Integrity Bill back again

Attorney General Dale Marshall has assured the public that Barbados is no longer stained by the reputation of corruption.

He was making the claim that the landscape has changed a lot since this administration came into office, during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament when the Integrity in Public Life Bill 2023 was tabled.

Acknowledging that corruption had not been eradicated in Barbados, Marshall said: “Barbados is no longer known for those things. That is not the reputation that Barbadians have to face as they travel up and down the Caribbean or up and down the world. It didn’t come by chance. I accept that there will always be doubting Thomases and naysayers; but every single person in this Cabinet, within weeks of taking office, was required to file with the Cabinet Office a statement of our assets and liabilities even though it was not required by law.“

Much to the acclaim of the ministers present, the Attorney General said that this honest behaviour was a hallmark of this administration since they took office in 2018, highlighting the improved ranking in corruption indices.

“Our reputation was mud, but I am happy to say that on the global corruption index which measures the level of corruption in countries, Barbados has had a significantly better ranking than in previous years. Studies done in the region in the last two years indicated and rated Barbados as being among the least corrupt.”

At the beginning of this year, the 2022 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Report concluded that Barbados was the least corrupt country in the country. Barbados’ score of 65 out of 100 points saw the island retain its ranking, which is 29th on the list of 180 countries.

It is the second time this administration is making an attempt with the Integrity in Public Life Bill which was first brought to Parliament in 2018, but was shot down in the Senate three years ago.

This Bill, if passed, will serve multiple purposes: establishing a regime which includes an Integrity Commission, promoting the integrity of persons in public life and strengthening measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption. It will also alter the Constitution to the extent necessary for the purpose and provide for related matters.

Some of the people who qualify as those in the public life are as follows:

Members of the House of Assembly and the Senate
Members of the Cabinet
Permanent Secretaries
Heads of Departments within the Public Service and holders of public offices in the same grade as that of such Heads of Departments.
Chief Executive Officers, General Managers, other executive heads of State Owned Enterprises.
Senior Officers of  the Commission

The functions of the Integrity Commission are:

To receive, keep on record, examine and inquire into all declarations, statements of registrable interests and reports of gifts filed with it under this Act;
To request such information and conduct such investigations and inquiries as may be necessary to verify or determine the accuracy of all such declarations, statements of registrable interests and reports of gifts;
To investigate, on its own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint, any alleged contravention of this Act or the Code of Conduct or any acquisition by any specified person in public life of a prohibited interest
To examine the practices and procedures of public authorities to determine whether such practices and procedures will lead to the occurrence of acts of corruption and to recommend appropriate changes in such practices and procedures, except where there is a statutory duty on any other person to perform such functions.
To perform such other functions as may be required by this Act or any other enactment.

Marshall assured those to whom it applies that despite the need to report their data, it will not be made public and that those working for the Commission will be vetted thoroughly prior to their appointment to that post. (JC)

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