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'Too invasive': MPs push back at proposed changes to statutory declaration form

Delroy Chuck, Julian Robinson and Greg Christie
 
Legislators are pushing back at proposed changes to the Integrity Commission's Statutory Declaration Form, saying it is too invasive and will put public sector employees under undue pressure.
 
The Integrity Commission says the changes will better enable it to address the advanced and sophisticated ways in which the financial sector and other businesses are used by public individuals to acquire illicit assets and engage in asset concealment schemes.
 
But government MP Delroy Chuck has taken issue with some of the information required, such as estimated market value of property, value of property held in security deposit box, cost of property improvements and financial information of children.
 
He said the commission is not likely to get support for the changes being proposed. 
 
"You know, I really don't know what rings and chains my wife has, but every now and then I see she will open the safety deposit box and I see a lot of chains - gold chain, and maybe a few other brooches and so on. Are we to declare those and give the estimated value of all the chains and the rings and brooches that are held in safety deposit boxes? Oh my God, man!" he lamented.   
 
His colleague, Marlene Malahoo Forte said it was faulty for the commission to treat persons like criminals during its investigation.
 
She argued that the level of intrusion is disproportionate to the aims of the commission.
 
Opposition MP Julian Robinson added that the proposed new form will only serve to punish honest public officials. 
 
"My wife is somebody who, when we got married, she was independent and is someone who earns her own money 10-times me. But it almost feels as if we're punishing the people who play by the books with all of the things that we're asking, and...the people who have done the wrong things, none of this will uncover it," he contended.  
 
The parliamentarians were speaking on Wednesday during a sitting of the Integrity Commission Oversight Committee.
 
Greg Christie, Executive Director of the Integrity Commission, who was in attendance at the committee meeting, said while the form might be invasive, it is necessary. 
 
"The form, to the extent that it’s asking us for personal information, is invasive, but that is the standard that countries such as ourselves who are desirous of complying with international good governance standards and anti-corruption standards, these are the standards that we have signed on to." 
 
"We need to be very careful to how we trod this path, because if it is that we are appearing to be shying away from declaring our assets, liabilities and income, we are moving away from the international standard," he said.  
 


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