Jamaica News: Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith has commended the “incredible” work of the Commissioners of the recently established Integrity Commission, who have not been compensated since their appointment in February, 2018.
“Definitely these are persons of unimpeachable integrity, strength of character and devotion to country that this period of time would’ve passed and they have without murmur really been doing not only the work that was handed to them, but the new work of creating this new institution,” she said.
Senator Johnson Smith, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, made the comment while moving the Integrity Commission (Remuneration of Commissioners) 2019 Resolution which outlines the remuneration structure for members of the Commission, during the sitting of the Senate on Friday (Nov. 29).
The Commissioners are newly appointed Chairman, Hon. Justice (Ret’d) Seymour Panton, OJ, CD; Auditor General, Mrs. Pamela Monroe Ellis; Hon. Justice (Ret’d) Lloyd Hibbert; Dr. Derrick McKoy; and Eric Crawford. The previous Chairman, Hon. Justice (Ret’d), Carl Harrison resigned in August, 2019.
The Commission, which is a consolidation of the Corruption Prevention Commission, the Office of the Contractor General and the Integrity Commission, is mandated to investigate alleged or suspected acts of corruption regarding Parliamentarians, public officers and public bodies; and instances of non-compliance with provisions of the Integrity Commission Act 2017.
Highlighting the significant body of work the Commission has already undertaken, Mrs. Johnson Smith pointed out that approximately 22 meetings have been convened since its establishment, and that it has been working to resolve complaints and investigations predating its establishment, while also overseeing the operational merger of the entities and establishing new policies and procedures to guide the work of the Commission.
“In furtherance of this work, the Commission established five sub-committees: the Information and Complaints Committee; the Investigations Committee; the Corruption Prosecution Committee; Audit and Finance Committee; and the Internal Affairs Committee,” Mrs. Johnson Smith informed.
The Commission is also tasked with prosecuting acts of corruption and offences committed under the Act and receiving statutory declarations submitted by Parliamentarians and public officials related to their assets, liabilities and income.
Additionally, the Commission has responsibility for developing its strategic direction and supporting policies in keeping with the requirements of the Act.
Turning to the proposed remuneration structure, Mrs. Johnson Smith pointed out that unlike other Acts which establishes Commissions of Parliament, “the Act is silent on the rate at which the Commissioners are to be remunerated and thereby requiring a policy decision to be taken to specify the fee structure and rates which the Commissioners are now to be compensated”.
She noted that the membership of the Commission include two persons being remunerated as salaried officers of the Government.
“Government’s policies and procedures, preclude payment of more than one salary from the public purse to any individual, but based on the consultations with the Ministry of Finance and the
Public Service, it was confirmed that there was a need for an appropriate fee structure designed for payment to the Commissioners given the significant work which they do,” Mrs. Johnson Smith explained.
Further, in keeping with a directive of the Cabinet, the Finance Ministry developed a fee structure for payment to members of the Integrity Commission with effect from the 23rd of February 2018, the date on which members were appointed and with effect from February 23, 2019 where a slight increment was given in accordance with other increments were provided, Mrs. Johnson Smith informed.
The Resolution, which was approved by the Lower House on Tuesday (Nov. 19), was also affirmed during Friday’s sitting.