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Let the public be the judge

Phillips mum on Integrity Commission's failure to release Andrew Holness' statutory declaration

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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OPPOSITION Leader Dr Peter Phillips says he is leaving it to members of the public to form their opinions on the failure of the Integrity Commission to publish a summary of the statutory declaration of Prime Minister Andrew Holness for last year.

Under the law the commission is to publish in the Jamaica Gazette the summary of the statutory declarations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition annually.

Government officials have claimed that the commission sought clarity on an aspect of the declaration provided by Holness and this has already been provided.

But up to late yesterday there was no indication that the commission had published the information.

The commission, on July 12, published information that showed Phillips and his family with total income of $53.8 million, assets of $60.4 million, plus US$61.5 thousand in saving accounts, US$502,000 in securities and US$19.7 thousand in life insurance cash value.

Following a media briefing where he provided further details on a crime summit being planned by the Opposition for July 30, Phillips told the Jamaica Observer that he would not want to get into any extensive discussion on why the Integrity Commission has so far failed to gazette the declaration of the prime minister.

“The expression of concern should be that expressed by the Integrity Commission rather than myself because then it would descend into a matter of political point scoring,” said Phillips.

“The law provides that the Integrity Commission is the watchdog, the protector of the country's national institutions — our parliament, our civil service, security forces, and the like. It should be the one that discharges that responsibility in a non-partisan fashion which enables it to secure the widest possible support among the general public,” added Phillips.

Earlier Phillips told members of the media that the Opposition was disappointed with the failure of the Holness Administration to convene a meeting with stakeholders to discuss Jamaica's high murder rate and criminality, as agreed in the Vale Royal Talks some seven months ago.

“Given the fact that Jamaica has had seven states of emergency and a continuing high murder rate, we can wait no longer to convene a meeting of stakeholders as envisaged by the Vale Royal Agreement,” said Phillips.

“We consider it vital to convene the national stakeholders meeting now to agree on a national position so that all stakeholders can embrace the decisions and support their implementation,” added Phillips.

According to Phillips, the crime meeting will be a national effort, non-partisan in tone and content, and one that delivers tangible results.

“We are not about scoring political points,” declared Phillips.

He said the meeting will be convened under the theme, 'Securing a safer Jamaica', at the Jamaica Conference Centre and will assemble key stakeholders including the church, the private sector, and academics.

“I should point out that I have extended invitations to the minister of justice (Delroy Chuck), the attorney general (Marlene Malahoo-Forte), the minister of national security (Horace Chang), the Jamaica Labour Party, and we do hope that they will join us in this non-partisan effort to fight crime,” said Phillips.

“The meeting's objective is to highlight causative factors and identify possible solutions which may include a set of sustainable, actionable, and results-orientated measures which could ultimately bring the dire crime situation under control,” he added.

The Opposition leader said a report of the consultations, with recommendations, will be presented to the Government, “which we hope will be accepted and implemented”.


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