Speech by the Prime Minister

Statement to Parliament by The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I rise today in this Honourable House to make it unequivocal and clear yet again that the Integrity Commission is an independent Commission of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, let me specifically draw reference to Section 6(3) of the Act which states that:
In the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, the Commission-

(a)   shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority other than the Court by way of judicial review;

(b)   shall act independently, impartially, fairly and in the public interest; and

(c)   shall have the power to do all such things as it considers necessary or expedient for the purpose of carrying out its functions.

Indeed Mr. Speaker, Section 26 of the Integrity Commission Act states that “subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall regulate its own procedure”.  The nature of the establishment of the Commission is that it will act independently.

Indeed, anyone who takes the time to read the Act, which is available online will note that Section 28(1) of the said Act clearly indicates that “the Executive Director is appointed by the Governor-General, acting on the recommendation of the Commission”.

There is no role for the Prime Minister in the process.  Contrary to assertions by the Parliamentary Opposition, I, therefore, would have played no part in the recent appointment of the Executive Director of the Integrity Commission.  I was neither consulted nor advised of this recent appointment of an Executive Director at the Integrity Commission.  I saw this in the media like everyone else.

It stands to reason that in accordance with its establishment as a Commission; it would have used its own judgement in conducting its affairs including in appointing an Interim Executive Director.  It would not be appropriate for any second guessing or criticism of the exercise of their authority as an independent Commission.

The Honourable House would recall that this post of Executive Director was proposed as an amendment to the Act in order to strengthen the management structure of the new body.   It was posited then that the creation of this post was a better arrangement than having Directors of the three divisions of the body report directly to the Commissioners, as was previously stipulated in the Bill.

It is unfortunate that the Opposition has again sought to make statements with no basis in fact.  I, therefore, considered it my duty to come before this House today to address the erroneous information that has been disseminated.

The independence of the Integrity Commission is safeguarded in legislation and as a responsible Government and indeed Parliament, we should do nothing to affect it being perceived as independent. The Opposition by its actions is, therefore, doing exactly what it says should not be done – attempting to stymie the independence of the organisation and we agree that this must not be countenanced.