Friday 14 August, 2020

NIA welcomes Integrity Commission reports; calls for follow-up action

Professor Trevor Munroe

Professor Trevor Munroe

National Integrity Action (NIA) has welcomed the tabling in Parliament of two special reports of investigation on Petrojam, as well as the second annual report (2019-2020) of the Integrity Commission.

In a release, the Professor Trevor Munroe-led NIA said it noted with satisfaction that the annual report was placed before Parliament within the time required by the Integrity Commission Act, and the watchdog group commended the commission for the “professionalism of the Petrojam reports which it cited as having been produced by the then Director of Investigations, David Grey.

“The special reports provide evidence to confirm and extend damning allegations regarding Petrojam (which were) made during hearings before parliamentary committees in 2018, as well as findings in the auditor general’s report of December 2018,” asserted NIA.

“As such, acts of irregularity, impropriety, nepotism, cronyism, and corruption costing taxpayers many millions of dollars are documented in these reports,” it further suggested.

“Arising from this documentation, the director of investigations recommended that a number of individuals and matters be refer to the Financial Investigation Division (FID), to the commissioner of police and, in the case of Member of Parliament Wheatley, to the director of corruption prosecutions. These recommendations follow on others arising from (alleged) breaches identified in the auditor general’s report,” NIA added.

It said “it is now full time for action on these recommendations to demonstrate that high public officials are also subject to law and thereby rekindle hope in the rule of law,” which it further said is now declining among large sections of the population.

NIA urged the Integrity Commission to state what action will be taken in relation to the recommendations that have been made in the special reports, since the reports have been tabled in Parliament.

NIA also urge that the oversight committee that was appointed by Parliament to review the work of the commission begin its sittings as a matter of urgency and, among other matters, consider making legislative changes to allow the commission keep the public abreast of its investigations.

The watchdog group also expressed support for amendments to the Public Procurement Act to “explicitly require decertification, debarment and cross-debarment of Government contractors who engage in fraudulent practices or who consistently fail to perform their contracts to the required standards.”

NIA also expressed support for the recommendation that sentencing guidelines relating to corruption offences be strengthened.

“Finally, we agree with the (Integrity) commissioners and request the oversight committee (of Parliament) to concur that the statutory declarations required by Members of Parliament include disclosure of directorships and beneficial interests in corporate bodies, as well as any contracts with the Government of Jamaica,” NIA stated in the release.

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