One year after the Mia Mottley Government’s signature Integrity in Public Life Bill was sent to the Select Committee of Parliament to be fleshed out, Attorney General Dale Marshall has revealed that the long-awaited legislation will be ready for debate on December 17.
In a press conference convened at Parliament this afternoon, Marshall revealed that the committee has wrapped up its work after conferring with several interest groups and the time has come for the final phase.
“Today the Select Committee of Parliament which was looking at the Integrity in public Life Bill has completed its work. You will know that last year we laid a completely new Integrity in Public Life Bill before Parliament and we immediately went to the Select Committee so that we would have the benefit of input from interest groups because as the public would know, corruption is a major issue in Barbados in recent times and putting strong legislative framework has been at the forefront of our Government’s stance on the issue,” said Marshall.
The laying of the Bill in Parliament has been met with some skepticism from opposing political parties, who have on occasion queried why the process was taking so long. This afternoon Marshall explained that the task was not a simple one, as the fluidity of Government’s priorities meant that focus on the bill’s final draft shifted back and forth.
“The bill has taken a little over a year to get to this point and in that year much work has gone on behind the scenes, although we had one or two administrative challenges. The Chief Parliamentary Council’s office has had a vast amount of work to do. In many cases, our priorities, based on our international commitment, shifted from time to time,” said Marshall noting that this was not necessarily a bad thing, as it ensured that all I’s were dotted, and T’s crossed.
The AG further revealed that it was the Government’s intention to have the bill passed on December 9, to coincide with World Corruption Day on December 9, but that proved difficult. Marshall also noted that Government was also seeking to have the United Nation’s Convention on Corruption signed, providing further evidence of the country’s commitment to stamping out corruption. Currently, only Barbados and Syria have not signed on to agreement and Marshall made it clear today that he would like to see this changed.
“This is not the kind of company that Barbados wishes to keep and therefore we will be making all efforts to address this. As we go back to Parliament with the new Bill, we hope to sign off on the UN Convention this year,” he said.
Earlier this year, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Trisha Tannis raised several concerns about the proposed Integrity In Public Life Bill.
Pointing to the island’s drop on the corruption perception index over the years, Tannis said this was a cause for concern, and suggested that Barbados could look to Denmark for best practices.
Though welcoming the proposed legislation, she expressed disappointment that the process was taking too long and the fines were not high enough to encourage deterrence. At the time Marshall promised that the fines “are going to be rightly in the hundreds of thousands of dollars” to reflect the seriousness with which the country sees absence of integrity in public life.