A Government minister is calling for the soon-to-be established Integrity Commission to be “insulated from any political interference”.
In that regard, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn said there should be “wide public participation” in the selection of members of the commission in an effort to “build confidence among the population that the process was being taken seriously”.
“I believe how we structure this commission will indeed determine whether the public of Barbados believes this commission would indeed work. In so doing we must revisit the way the commission is constituted and the process because I believe widening the public participation is key to improving the governance in this country, and this affords an opportunity for that participation to take place,” he said in making his contribution to the debate on the Integrity in Public Life Bill in the Lower House this morning.
The legislation makes way for one chartered or certified accountant, a judge, an attorney-at-law, a member of the
clergy and one person each selected by the Opposition
Leader and the Prime Minister, to serve as members of the commission.
The judge, the member of the clergy and those chosen by the Opposition and the Prime Minister are to be appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.
The accountant and the attorney-at-law are to be appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the representative bodies of those professions.
However, Straughn was adamant that “credible institutions” in Barbados should be allowed, through an electoral process, to select the representatives to serve on the commission.
The economist suggested that while the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) would choose the accountant, and the Barbados Bar Association the attorney-at-law, the other commission members should be chosen by other organizational bodies.
“The rest of the commission speaks to collaboration between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and there are [four] members who are supposed to be appointed in that manner,” he said.
“There is an opportunity for a member to come from among the clergy . . . I would want to suggest that we have a relook at this specific provision and in its place perhaps, as it relates to this and the other [three], that we have either the Barbados Association of Retired Persons, the credit union movement as well as the labour movement through their own procedures, that these persons be elected through a process from this broader perspective rather than limiting it to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition,” he suggested.
Straughn insisted that the public needed to have confidence in the process.
“I believe this is too important to leave to politicians. I have no issue with the current Prime Minister or even the current Leader of the Opposition in their wisdom to consult and appoint people, but it would be remiss of us right now to not seize the opportunity to get people involved in this process of establishing this integrity commission,” he stressed.
In her contribution Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave the assurance that the Integrity Commission would be made up of “people of eminent integrity themselves, and people who understand the importance of discretion and confidentiality in a small society”.