In a statement this afternoon on the appointment of Colonel Daniel Pryce as Acting Executive Director for one year, the Opposition Leader said the Integrity Commission was a commission of Parliament and the Prime Minister has provided no good reason for his recommendation to the Governor General. He cautioned that temporary appointments carry the risk of compromising the independence of Parliamentary and Constitutional Commissions which are intended to give oversight to the Executive.
Dr. Phillips said Prime Minister Holness is making a habit of the practice of interim and acting appointments.
He said if the Integrity Commission is tasked with investigating and making rulings on corruption within central government, as well as its departments and agencies, any attempt to stymie the independence of the organisation must not be countenanced by the Jamaican people. The work of the newly constituted Integrity Commission must be unfettered and performed without work fear or favour.
The Opposition Leader said it must be remembered that the agency is already tasked with investigating the Petrojam scandal over which a Minister has already lost his cabinet position. He said the interim appointment of the Executive Director represents the risk of undermining the independence by infusing fear and reprisal among the personnel within the Commission, which would prevent it from carrying out its constitutional mandate.
He said the Opposition was already wary of the interim appointments at the agency and the installing of an Acting Executive Director, which are not seen as confidence building mechanism by the government. The Opposition has every confidence in Colonel Pryce, but as is in the case of the acting appointment of Chief Justice, we are strongly against this approach to governance.
The Commission operates under the Integrity Commission Act, which promotes and enhances standards of ethical conduct for parliamentarians, public officials and other persons in relation to the prevention of corruption in the award, monitoring and investigating of government contracts.
Dr Phillips said there is a clear and present danger in placing the executive director on an interim arrangement as this is quite similar to the acting appointment of the Chief Justice not so long ago, which provoked a lot of opposition voices and debate within the legal fraternity and the society at large.
He is calling on the government to immediately appoint Colonel Pryce and allow the Commission to do its work independently as it was intended.
In the meantime, The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) says it "wishes to make clear that, contrary to assertions by the Parliamentary Opposition, the Prime Minister of Jamaica The Most Hon. Andrew Holness played no part in the appointment of the new Acting Executive Director of the Integrity Commission."
In a statement, the OPM said "Prime Minister Holness was neither consulted nor advised of the recent appointment of an Acting Executive Director at the Integrity Commision.
"The OPM also wishes to emphasize the independence of the Integrity Commission as outlined in statute and by practice in the actions of the Government.
"The administration led by Prime Minister Holness has never and will never attempt to interfere in the functioning of the Integrity Commision which is an Independent Commission of Parliament," the statement concluded.
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