Retired Chief Education Officer, Steve Hyacinth is the new chairman of the Integrity Commission of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Secretary to the Commission, Helen Ambo told Dominica News Online (DNO) that Hyacinth took his oath of office in April this year.
Ambo also revealed that the other members of the Commission are former school principal Thomas Holmes who was nominated by the government and attorney, Cara Shillingford, who was the nominee of the opposition United Workers Party.
The United Workers Party has not had a representative on the Integrity Commission since 2015 when parliament approved amendments to the IPO Act, without support from the the UWP parliamentary opposition .
The amendments include a reduction in the size of the Commission, which enforces the Act, from seven to three members: one from the government, one from the opposition and a chairperson appointed by the President of Dominica upon recommendation from the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The new Commission was also given the authority to decide whether it wanted to continue with matters that were before the old Commission.
UWP political leader, Lennox Linton, was not opposed to reducing the Commission members from 7 to 5. He also said that his party did not have a problem with one Commissioner from each political party and to have the Prime Minister nominating the chairman in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. However, he was strongly of the view that the professional bodies of law and finance (who were part of the old Commission) should continue to be represented on the Commission, “because that is where the balance is.”
Linton also recommended then, that the legislation be structured so as to give protection to whistle blowers.
UWP President Isaac Baptiste told DNO that the party took the position, at that time, not to participate in the Commission because they were unhappy with the changes that had been made to the law.
“As a sign of protest, we did not nominate someone on the Commission but seeing that it continued, this time we nominated someone,” Baptiste said.
We tried but were unable to reach UWP political leader Lennox Linton, for further comment.
An amendment to section four of the Act which now makes it possible for some one other than an attorney-at-law, such as a Chartered Accountant “or a person who has held high administrative, managerial or
executive office in the public, private or social sector,” paved the way for a retired public officer like Hyacinth to become Chairman of the Integrity Commission.
The mission of The Integrity Commission is to “promote integrity in governance by providing effective oversight of the administration of public functions in order to encourage transparency in transactions, and maintain legal compliance by persons in public life and other public officials so that public institutions will be free of corruption, and so that the highest standards of honesty, equity and fairness will be observed in the use of public resources and in the distribution of benefits for the welfare of the people of our nation.”