Ninety-five per cent of all Tobagonians subject to the Integrity in Public Life Act have filed their annual returns with the Integrity Commission, Chairman Justice of Appeal Zainool Hosein has disclosed.
He added: The Integrity Commission (IC) has had no significant issues with Tobagonians filing their returns on time and anyone who might have problems with the Act will be dealt with fairly and efficiently by the compliance unit.
He said the commission will shortly establish an office in Tobago to deal with any queries in completing returns, Justice Hosein said on Tuesday (24th November 2015) following a meeting at the Coco Reef Resort with THA Chief Secretary Orville London and Assemblymen. IC Compliance Officers were also present to assist in the completion of returns.
He said London had made some valuable suggestions for the accomplishment of the objective to establish a Tobago IC office.
Hosein said IC members visited the island at least once a year but came to Tobago as the first step in its outreach programme. He added that the commission will make stops in Arima, San Fernando and Point Fortin where any queries may be addressed and declaration forms may be collected.
“All of this is with the intention of making the commission more accessible to those who are subject to the Act.
“Contrary to what the perceptions might be we are not a kind of secret organisation trying to catch anybody out. We are not; the system which is in place under the Act is a system applicable to Trinidad and Tobago with the praiseworthy objective of dealing with corruption which all of us stands for,” Hosein said.
“What you will find and I urge you if you have some difficulty, most of the people in Tobago have complied but if anyone has any issue is to access the compliance unit and you find a very accessible and courteous lot of individuals who are well experienced and well qualified to deal with your queries.
“We have to get rid of this idea that somehow the commission is there to catch people out, some kind of CIA thing. It is nothing of the kind; it is just the functions of the Act which is there for the eradication and removal of corruption, Justice Hosein added.
Chief Secretary London said he was heartened by the visit of the five-member commission and its staff, adding that “there is a balance we need to strike between partnering and policing between the commission and declarants and all of us have got to accept that we the declarants are very much committed to integrity in public life as the IC is”.
He said: “That collaboration between the organisation and the declarants does not in any way undermine the process and therefore this initiative where the IC is in effect is willing to come to tell us what we can do to make their job more effective and by extension ensure all of Tobago and all of Trinidad and Tobago is involved in this compliance and integrity process should in fact be commended.”
London said Tobago has some unique integrity problems and meetings such as that on Tuesday can assist in dealing with these.