[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Draft Code of Conduct for Ministers, Parliamentarians and Public Office Holders has been released and touts the possible termination from the job were the code to be violated.
The Code, one of the campaign promises of the APNU+AFC administration, introduces a slew of restrictions in the areas of gambling, gift acceptance and misuse of office.
The draft policy states that the purpose of the code is to assist Ministers and Members of Parliament and Public office holders in the discharge of their obligations to their constituents and the public at large.
“It provides guidance on the values – the moral qualities – that should govern the conduct of Ministers and Members in discharging their Parliamentary and Public duties. It is also meant to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Ministers and public office holders perform those duties,” the document stated.
Notably, the document prohibits Ministers from significant gambling unless such action would be deemed socially unacceptable.
“If on social occasions where refusal of gambling (provided that the activity is legal) is considered unsociable, the amount of money involved should not be significant,” the draft document states.
It also states that Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders must not accept lavish or frequent entertainment from persons with whom the Government has official dealings. This is extended to persons who have contracts with the government.
The draft code also prohibits the use of government property for Party purposes – something that has seen a lot of attention over the years.
“Government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party activities.”
Further, the acceptance of gifts and other forms of rewards, worth more than ten thousand dollars, by Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders in their official capacity, shall be reported to the Integrity Commission.
See below for complete Code of Conduct
The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to assist Ministers and Members of Parliament and Public office holders in the discharge of their obligations to their constituents and the public at large. It provides guidance on the values – the moral qualities – that should govern the conduct of Ministers and Members in discharging their Parliamentary and Public duties. It is also meant to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Ministers and public office holders perform those duties.
Ministers; by virtue of the oath or affirmation of allegiance taken when they are elected, have a duty to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, according to law.
Public office holders are duty bound by this Code in all aspects of their public life. This Code does not seek to regulate the conduct of public office holders in their private and personal lives.
Public office holders have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination and sexual harassment, and to act with propriety on all occasions in accordance with the public trust and confidence placed in them.
Public office holders have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole and owe a special duty of care to their constituents, and citizens.
The Ten Principles of Public Life
- Accountability. Public office holders are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions, and must submit themselves to scrutiny and criticism.
- Dignity. Public office holders are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of the respect of their peers and the public.
- Diligence. Public office holders are expected to be effective, efficient, courteous and reliable in the performance of their duties.
- Duty. Public office holders are reminded that they owe a duty to the public and must consider themselves servants of the people.
- Honour. Members of Parliament should regard it as an honour to serve in the nation’s highest legislative forum. They have a moral responsibility to preserve the reputation of their office.
- Integrity. Public office holders have a duty to declare any private interest relating to the discharge of their duties and responsibilities, and to ensure that their personal decisions and actions are not in conflict with the national interest.
- Loyalty. Public office holders should display allegiance to the State and should show concern for the wellbeing of the persons that they were elected to represent.
- Objectivity. Ministers, in carrying out public business, should make decisions based on merit when making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits.
- Responsibility. Ministers collectively; have a basic responsibility to take decisions only in the national interest void of any forms of personal gain, or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
- Transparency. Ministers should be open about all their public decisions and actions and be prepared to provide explanations when so demanded by the public.
The acceptance of gifts and other forms of rewards, worth more than ten thousand dollars, by Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders in their official capacity, shall be reported to the Integrity Commission. Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders should consider declining such gratuities if the acceptance of same could be perceived to have an affect their objectivity and lead to complaints of bias or impropriety .
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest situation arises when the “private interests” of the public office holder compete or conflict with the interests of the State.
“Private interests” mean both the financial and personal interests of the official and staff or those of their connections including:
- family and other relations;
- personal friends;
- other companies or business interests which they hold or own (both in part or in whole);
- other clubs and societies to which they belong; and
- any person to whom they owe a favour or are obligated in any way.
Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders should avoid using their official position or any transmitting any information made available to them in the course of their to benefit themselves, their relations or any other individuals with whom they are associated. They should avoid compromising themselves or their office and which may lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption. In particular, Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders involved in the procurement process should declare conflict of interest if they are closely related to, or have, or will likely be perceived to have, beneficial interest in any company or transaction that would result in the award for the supplies of goods and services to the state.
Although entertainment is an acceptable form of business and social behaviour, officials and Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders must not accept lavish or frequent entertainment from persons with whom the Government has official dealings (e.g. suppliers or contractors, clubs/persons to which the state may allocate resources or job assignments), so that they will not be placed in a position of obligation to the other party.
Misuse of Office
Officials and staff who misuse their office for personal gains or to favour their relatives or friends or to benefit their business connections are liable to disciplinary action by the Government or even prosecution by the State.
Examples of misuse include an official or a staff member responsible for the selection of suppliers giving undue favour or leaking tender information to his own or his relative’s company with a view to awarding the contract to the latter, or placing it in an advantageous position ahead of other competitive bidders. Other examples include the unfair allocation of resources (e.g. venue) to other parties for personal gain.
Handling of Classified or Proprietary Information
Officials and staff are not allowed to disclose any classified or proprietary information to anyone without prior authorisation by the Government. Officials and staff who have access to or are in control of such information should at all times provide adequate safeguards to prevent its abuse or misuse. Examples of misuse include disclosure of information in return for monetary rewards, or use of information for personal interest or business benefit. It should also be noted that unauthorised disclosure of any personal data may result in a breach of the personal data.
Property and other Resources of the Government
Officials and staff given access to any property or other resources of or acquired by the Government (such as venue) should ensure that it is properly used solely for the purpose of conducting the Government’s business. Misappropriation or unauthorised use of such property or resources, such as for personal use or personal gain (e.g. resale or unauthorized leasing), is strictly prohibited.
Facilities provided to Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders at Government expense to unsure fulfillment of their official duties should not be used for political activities. Government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party activities.
Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders must not engage in frequent or excessive gambling with persons who have business dealings with the Government as well as among colleagues, particularly with subordinates. If on social occasions where refusal of gambling (provided that the activity is legal) is considered unsociable, the amount of money involved should not be significant. Gambling in the Government’s premises, government venues, and locations where activities of the Government take place is strictly forbidden.
All special advisors must uphold their responsibility to the government as a whole. The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisors, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment.
Public office holders, who wish to take up paid outside work, including those on a part-time basis, must seek the written approval of the Government before accepting the job. Approval will not be given if the outside work is in conflict with the interest of the Government.
Compliance with the Code
It is the personal responsibility of every Minister, Members of Parliament and public office holders to understand and comply with the Code of Conduct, in particular by conscientiously avoiding any conflict of interest, and making declaration and seeking prior permission from the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in accordance with this Code in any case of exception. Any official or staff who violates any provision of the Code will be subject to disciplinary action, or termination of appointment/employment where warranted.
Complaints Members of the public may submit complaints to the Integrity Commission under Section 28 of the Integrity Commission Act with respect to perceived breaches of this Code of Conduct, or that of the Act.