Officials escaping income declaration since 2015 – Jagdeo

first_imgDefunct Integrity Commission…slams Govt’s double-standard approach to corruptionMonths after the amended code of conduct for the Integrity Commission was gazetted by the Government, the process seems to be stalled as the People’s Progressive Party remains concerned that officials are not disclosing their earnings to anyone.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday slammed Government for the lack of progress. He noted that while the PPP had to submit earnings during its time in office, the same cannot be said for the coalition.“For the first time (in) the last three years, nobody now has to submit statements to the Integrity Commission. From the year 2000 to 2014, we had to comply with the law. We had to submit what we earned and what we owned.”“Now, 2015, 2016, 2017 (under) this Government, nobody has to submit anymore. Yet, the PPP was stealing, like we stole the Marriott. We’re supposed to be stealing the Marriott and the airport and all of these things were (supposedly) corrupt projects that we were stealing from. They’ve been there for three years now. They’ve had a chance to go through this.”A functional Integrity Commission is part of the constitutional reform process. In February 2017, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, the lead on constitutional reform, had tabled amendments to the Integrity Commission Act to Cabinet for approval.Amendments in the form of a code of conduct for Government were subsequently gazetted. But since then, there has been no word on the status of the Integrity Commission. When questioned in August, Nagamootoo had informed sections of the media that the matter was with the President, who must consult with the Opposition Leader in order to iron out the composition of the Commission.But during his press conference, Jagdeo decried the fact that his party was not being included in the process of constitutional reform. He noted that even before there was reform, there must be constitutional compliance. Pointing to the Government’s actions, he noted that the capricious approach to the Constitution must first be eradicated.“Constitutional reform cannot be pursued unless it is a bipartisan exercise. This Government doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm to fulfil its own promise of constitutional reform. We have an open mind to constitutional reform.”“But right now, we are fighting a battle for constitutional compliance against many breaches, where the President and his minions will not unilaterally interpret the Constitution based on their own lack of knowledge.”The Integrity CommissionThe history of the Integrity Commission is a tempestuous one. In 1999, the previous Government had sworn in members to the Commission. But since the 2006 resignation of the Commission’s Chairman, the Commission has been headless.In January 2016, Government used its one-seat parliamentary majority to turn down a motion tabled by the Opposition that would provide for all Members of Parliament (MPs) making public declarations of taxable income and all assets over the last 10 years to the Integrity Commission which would be released to the public.last_img read more

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