The Official Opening of Parliament took place yesterday, with all the “olde worlde” colonial pomp and ceremony. Members of Parliament and their spouses, all dressed up to the nines, walk self-consciously down Duke Street to the unprepossessing little building that is our Parliament. Supporters of both political parties were ordered to keep their distance, even further away (last year’s lot got a bit unruly). On this occasion every year, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II and our Head of State, the Governor General delivers the Throne Speech on behalf of the Government. The Jamaican Chapter of Transparency International National Integrity Action made some observations on some of the relevant legislation that is pending. The link to the full text of the Throne Speech is here: http://jis.gov.jm/throne-speech-2016-building-partnership-prosperity/
April 15, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Integrity Action (NIA) welcomes the items on the legislative agenda, announced in the Governor General’s Throne Speech, relating to the strengthening of good governance in Jamaica and urges both government as well as opposition to treat drafting, debate and passage of the relevant Bills with the highest priority.
The main proposed Acts provided for:
- The Integrity Commission Bill to establish a Single Anti-Corruption Body with a Director of Corruption Prosecution;
- Impeachment Legislation to provide for impeachment proceedings to be brought against corrupt public officials and parliamentarians;
- Judicial Accountability Legislation to enhance judicial accountability for performance and behaviour in office;
- Fixed election date, with provision for flexibility, and term limits for the Prime Minister.
- We are pleased to note that some of these proposed legislative measures represent matters long advocated by NIA and a continuation of the previous administration’s agenda.
Additionally, NIA expects that early “appointed day/days” will be named by the relevant Minister for the coming into effect of legislation already assented to by the Governor General providing for Campaign Finance Regulation and Political Party Registration.
We also propose that the law regarding statutory declarations by parliamentarians be amended, as the current administration pledged in its manifesto, to ensure annual disclosure of their financial affairs by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Finance.
Given the extensive nature of the legislative agenda and the challenges successive Parliaments have encountered in completing the programme, we urge all concerned – the government, the private sector and civil society – to maintain vigilance on the governance priorities and to pledge as NIA is doing, to provide drafting support for the proposed Bills to whatever extent possible and needed.
Professor Trevor Munroe, CD, DPhil (Oxon)