At a training session for media personnel last Friday February 27th, the Integrity in Public Office Commission elaborated on the functions and operations of the body in the administration of the Integrity in Public Office Act of 2003.
The seven member Commission which is tasked with receiving, and examining financial declarations of persons in public life and investigating complaints of non-compliance with impartiality, independence and accountability.
“When we receive a declaration, if necessary we call persons in for clarification or additional particulars. If at the end of the day we are satisfied, we gazette that person. If the person does not cooperate by providing required particulars for the conduct of the inquiry into his declaration, if a person has not filed or filed within the time prescribed by Parliament, we are required by the Act to gazette that person and send the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, “ explained Julian Johnson- chairman, IPO Commission.
The Commission is mandated by law to make decisions relating to complaints of non-compliance based on evidence or facts free from irrelevant considerations.
The IPO Commission is, however, limited to complaints made by identifiable persons.
“When you look at Section 30 [of the Act] it says quite clearly that a person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any person in public life has breached any provision of the Code of Conduct may make a complaint to the Commission.”
He explained further that “A person in law can either be a natural person like you and I or a non-natural person like a company or a statutory corporation. An anonymous complaint in the press is not a complaint because the Act requires that the complaint must be made by a person.”
The Chairman also explained that the Commission cannot act on its own directive to investigate matters; a complaint must first be made complete with particulars of the nature of the evidence.
Every year, the body must submit a report to the Minister for Legal Affair s who then presents it in Parliament.
That report must detail the activities undertaken by the Commission in administering the Act.
“This we have dutifully done,” Johnson confirmed.
He also called for interested persons to compare the regularity of records from Dominica’s Commission with those of the region.
“You must look at how many other such bodies in the region are complying so assiduously with the dictates of Parliament. In fact, our last Annual Report for the year ended August 31st, 2014 was sent to the Minister on September 1st, 2014.
“When it is tabled in Parliament, we shall have it on our website and hard copies can be obtained from the office.”
The records of the Commission are also subject to audit.
The vision of the Integrity in Public Office Commission is a nation free of corruption and governed by persons in public life who are filled with the highest standard of integrity.
The Commission was formed by an Act of Parliament in 2008 with full Government and Opposition support.