been headless.

In January of 2016, APNU/AFC Government used its one-seat parliamentary majority to vote against a motion tabled by the Opposition that would have provided for all Members of Parliament (MPs) to make public declarations of taxable income and all assets over the last 10 years to the Integrity Commission which would be released to the public.

The coalition had noted that it was not in favour of the public declaration, and would prefer to make such disclosures to the Integrity Commission instead. It had said that such a move would violate the privacy of members.

In defeating the motion, the Government MPs had proposed amendments to the motion for the National Assembly to support the enforcement of the legal requirement for all MPs to file their Income Tax returns and make declarations to the Integrity Commission.

However, that proposal was protested by the Opposition and eventually resulted in MP Juan Edghill calling for his motion to be withdrawn, arguing that the amendments significantly changed the intent of the original motion. But the coalition MPs declined the withdrawal request and at the end of the debate, succeeded in passing the amended motion.

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