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KINGSTON — The Government is moving to strengthen the Code of Political Conduct and provide stringent civil and criminal sanctions for certain breaches, as it moves to address political garrisons and tribalism.

Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, made the disclosure today, during his contribution to the 2011/12 Budget debate in the House of Representatives.

The move, he said is a key element in the dismantling of garrisons and holding political representatives, those elected or seeking to be elected, responsible for their actions, which encourage or facilitate garrisons or political tribalism.

He informed that the Electoral Commission was “thoroughly consulted” on the matter and, based on those consultations, Cabinet has issued the necessary drafting instructions.

A key part of the process is addressing the procurement rules for the award of Government contracts, he said, noting that the “laborious revision” process has been completed and drafting instructions are being prepared.

“The next step is to provide for the imposition of criminal sanctions for certain breaches that involve conduct intended to undermine or corrupt the process and for the denial of contracts to persons deemed not to be fit and proper,” the Prime Minister told the House. “These are critical tools in the dismantling of garrisons,” he added.

In the meantime, Mr. Golding said a Bill to make provision for the impeachment of public officials has been completed and is to be submitted to the Legislation Committee for final review before being brought to Parliament.

He also informed that a legislation to impose term limits for holding the office of Prime Minister is already before the House with debate on the Bill commencing in the last parliamentary year.

On the matter of political financing, he said that Parliament has already given its approval to the recommendations of the Electoral Commission for legislation to be enacted to require the registration of political parties and the regulation of political party financing.

The Bill to give effect to these recommendations will shortly be presented to Parliament.

“We await the recommendations of the Electoral Commission on the equally important aspect of campaign financing,” Mr. Golding said.

Turning to matter of critical public institutions such as the Electoral Commission, Contractor General, Public Defender, Political Ombudsman and the Local Government Authorities that exist in law but are not specifically recognised or protected in the Constitution, he said that a Bill has been drafted to rectify this and it will shortly be tabled in Parliament.

 

By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter