The Third Annual Report of the Integrity Commission for the year September 1, 2010 to August 31, 2011 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Legal Affairs on Thursday, February 16, 2012. The report deals with the activities of the Commission for that year. It highlights the achievements and challenges faced by the Commission as it sought to fulfill its mandate under the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003, No. 6 of 2003.
The report shows that of the one hundred and fifty-nine (159) persons in public life listed for the year, one hundred and fifty-two (152) persons filed financial declarations with the Commission by March 31, 2011 – a compliance rate of 96%. This represents a remarkable improvement over the previous year's performance of 66%.
During the year, the Commission began investigation into a complaint of breach of the Act brought by Mr. Lennox Linton against Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. Mr. Linton complained that Prime Minister Skerrit had breached the following provisions of the Act and Schedule:
- section 47(1) of the Act because he owned eight ocean front villas at Savanne Paille that could not be explained by his legitimate income;
- Rule (c) of the Code of Conduct since he had accepted bribes, gifts and advantages to finance his ownership of the villas; and
- Rule (e) of the Code of Conduct since he had used his official influence as Chairman of Cabinet to secure concessions for a business concern in which he is alleged to hold ownership interest.
The Commission rejected the first two elements of the complaint; (i) for want of jurisdiction, and (ii) because it was not supported by evidence. The investigation into item (iii) of the complaint is ongoing.
During the year the Commission also facilitated a number of education sessions with senior public officers and members of civil society, including the executives of the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC), Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT) and the Dominica Employers Federation (DEF). The Commission also published the second edition of its Handbook of Frequently asked Questions.
In its current form, the Act continues to pose some challenges to effective administration and, as was done in previous years, the Commission has recommended to Government a number of amendments. One of these recommendations is for amendment to the First Schedule to the Act to remove ambiguity as to who is a person in public life.
The Commission also made recommendation for restructuring the organization for the prompt and efficient discharge of its functions under the Act. It also made the Integrity Commission Rules of Procedure 2011 to regulate its procedures under section 58 of the Act. The Rules are before the Minister for Legal Affairs for publication in the Official Gazette. The Commission is concerned that delay in gazetting these Rules could adversely affect the performance of its functions.
Membership of the Commission changed during the year with the resignation of some of its members. At the end of the term, the Commission comprised: Chairman: Mr. Julian Johnson, and members: Alick Lazare, Wendell Lawrence, Davidson Bruney, Anthony La Ronde, Gerald Smith and Henry Dyer.
In his transmittal letter to the Minister for Legal Affairs, the Chairman noted that notwithstanding the strident, unreasonable and unrelenting criticisms leveled at the organization, the deficiencies of the Act and serious staff constraints, the Commission remained firm and evenhanded it its administration of the provisions of the Act. He noted also that the Commission compares favourably with the best oversight institutions in the Commonwealth Caribbean.