Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said the government is of the view that political affiliation should not bar anyone from public service or from serving on a public sector board.
He stated that the primary consideration should be competence, honesty, integrity and other such principles. In fact, he said, many of the boards that now exist; have on them directors, who served during the previous administration.
Senator Golding was contributing to debate in the Senate on Friday (September 28) on a motion calling for the government to immediately implement the Corporate Governance Framework for Public Bodies, promulgated under the previous administration.
The motion, originally brought to the chamber on February 24, by Opposition Senator, Kamina Johnson Smith, was approved after extensive discussion and changes to the wording.
The framework seeks to ensure systematic adoption of proper governance guidelines and for public bodies to maintain the highest levels of accountability, transparency, and service delivery to the benefit of all Jamaicans.
It includes provisions in relation to the reporting relationship of the Chief Executive Officer and board chairman; appointment of a new board subsequent to the change of administration to ensure transition and continuity; and the guidelines when considering the number of boards on which a director may serve.
Also contained is a code of ethics with a core set of values, which will be universally acceptable to all boards, and which would be supplemented where necessary, based on the particular operations of the entity.
Senator Golding was part of a committee that reviewed the document and made several modifications. “We applaud the work of the former administration…it was a good document, but we felt that it needed to be reviewed and we think we’ve improved it,” he said.
He stated that the government fully supports a governance framework for public bodies, which will ensure that they operate with probity and in a transparent manner.
"We endorse the principles of corporate governance. We consider them extremely important, we regard ourselves as living them, and indeed, many (public) boards are already operating in accordance with the principles of modern corporate governance and all should be encouraged to do so," he stated.
Senator Johnson Smith explained that the framework was developed under the former Ministry of Finance to establish an effective monitoring arrangement for the operations of public bodies by their parent ministries. She said it will seek to promote effective systems of control and accountability, and responsible attitudes on the part of those handling government resources.
"We have to acknowledge that government therefore cannot be about allocation of resources by supporters of one political party to supporters of that political party…the framework seeks to establish systems to discourage such practices, if not the sentiments, and must be upheld by this honourable Senate," she argued.
Outlining several advantages to implementing the framework, Senator Johnson Smith said good governance attracts good investment, as "investors and bankers have placed great importance on how companies and countries are run when deciding what to fund and where to invest their money".
She said it will also foster trust in government, reduce opportunities for corruption and increase prospects for legitimate high performance. She further argued that implementation of the framework is a developmental necessity. "A framework that seeks to improve the performance of more than 190 arms of government, parts of the developmental machinery of our country must be something we view as not only imperative but a developmental imperative," she stated.
Other Senators contributing to the debate were: Lambert Brown, Wensworth Skeffery, Navel Clarke, Angela Brown-Burke, Arthur Williams, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Kavan Gayle and Alexander Williams.