Former Contractor General, Greg Christie, is taking both the governing JLP and Opposition PNP to task, for passing what he sees as a ‘weak’ Integrity Commission Bill, which he says is making them both ‘happy’.
The Bill seeks to consolidate and strengthen all of the country’s anti-corruption agencies.
It was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday. But Mr. Christie says the proposed legislation is deficient.
The Integrity Commission Bill will merge the Office of the Contractor General, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption and the Integrity Commission into a single anti corruption agency. It’ll also enable the commission to prosecute corrupt practices.
Speaking yesterday in the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Holness said Jamaica will benefit from the legislation.
However, Mr. Christie has concerns. In a series of tweets this morning, Mr. Christie said the proposed hierarchical structure of the commission is flawed.
He notes the commission has no Managing Director. But will instead function with three directors who report to five commissioners.
Yesterday Prime Minister Holness said this was a ‘deliberate attempt’ to avoid what he called a single corruption czar.
Mr. Christie calls this a recipe for chaos. He says ‘sadly’ the JLP has not kept its anti-corruption commitments made to the Jamaican electorate. He says the Opposition PNP is ‘eerily unperturbed’ by this.
He says it’s a ‘cardinal sin’ by the government in Jamaica’s two party divisive politics. He says a weak Anti-Corruption Bill is in place making both the Government and Opposition happy.
Mr. Christie is also criticizing the National Integrity Action, NIA.
He says the anti-corruption watchdog, led by Professor Trevor Munroe, demanded the law be passed despite conceding that it had shortcomings.
He says the NIA has done so rather than insist that the government and parliament rectify the shortcomings.
He says the NIA’s actions are of particular concern in light of Transparency international’s statement that there must be no excuses in fighting corruption.
Meanwhile, both the Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, and opposition Spokesman, Senator Mark Golding, are defending the legislation in its current form. Mr. Chuck says a CEO maybe contemplated. But says the decision will lie with a Joint Select Committee of parliament.
However, Mr. Chuck admits the legislation could be stronger. He wants all parliamentarians to be required to make public declarations to the Commission and the definition of corruption widened. But Mr. Chuck feels they’ve kept their promise to strengthen the bill.
In the meantime, Opposition Spokesman on Justice, Mark Golding, disagrees with the need to have a single person in charge.
He wants to preserve the separation of powers among the investigative, administrative and prosecutorial directors.
He disagrees with Mr. Christie that the formula is a ‘recipe for chaos’.