Gov’t withdraws Integrity Commission motion

– court case still pending
The government last Thursday withdrew a motion that sought to have Members of Parliament (MPs) make annual declarations of income to the Integrity Commission or face disciplinary action.

Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran said the motion could not be allowed because of a pending court matter in connection with the Integrity Commission. In May 2005, Opposition Leader Robert Corbin took legal action to nullify the appointment of the chairman and members of the commission who were appointed by President Bharrat Jagdeo in 2004. Corbin’s suit was on the grounds that he had not been consulted, as was constitutionally required. A ruling is yet to be made in the matter.
The motion, tabled by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, called for the House to declare “that failure of Members of Parliament to submit annual declarations is a violation of the law and a gross indictment of those members and vicariously on the integrity of Parlia-ment.” Further, the motion called for persistent defaulters to be sanctioned by the House according to established norms of ethics and brought before the Committee of Privileges.

When the motion first came up for debate in the National Assembly on March 18, Speaker of the House Ralph Ramkarran announced that it had been deferred at the request of the opposition. No further mention was made of the motion until Thursday.

Meanwhile, PNCR MP Lance Carberry on Friday, during his party’s weekly press conference, said that the government had not yet indicated to his party when it will be ready to reconvene consultations with the Opposition Leader on selecting a chairman for the commission. Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon had said that the government would move to continue consultations with Corbin soon.

Prior to this announcement by Luncheon, President Jagdeo, at his last press conference, indicated that there were several potential candidates to serve as the commission’s chair. Last year Fazeel Ferouz, Savitri Sukhai and Nigel Hazel were sworn in as commission members by President Jagdeo.

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