House Passes Bill to Strengthen Measures to Fight Corruption

Photo: Mark Bell Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

Story Highlights

  • The House of Representatives on January 31 approved the Integrity Commission Bill, which is aimed at promoting and enhancing standards of ethical conduct for parliamentarians and public officials.
  • The Bill provides for the establishment of a single body to be known as the Integrity Commission, to promote and strengthen the measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption.
  • Member of Parliament for East Central St. Andrew, Dr. Peter Phillips, said the Opposition supports the Bill, noting that the legislation “has been in gestation for a long time.”

The House of Representatives on January 31 approved the Integrity Commission Bill, which is aimed at promoting and enhancing standards of ethical conduct for parliamentarians and public officials.

The Bill provides for the establishment of a single body to be known as the Integrity Commission, to promote and strengthen the measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption.

In his contribution to the debate, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness reiterated the Government’s commitment to fighting corruption in the country.

He argued that more can be done to strengthen the existing regime, and that the legislation is another critical stage towards improving the anti-corruption ecosystem in Jamaica.

“A critical measure is the establishment of a single agency which this new Act will create – the new Integrity Commission. It is important for us to address concerns that have been articulated in the public domain and, from my estimation, I think that our Jamaica will win from this new legislation,” Mr. Holness said.

He added that the new Integrity Commission will subsume the functions and powers of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the Integrity Commission and the Office of the Contractor General.

The Prime Minister further noted that the effect of this consolidation is that there will be one compliance mechanism for parliamentarians and public officials.

The Integrity Commission will be established as a Commission of Parliament and will have a specific mandate to receive complaints relating to alleged acts of corruption and to conduct the necessary investigation and prosecution accordingly.

“It is important to note that this new consolidated agency will be stronger and more effective than all of the existing agencies. The Commission will build on the strengths of the anti-corruption institutions, which it replaces. It will reduce or eliminate existing inefficiencies and safeguard against the abuse of power and authority,” Mr. Holness explained.

He also highlighted that the legislation will play a key role in improving Jamaica’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index, where the country is currently ranked 83 out of 176 countries, falling by 14 places.

The Prime Minister pointed out that a factor in this decline was the fact that the Bill had not been passed.

“The Government is not pleased with our present rating in the Transparency International report. We have fallen in the report, and I want to assure the country that we are not satisfied with that, and I am certain that the Opposition is not satisfied with that,” he said.

“It is not a good look for Jamaica and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that when the next report is released, we have an improved standing,” the Prime Minister said.

In his contribution, Member of Parliament for East Central St. Andrew, Dr. Peter Phillips, said the Opposition supports the Bill, noting that the legislation “has been in gestation for a long time.”

Closing the debate, Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said that passage of the Bill will send a signal that Jamaica is committed to the fight against corruption.

“It is not a perfect Bill; there are one or two areas that can be improved and will be improved,” Mr. Chuck said.

He added that once it has been passed in the Senate, he would consult with the Opposition spokesperson on Justice to set up a Joint Select Committee to implement the provisions of the Bill.

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