As I understand it, there is a law that mandates the periodical submission of statements of assets by MPs and senior government officials, to the Integrity Commission. There is also a provision in that law for the President to ask for the submission of that information, and for the commission to publish the names of defaulters in the media and official Gazette.
There also appears to be a constitutional challenge to the appointments on the commission, and concerns among the opposition about impartiality.
As far as I know, there is no stay of execution or order of the courts which prohibit the commission from carrying out its duties, so under the law it is currently functioning. That is the legal side of things, but let us now move to the moral side.
The opposition parties are outspoken critics of the government’s handling of the perceived rampant corruption in Guyana. This is largely a public perception and I am usually in agreement with their criticisms as I believe our fight against corruption is too reaction based. I therefore really cannot understand the opposition’s position to the President’s ultimatum. There is a deadline under the law to submit statements of assets to the commission. They miss this deadline, prompting no less than the President to have to intervene in the matter, and they are upset.
The Integrity Commission, however you see it, is a legal body appointed to stamp out the same corruption they complain about, so how about walking the walk and not just talking the talk? Regardless of how dictatorial they think the President’s ultimatum was, they put themselves in the position to be dictated to by their failure to do what was right.
So my dear members of the opposition, including those of a party to which I gave my vote in the last general election, please lead the way in preventing corruption by submitting the statements now and on time in the future. They can sort out the issues with the Integrity Commission in a boardroom or a courtroom later.
Learie C Barclay