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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Compliance with the Integrity Commission Act

Hits: 3520 | Published Date: 14 Jun, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 22nd Sitting- Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Samuel A.A. Hinds, MP

Mr. Hinds: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to move the motion standing in my name, calling on us, the Members of this honourable House, to bring ourselves in compliance with the Integrity Commission Act and so serve as examples and real leaders in our country. And so, I encourage others to follow in our footsteps so that there could be prevailing across all Guyana, a greater readiness to conform to our laws.
I bring this motion with the words in my head from my young days at Sunday school about how human flesh is weak. I think all of us should recognise that we are weak and vulnerable to temptations. And in these days the temptations are great, maybe even greater than ever before with all the material things that the world now offers and all the possibilities for pleasure that the world now offers.
We who are in public office hold positions of authority and in these positions, temptations will come to us. There would be persons, too, from experience, who would come to us and put proposals for their benefit and for us to share in those benefits. We may be tempted not to act when we should act; we may be tempted to act when we should not. And also in all our offices we have some amount of discretion and judgement which we can apply. So we face temptations and all of us have the possibilities of yielding to those temptations.
I think it is also that young societies like ours can take some time before the societies develop the ideas and acceptance of the integrity that is expected of all of us in society. I know that in many of the international publications on assessments of societies, developed and developing, quite often we, in the still developing countries, come out badly. But I recall from my history classes – a long time ago it was – we read, about even in England in the good old History books, that when new coins came out, at one time people shook them up and did things with them and also when the post office first came out and Members of Parliament were given the right to send mail without postage that a number of Members of Parliament in that most honourable West Minister House made arrangements with certain firms of the day to have their mails posted. So the tendency to yield to temptations is there in all places and amongst all people.
There are laws set out to discourage and to penalise those who may be found guilty of engaging in these generally termed “corrupt practices”, but we know also that quite often there may be difficulties in proving many cases in the courts. And so one answer is legislation such as the Integrity Commission Act which this Government introduced, in 1997, and which had been passed and soon after set up the Integrity Commission. It is not that the previous administration was not aware of such considerations. Indeed, it did speak about bringing legislation for setting up an Integrity Commission, but it did not get around to doing it. So this Administration, when it took office, set it up and got it done quite early in our mandate in 1997. Since then we have been calling on persons, particularly our Members of Parliament, to ensure that they conform to the law and it is my belief that most of us have been conforming to the law. And so this motion seeks to call on us here in this House to do what is right and to take positions that would encourage and require our Members to conform.
There are the WHEREAS clauses in my motion about the enactment of the law and about establishing it soon after in 1997. Further, we call on this House, in our BE IT RESOLVED clauses, that this House recognises the lawful and legal obligation of Members of Parliament to submit annual declarations and calls on all Members of this National Assembly to submit the declarations in accordance with the law.
It has been said that a number of Members in this House have not been submitting their declarations and, indeed, as we will get on to, it has been said that in their view the Integrity Commission has not been properly set up and therefore they would not submit to something that has not been properly set up. That has been said, but I am saying that whether properly set up or not, there is a law and I would want to encourage all Members of this House to conform to the law. If they have any doubts about the legality of the Commission, then there exists, in our society, the courts from which they can seek a ruling as to whether the Integrity Commission has been set up lawfully or not.
In our second BE IT RESOLVED clause, we are calling on us, the Members of this House, to declare that failure or refusal of Members to submit declarations is a violation of the law and a gross indictment of those Members of the Parliament and on the integrity of all of us here in Parliament. It holds Parliament in disrepute.
Our third BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED clause calls for this House to conduct an annual voluntary monitoring exercise of compliance by Members of Parliament. That is our third position and you will notice that we are recognising that calls for new ways of behaviour may take time but, first of all, we want to encourage people to come in line so on these first three RESOLVED clauses, we are encouraging that we, Members of Parliament, bring ourselves in line.
The next two clauses seek to put a bit of a squeeze on, I would admit. In our fourth clause, we call on the President to disclose to the Speaker, annually, the names of those Members of Parliament who are in default. I know that there are remedies in the law and we are not against the remedies in the law, but we thought that we should encourage ourselves to come in line. Therefore, we have no doubt that our Speaker, who we respect, with him knowing those Members who are in default and hopefully speaking to them and calling on them to put themselves in line, we are proposing here that the President discloses to him those who are in default and therefore encourage him to use his influence with us here, those who are in default, so that Members would bring themselves in line.
Finally, those who are persistent in their defaulting should be sanctioned by this House and brought before the Committee of Privileges.
This motion is a motion for us to encourage ourselves and each other to lead the way in conforming to the integrity law so that we could lead the way in all of Guyana’s society, all our people bringing themselves into conformity with the law. This is not a draconian thing. We know that the law has in it great penalties. In this motion, we are not saying that the penalties shall not apply, but we are seeking to get the positive support of this House which we think will be very salutary to the nation as a whole and would encourage more conformity.
We, on this side, when we pass laws and introduce laws, do not do this with the intention of filling up the jails and convicting lots of our people. We do this with the hope that people will be warned and admonished and that they would desist from breaking the laws. We make these laws so as to turn our people on to better behaviour.
I have seen a number of amendments laid by an Hon. Member of this House, Mrs. Backer. I will take this opportunity, in my presentation, to speak to these amendments. Here there is a claim that the Integrity Commission has not been established in conformity with the requirements of section 3 of the Integrity Act 1997. I think we all have access to the Act and we can all read it. I would like to encourage our media and our people to read it. In my reading of it, I am very strong in the belief that the Integrity Commission has been properly established and so it is in conformity with the requirements of section 3 of the Integrity Commission Act 1997.
In the next amendment, it is said that WHEREAS corruption has reached an alarming level in Guyana with little or no effort to stem the tide. I would think that someone who feels this way would feel even more strongly to support this motion that I moved here today. I do not accept it in the spirit it seems to be presented here that corruption has reached an alarming level in Guyana with little or no effort to stem the tide. I would like to ask the Hon. Member what that Member has been doing to stem this tide of rampant corruption in Guyana. I would assume that being a Member of this House, she would have felt some sort of responsibility to do something about it, maybe holding up a placard outside of this House and at various places, drawing attention to this alarming tide of corruption. I would have thought that someone who has this sense, if that person were to be earnest about it, would be hurrying to give support to the motion that we have brought here today.
On the third amendment, we have no quarrel. It is what is in the law.
We have presented this, not in any way to run down anyone in this House or besmirch anyone in this House, but solely to call on us here to be true leaders in our country and to put ourselves in conformity with our integrity law. We know why we want to do this. It is because quite often it has been that when there are allegations of corruption that they have to be proven.
In the Integrity Act 1997, it starts out from the assumption that persons would have to justify the assets that they have and how they acquired those assets. I have been advised that in the West Minister Parliament, a Parliament which many of us refer to from time to time, are even stringent requirements that Members list all their assets from time to time. Certainly, these are directions we should learn more about. These are directions in which we should be prepared to go. But for this moment, our conformity with the Integrity Commission Act which we have laid before this House is, I think, an adequate first step which we should all support. I look to receiving support from all Members of this House.
I thank you. [Applause]
Mr. Hinds (replying): We have had a rather long debate, but I do believe that we have ventured far from what this motion calls for. This motion calls for us Members of Parliament to lead in the Compliance With The Integrity Commission Act. It essentially calls on us to bind ourselves in certain ways so that we give each other the right that certain steps are taken; that we be exposed, but exposed within the confines of this House. It does not seek to replace the procedures and the penalties in the Integrity Commission Act. It seeks only to urge us to be compliant. From my way of thinking, I would say that all the Members, who spoke, made a case for this motion.
On the question of there not being an Integrity Commission, at this time, I think that this is certainly one of the instances of a mountain being made out of something that is quite small. The Commission, which has been constituted, came to an end, I think, someone said, on the 20th May, 2012. Today we are at the 14th of June. As far as I am aware, our President has already initiated a consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. As far as I am aware the religious bodies have already made their nominations to the President, and I would think that within a week the President could constitute the Commission. I think all that we have put on the issue of the Commission not being in place would soon be washed away. The Commission would soon be in place.
I think also that, particularly, the Leader of the Opposition, just now, just called for matters to be investigated and for the DPP to lead and make cases against persons for which there are good enough evidence, or that we do not contest or seek to change in this motion, but I think we are forgetting a very important point here. Even before the Integrity Commission, or without an Integrity Commission, allegations or appearances of wrongdoings can be pursued, are being pursued and will be pursued. The Integrity Commission Act introduces the feature that …, and this is the reason why it is important that there be the reporting of assets. It is because the Integrity Commission Act introduces this feature that Members of Parliament assets are declared and if they did not declare all their assets they would have committed a crime. Secondly, having declared their assets, if they cannot explain how they would have acquired those assets, lawfully, then they would have committed a crime. This is important because in all other circumstances, or most other circumstances, there is no obligation to justify oneself but, here, the situation is reversed and there is an obligation to justify the assets which they have. I think  all that my friend, the Hon. Member, Leader of the Opposition, has been saying has little force because there is no restriction on the [inaudible] of persons who, in which  it appears, may be guilty of crimes.
The important thing is declaration. If there is no declaration then the possibilities of bringing persons in guilty is greatly reduced. Declaration is the basis, and if the Members do not make an accurate declaration, it is a crime. That is what the Integrity Commission states – you must make an accurate declaration and you must be able to justify the property that you have.
A lot of what the Opposition Members have been saying here has been misguided and they have purposely, it appears, misrepresented this motion. This motion says let us hold hands together; let us bind ourselves together; let us make a packed that all of us would make our submissions to the Integrity Commission and if any of us does not make the submission we would call, on, the Commission – we would make a change there - to inform our Speaker, and our Speaker would use his good office to encourage us to make our submission. It is not ultra vires and it is in no way seeking to constrain the Commission from taking the action that it could and that it ought to. It only encourages us to make ourselves compliant. That is all that we have been seeking to do here.
I would therefore call on us all to rethink the position, as expressed by Members of the Opposition, and for to them give their support to this motion.

Related Member of Parliament

Profession: Chemical Engineer
Date of Birth: 27 Dec,1943
Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24) | Motions Laid:(9) | Questions asked:(0)

Related Member of Parliament

Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24)
Motions Laid:(9)
Questions asked:(0)

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