Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Parliamentarians debate auditor general’s position on Integrity Commission

Published:Friday | June 2, 2023 | 1:43 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

A PARLIAMENTARY committee reviewing the Integrity Commission Act, 2017, yesterday delayed its decision on whether to accept a recommendation to remove the auditor general from the list of commissioners of the single anti-corruption body.

Yesterday, a recommendation from Member of Parliament (MP) for St Catherine South West Everald Warmington for the auditor general to be removed as a commissioner of the Integrity Commission received support from Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.

At the same time, Julian Robinson, MP for St Andrew South East, said he would not vote with the other members on Warmington’s proposal to remove the auditor general.

“I would want to consider it more before coming to a final position,” he said.

Senator Donna Scott Mottley suggested that the committee should have further discussion on the issue before arriving at a final decision.

Committee chairman Edmund Bartlett said the committee would make a determination on this matter at its next meeting.

The committee had organised its meeting in-camera yesterday, but The Gleaner understands that some committee members expressed discomfort and reservations about this arrangement.

Parliament later sent out an advisory to reverse its earlier decision.

During deliberations yesterday, Chuck was asked by Robinson to provide a rationale for his support for Warmington’s proposal.

In his response, Chuck said: “There is a general discussion as to who audits public bodies, and the auditor general is usually the body to audit all public bodies, of which the Integrity Commission is one.”

According to Chuck, “it would almost be inconsistent that because the auditor general is a part of the Integrity Commission that you are going to ask some other body to audit the Integrity Commission, so to avoid that form, it’s best not to make the auditor general a member of the commission.”

Robinson asked Chuck if previous auditors general had sat on the former Integrity Commission.

Responding, Chuck said: “I think they sat on the Corruption (Prevention) Commission.”

But Chuck’s assertion was inaccurate. Under the previous Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act, the auditor general was designated a member of the Integrity Commission, along with four other persons.

Rudolph Irvine, a former auditor general whose tenure spanned 1966 to 1978, was the first chairman of the then Integrity Commission.

His successor, Adrian Strachan, who was auditor general for 29 years and demitted office in 2008, was also a member of the Integrity Commission over the period.

Auditors general sat on the Integrity Commission and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.

The Office of the Contractor General, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, and the Integrity Commission (Integrity of Parliament Members) were subsumed into the Integrity Commission in 2018.

Warmington’s assertion that the auditor general’s presence on the Integrity Commission is in breach of the Constitution did not find favour with the parliamentary committee.

He suggested that lawmakers erred when they included the auditor general as a member of the new Integrity Commission.