Chairman says Integrity Commission needs more power

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Chairman of the Integrity Commission Radford Hill is dissatisfied with the limited powers of the commission and has declared that it will recommend amendments granting it “more teeth”.
According to Hill, the commission needs wider powers of investigation, more staff and independent control over an allotted budget. A lack of these things, he believes, hampers the body’s ability to function at maximum efficiency.
“Right now, we cannot initiate investigations on a matter unless a complaint is made to us,” Hill said.
Hill is contending that the commission, which is made up of five members, should have the legal power to initiate investigations into a matter, for instance, “if we on our own get certain information … rather than waiting for a complaint”.
In the same vein, he said the work of the commission demands “an investigations officer” whom he described as “someone who can go out into the market and the community once you have the declaration and check those facts”.
According to the chairman, the body is suffering from a shortage of human resources. He noted that apart from the five commissioners there are only two other individuals who carry out the commission’s work. He said the commission has made requests for increased human resources and it has been told by the government “they are willing to assist us in that regard”.
Hill further stated that he and his fellow commissioners would like the categories of those required to file declarations of their assets widened as some people of interest are evading scrutiny because they fall outside the scope of the law.
He suggested that categories be amended to include certain salary thresholds rather than merely being based a person’s rank within a given department or agency.
According to Hill, in other Caribbean countries “anyone making $2,000 or more, for example, would be required to file” while in Antigua & Barbuda “its heads of department and deputy heads”.
“When the commission needs money we have to make a request through the Ministry of Legal Affairs,” Hill said. “The law is written in a way that we should have our own funds but it has never happened that way.”
Hill’s the statements to the OBSERVER media were on the fringes of the Invest Caribbean Conference 2017 at the Sandals Grande Resort on Wednesday.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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